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30901  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Health for Life site fraud? on: November 30, 2004, 06:32:31 AM

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

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

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

Crafty Dog
30902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Letter to Europe on: November 30, 2004, 12:03:21 AM
An Open Letter to Europe by Harold E. Meyer

Hi. Are you nuts?

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

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

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

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

Europe is Dying

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

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

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

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

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

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA?s National Intelligence Council. His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization is a nationwide best-seller.
30903  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Movies/TV of interest on: November 29, 2004, 08:16:35 PM
I don't know what happened to my original post, which included the WSJ review by Joe Morgenstern, querying about the movie "Alexander the Great", and somehow Tuhon Rafael's post wound up on the Knife thread, so here is the review once again, then Tuhon Raf's post:


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

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

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

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

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

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

Elliot Cowan and Colin Farrell in "Alexander."

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

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

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


And Tuhon Raf writes:

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

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

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

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

30904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 29, 2004, 06:22:25 PM
Just another day--Crafty

On the wing of an Apache

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

?We both climbed back into our bird,? Welch said, ?and almost simultaneously said to each other, ?Lets go home.??
30905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: November 28, 2004, 10:06:53 PM
Its getting REALLY bad when the Left Angeles writes an editorial like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schools are under tremendous pressure today to teach even nonacademic lessons like honesty, consideration and responsibility, things once taught in homes. It's a challenge, especially if parents are inattentive or unsupportive. Whether prohibiting cops-and-robbers and tag is a valid lesson plan seems dubious, given the more important teaching left unfinished. Where's that stern whistle when you need it
30906  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tables turned on: November 28, 2004, 09:59:52 PM
Newark, NJ:

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

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

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

The father was charged with numerous weapons charges and the daughter placed in the custody of a relative.
30907  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crimes using knives on: November 28, 2004, 09:22:16 PM
More from Scotland-- BTW is there anyone who can compare the murder rate data in this article with sundry US data? TIA- Crafty

McConnell cracks down on knife crime


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Executive?s proposals are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We need to shift the balance of power here in the law in favour of those victims who far too often - particularly in Glasgow city centre but in a number of other parts of Scotland too - find themselves in hospital on Friday or Saturday night as a result of what appears to be the casual incident of a passer-by."  
30908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 28, 2004, 10:23:50 AM
Marines Train a Secret Weapon on Babil Province

By Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"When the war started with the Mahdi army, we killed 42 of their fighters in Hillah in one day ? all of them Shiite," the colonel said softly. "When people look at me, they don't see a Shiite. Everybody sees an Iraqi."
30909  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Alexander the Great movie on: November 28, 2004, 10:11:42 AM
Woof All:

Anybody seen this yet?

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

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

Crafty Dog

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

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

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

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

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

Elliot Cowan and Colin Farrell in "Alexander."

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

"Alexander" cost at least $160 million, a figure that will grow by many more tens of millions for global marketing. After I cited the staggering budgets of other recent follies, including the risibly ramshackle "Troy," several readers sent e-mails to say that since it wasn't my money, it was none of my business how studios or producers chose to spend it. I take the point. More than that, I put it in the context of a Weekend Journal piece last week in which my colleague John Lippman reported that "Troy," for all its failure to connect with a domestic audience, will turn a significant profit in the global market. But the movie medium is mine -- is ours -- to care about, and to worry about. With each new heedless squandering of our interest and trust, with each monster domestic dud that justifies its shoddiness through overseas success, the movies as we've known and loved them are closer to becoming ancient history.
30910  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Crimes using knives on: November 28, 2004, 10:03:51 AM
From yesterday's Left Angeles Times:

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

By Ching-Ching Ni, Times Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Wednesday, Jia was executed for his crime.

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

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

The New China News Agency reported that police said the suspect held grudges against the students at the school and during the attack allegedly kept saying, "Don't blame me."
30911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People on: November 27, 2004, 12:12:57 PM
In Oklahoma, a Ban
On Guns Pits State
Against Big Firms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write to Susan Warren at
30912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 27, 2004, 11:51:40 AM
There was a lot of media attention and "outrage" from the usual suspects directed towards the Marine in Fallujah who shot a wounded insurgent, yet so far there has been no mention of the following:


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

For more information, please contact Capt Bradley Gordon, public affairs officer, 1st Marine Division,
30913  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering posts on: November 27, 2004, 06:27:20 AM
Woof All:

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

Crafty Dog


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

Thanks to those I fought:

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

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

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

Also to my FMA trainers:

Sixto Carlos, Alvin Aguilar,Rom Macapagal Jr. and Ray Floro.
30914  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Woof! on: November 27, 2004, 06:22:45 AM
Woof Sicilian:

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

Please, no more posts on this thread folks.

Crafty Dog
30915  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB Gathering posts on: November 27, 2004, 06:19:24 AM
Woof Glenn:

Tail wags for the kind words.

Are you the one from the Magda Institute?

Crafty Dog
30916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 26, 2004, 01:08:42 PM
Today's Left Angeles Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I want to teach junior Marines how to go into combat and come back alive."
30917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: November 26, 2004, 12:54:20 PM
From today's Left Angeles Times:

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

By Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complex Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High-Risk Cargo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at
30918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: November 26, 2004, 12:36:21 PM
AAFES Gift Certificates
The Army and Air Force Exchange Services is where most servicemen and women do their shopping. You can purchase gift certificates for those in Iraq and those hospitalized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voice from Home
Voices From Home allows military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages in remote locations around the world.
30919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: November 26, 2004, 12:36:05 PM
AAFES Gift Certificates
The Army and Air Force Exchange Services is where most servicemen and women do their shopping. You can purchase gift certificates for those in Iraq and those hospitalized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voice from Home
Voices From Home allows military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages in remote locations around the world.
30920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 25, 2004, 01:43:10 PM
Fallen Marines
November 25th, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semper Fi

Maj. Zarnik, USAFR
30921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 25, 2004, 10:38:24 AM
This from today's Left Angeles Times:

Guardsmen Say They're Facing Iraq Ill-Trained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Some of us are going to die there, and some of us are going to die unnecessarily because of the lack of training," he said. "So I don't care. Let them court-martial me. I want the American public to know what is going on. My men are guilty of one thing: volunteering to serve their country. And we are at the end of our rope."
30922  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Espada y daga on: November 25, 2004, 08:27:06 AM
Indiana high school students injured in knife attack

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

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

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

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

"The kid, after he stabbed them, he ran out of the room and a bunch of
teachers tackled him," sophomore Clark Hogan said. "I saw the lady kick the knife down the hallway. She kicked it against the wall."

Brickner said one of the knives was a machete and the other was a serrated knife. The youth accused in the attack remained in custody.
School Superintendent Michael Benway said the school does not have metal detectors but that school staffers and volunteers monitor the two doors through which the school's 2,000 students enter the building.

Brickner said that when police officers arrived, school administrators were holding the student who was accused.  The boy is an A-B student who started in the Valparaiso school system this year, Brickner said.

The uninjured students were allowed to leave school about 31/2 hours after the attack. Until then, they said, they were kept locked in their

"The teachers wouldn't tell us what was going on," said Danielle Boer. "We were scared."

Jeni Bell, a spokeswoman for Porter hospital, said some students suffered severe cuts and one suffered a hip injury. But she said the injuries were not life-threatening.
30923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants on: November 24, 2004, 02:50:45 PM

November 24, 2004 -- UKRAINE remains an indepen dent state. For now. But last week's shamelessly rigged presidential-election results were engineered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin's security services.
Exit polling, opinion polling, international election observers, Ukrainian local authorities and the people agree that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western Democrat, won. But the pro-Moscow government of Ukraine claims that the spectacularly corrupt incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych received the major ity of votes.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to Kiev's streets in protest. Even Yanukovych has been wary of declaring his own victory. Yet Putin immediately extended his congratulations to the nervous "victor."

The Kremlin poured massive funding into the election campaign. The pro-Russian mafia that has a bully's grip on the Kiev government stuffed ballot boxes, manipulated absentee ballots, extorted votes and then simply changed the numbers to give Moscow's man a 49 percent to 46 percent lead.

This is the biggest test for democracy on Europe's frontier since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia always seemed fated for a hybrid government ? part elections, part strongman rule ? but Ukraine could go either way. Especially in the country's west and center, Ukrainians have struggled for freedom for centuries.

But Russia regards Ukraine as its inalienable possession, stolen away as the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

Fatefully, the ties were never severed between the successors of the KGB in Moscow and Kiev. Now the grandchildren of the Russian thugs who mercilessly put down Nestor Makhno's Ukrainian revolt against the Bolsheviks, who slaughtered Ukraine's prosperous peasantry and murdered Ukraine's intelligentsia are back at work.

This election may have been Ukraine's last chance.

The tale begins almost a millennium ago. Converted to Christianity, Kiev was the jewel of the north, a magnificent city of churches and piety; Moscow was a shantytown. Then the Mongols came, destroying "Kievan Rus." Muscovy slowly expanded to fill the vacuum left by the destruction of the great Slavic civilization of the Steppes.

For centuries, Ukraine's Cossacks resisted Polish and Russian attempts to rob them of freedom. But by the end of the 18th century, Russia finally broke the Cossacks, dragooning them into its own military forces.

Subjugated, Ukraine responded with a 19th-century cultural revival. The Bolsheviks put an end to that. The first and greatest victims of Lenin and Stalin were the people of Ukraine.

Finally, in 1991, after six centuries, Ukraine regained its independence. Putin intends to take it away again.

With its declining population and threatened Far-Eastern territories, Russia desperately wants the additional population and strategic position of Ukraine back within its own borders, beginning as a "voluntary" federation. An ethnic-Russian population in eastern Ukraine serves as a fifth column.

Disgracefully, the international community appears ready to give Putin a free hand in subverting the freedom of a sovereign, democratic state. President Bush values his relationship with Putin, although Putin hasn't hesitated to undermine Washington's policies.

While constructive cooperation makes sense, there are times when the United States must draw a line ? unless we intend to make a mockery of our support for freedom and democracy.

This is one of those times. President Bush should not let a bunch of gangsters in Kiev and the sons of the KGB in Moscow destroy the hopes of a major European state. Ukraine isn't Russia's to steal.

The people of Ukraine who went to the polls to elect Viktor Yushchenko as their president, who want to be democratic, Western and free, need to hear from the White House. So does Mr. Putin.

If we allow Ukraine's freedom to be destroyed without so much as a murmur from our president, we will have betrayed the ideals we claim to support at home, in Iraq and around the world.

Ralph Peters worked as a Russia expert during his military career. (Colonel)
30924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia on: November 24, 2004, 01:55:14 PM
Another case from Mexico.  I am much less in touch with matters in Mexico than I used to be, but have heard of cases of kidnapping gangs involving police.  This may or may not be a part of the dynamics of this affair.

Angry Mob Kills 2 Police Officers in Mexico

Crowd upset about child abductions attacks three undercover agents taking students' photos.
From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY ? A crowd angry about recent child kidnappings cornered plainclothes federal agents taking photos of students at a school on Mexico City's outskirts Tuesday and burned the officers alive.

Officials said two agents were killed and one was hospitalized.
Federal police director Adm. Jose Luis Figueroa told local media that the three agents went to the school in an unmarked car as part of an anti-drug-dealing operation.

The killings, filmed and broadcast on local television stations, were carried out by a crowd of people who cheered, chanted and shouted obscenities as they kicked and beat the agents. The mob then dowsed two officers with gasoline and set them ablaze.

Police didn't make any immediate arrests; officials said they were investigating.

In the video, the agents, blood streaming down their faces, spoke into the cameras before the burning, saying they were federal anti-terrorism agents who had been sent to the area on official business.

The mob held the agents for several hours before killing them. Figueroa said heavy traffic and residents who blocked authorities from moving kept police from responding in time.

The surviving agent, badly beaten, was rescued by police.

Images taken from a helicopter showed dozens of residents milling around the two burned bodies left in a street. Dozens of police in riot gear moved in more than an hour later and dispersed the crowd.

The violence began in the early evening, when several people collared three men staking out a school in the San Juan Ixtlayopan neighborhood.

The area has been tense since two youngsters disappeared and were feared kidnapped from the school. Some in the crowd appeared to believe the agents were kidnappers.

When asked about complaints that authorities had failed to respond to demands to investigate the disappearances, Figueroa said a full schedule had prohibited federal authorities from concentrating on the case.
30925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: November 24, 2004, 11:31:54 AM
30926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 22, 2004, 08:45:06 PM
November 21, 2004

In Falluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War


New York Times

ALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 18 - Eight days after the Americans entered the city
on foot, a pair of marines wound their way up the darkened innards of a
minaret, shot through with holes by an American tank.

As the marines inched upward, a burst of gunfire rang down, fired by an
insurgent hiding in the top of the tower. The bullets hit the first
marine in the face, his blood spattering the marine behind him. The
marine in the rear tumbled backward down the stairwell, while Lance Cpl.
William Miller, age 22, lay in silence halfway up, mortally wounded.

"Miller!" the marines called from below. "Miller!"

With that, the marines' near mystical commandment against leaving a
comrade behind seized the group. One after another, the young marines
dashed into the minaret, into darkness and into gunfire, and wound their
way up the stairs.

After four attempts, Corporal Miller's lifeless body emerged from the
tower, his comrades choking and covered with dust. With more insurgents
closing in, the marines ran through volleys of machine-gun fire back to
their base.

"I was trying to be careful, but I was trying to get him out, you know
what I'm saying?" Lance Cpl. Michael Gogin, 19, said afterward.

So went eight days of combat for this Iraqi city, the most sustained
period of street-to-street fighting that Americans have encountered
since the Vietnam War. The proximity gave the fighting a hellish
intensity, with soldiers often close enough to look their enemies in the

For a correspondent who has covered a half dozen armed conflicts,
including the war in Iraq since its start in March 2003, the fighting
seen while traveling with a frontline unit in Falluja was a
qualitatively different experience, a leap into a different kind of

>From the first rockets vaulting out of the city as the marines moved in,
the noise and feel of the battle seemed altogether extraordinary; at
other times, hardly real at all. The intimacy of combat, this plunge
into urban warfare, was new to this generation of American soldiers, but
it is a kind of fighting they will probably see again: a grinding
struggle to root out guerrillas entrenched in a city, on streets marked
in a language few American soldiers could comprehend.

The price for the Americans so far: 51 dead and 425 wounded, a number
that may yet increase but that already exceeds the toll from any battle
in the Iraq war.

Marines in Harm's Way

The 150 marines with whom I traveled, Bravo Company of the First
Battalion, Eighth Marines, had it as tough as any unit in the fight.
They moved through the city almost entirely on foot, into the heart of
the resistance, rarely protected by tanks or troop carriers, working
their way through Falluja's narrow streets with 75-pound packs on their

In eight days of fighting, Bravo Company took 36 casualties, including 6
dead, meaning that the unit's men had about a one-in-four chance of
being wounded or killed in little more than a week.

The sounds, sights and feel of the battle were as old as war itself, and
as new as the Pentagon's latest weapons systems. The eerie pop from the
cannon of the AC-130 gunship, prowling above the city at night, firing
at guerrillas who were often only steps away from Americans on the
ground. The weird buzz of the Dragon Eye pilotless airplane, hovering
over the battlefield as its video cameras beamed real-time images back
to the base.

The glow of the insurgents' flares, throwing daylight over a landscape
to help them spot their targets: us.

The nervous shove of a marine scrambling for space along a brick wall as
tracer rounds ricocheted above.

The silence between the ping of the shell leaving its mortar tube and
the explosion when it strikes.

The screams of the marines when one of their comrades, Cpl. Jake
Knospler, lost part of his jaw to a hand grenade.

"No, no, no!" the marines shouted as they dragged Corporal Knospler from
the darkened house where the bomb went off. It was 2 a.m., the sky dark
without a moon. "No, no, no!"

Nothing in the combat I saw even remotely resembled the scenes regularly
flashed across movie screens; even so, they often seemed no more real.

Mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades began raining down on Bravo
Company the moment its men began piling out of their troop carriers just
outside Falluja. The shells looked like Fourth of July bottle rockets,
sailing over the ridge ahead as if fired by children, exploding in a
whoosh of sparks.

Whole buildings, minarets and human beings were vaporized in barrages of
exploding shells. A man dressed in a white dishdasha crawled across a
desolate field, reaching behind a gnarled plant to hide, when he
collapsed before a burst of fire from an American tank.

Sometimes the casualties came in volleys, like bursts of machine-gun
fire. On the first morning of battle, during a ferocious struggle for
the Muhammadia Mosque, about 45 marines with Bravo Company's Third
Platoon dashed across 40th Street, right into interlocking streams of
fire. By the time the platoon made it to the other side, five men lay
bleeding in the street.

The marines rushed out to get them, as they would days later in the
minaret, but it was too late for Sgt. Lonny Wells, who bled to death on
the side of the road. One of the men who braved gunfire to pull in
Sergeant Wells was Cpl. Nathan Anderson, who died three days later in an

Sergeant Wells's death dealt the Third Platoon a heavy blow; as a leader
of one of its squads, he had written letters to the parents of its
younger members, assuring them he would look over them during the tour
in Iraq.

"He loved playing cards," Cpl. Gentian Marku recalled. "He knew all the

More than once, death crept up and snatched a member of Bravo Company
and quietly slipped away. Cpl. Nick Ziolkowski, nicknamed Ski, was a
Bravo Company sniper. For hours at a stretch, Corporal Ziolkowski would
sit on a rooftop, looking through the scope on his bolt-action M-40
rifle, waiting for guerrillas to step into his sights. The scope was big
and wide, and Corporal Ziolkowski often took off his helmet to get a
better look.

Tall, good-looking and gregarious, Corporal Ziolkowski was one of Bravo
Company's most popular soldiers. Unlike most snipers, who learned to
shoot growing up in the countryside, Corporal Ziolkowski grew up near
Baltimore, unfamiliar with guns. Though Baltimore boasts no beach front,
Corporal Ziolkowski's passion was surfing; at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Bravo
Company's base, he would often organize his entire day around the tides.

"All I need now is a beach with some waves," Corporal Ziolkowski said,
during a break from his sniper duties at Falluja's Grand Mosque, where
he killed three men in a single day.

During that same break, Corporal Ziolkowski foretold his own death. The
snipers, he said, were now among the most hunted of American soldiers.

In the first battle for Falluja, in April, American snipers had been
especially lethal, Corporal Ziolkowski said, and intelligence officers
had warned him that this time, the snipers would be targets.

"They are trying to take us out," Corporal Ziolkowski said.

The bullet knocked Corporal Ziolkowski backward and onto the roof. He
had been sitting there on the outskirts of the Shuhada neighborhood, an
area controlled by insurgents, peering through his wide scope. He had
taken his helmet off to get a better view. The bullet hit him in the

Young Men, Heavy Burdens

For all the death about the place, one inescapable impression left by
the marines was their youth. Everyone knows that soldiers are young; it
is another thing to see men barely out of adolescence, many of whom were
still in high school when this war began, shoot people dead.

The marines of Bravo Company often fought over the packets of M&M's that
came with their rations. Sitting in their barracks, they sang along with
the Garth Brooks paean to chewing tobacco, "Copenhagen," named for the
brand they bought almost to a man:

Copenhagen, what a wad of flavor

Copenhagen, you can see it in my smile

Copenhagen, hey do yourself a favor, dip

Copenhagen, it drives the cowgirls wild

One of Bravo Company's more youthful members was Cpl. Romulo Jimenez II,
age 21 from Bellington, W.Va.. Cpl. Jimenez spent much of his time
showing off his tattoos - he had flames climbing up one of his arms -
and talking about his 1992 Ford Mustang. He was a popular member of
Bravo Company's Second Platoon, not least because he introduced his
sister to a fellow marine, Lance Cpl. Sean Evans, and the couple

In the days before the battle started, Corporal Jimenez called his
sister, Katherine, to ask that she fix up the interior of his Mustang
before he got home.

"Make it look real nice," he told her.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, around 2 p.m., Corporal Jimenez was shot in the
neck by a sniper as he advanced with his platoon through the northern
end of Falluja, just near the green-domed Muhammadia Mosque. He died

Despite their youth, the marines seemed to tower over their peers
outside the military in maturity and guts. Many of Bravo Company's best
marines, its most proficient killers, were 19 and 20 years old; some
directed their comrades in maneuvers and assaults. Bravo Company's three
lieutenants, each responsible for the lives of about 50 men, were 23 and
24 years old.

They are a strangely anonymous bunch. The men who fight America's wars
seem invariably to come from little towns and medium-size cities far
away from the nation's arteries along the coast. Line up a group of
marines and ask them where they are from, and they will give you a list
of places like Pearland, Tex.; Lodi, Ohio; Osawatomie, Kan.

Typical of the marines who fought in Falluja was Chad Ritchie, a
22-year-old corporal from Keezletown, Va. Corporal Ritchie, a
soft-spoken, bespectacled intelligence officer, said he was happy to be
out of the tiny place where he grew up, though he admitted that he
sometimes missed the good times on Friday nights in the fields.

"We'd have a bonfire, and back the trucks up on it, and open up the
backs, and someone would always have some speakers," Corporal Ritchie
said. "We'd drink beer, tell stories."

Like many of the young men in Bravo Company, Corporal Ritchie said he
had joined the Marines because he yearned for an adventure greater than
his small town could offer.

"The guys who stayed, they're all living with their parents, making $7
an hour," Corporal Ritchie said. "I'm not going to be one of those
people who gets old and says, 'I wish I had done this. I wish I had done
that.' Every once in a while, you've got to do something hard, do
something you're not comfortable with. A person needs a gut check."

Holding Up Under Fire

Marines like Corporal Ritchie proved themselves time and again in
Falluja, but they were not without fear. While camped out one night in
the Iraqi National Guard building in the middle of city, Bravo Company
came under mortar fire that grew closer with each shot. The insurgents
were "bracketing" the building, firing shots to the left and right of
the target and adjusting their fire each time.

In the hallways, where the men had camped for the night, the murmured
sounds of prayers rose between the explosions. After 20 tries, the
shelling inexplicably stopped.

On one particularly grim night, a group of marines from Bravo Company's
First Platoon turned a corner in the darkness and headed up an alley. As
they did so, they came across men dressed in uniforms worn by the Iraqi
National Guard. The uniforms were so perfect that they even carried
pieces of red tape and white, the signal agreed upon to assure American
soldiers that any Iraqis dressed that way would be friendly; the others
could be killed.

The marines, spotting the red and white tape, waved, and the men in
Iraqi uniforms opened fire. One American, Corporal Anderson, died
instantly. One of the wounded men, Pfc. Andrew Russell, lay in the road,
screaming from a nearly severed leg.

A group of marines ran forward into the gunfire to pull their comrades
out. But the ambush, and the enemy flares and gunfire that followed,
rattled the men of Bravo Company more than any event. In the darkness,
the men began to argue. Others stood around in the road. As the
platoon's leader, Lt. Andy Eckert, struggled to take charge, the Third
Platoon seemed on the brink of panic.

"Everybody was scared," Lieutenant Eckert said afterward. "If the leader
can't hold, then the unit can't hold together."

The unit did hold, but only after the intervention of Bravo Company's
commanding officer, Capt. Read Omohundro.

Time and again through the week, Captain Omohundro kept his men from
folding, if not by his resolute manner then by his calmness under fire.
In the first 16 hours of battle, when the combat was continuous and the
threat of death ever present, Captain Omohundro never flinched, moving
his men through the warrens and back alleys of Falluja with an uncanny
sense of space and time, sensing the enemy, sensing the location of his
men, even in the darkness, entirely self-possessed.

"Damn it, get moving," Captain Omohundro said, and his men, looking
relieved that they had been given direction amid the anarchy, were only
too happy to oblige.

A little later, Captain Omohundro, a 34-year-old Texan, allowed that the
strain of the battle had weighed on him, but he said that he had long
ago trained himself to keep any self-doubt hidden from view.

"It's not like I don't feel it," Captain Omohundro said. "But if I were
to show it, the whole thing would come apart."

When the heavy fighting was finally over, a dog began to follow Bravo
Company through Falluja's broken streets. First it lay down in the road
outside one of the buildings the company had occupied, between troop
carriers. Then, as the troops moved on, the mangy dog slinked behind
them, first on a series of house searches, then on a foot patrol, always
keeping its distance, but never letting the marines out of its sight.

Bravo Company, looking a bit ragged itself as it moved up through
Falluja, momentarily fell out of its single-file line.

"Keep a sharp eye," Captain Omohundro told his men. "We ain't done with
this war yet."
30927  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / good gloves on: November 22, 2004, 08:30:40 PM
Ah.  Yes some of the street hockey gloves can be rather slender wink

With the Lacrosse gloves, be on the alert that some leave the underside of the thumb tip exposed because the thumb protection is not sufficiently jointed.
30928  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB in the media on: November 22, 2004, 05:42:16 AM

30929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 22, 2004, 05:07:31 AM

, , ,

The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city.  The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up.  Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender.  The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels.  This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

I could go on and on about how the city was taken but one of the most amazing aspects to the fighting was that we saw virtually no civilians during the battle.  Only after the fighting had passed did a few come out of their homes.  They were provided food and water and most were evacuated out of the city.  At least 90-95% of the people were gone from the city when we attacked.

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet.  I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred.  No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5.  His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson).  As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door.  As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out.  The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg.  He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway.  Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover.  As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway.  Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety.  The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in.  He immediately entered the room following the second explosion.  He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine.  You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled.  Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in.   Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.  

The second example comes from 3/1.  Cpl Mitchell is a squad leader.  He was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them.  As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm.  Cpl Mitchell  told the doctor that he had actually been shot "a couple of days ago" and had given himself self aide on the wound.  When the doctor got on him about not coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting.  There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines.

It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men.  They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such.  The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down.  I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid.  It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.
30930  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / good gloves on: November 22, 2004, 04:34:03 AM
What did you not like about the street hockey gloves?
30931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 20, 2004, 08:06:17 AM
Semper Fi
The story of Fallujah isn't on that NBC videotape.

Thursday, November 18, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

Some 40 Marines have just lost their lives cleaning out one of the world's worst terror dens, in Fallujah, yet all the world wants to talk about is the NBC videotape of a Marine shooting a prostrate Iraqi inside a mosque. Have we lost all sense of moral proportion?

The al-Zarqawi TV network, also known as Al-Jazeera, has broadcast the tape to the Arab world, and U.S. media have also played it up. The point seems to be to conjure up images again of Abu Ghraib, further maligning the American purpose in Iraq. Never mind that the pictures don't come close to telling us about the context of the incident, much less what was on the mind of the soldier after days of combat.

Put yourself in that Marine's boots. He and his mates have had to endure some of the toughest infantry duty imaginable, house-to-house urban fighting against an enemy that neither wears a uniform nor obeys any normal rules of war. Here is how that enemy fights, according to an account in the Times of London:

"In the south of Fallujah yesterday, U.S. Marines found the armless, legless body of a blonde woman, her throat slashed and her entrails cut out. Benjamin Finnell, a hospital apprentice with the U.S. Navy Corps, said that she had been dead for a while, but at that location for only a day or two. The woman was wearing a blue dress; her face had been disfigured. It was unclear if the remains were the body of the Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan, 59, or of Teresa Borcz, 54, a Pole abducted two weeks ago. Both were married to Iraqis and held Iraqi citizenship; both were kidnapped in Baghdad last month."

When not disemboweling Iraqi women, these killers hide in mosques and hospitals, booby-trap dead bodies, and open fire as they pretend to surrender. Their snipers kill U.S. soldiers out of nowhere. According to one account, the Marine in the videotape had seen a member of his unit killed by another insurgent pretending to be dead. Who from the safety of his Manhattan sofa has standing to judge what that Marine did in that mosque?

Beyond the one incident, think of what the Marine and Army units just accomplished in Fallujah. In a single week, they killed as many as 1,200 of the enemy and captured 1,000 more. They did this despite forfeiting the element of surprise, so civilians could escape, and while taking precautions to protect Iraqis that no doubt made their own mission more difficult and hazardous. And they did all of this not for personal advantage, and certainly not to get rich, but only out of a sense of duty to their comrades, their mission and their country.

In a more grateful age, this would be hailed as one of the great battles in Marine history--with Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Hue City and the Chosin Reservoir. We'd know the names of these military units, and of many of the soldiers too. Instead, the name we know belongs to the NBC correspondent, Kevin Sites.

We suppose he was only doing his job, too. But that doesn't mean the rest of us have to indulge in the moral abdication that would equate deliberate televised beheadings of civilians with a Marine shooting a terrorist, who may or may not have been armed, amid the ferocity of battle.
30932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 19, 2004, 01:10:41 PM
Troops in Fallujah
Are the Best
Since World War II
November 19, 2004; Page A16

The amazing, perhaps historic, battle of Fallujah has come and gone, and the biggest soldier story to come out of it is the alleged Marine shooting. There must have been hundreds of acts of bravery and valor in Fallujah. Where will history record their stories?

Maybe it's just a function of an age in which TV fears that attention spans die faster than caddis flies, and surfing the Web means ingesting information like a participant in a hot dog eating contest. By contrast, Michael Ware of Time magazine has a terrific account this week of one platoon led by Staff Sergeant David Bellavia ("We're not going to die!"), fighting its way through the snipers and booby traps of Fallujah: "A young sergeant went down, shrapnel or a bullet fragment lodging in his cheek. After checking himself, he went back to returning fire." Amid mostly glimpses this week of telegenic bullet flight paths and soldiers backed against walls, I wanted more stories like this. More information about who these guys are and what they were doing and how they were doing it. The commanders in Iraq praise them profusely, and by now maybe that's all these young U.S. soldiers need -- praise from peers.

But the American people, many of them, have been desperate for some vehicle that would let them actively lend support to the troops, or their families back in the States. The Bush administration, for reasons that are not clear, has never created such an instrument. Had they done it, a force would have existed to rebalance the hyperventilated Abu Ghraib story. The White House seems to have concluded that the American people would support a big, tough war almost literally as an act of faith. And they did, but just barely. Neglect of the homefront almost cost George Bush the election.

In service, in Fallujah

The election's one, ironic nod to the nature of the troops in Iraq was the controversy over the draft. Michael Moore traveled to 60 college campuses saying Mr. Bush's opposition to restarting the draft was an "absolute lie." Shortly after, a senior saluted the jolly Hollywood misanthrope and wrote a column for Newsweek denouncing the draft. "We have no concept of a lottery," she wrote, "that determines who lives and who dies." But not to worry, dear. The military brass, to the last man and woman, doesn't want you. Not ever.

The draft ended in 1973. What has happened to the all-volunteer military in the three decades since ensures that no draft will return this side of Armageddon.

Post-Vietnam, the military raised the performance bar -- for acquired skill sets, new-recruit intelligence and not least, self-discipline. The thing one noticed most when watching the embedded reporters' interviews last year on the way into Iraq was the self-composed confidence reflected throughout the ranks. And this in young men just out of high school or college.

It was no accident. Consider drugs. In 1980, the percentage of illicit drug use in the whole military was nearly 28%. Two years later, mandatory and random testing -- under threat of dismissal -- sent the number straight down, to nearly 3% in 1998.

Today recruits take the Armed Forces Qualification Test. It measures arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, word skills and paragraph comprehension. The current benchmark is the performance levels of recruits who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1990. The military requires that recruits meet what it calls "rigorous moral character standards."

After his August report on Abu Ghraib and U.S. military detention practices, former Defense Secretary Jim Schlesinger told a writer for this page: "The behavior of our troops is so much better than it was in World War II." And more. Unit cohesion, mutual trust in battle, personal integrity and esprit all are at the highest levels in the nation's history, right now, in Iraq. Indeed, the U.S. armed services may be the one truly functional major institution in American life.

Some fear the creation in the U.S. of a military caste, disassociated from the rest of society, or worry about the loss of civic virtue. The bridge across, I suspect, is narrower than many suspect. A 2002 Harvard Institute of Politics survey of college students found that if their number came up in a new draft, 25% would eagerly serve and 28% would serve with reservations. The draft itself is quite irrelevant today. But contrary to the last election's confusing signals about the attitudes of the young, most of them, it seems, are willing to "do something" to protect their country, if asked. It is their elders' job to find a way to ask. The military writer Andrew Bacevich has summed up our current situation nicely: "To the question 'Who will serve?' the nation's answer has now become: 'Those who want to serve.'"

At a ceremony on Nov. 13 at Camp Taji, Iraq -- with Fallujah raging elsewhere -- Army Maj. Gen. Pete Chiarelli presented 19 Purple Hearts for wounds in the battle of Najaf, the big battle before Fallujah. Gen. Chiarelli remarked that George Washington created the Purple Heart in 1782, for what Gen. Washington himself described as "unusual gallantry . . . extraordinary fidelity and essential service."

Essential service. After 20 months of it in Iraq and two hard weeks of it in Fallujah, "service" -- an old idea in a world too busy to take much notice -- is a word worthy of at least some contemplation.

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30933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: November 18, 2004, 02:46:02 PM
LOOKING for a cause with a difference? Adopt a sniper. A Texas police SWAT officer is running a charity for frontline snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan, supplying everything from baby wipes to body armour.
The brainchild of Port Arthur detective and police sniper Brian Sain, Adopt
a Sniper ( has raised thousands of dollars in cash and gear to supplement the kit of sharp shooters in up to 75 US combat platoons. "Being aware that police snipers often face the same logistical problems as their military counterparts, I assumed correctly that they were doing without things they needed to get their jobs done," Mr Sain said. He contacted US military sniper schools and began sending supplies, tailored to the needs of each sniper, in January.

"People from every walk of life are helping. Once the word got out that a
group of policemen was helping the military and inviting civilian
assistance, it really took off," he said.

Some US soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan spend their own money to supplement equipment issued by the military.

"Snipers need gear that is different than the average airman, marine,
sailor, or soldier," Mr Sain told Reuters via e-mail. "When the snipers
desperately need mission specific gear ... we just try and fill that void."
From the frontlines, snipers are writing to say thanks.
"Your package arrived ... and was met with great fanfare," said a Marine
platoon commander from Afghanistan. "The mini binos (binoculars) will help lighten our load as we continue to spend most of the time chasing the Taliban between 7000-10,000 feet (2100-3050m)."

He went on to ask for supplies of protein bars, Gatorade and dry cleaning
lubricants for guns. Sergeant John, who has been in the army for four-and-a-half years, wrote from Mosul, Iraq's third largest city, where rebels took over some districts this week. "I am always trying to improve my knowledge as a sniper and improve my lethality," he said. "I am proud to be a sniper when I see fellow snipers in the community are back home looking out for us snipers overseas fighting this horrible war on terrorism."

Some write of having to spend their own money buying gear, and of the lack of quality ammunition. "I hate asking for stuff," said one anonymous soldier seeking small binoculars and spotting scopes, "but if you have the means, we can damn sure put them to good use.

"Miscellaneous gear and morale type stuff is of course always welcome. My platoon has 16 guys from all over. Some eat kimchi (Korean national dish), some chew Redman (tobacco). "I can't tell you how much this means to all of us." Adopt a Sniper fills a need for civilians who want to help soldiers in combat but don't know how to, Mr Sain said.

"Unfortunately, due to the enormity of the commitment in Iraq and
Afghanistan, many American snipers are having to spend their own money and have their families try and procure gear and get it to them," Mr Sain said. Supplies are sent directly to individual soldiers and Adopt a Sniper spends as much on shipping as it does on supplies.

"We have been sending everything from baby wipes to body armour and
everything in between. Most of the items are sniper specific such as laser
rangefinders ... wind metres, rifle scopes, weapons maintenance gear, youname it," Mr Sain said.

" has become a full time secondary job for us," he said.

30934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: November 17, 2004, 11:14:31 PM
Daniel Pipes

One cannot emphasize too much the distinction between Islam-plain Islam-and its fundamentalist version. Islam is the religion of about one billion people and is a rapidly growing faith, particularly in Africa but also elsewhere in the world. The United States, for example, boasts almost a million converts to Islam (plus an even larger number of Muslim immigrants).

Islam's adherents find their faith immensely appealing, for the religion possesses an inner strength that is quite extraordinary. As a leading figure in the Islamic Republic of Iran maintains, "Any Westerner who really understands Islam will envy the lives of Muslims." Far from feeling embarrassed about its being temporally the last of the three major Middle Eastern monotheisms, Muslims believe that their faith improves on the earlier ones. In their telling, Judaism and Christianity are but defective variants of Islam, which is God's final, perfect religion.

Contributing to this internal confidence is the memory of outstanding achievements during Islam's first six or so centuries. Its culture was the most advanced, and Muslims enjoyed the best health, lived the longest, had the highest rates of literacy, sponsored the most advanced scientific and technical research, and deployed usually victorious armies. This pattern of success was evident from the beginning: in A.D. 622 the Prophet Muhammad fled Mecca as a refugee, only to return eight years later as its ruler. As early as the year 715, Muslim conquerors had assembled an empire that extended from Spain in the west to India in the east. To be a Muslim meant to belong to a winning civilization. Muslims, not surprisingly, came to assume a correlation between their faith and their worldly success, to assume that they were the favored of God in both spiritual and mundane matters.

And yet, in modern times battlefield victories and prosperity have been notably lacking. Indeed, as early as the thirteenth century, Islam's atrophy and Christendom's advances were already becoming discernible. But, for some five hundred years longer, Muslims remained largely oblivious to the extraordinary developments taking place to their north. Ibn Khaldun, the famous Muslim intellectual, wrote around the year 1400 about Europe, "I hear that many developments are taking place in the land of the Rum, but God only knows what happens there!"

Such willful ignorance rendered Muslims vulnerable when they could no longer ignore what was happening around them. Perhaps the most dramatic alert came in July 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte landed in Egypt-the center of the Muslim world-and conquered it with stunning ease. Other assaults followed over the next century and more, and before long most Muslims were living under European rule. As their power and influence waned, a sense of incomprehension spread among Muslims. What had gone wrong? Why had God seemingly abandoned them?

The trauma of modern Islam results from this sharp and unmistakable contrast between medieval successes and more recent tribulations. Put simply, Muslims have had an exceedingly hard time explaining what went wrong. Nor has the passage of time made this task any easier, for the same unhappy circumstances basically still exist. Whatever index one employs, Muslims can be found clustering toward the bottom-whether measured in terms of their military prowess, political stability, economic development, corruption, human rights, health, longevity or literacy. Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia who now languishes in jail, estimates in The Asian Renaissance (1997) that whereas Muslims make up just one-fifth of the world's total population, they constitute more than half of the 1.2 billion people living in abject poverty. There is thus a pervasive sense of debilitation and encroachment in the Islamic world today. As the imam of a mosque in Jerusalem put it not long ago, "Before, we were masters of the world and now we're not even masters of our own mosques."

Searching for explanations for their predicament, Muslims have devised three political responses to modernity-secularism, reformism and Islamism. The first of these holds that Muslims can only advance by emulating the West. Yes, the secularists concede, Islam is a valuable and esteemed legacy, but its public dimensions must be put aside. In particular, the sacred law of Islam (called the Shari'a)-which governs such matters as the judicial system, the manner in which Muslim states go to war, and the nature of social interactions between men and women-should be discarded in its entirety. The leading secular country is Turkey, where Kemal Atat?rk in the period 1923-38 reshaped and modernized an overwhelmingly Muslim society. Overall, though, secularism is a minority position among Muslims, and even in Turkey it is under siege.

Reformism, occupying a murky middle ground, offers a more popular response to modernity. Whereas secularism forthrightly calls for learning from the West, reformism selectively appropriates from it. The reformist says, "Look, Islam is basically compatible with Western ways. It's just that we lost track of our own achievements, which the West exploited. We must now go back to our own ways by adopting those of the West." To reach this conclusion, reformers reread the Islamic scriptures in a Western light. For example, the Koran permits a man to take up to four wives-on the condition that he treat them equitably. Traditionally, and quite logically, Muslims understood this verse as permission for a man to take four wives. But because a man is allowed only one in the West, the reformists performed a sleight of hand and interpreted the verse in a new way: the Koran, they claim, requires that a man must treat his wives equitably, which is clearly something no man can do if there is more than one of them. So, they conclude, Islam prohibits more than a single wife.

Reformists have applied this sort of reasoning across the board. To science, for example, they contend Muslims should have no objections, for science is in fact Muslim. They recall that the word algebra comes from the Arabic, al-jabr. Algebra being the essence of mathematics and mathematics being the essence of science, all of modern science and technology thereby stems from work done by Muslims. So there is no reason to resist Western science; it is rather a matter of reclaiming what the West took (or stole) in the first place. In case after case, and with varying degrees of credibility, reformists appropriate Western ways under the guise of drawing on their own heritage. The aim of the reformists, then, is to imitate the West without acknowledging as much. Though intellectually bankrupt, reformism functions well as a political strategy.

The Ideological Response

The third response to the modern trauma is Islamism, the subject of the remainder of this essay. Islamism has three main features: a devotion to the sacred law, a rejection of Western influences, and the transformation of faith into ideology.

Islamism holds that Muslims lag behind the West because they're not good Muslims. To regain lost glory requires a return to old ways, and that is achieved by living fully in accordance with the Shari'a. Were Muslims to do so, they would once again reside on top of the world, as they did a millennium ago. This, however, is no easy task, for the sacred law contains a vast body of regulations touching every aspect of life, many of them contrary to modern practices. (The Shari'a somewhat resembles Jewish law, but nothing comparable exists in Christianity.) Thus, it forbids usury or any taking of interest, which has deep and obvious implications for economic life. It calls for cutting off the hands of thieves, which runs contrary to all modern sensibilities, as do its mandatory covering of women and the separation of the sexes. Islamism not only calls for the application of these laws, but for a more rigorous application than ever before was the case. Before 1800, the interpreters of the Shari'a softened it somewhat. For instance, they devised a method by which to avoid the ban on interest. The fundamentalists reject such modifications, demanding instead that Muslims apply the Shari'a strictly and in its totality.

In their effort to build a way of life based purely on the Shar'i laws, Islamists strain to reject all aspects of Western influence-customs, philosophy, political institutions and values. Despite these efforts, they still absorb vast amounts from the West in endless ways. For one, they need modern technology, especially its military and medical applications. For another, they themselves tend to be modern individuals, and so are far more imbued with Western ways than they wish to be or will ever acknowledge. Thus, while the Ayatollah Khomeini, who was more traditional than most Islamists, attempted to found a government on the pure principles of Shiite Islam, he ended up with a republic based on a constitution that represents a nation via the decisions of a parliament, which is in turn chosen through popular elections-every one of these a Western concept. Another example of Western influence is that Friday, which in Islam is not a day of rest but a day of congregation, is now the Muslim equivalent of a sabbath. Similarly, the laws of Islam do not apply to everyone living within a geographical territory but only to Muslims; Islamists, however, understand them as territorial in nature (as an Italian priest living in Sudan found out long ago, when he was flogged for possessing alcohol). Islamism thereby stealthily appropriates from the West while denying that it is doing so.

Perhaps the most important of these borrowings is the emulation of Western ideologies. The word "Islamism" is a useful and accurate one, for it indicates that this phenomenon is an "ism" comparable to other ideologies of the twentieth century. In fact, Islamism represents an Islamic-flavored version of the radical utopian ideas of our time, following Marxism-Leninism and fascism. It infuses a vast array of Western political and economic ideas within the religion of Islam. As an Islamist, a Muslim Brother from Egypt, puts it, "We are neither socialist nor capitalist, but Muslims"; a Muslim of old would have said, "We are neither Jews nor Christians, but Muslims."

Islamists see their adherence to Islam primarily as a form of political allegiance; hence, though usually pious Muslims, they need not be. Plenty of Islamists seem in fact to be rather impious. For instance, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, Ramzi Yousef, had a girlfriend while living in the Philippines and was "gallivanting around Manila's bars, strip-joints and karaoke clubs, flirting with women." From this and other suggestions of loose living, his biographer, Simon Reeve, finds "scant evidence to support any description of Yousef as a religious warrior." The FBI agent in charge of investigating Yousef concluded that, "He hid behind a cloak of Islam."

On a grander level, Ayatollah Khomeini hinted at the irrelevance of faith for Islamists in a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev early in 1989, as the Soviet Union was rapidly failing. The Iranian leader offered his own government as a model: "I openly announce that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the greatest and most powerful base of the Islamic world, can easily help fill up the ideological vacuum of your system." Khomeini here seemed to be suggesting that the Soviets should turn to the Islamist ideology-converting to Islam would almost seem to be an afterthought.

Contrary to its reputation, Islamism is not a way back; as a contemporary ideology it offers not a means to return to some old-fashioned way of life but a way of navigating the shoals of modernization. With few exceptions (notably, the Taliban in Afghanistan), Islamists are city dwellers trying to cope with the problems of modern urban life-not people of the countryside. Thus, the challenges facing career women figure prominently in Islamist discussions. What, for example, can a woman who must travel by crowded public transportation do to protect herself from groping? The Islamists have a ready reply: she should cover herself, body and face, and signal through the wearing of Islamic clothes that she is not approachable. More broadly, they offer an inclusive and alternative way of life for modern persons, one that rejects the whole complex of popular culture, consumerism and individualism in favor of a faith-based totalitarianism.

Deviations From Tradition

While Islamism is often seen as a form of traditional Islam, it is something profoundly different. Traditional Islam seeks to teach humans how to live in accord with God's will, whereas Islamism aspires to create a new order. The first is self-confident, the second deeply defensive. The one emphasizes individuals, the latter communities. The former is a personal credo, the latter a political ideology.

The distinction becomes sharpest when one compares the two sets of leaders. Traditionalists go through a static and lengthy course of learning in which they study a huge corpus of information and imbibe the Islamic verities much as their ancestors did centuries earlier. Their faith reflects more than a millennium of debate among scholars, jurists and theologians. Islamist leaders, by contrast, tend to be well educated in the sciences but not in Islam; in their early adulthood, they confront problems for which their modern learning has failed to prepare them, so they turn to Islam. In doing so they ignore nearly the entire corpus of Islamic learning and interpret the Koran as they see fit. As autodidacts, they dismiss the traditions and apply their own (modern) sensibilities to the ancient texts, leading to an oddly Protestant version of Islam.

The modern world frustrates and stymies traditional figures who, educated in old-fashioned subjects, have not studied European languages, spent time in the West, or mastered its secrets. For example, traditionalists rarely know how to exploit the radio, television and the Internet to spread their message. In contrast, Islamist leaders usually speak Western languages, often have lived abroad, and tend to be well versed in technology. The Internet has hundreds of Islamist sites. Fran?ois Burgat and William Dowell note this contrast in their book, The Islamist Movement in North Africa (1993) :

The village elder, who is close to the religious establishment and knows little of Western culture (from which he refuses technology a priori) cannot be confused with the young science student who is more than able to deliver a criticism of Western values, with which he is familiar and from which he is able to appropriate certain dimensions. The traditionalist will reject television, afraid of the devastating modernism that it will bring; the Islamist calls for increasing the number of sets . . . once he has gained control of the broadcasts.

Most important from our perspective, traditionalists fear the West while Islamists are eager to challenge it. The late mufti of Saudi Arabia, 'Abd al-'Aziz Bin-Baz, exemplified the tremulous old guard. In the summer of 1995, he warned Saudi youth not to travel to the West for vacation because "there is a deadly poison in travelling to the land of the infidels and there are schemes by the enemies of Islam to lure Muslims away from their religion, to create doubts about their beliefs, and to spread sedition among them." He urged the young to spend their summers in the "safety" of the summer resorts in their own country.

Islamists are not completely impervious to the fear of these schemes and lures, but they have ambitions to tame the West, something they do not shy from announcing for the whole world to hear. The most crude simply want to kill Westerners. In a remarkable statement, a Tunisian convicted of setting off bombs in France in 1985-86, killing thirteen, told the judge handling his case, "I do not renounce my fight against the West which assassinated the Prophet Muhammad. . . . We Muslims should kill every last one of you [Westerners]." Others plan to expand Islam to Europe and America, using violence if necessary. An Amsterdam-based imam declared on a Turkish television program, "You must kill those who oppose Islam, the order of Islam or Allah, and His Prophet; hang or slaughter them after tying their hands and feet crosswise . . . as prescribed by the Shari'a." An Algerian terrorist group, the GIA, issued a communiqu? in 1995 that showed the Eiffel Tower exploding and bristled with threats:

We are continuing with all our strength our steps of jihad and military attacks, and this time in the heart of France and its largest cities. . . . It's a pledge that [the French] will have no more sleep and no more leisure and Islam will enter France whether they like it or not.

The more moderate Islamists plan to use non-violent means to transform their host countries into Islamic states. For them, conversion is the key. One leading American Muslim thinker, Isma'il R. Al-Faruqi, put this sentiment rather poetically: "Nothing could be greater than this youthful, vigorous and rich continent [of North America] turning away from its past evil and marching forward under the banner of Allahu Akbar [God is great]."

This contrast not only implies that Islamism threatens the West in a way that the traditional faith does not, but it also suggests why traditional Muslims, who are often the first victims of Islamism, express contempt for the ideology. Thus, Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt's Nobel Prize winner for literature, commented after being stabbed in the neck by an Islamist: "I pray to God to make the police victorious over terrorism and to purify Egypt from this evil, in defense of people, freedom, and Islam." Tujan Faysal, a female member of the Jordanian parliament, calls Islamism "one of the greatest dangers facing our society" and compares it to "a cancer" that "has to be surgically removed." ?evik Bir, one of the key figures in dispatching Turkey's Islamist government in 1997, flatly states that in his country, "Muslim fundamentalism remains public enemy number one." If Muslims feel this way, so can non-Muslims; being anti-Islamism in no way implies being anti-Islam.

Islamism in Practice

Like other radical ideologues, Islamists look to the state as the main vehicle for promoting their program. Indeed, given the impractical nature of their scheme, the levers of the state are critical to the realization of their aims. Toward this end, Islamists often lead political opposition parties (Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia) or have gained significant power (Lebanon, Pakistan, Malaysia). Their tactics are often murderous. In Algeria, an Islamist insurgency has led to some 70,000 deaths since 1992.

And when Islamists do take power, as in Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan, the result is invariably a disaster. Economic decline begins immediately. Iran, where for two decades the standard of living has almost relentlessly declined, offers the most striking example of this. Personal rights are disregarded, as spectacularly shown by the re-establishment of chattel slavery in Sudan. Repression of women is an absolute requirement, a practice most dramatically on display in Afghanistan, where they have been excluded from schools and jobs.

An Islamist state is, almost by definition, a rogue state, not playing by any rules except those of expediency and power, a ruthless institution that causes misery at home and abroad. Islamists in power means that conflicts proliferate, society is militarized, arsenals grow, and terrorism becomes an instrument of state. It is no accident that Iran was engaged in the longest conventional war of the twentieth century (1980-88, against Iraq) and that both Sudan and Afghanistan are in the throes of decades-long civil wars, with no end in sight. Islamists repress moderate Muslims and treat non-Muslims as inferior specimens. Its apologists like to see in Islamism a force for democracy, but this ignores the key pattern that, as Martin Kramer points out, "Islamists are more likely to reach less militant positions because of their exclusion from power. . . . Weakness moderates Islamists." Power has the opposite effect.

Islamism has now been on the ascendant for more than a quarter century. Its many successes should not be understood, however, as evidence that it has widespread support. A reasonable estimate might find 10 percent of Muslims following the Islamist approach. Instead, the power that Islamists wield reflects their status as a highly dedicated, capable and well-organized minority. A little bit like cadres of the Communist Party, they make up for numbers with activism and purpose.

Islamists espouse deep antagonism toward non-Muslims in general, and Jews and Christians in particular. They despise the West both because of its huge cultural influence and because it is a traditional opponent-the old rival, Christendom, in a new guise. Some of them have learned to moderate their views so as not to upset Western audiences, but the disguise is thin and should deceive no one.
30935  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / first time fighting on: November 17, 2004, 12:58:36 PM
Woof Thai:

I don't know if the following applies in your case or not, but I do know that many people put alot of pressure on themselves when they first fight; there seems to be some sort of idea that it will answer the question they have had for so long about how good they are.  This means if they perform at a level at less than they hoped, they then feel very badly about themselves and often become discouraged.

What I tell my cherry fighting students is this:

"Remember the first time you had sex.  Were you any good at it?  Have you gotten any better since?"

This usually brings a smile and helps keep things in perspective.

Guro Crafty
30936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: November 16, 2004, 12:33:12 AM
Iraq: Turning Toward Mosul
November 15, 2004   2359 GMT


Even as U.S.-Iraqi forces battled insurgents in Al Fallujah, violence broke out elsewhere in Iraq. After a recent rash of insurgent activity and other conflicts in the city of Mosul, the U.S.-Iraqi forces sent a light armor brigade from Al Fallujah to Mosul to help maintain security in the strategically important and ethnically diverse city. If the situation deteriorates, commanders could decide in four to six weeks to send more U.S.-Iraqi troops to Mosul to help quell the insurgency.


As the insurgency in Al Fallujah has dwindled to what officials have called "small pockets" of activity, violence has erupted elsewhere in Iraq -- including in the northern city of Mosul. Since Nov. 12, guerrilla actions reported in Mosul have included an uprising -- which resulted in local police forces fleeing their posts when militants stormed two police stations -- and an attempted strike against a U.S. military convoy with a vehicle-borne explosive device. In response to the recent violence, Kurdish Iraqi national guard troops have been sent to Mosul, and the U.S.-Iraqi force dispatched a U.S. light armor brigade from Al Fallujah to Mosul to help bolster security in the restive city.

The United States will wait to see if the light armor brigade is enough to shore up security in Mosul until the current wave of insurgent activity dies down. If more muscle is needed, U.S. military leaders likely will make a decision in four to six weeks about sending more troops to Mosul for a larger operation -- though a large-scale assault does not appear to be necessary.

Mosul is a special case -- it is strategically important for its proximity to the northern oil fields and refineries and for its nearness to Turkey, and it is one of the most racially mixed cities in Iraq. Baghdad has numerous ethnicities in its population, but in Mosul, the Kurdish, Turkoman and Sunni Arab ethnic groups are almost equally proportioned. Because of this balance, the environment in Mosul is always precarious. Saddam Hussein's "Arabization" campaign in northern Iraq, in which he tried to turn the mix into one that is predominately Sunni Arab, also has had lasting negative effects on ethnic relations in the region.

The ethnic tensions in Mosul touch upon the psychological component of controlling Mosul. The ethnic group controlling Mosul would not only find itself sitting neatly on top of one of Iraq's major oil arteries -- and near a major route into Turkey -- but would also feel it had overcome the other ethnic groups in the city.

The recent violence in Mosul, in fact, might not have just been caused by insurgents, though guerrillas from Al Fallujah have reportedly relocated there. A surge in public anger against the United States and the Interim Iraqi Government -- which the assault against Al Fallujah might have caused -- could have been a flash point for the ethnic groups to act out on existing frustrations, especially against Kurds, who are seen as U.S. allies.

This is nothing new to Iraq. Similar violence erupted in Baghdad and other cities during the first attack against Al Fallujah in April. Ethnic violence is not entirely a Sunni Arab phenomenon; violence erupted in certain sections of Baghdad when U.S. forces swept through An Najaf to try to capture militant Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Emotions seem to run high in Iraq; any large-profile military operation there is likely to precipitate agitation in other volatile areas throughout the country. A large-scale assault against Mosul would do no less. However, an attack against Mosul does not appear to be necessary.

Mosul has become a priority for the United States because controlling the insurgency is difficult enough without a civil war breaking out in a strategically valuable city. Not only does securing Mosul discourage the possibility of a war between the independence-seeking Kurds and the other ethnic groups, it also pre-empts ethnic violence that could destabilize the security situation in Iraq even further.

Given Mosul's relatively small size -- and the unavailability of additional troops who are fighting in other insurgent hot spots throughout the country -- U.S. military commanders will see what the light armor brigade can do before deciding on sending more troops to Mosul. The brigade will either be given a particular area of responsibility within the city or worked into various patrol and security rotations.

For now, the forces will focus on raids into enemy-held sections of town and then increase combat patrols to create the impression of securing the city. Though this will expose the U.S.-Iraqi forces to possible insurgent attacks, it will also give them the ability to hit back (since the brigade is coming from Al Fallujah, it is likely to have a more aggressive demeanor). It also is possible the local military command could take control and assign the troops to a holding pattern, or containment plan, until a larger operation can be planned out for the more troubled parts of the city.

Mosul is likely to be one of several cities U.S.-Iraqi forces will focus on next -- along with Ar Ramadi, which the U.S. military also considers a major target and which is strategically just as important as Mosul. Rather than launching a full-on assault, the U.S. command will see if the light armor brigade -- and the troops already in Mosul -- can hold down the fort. U.S.-Iraqi troops already are spread thin throughout Iraq; later, if needed, additional troops could be sent to Mosul for a larger operation -- but not of the same scale as Al Fallujah.
30937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct on: November 15, 2004, 11:49:54 AM
Professor Assails Anti-Bias Program
An unlikely critic says his new study shows that affirmative action hurts black law students.
By Stuart Silverstein, Times Staff Writer

UCLA law professor Richard H. Sander, author of a controversial new study concluding that affirmative action hurts black law school students, generally seems an unlikely candidate to challenge a leading liberal cause.

Sander, 48, is a soft-spoken former VISTA volunteer who for years has studied housing discrimination and championed efforts to fight segregation in Los Angeles. A self-described "pragmatic progressive" who supported John Kerry for president, Sander also promoted a local program in the 1990s to help the working poor win more federal aid.
Yet Sander's latest research, to be published this month in the Stanford Law Review, already is drawing widespread criticism from liberal backers of affirmative action and is roiling law schools around the country.

His study asserts that law school affirmative action programs often draw African Americans to tougher schools where they struggle to keep up, leading many to earn poor grades, drop out and fail their state bar exams.

"The big picture is that this system of racial preferences is no longer clearly achieving the goal of expanding the number of black lawyers," Sander said in an interview. "There's a very good chance that we're creating such high attrition rates that we're actually lowering production of black lawyers, and certainly we are weakening the preparation of the black lawyers we are producing."

Affirmative action opponents have made similar arguments about racial preferences in the past, but Sander's research provides new statistics on academic performance. He reports that, in his national sampling, nearly half of first-year black students received grades placing them in the bottom tenth of their classes. In addition, he found that among all students who entered law school in 1991, 45% of black students graduated and passed the bar exam on their first try, while 78% of whites did so.

Sander, who now favors scaling back affirmative action, argues that racial preferences often create an "academic mismatch" that puts black students into competition with white students with stronger credentials. He contends that if the same black students went to less selective law schools, they would earn higher grades, raising their chances of graduating and passing the bar exam.

Some critics who have read a draft of the paper say Sander is probably understating the rate at which blacks pass the bar exam. They also argue that his explanations for black students' lagging performance are based on sweeping, unproven assumptions, and they say that he fails to recognize affirmative action's far-reaching benefits.

"If we look at our society today compared to what it was before we had affirmative action, I think almost everybody would agree it's much better today," said David Wilkins, a Harvard law professor writing a critique of Sander's paper. "And the very fact that we had affirmative action is a big part of why."

At the same time, Sander is widely regarded as a serious, independent-minded academic. Alison Grey Anderson, a friend who has taught at the UCLA law school since 1972, said she admires his intellectual integrity. "If he believes something is true, he's going to say it, and he's really not going to take into account the political consequences," she said.

Amid the controversy these days, she said, "I wouldn't want to be in his shoes."

Sander, director of the Empirical Research Group at the UCLA law school, said one of his guiding principles is "the idea that policy changes have to be empirically evaluated before we do them, and that we need to take advantage of social science so we don't throw away political capital on things that aren't going to work."

Likewise, Sander said, affirmative action "needs to be subjected to the kinds of cost-benefit evaluation that we would apply to any social policy."

He said he knew his research would ignite controversy. But Sander, who lives in Los Feliz with his two children and wife, Caltech astrophysicist Fiona Harrison, said family issues prodded him to move ahead.

One factor, he said, is the educational future of his 14-year-old son, Robert. University affirmative action could play a role in Robert's life because his racial background is mixed: Sander is white and Robert's mother, Sander's first wife, is black.

Sander's other child, a 19-month-old daughter named Erica, has a terminal disease. Her illness, Sander said, reminded him of life's fragility and left him with "a sense of urgency." He said he didn't want to "leave important things unsaid."

Sander, who grew up in rural Indiana, earned his bachelor's degree at Harvard. After graduating, he served as a VISTA volunteer with a community organization in Chicago for a year.

Later, he went to Northwestern University, earning both a doctorate in economics and a law degree. In 1989, he moved to UCLA as a law professor.

In Los Angeles, Sander served as president of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California and helped start a public interest law program at UCLA.

Yet even before his latest study, Sander's research occasionally antagonized liberals.

In the 1990s, he was hired by the city of Los Angeles to study a living wage ordinance to boost pay for employers of city contractors, and he provided an opinion supporting the measure. But later, when he was retained by employer groups to study a living wage measure for Santa Monica, he came out on the opposite side, saying it would cost jobs without helping the families who most needed it. The difference, he said, was that the Los Angeles costs would be borne by city government, whereas Santa Monica's proposal would have placed a high minimum wage directly on businesses.

Sander also stirred controversy when he wrote an op-ed piece for The Times last year criticizing the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools, along with the University of California system, for "back door" programs that sidestep the state's ban on affirmative action. The column expressed his growing concerns that affirmative action "allows us to pretend that our racial problems are simpler than they really are" while avoiding addressing "real problems," such as poor inner-city schools and urban segregation.

His new Stanford Law Review study includes data from the Law School Admission Council on 27,000 students who entered 160 U.S. law schools in 1991.

Critics say Sander vastly underestimates the role affirmative action plays in persuading blacks to go to law school, especially when it means attending a top-tier school near home.

Partly for that reason, a group including two University of Michigan law professors who are drafting a response to Sander's paper estimate that eliminating affirmative action would reduce the number of blacks entering the legal profession by 25% to 30% annually. Sander, by contrast, estimates an increase of about 9%.

Critics also contest the notions that affirmative action is the only reason for poorer law school performance by blacks and that African American students would earn better grades at less selective schools. They say students admitted into more challenging schools often learn more, in part because of greater expectations and resources.

In addition, critics say, the connections made at elite law schools may push up their earnings more dramatically later in their careers, a possibility that Sander's study didn't address.

Sander said he hasn't been rattled by the criticism and maintained that it has become easier to discuss affirmative action thoughtfully since the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the practice in college admissions so long as it is considered in a "flexible, non-mechanical way."

Sander plans to follow up with studies on Latino and Asian law students and to investigate how affirmative action at law firms affects black attorneys. He said he is concerned that blacks at such firms are stigmatized and consequently don't as often get the experience they need to move up to partner status.

The attention generated by his current paper, Sander said, has been gratifying.

"What you least want is to write articles that just collect dust," Sander said. "What you most want to do is to get people to think, and this is definitely doing that."
30938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 15, 2004, 11:39:22 AM
Guerrilla's paradise
Staff correspondent Matthew McAllester goes with members of the 7th Calvary Division into the middle of Fallujah as they fight core rebels



November 14, 2004

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- From inside, the sound of an armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenade hitting a Bradley Fighting Vehicle is more tenor than bass, a bang rather than a boom. It produces an immediate cloud of dust and smoke, shakes the entire 30-ton vehicle like an empty beer can and is suddenly over, making the relief of still being alive almost instantaneous and the window of fear negligibly small.

"Go, go, driver, go," Sgt. Calvin Smalley of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment shouted on the radio, as soon as the explosion happened at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

Specialist Eric Watson, the driver, said nothing. The vehicle didn't move.

"Is Watson hit?" Smalley shouted.

Suddenly, the Bradley roared into motion, taking off at pace as the gunner pounded the nearby buildings with the high explosive rounds on his 25-mm cannon.

"Hey, Watson, you hurt at all?" asked Sgt. Akram Abdelwahab, 28, speaking into a radio handset from the rear compartment of the Bradley.

"I got shrapnel in my ----," Watson radioed back. He drove on a bit more.

"We got a hole about four inches by four inches," he radioed. "I got shrapnel in my leg and in my ----."

That was Watson's second battle injury. He also was injured in the battle of Najaf in August. That's two Purple Hearts for the 22-year-old from Wirt County, W.Va.

Having established that Watson wasn't seriously injured, his buddies proceeded to roast him over the radio, teasing him as they do on a regular basis -- but this time with a sort of grudging admiration for his stoicism. He didn't suggest once that he wanted medical care, and he kept on driving.

"Hey Watson," Abdelwahab, from Spartanburg, S.C., asked him in a baritone, gravelly Southern drawl, "you missing your boyfriends?"

Although Abdelwahab is of a higher rank, Watson gave him a piece of his mind.

Well-equipped insurgents

The battle of Fallujah took on a menacing new dimension for the American military forces on Friday.

One thing more than any other convinced the 2nd Battalion and other U.S. forces early in the day that the forces they were now fighting in the south of the city are the hardcore of Fallujah's insurgents: They were using expensive and up-to-date armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, and they knew how to fire them accurately and in complex ambush formation. That implied considerable financial resources, efficient arms supplies and military experience and training. It had some military commanders wondering whether the rumors of expert Chechen rebels working as commanders in Fallujah might be true.

In total, four tanks and five Bradleys from the 2nd Battalion were damaged Friday by insurgents. None had been damaged before in the battle.

Commanders said they were happy at the progress of the vehicle-based Army units and the mainly infantry Marines working alongside each other,? but noted that the battle remained intense and hazardous for American and interim Iraqi government forces.

"It was a good fight," said Lt. Col. Jim Rainey, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion. "Little better fighters, little better equipment."

The upsurge in fighting had come with Friday's sun. Apache and the two other armored companies of the 2nd Battalion had left their base just outside Fallujah at 6 p.m. on Thursday, pushed into town and headed south.

There, in thus-far uncharted territory for the American forces in Fallujah, they had encountered some resistance; but as on previous nights, the insurgents proved that they prefer to fight during the day. At night, the Americans can see the rebels through infrared sights. By day, that advantage is erased.

Fallujah in ruins

The center of Fallujah is a shattered place. Rotting bodies in the street fill the air with the stench of death, which comes and goes with the breeze. Chunks of rubble are strewn along roads and sidewalks. Many stores and homes and other cinderblock buildings have huge holes ripped into them by American shells. Bombs have collapsed many roofs.

The electric and telephone wires that line the streets are now twisted spaghetti. There's no power in town and the moon is a mere sliver right now, so at night, the only thing that lights up the streets is the glow of speeding munitions and explosions.

Cats and dogs are the only casual pedestrians in town. On Thursday night, soldiers in one Bradley watched on their infrared screen as three dogs, showing up as dark figures in the green-and-black world of infrared, tore at the flesh of a dead body.

War-torn Fallujah is a guerrilla's paradise. The rubble and the darkened holes of the town's abandoned shells provide great cover. Narrow alleyways and tight-knit housing help their movement. They appear, shoot and disappear. Actually spotting them is a rarity for most soldiers.

"It was like a shooting gallery at a carnival," said Capt. Ed Twaddell, 30, the commander of Apache company, Friday afternoon. "They pop up, they pop down."

With the fighting increasing in tempo, Twaddell, the other company commanders and Rainey decided to initiate a two-pronged attack in a fresh piece of territory south of a road the Americans have named Isabel. It would begin at noon.

The idea of the combined Army and Marine units at this stage in the battle was to keep pushing the insurgents south, killing as many as possible along the way, until they have been swept into the southern reaches of the city, where more American forces awaited them.

At the start of the path that Twaddell, of Jaffrey, N.H., and the other tank and Bradley commanders were about to take was an open area, a sort of courtyard. Three-story buildings stood nearby. A good spot for an ambush.

One officer said later that the insurgents who were hiding there must have been stockpiling weapons and scoping out positions inside the buildings for days, waiting for the Americans to come that way.

"These guys got some organization and did some research," said Smalley, 42, of San Diego, the commander of Apache 14. "They didn't just wing something like this. They're not special forces but I'm sure they've got some kind of training ... They got their financiers, trainers and executors."

The tanks and Bradleys of the 2nd Battalion have their own kind of organization and research, which they believe will prove ultimately successful. In the battle of Najaf in August, Rainey and his officers found that if you park it, they will come.

Sitting targets

Often, Rainey's Bradleys and tanks in Fallujah stay in the same spot for a long time, deliberately setting themselves up as targets in order to attract insurgents. Rainey describes this theory of combat as setting his vehicles up as "bugzappers."

"We got down there," he said on Friday afternoon. "We found the bugs. We're killing them."

It's a tactic that has its dangers. Staying static allows insurgents to get their sites on the vehicles and at various times in the morning mortars sailed out of the sky with unsettling frequency, landing close to the huge vehicles and shaking them, the layers of dust inside floating up into the close air yet another time.

Cultural risk

Another risky part of the American tactics -- although in this scenario the risk is cultural and political -- is the military's willingness to fire on mosques if insurgents fire from them first. No matter the justification of such tactics under international law, images or reports of U.S. soldiers firing on mosques does not play well in Iraq, the Muslim world at large or in many non-Muslim countries around the world, where anti-war feeling is high.

That's a price the commanders are prepared to pay if it means allowing their soldiers to defend themselves fully.

At one stage on Friday morning, insurgents fired at Apache 14 from a mosque. Under the military's rules of engagement, American soldiers are permitted to fire on any of Fallujah's 77 mosques if insurgents shoot from them first.

"They brought this ---- to themselves," Rainey said in the afternoon, visibly upset by casualties his battalion had just sustained. "Every mosque we found weapons inside. They're the ones who don't respect Islam, not us."

Apache 14's gunner shot through every window he could see. He pounded parts of the minaret, splinters of stone flying into the air.

Abdelwahab grabbed the radio handset and listened in to what the commanders were discussing.

An insurgent "hit a tank and the tank shot a main gun round through the mosque," reported Abdelwahab, whose father is Lebanese by birth and a Muslim. "Yeah, we gotta back off at least 300 meters. The Marines are going to drop a 300 pounder on the mosque."

"The main gun round going through there would pretty much wipe them out anyway," Cogil said.

Watson backed the Bradley away from the mosque, but the bomb never came. Officers later said they felt there were too many American vehicles in the vicinity to bomb the mosque without risk of a friendly fire incident.

The morning wore on amid an ever-intensifying hail of mortars, RPG attacks and small-arms fire. It was time for the two-pronged push to the south that Rainey, Twaddell and the other senior officers had planned.

The troops, after experiencing the early attack on Apache 14, might have assumed the worst was over for the day. It wasn't.

Attack on an Apache

At noon, Apache 14 had joined a group of other armored vehicles near the courtyard and three-story building. Suddenly, fire seemed to be coming from all sides.

"Apache 60's been hit," came a tense voice over the radio. Apache 60 was Twaddell's, the company commander. There were casualties, the voice said. "They need evac immediately."

Specialist Scott Cogil knew that meant he was up. He was the closest medic to the scene.

Sitting in the back of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Apache 14, only 50 yards from the Bradley that had just taken a vicious hit from another armor-piercing RPG, 20-year-old Cogil jammed his Kevlar helmet onto his head, grabbed his aid bag and waited for the ramp at the back of the tracked vehicle to lower.

So did four other soldiers, waiting in the near-dark box they had been sitting in for 18 hours, crawling around the streets of Fallujah while the gunner blasted away at insurgents.

With the hum of hydraulics, the ramp started going down. Their faces were tight. For all they knew, some of them, perhaps all of them, might not come back. They didn't discuss what they had to do in those moments as sunlight flooded the vehicle; not a word. The ramp hit the ground and outside there were hundreds of bullets flying around.

"Let's go," one shouted.

Operation rescue

Their M-16 rifles pointing toward nearby buildings, the five young soldiers burst out into a confusing world of noon light, massive gunfire, hidden enemies and injured comrades. They didn't even know which of the other nearby Bradleys they were meant to run to.

They found it.

There was a hole in the rear of Apache 60. Small, about an inch in diameter, but big enough for the grenade to enter the tiny compartment that can fit six soldiers. It had crashed through, searing through the side of an Iraqi-American translator, ripping the left arm off one of the soldiers almost at the shoulder and leaving shrapnel embedded in two others. Blinding smoke mixed with blood in an instant.

Twaddell was in the turret. Soft-spoken, bespectacled and modest, he kept his nerve in the chaos.

"It was very confusing," he said later. "I saw a flash in front of my knee. The turret was filled with smoke. I checked the gunner was OK, popped the hatch."

Twaddell stuck to his radio while his men tended to the wounded. Within minutes, he had organized a group of Bradleys around Apache 60 and Cogil and the other four from Apache 14 were there to help.

Bullets cracked past them and they didn't really know where they were coming from. Everywhere, it seemed.

Cogil found the wounded sergeant already lifted out of the Bradley, a soldier holding his belt tightly around the bleeding stump as a tourniquet. Fortunately, the arm was severed so far up that the major artery in the upper arm was not blown open. Cogil applied a more permanent tourniquet and helped load the wounded soldier into another Bradley.

"He was taking it like a champ, saying 'I'm fine, I'm fine,'" said Cogil, of Rantoul, Ill. The wounded sergeant kept asking if his men were safe as they rushed him out of the kill zone. On the way, Cogil said, boxes of ammunition and other items kept falling on the wounded man. "I felt terrible," Cogil said.

Their job done, Cogil's four colleagues grabbed one of the less seriously wounded men and raced back through the gunfire to their Bradley.

To safety, for now

With the ramp back up, the men sat in silence, breathing heavily, keeping their helmets on.

"That was ... freaky," the wounded soldier said. (His name, and the names of other wounded soldiers, are being withheld to allow them or the military time to notify their families.) "An RPG came through the side."

He stared at the three pieces of metal poking out of his right hand. They glinted in the small shaft of light slicing into the compartment from one of the envelope-sized periscopes in the rear.

"Get 'em back right now," came an officer's voice on the radio. "Let's go back to the train station."

As Apache 14 headed north, the soldier with the shards of metal in his hand stretched it out gingerly, keeping the blood flowing. He looked up and laughed: "It's crazy." Then he bowed his head and put his fingers to his forehead, rubbing them gently as if he were extremely tired.

"We're rolling," Abdelwahab said.

Barely a word was said before the Bradley had rolled past the train station on the outskirts of town and north toward the 2nd Battalion's temporary base in the desert at an old plaster factory.

Back out to battle

Once there, the injured went to the medical aid tent and the rest of the soldiers cleaned the inside of the Bradley and then themselves.

Rainey spoke with Twaddell and other officers. Twaddell "guesstimated" that they had killed about 35 insurgents, that there were perhaps 200 out there in the south still.

The commanding officer, it turned out, had lost another soldier from his corps. A tank had rolled over, killing the man instantly. But overall, Rainey was pleased with the progress his men were making. One of the hit tanks was quickly repaired and returned to duty. A soldier painted "I'm Back" in black spray paint on its front.

"I made him paint it over," Rainey said, laughing. He walked through the fields of powdery dust toward Apache 14. Abdelwahab was shaving. Cogil was dabbing at himself with baby wipes, the closest soldiers here come to a shower. The limping Watson offered to display his rear-end wounds and deflected the usual ribbings.

"Listen," Rainey said. "You guys are doing great ... It's humbling, humbling to be around."

"Thanks, sir," someone said.

Six hours later, they got back in Apache 14 and headed back to the fight.

What's Wrong With Combat Pay?

November 15, 2004; Page A22

American soldiers are risking their lives in Fallujah. No one would say that they don't deserve a special bonus for wearing America's uniform in these embattled times. No one, that is, except many members of Congress -- Republican and Democrat. While these pols fall all over themselves to argue how much they support the troops, they back a policy called "pay parity" -- which sends the message that the soldier risking his or her life in Iraq is just like any other government worker.

"Pay parity" dictates that federal military and civilian workers must get the same percentage increase in pay. The concept has governed in most of the last 20 years of congressional appropriations, but the Bush administration has argued that a special raise is in order for the armed services. The administration's budget for fiscal year 2005 provides for across-the-board pay increases of 3.5% for military employees and a smaller raise for federal civilian workers.

But even with a war on, government employees' unions and many in Congress still make the argument that soldiers serving in Iraq and bureaucrats at the IRS are equally important to the well-being of America. Tom Davis (R., Va.), who represents suburbs of D.C. that many federal workers call home, states that "both civilian and military employees are the government's greatest asset." House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), with a similar constituency, asserts that "Congress and the White House should not undermine the morale of dedicated federal public servants by failing to bring their pay adjustments in line with military personnel." Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, says that ending pay parity would send to federal employees the message "that their work is . . . not as valued, and not as vital as that of . . . military counterparts."

Yet if members of Congress are as concerned about soldiers as they say they are, the message to Ms. Kelley and her ilk must be that, as important as some of the work done by civilian employees is, their work is not as indispensable as that done by the soldiers keeping our country free. Congress still has a chance to change this policy in the lame duck session.

Opponents of pay parity also warn that sticking to existing policy in the coming years could hamper the efforts to retain the best soldiers in the military. They also refute arguments used to support pay parity based on the supposedly large pay gap between federal-civilian and private-sector workers. Rep. Ernest Istook (R., Okla.) points out that over the last four years, pay raises for federal civilians have been double the Consumer Price Index's cost-of-living increase. Federal workers also get the day off with pay on 11 federal holidays, more paid time off than most private-sector jobs provide. And, of course, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan don't get any holidays from being in harm's way.

Besides, in wartime, federal civilian workers should understand why the military should get priority in pay raises. As Ramona Fortanbary, editor of Veterans' Vision, writes, "These patriotic men and women, who after all did choose government service over more lucrative private employment, can and will understand that . . . at times of great demand upon the military services . . . the troops need the money more."

Mr. Berlau is a journalism fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
30939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: November 15, 2004, 07:49:12 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Monday, Nov. 15, 2004
November 15, 2004   0714 GMT

The last major stronghold in Al Fallujah appears to have fallen. That does
not mean that the fighting is over, however. Guerrillas remain in the city,
bypassed by the main body of U.S. troops. Operating in small teams, these guerrillas will strike at softer targets, such as supply vehicles and
isolated foot patrols. They will be difficult to find. The rubble provides
excellent cover. They will become visible when they launch attacks, so U.S. forces will now configure themselves so as to be able to rapidly reinforce troops that have come under guerrilla attack. The game of hide-and-seek can be a long and brutal experience. The guerrillas will have to be killed, induced to surrender, or manage to exfiltrate the city.

Nevertheless, the main battle is over, and more quickly than we expected. It was our expectation that the United States would draw out the assault as in An Najaf, in order to avoid major casualties and to permit the battle to serve as the backdrop for the critical negotiations taking place between Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the United States on the one side and the Sunni leadership on the other. But that wasn't the way the United States played it out. The basic outline is in place, but the U.S. goal is clearly more ambitious than we thought.

As the battle in Al Fallujah quieted, U.S. leaders began publicly speaking
of dealing with other guerrilla strongholds in other cities. Rather than
using Al Fallujah as the backdrop for negotiations, the United States has
clearly decided on a much broader canvas. Officials are looking at the
entire Sunni triangle, and all the cities within it, as sequential targets
until the Sunni leadership turns on the guerrillas.

The picture the United States is now painting is of a broad sequential or
even simultaneous campaign directed against city after city until the
guerrilla movement has suffered overwhelming attrition and the Sunni
leadership capitulates to American political demands.

It has undoubtedly been noticed by the Sunnis that the attack on Al Fallujah has brought a very muted response in the United States. The Democratic left is so dispirited by the defeat of John Kerry that it has hardly been noticed, in spite of casualties in Al Fallujah. Equally interesting has been the quiet from Europe. France and Germany clearly don't want to tangle with President George W. Bush at this point. Equally important, the killing of a Dutch filmmaker who had criticized Muslims has had a chilling effect on Europeans in general. The broad public has been shocked and is rethinking its views on Muslims in Europe and, therefore, on the U.S. war effort in Iraq. Events in Amsterdam have caused the Europeans to view Iraq through a different prism.

More than at any point since the Iraq war began, the United States is free
from constraints. Neither U.S. public opinion nor European diplomacy is
shaping U.S. war plans. Based on Vietnam, there has been a belief among many that a guerrilla insurgency cannot be defeated. This thinking is true if by "defeated" you mean completely eradicated. If, however, what you mean is reducing the guerrillas so they no longer threaten the regime or basic stability, guerrilla movements can, in fact, be suppressed -- and have been.

In Vietnam, the communists deployed hundreds of thousands of troops, with secured sanctuaries in neighboring countries and a robust logistical
pipeline -- the Ho Chi Minh Trail -- supporting them. Iraq has thousands of guerrillas, probably less than 10,000. There is no sanctuary, and there is no robust supply line. They survive through the support of the population, and that support depends on the Sunni elders. At the moment the elders decide the price is too high, the insurgency will rapidly degrade.

The United States is trying to show the elders just how high the price will
be. We expected Al Fallujah to last for weeks. It has lasted for days, and
new operations are already being planned. The United States is now in a
position to carry out a ruthless campaign designed not only to root out the guerrillas, but to impose a massive cost on the Sunni communities. The United States is not constrained politically and has the necessary force to carry out this campaign. On the other hand, it cannot afford to take too long in carrying out this campaign.

In short, the United States is trying to back the guerrillas against the
wall by splitting them from the Sunni elders, and to do it much faster than we had expected it to happen. We now have an extremely dynamic situation developing in Iraq, where the most likely course is a re-evaluation by the Sunni elders of their prior position, and potentially, a civil war among the Sunnis as one result. The outcome is far from certain, but the war is certainly now taking a dramatic turn.

Copyrights 2004 - Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
30940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: November 15, 2004, 12:26:12 AM

Bordering On Nukes?
New accounts from al-Qaeda to attack the U.S. with weapons of mass

Sunday, Nov. 14, 2004
A key al-Qaeda operative seized in Pakistan recently offered an alarming
account of the group's potential plans to target the U.S. with weapons of
mass destruction, senior U.S. security officials tell TIME. Sharif al-Masri,
an Egyptian who was captured in late August near Pakistan's border with Iran and Afghanistan, has told his interrogators of "al-Qaeda's interest in
moving nuclear materials from Europe to either the U.S. or Mexico,"
according to a report circulating among U.S. government officials.

Masri also said al-Qaeda has considered plans to "smuggle nuclear materials to Mexico, then operatives would carry material into the U.S.," according to the report, parts of which were read to TIME. Masri says his family, seeking refuge from al-Qaeda hunters, is now in Iran.

Masri's account, though unproved, has added to already heightened U.S.
concerns about Mexico. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge met publicly with top Mexican officials last week to discuss border security and
smuggling rings that could be used to slip al-Qaeda terrorists into the
country. Weeks prior to Ridge's lightning visit, U.S. and Mexican
intelligence conferred about reports from several al-Qaeda detainees
indicating the potential use of Mexico as a staging area "to acquire
end-stage chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material." U.S.
officials have begun to keep a closer eye on heavy-truck traffic across the
border. The Mexicans will also focus on flight schools and aviation
facilities on their side of the frontier.

And another episode has some senior U.S. officials worried: the theft of a crop-duster aircraft south of San Diego, apparently by three men from southern Mexico who assaulted a watchman and then flew off in a southerly direction. Though the theft's connection to terrorism remains unclear, a senior U.S. law-enforcement official notes that crop dusters can be used to disperse toxic substances. The plane, stolen at night two weeks ago, has not been recovered.
30941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security on: November 13, 2004, 08:09:21 AM
From the DRUDGE REPORT today:
Fri Nov 12 2004 12:02:34 ET

Osama bin Laden now has religious approval to use a nuclear device against Americans, says the former head of the CIA unit charged with tracking down the Saudi terrorist. The former agent, Michael Scheuer, speaks to Steve Kroft in his first television interview without disguise to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 14 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Scheuer was until recently known as the "anonymous" author of two books critical of the West's response to bin Laden and al Qaeda, the most recent of which is titled Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. No one in the West knows more about the Qaeda leader than Scheuer, who has tracked him since the mid-1980s. The CIA allowed him to write the books provided he remain anonymous, but now is allowing him to reveal himself for the first time on Sunday's broadcast; he formally leaves the Agency today (12).

Even if bin Laden had a nuclear weapon, he probably wouldn't have used it for a lack of proper religious authority - authority he has now. "[Bin Laden] secured from a Saudi sheik...a rather long treatise on the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Americans," says Scheuer. "[The treatise] found that he was perfectly within his rights to use them. Muslims argue that the United States is responsible for millions of dead Muslims around the world, so reciprocity would mean you could kill millions of Americans," Scheuer tells Kroft.

Scheuer says bin Laden was criticized by some Muslims for the 9/11 attack because he killed so many people without enough warning and before offering to help convert them to Islam. But now bin Laden has addressed the American people and given fair warning. "They're intention is to end the war as soon as they can and to ratchet up the pain for the Americans until we get out of their region....If they acquire the weapon, they will use it, whether it's chemical, biological or some sort of nuclear weapon," says Scheuer.

As the head of the CIA unit charged with tracking bin Laden from 1996 to 1999, Scheuer says he never had enough people to do the job right. He blames former CIA Director George Tenet. "One of the questions that should have been asked of Mr. Tenet was why were there always enough people for the public relations office, for the academic outreach office, for the diversity and multi-cultural office? All those things are admirable and necessary but none of them are protecting the American people from a foreign threat," says Scheuer.

And the threat posed by bin Laden is also underestimated, says Scheuer. "I think our leaders over the last decade have done the American people a disservice...continuing to characterize Osama bin Laden as a thug, as a gangster," he says. "Until we respect him, sir, we are going to die in numbers that are probably unnecessary, yes. He's a very, very talented man and a very worthy opponent," he tells Kroft.

Until today (12), Scheuer was a senior official in the CIA's counter terrorism unit and a special advisor to the head of the agency's bin Laden unit.


Politics and Policy
Homeland Security's Counterweight
Inspector General Takes
Politically Risky Steps
In Serving as a Watchdog

Throughout the 2004 presidential campaign, the harshest critic of the administration's homeland-security efforts wasn't John Kerry or the Democrats. It was one of President Bush's own -- Homeland Security Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin.

A Texas Republican and Houston native, Mr. Ervin is a longtime ally of the Bush family, having first worked for former President George H. W. Bush. He became Homeland Security's top cop for internal waste, fraud and abuse in a recess appointment nearly a year ago. The question now is whether he will be reappointed when the new Congress convenes in January.

During his tenure, Mr. Ervin has issued three reports critical of the department's sky-marshal and airport-screening programs and has lashed out at the department's "failure of leadership" in creating a single database of terrorist suspects. He attacked the Transportation Security Administration for throwing a $486,000 party, including outlays of $81,767 for award plaques, $1,500 for cheese buffets and $1,486 for balloons. He concluded that federal inspectors aren't up to the task of detecting weapons of mass destruction in shipping containers. And he has even gone so far as to describe the government's antiterrorism efforts on the whole as "ad hoc" and "uncoordinated."

Long for the Job?
Clark Kent Ervin is the outspoken Inspector General of the Homeland Security Department

Born: April 1, 1959

Raised: Houston

Education: B.A. in Government, Harvard College, 1980; Master&s, Oxford University, 1982; J.D., Harvard Law, 1985.

Family: Married to Carolyn Harris, a Democrat and consultant with the Heinz Center for Education and the Environment.

Public Service: 1989-91, White House Office of National Service; 1995-1999, Assistant Secretary of State of Texas; 2001-03, Inspector General, State Department.

Texas Ties: Went to the same Houston area secondary school as President Bush; won Republican primary but lost general election bid for Congress in 1991.

Source: WSJ research
"I stand by that," he says in a recent interview.

It is an extraordinary comment by an official in an administration not known to publicly air problems or disagreements. Mr. Ervin has turned heads in the media and on Capitol Hill with his candor and made enemies in the new department where he is criticized as uninformed about fighting terrorism. His detractors in DHS and on Capitol Hill also have complained that he talks too much to the media -- something Mr. Ervin admits to proudly, noting that the only thing he has to bring force to his reports is "the bright light of congressional attention and the press."

Like Superman, the alter ego of his namesake, Mr. Ervin seems impervious to the brickbats. "It's my job to call it as I see it and let the political chips fall where they may," says Mr. Ervin, a 45-year-old lawyer.

Where those chips are going to fall is unclear. By law Mr. Ervin's appointment expires at the end of this Congress. For him to continue in the job, the White House must reappoint him next year at the start of the 109th Congress. Neither the White House nor Senate leaders are saying whether Mr. Ervin will return to the post.

His first nomination to the job languished in the Senate for a year until Mr. Bush finally appointed him during the congressional recess in December 2003. According to Mr. Ervin and congressional staffers, the Senate didn't act on his nomination because of concern that he failed to investigate accusations of wrongdoing while he was inspector general at the State Department. He says that he did investigate the matter, but found that he had no jurisdiction. All sides refused to discuss any details.

Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement last week that if Mr. Ervin were nominated again, he would be considered carefully, "as the Governmental Affairs Committee considers every nomination."

About six weeks before the election, when Mr. Ervin issued perhaps his most scathing report, on the government's failure to forge a viable database of terrorist suspects, a White House spokeswomen said Mr. Bush had complete confidence in Mr. Ervin and was "grateful for his service." Since Mr. Bush's re-election, the White House has been more circumspect when discussing individuals on the president's team.

But Mr. Ervin is no stranger to fighting for survival. He was born a month premature, and his struggle to live touched his brother Art, 11 years old at the time and a huge Superman fan. When it became clear that the baby would be fine, Art begged his parents to name him after his hero. They agreed. "I love it," Mr. Ervin says. "It's I who insists on signing my name in full. Otherwise no-one would know what the "K" stands for."

Growing up the third son of a bricklayer in Houston's poor, black Third Ward, Mr. Ervin was pushed by two teachers to apply to the city's elite Kinkaid School, President Bush's alma mater. He was the first African-American boy to attend the school. He excelled at music, becoming an accomplished pianist, and was obsessed with politics, developing into one of the nation's top high-school debaters.

Mr. Ervin's friendship with George W. Bush started in 1988, when a mutual acquaintance recommended Mr. Ervin for a job in the first Bush administration. The younger Mr. Bush wrote a note recommending Mr. Ervin, who eventually landed work in George H.W. Bush's Office of National Service, which fostered volunteer projects. Later, when the younger Mr. Bush became Texas governor, Mr. Ervin joined his administration as an assistant secretary of state under Alberto Gonzales, who was named earlier this week to succeed John Ashcroft as Attorney General.

Mr. Ervin returned to Washington in 2001 as the State Department's inspector general after being personally recommended by Secretary of State Colin Powell. A year later, Mr. Powell suggested he take on the same role at the new Department of Homeland Security.

Despite his close ties to the Bush family, Mr. Ervin hasn't pulled his punches. His investigations have led to arrests of allegedly corrupt customs officials, embarrassed DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, and challenged the White House.

When President Bush created the Terrorist Threat Integration Center in May 2003, effectively duplicating Homeland Security's intelligence-analysis responsibilities, Mr. Ervin said the move risked undermining the department. At the time, Mr. Ridge insisted the move wasn't a threat to his department.

Asked about the conflicting views on PBS's "NewsHour," Mr. Ridge said the inspector general's conclusion suggested that Mr. Ervin was "not as aware as he should be" of the department's activities.

Mr. Ervin says he has only had positive feedback from the White House and Senate, and if the department is displeased with him, it is only natural. "Criticism, even though it's constructive, is not easy to take," he says.

Mr. Ervin says the department wants a break because it is new. "My response is that's precisely when we should be involved, before money is wasted, before a program is too far out of the block that it basically can't be corrected and you have to start all over. This mission is too important for it to fall victim to politics."

Asked if he thought there was a political risk in his attitude, he plays with his college ring from Harvard and shrugs. "Common sense would say there is. But on the other hand, I know the president well enough to know that he wants every person in his administration to do the right thing."

He adds: "My hope is that I get to stay. I want to stay. I think the record suggests that I should be able to stay."

Write to Robert Block at
30942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 11, 2004, 04:33:37 PM
Here is a woman, married for years, trying to understand why her husband would volunteer to join a National Guard unit that would be going to war.  Maybe her thoughts can help others understand what being in the miltary, or having served, is all about.  
Gregory, MI

I didn?t understand until that Sunday evening as we drove down the road. I had tried to get it. I had tried to understand why the man who hated to be separated from me for even a day would be willing to pack up his duffle bag and go to a place that was everything he hated in this world.

My husband is one of a dying breed. He grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in a small town. His address in the town of McMillan was ?Just past Helmer. It?s the white house with the five big maple trees and two Farmall tractors out front.? He was born in that white house, learned to drive on the tractors and spent his childhood playing underneath the maple trees as he dreamed of the big city. He is not a ?city slicker? as he calls me. This man loves the small farming towns and is outside of his element in the city. He hates the heat and can?t live without trees; many trees. The desert and intense heat is not something he has ever had a desire to visit.

When he explained to me that he was planning to transfer to a new unit within the Michigan Army National Guard, I understood why. The unit he had spent the past five or so years was going to be disbanded and made over. He would no longer be a mechanic but a truck driver. A man who even in his off time visits the dairy farm behind us and throws hay for the heck of it, is not a one who can sit and drive a truck all day. So, when he explained he would be changing units, it made perfect sense to me.

What did not make sense to me was the unit he had decided to transfer too. He chose one that he knew was already on alert. I was horrified at best. While alert is not a guarantee of mobilization, it is a fairly safe bet to expect within a short time that unit will receive orders for parts unknown. I asked him why on earth he would voluntarily move to unit that is very likely destined to find itself in the thick of Operation Enduring Freedom. He just looked at me, obviously a bit startled by my horror and explained ?Well, I am going to go anyway, sooner or later. I might as well get it done and over with.?

After over seven years of marriage I know when I am being sold a bunch of bull and this was more bull than he had ever tried selling me before. I wasn?t buying a single word. Get it done and over with; not quite. This was the same man I had to beg, plead and throw a fit to keep from finding a unit that had been deployed to Afghanistan after 911. This had nothing to do with getting anything done and over.

While, I did not understand why he felt the need to do this, I did understand he believed this was something he must do. I hated it and cursed myself as I promised to stand behind him and support whatever decision he had made. We had discussed the various units that had his MOS available, where they had been located, which units he had some contact with during AT, which units he liked and so on. We had also discussed which ones looked good for mobilization in the near future before he made any decision about leaving his old unit. When he asked me where I wanted him to go, I told him not to ask me. I was terrified that any suggestion I made would land him in a unit that would be find itself mobilized, I also did not want to make him feel guilty for doing what he felt was right.

I knew I could not live with the guilt if my input had any bearing on his choices. I promised to stand behind any decision he made and left it at that. It didn?t take long before I was kicking myself for taking such a stand. I wanted to scream, cry and beg for him to choose another unit. As tempting as it was, I knew that if he changed his mind merely to please me, we would both have to live with the regret for the rest of our lives. That kind of regret I can live without.

I spent weeks trying to comprehend why he would purposely put himself in harms way. I asked every question I could think of, never getting a satisfactory answer. I even started to ask other members of the military. Everyone I came across from Vietnam Vets to other members of the National Guard found themselves being questioned about what drives them to head into a combat zone. Nobody could give me an answer that helped me understand.

Many times husband reminded me that while he was in service during Panama and Operation Desert Storm for reasons beyond his own control he never actually left the United States. Being a civilian, this sounded to me like a good thing. He would just smile at me with a look of amusement and say ?It?s all about the patch Honey.? My husband has never been one to worry about awards or patches, but the combat patch was more than one more thing to sew onto his uniform. For him it was something much bigger. If that patch was all this was about, I would happily go to a surplus store and find him one: I knew better.

One Sunday evening after having dinner with our brother-in-law and his wife we were driving home. Somehow we ended up on the topic of my greatest pet peeve: The phrase ?Weekend Warrior?. I have always felt those two words are the most insulting thing one can say to any soldier. I had spent a good part of the past several years as a member of family support for his unit. I knew the men and women of his unit, I knew about their past military history. I knew about the phone call they received the day after Christmas several years before. Their holiday celebrations took quite a turn as they were informed they were being mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. These men and women had served their country in so many ways; they have all gone above and beyond one weekend a month and two weeks a year. They had served in combat and still most American?s had no idea that any of them have ever done anything but assist during a flood or a local crisis.

Somewhere in that conversation my husband had become very quiet. He looked over at me and I could see something in his eyes, something that I had not recognized before that day. He looked at me and began to speak in a voice that chilled me to the bone. The quiet for some reason seemed ear shattering ?A Weekend Warrior but a full time soldier.? I didn?t get a chance to respond this very simple comment that suddenly spoke volumes before he began to explain. ?When I was at PLDC, there was a Colonel there who spoke at graduation.? The look on his face assured that he had my full attention. The man who usually had a glimpse of humor in his eyes was deadly serious as he continued ?He told us that he saw his civilian job as his part time job and the Guard was his full time job. At the time I thought he was crazy. The check I got each month didn?t feed my family or pay my bills. But now??..? There was sadness in his eyes. September 11, 2001 had changed us all in many ways; it had changed my husband?s ideals and his reasoning for remaining a soldier. It had given him a different sense of pride and a much stronger belief in his duty to his country.

My husband didn?t need to finish that sentence; he had actually explained it to me many times and in many ways over the previous 3 years. The man that had been a soldier first in the regular Army and then a reservist with the Guard was in for more than the fun or because he would get a very small retirement in comparison to his retirement from his civilian job. This man is a soldier at heart. It is who he is, it defines him. He is a Carpenter by trade, an incredibly talented craftsman; yet, he does not take even a fraction of the pride in his skill as he does when he puts on his uniform and shines his boots. When a friend questioned his reasoning for choosing a unit that is already on alert he explained. ?The easiest thing in the world is knowing what is right; the hard part is doing what is right.? Finally I understood.

My husband like so many others who give up their weekends and summer vacations to fufill a promise they have made to the citizens of the United States is also willing to take a large cut in pay and separate himself from those he loves to join his other family: The family of fellow Weekend Warriors who no matter where they are, what they are wear or what they are doing are always soldiers.

An American Hero
More than a few folks predicted that after the elections there would be a shift in the tone of coverage of the Iraq war. Whatever the reason, credit the NY Times for publishing this profile of an American hero, Sgt Rowe Slayton.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HEADHUNTER, Iraq - Wearing 60 pounds of body armor over his desert camouflage uniform and cradling a black M-4 rifle, Sgt. Rowe Slayton looks every bit the typical Army infantryman in Iraq.
He is not.

An Air Force Academy graduate and former F-15 fighter pilot, then-Major Slayton left the Air National Guard 17 years ago to run his civilian law practice in Denver and rear his six children. But his life changed not long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when he enlisted in the Arkansas Army National Guard in what he says was an act of patriotism.

Now Sergeant Slayton, 53, is leading three other soldiers young enough to be his sons on an infantry fire team that regularly runs combat patrols in the Haifa Street section of Baghdad, one of the riskiest missions in the Iraqi capital. More than a third of the 119 soldiers in his Guard unit, Company C of the First Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, have been awarded Purple Hearts for being wounded in action since they arrived here in April.

"That's one club I don't necessarily want to join," said Sergeant Slayton, in full battle gear one recent afternoon while his platoon acted as a quick-response force to back up another unit on patrol.

Pentagon officials have been expressing fear that the sweeping call-up of tens of thousands of Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers for yearlong tours in Iraq and Afghanistan may soon cripple recruiting and retention in America's part-time force. But Sergeant Slayton's story echoes those of a small number of other reservists with prior military service who have answered the nation's call to arms.

Military personnel specialists say that his case is unusual in several other ways too: the long gap since his previous service, his willingness to enlist as an Army sergeant after a career as an Air Force officer and fighter pilot and his willingness to volunteer for infantry duty when the Army is searching for every able-bodied foot soldier to battle the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It all raises the question, "Why?" to which Sergeant Slayton smiles and patiently tries to explain, obviously not for the first time.

"This country has been so good to me," he said. "I just have so many things to be grateful for. It's an honor to be here."


Sergeant Slayton is a self-effacing man who initially declined to be interviewed for this article and agreed only after being assured that his fire-team comrades would be included.


For a high-flying aviator, the life of a muddy-boots ground-pounder has been an adjustment. "It's taught me humility," Sergeant Slayton said. "I'm not at the bottom, but I can sure see it."

Then again, there are not many Army sergeants whose college classmates are now senior generals in Washington and in Japan.

Sergeant Slayton graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1973. He rose quickly through the ranks, first as a T-37 instructor and then as a pilot in the first operational F-15 fighter squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

But he said he became disenchanted with the military. It was during the Carter administration, and he was frustrated with cuts in military spending and capability. He left active duty to attend law school in Denver, but remained in the Air National Guard, commuting to a unit in Des Moines for seven years.

In 1987, he decided to leave the Guard. By then he was a major and more promotions seemed likely. But the cold war was winding down, and he had never been deployed overseas, much less seen combat. His family and law practice beckoned.

When the Persian Gulf crisis broke out in 1990, he looked into volunteering, but the war ended before anything came of that.

It was not until the Sept. 11 attacks that he again felt the calling. This time, he said, he was determined to find a combat unit. An Air Force recruiter told him that he had been out too long and had lost his officer's commission. "I was too old to fly anyway," he said.

On a trip to his summer home in Arkansas in 2002, he stopped at an Army National Guard armory in Arkadelphia, where a recruiter listened to Sergeant Slayton's story and promised him a spot if he passed a physical exam. That was easy for Sergeant Slayton, a stocky, muscular man with cropped graying hair. After nearly a year of bureaucratic snarls during which the Guard lost his records twice, Sergeant Slayton finally took his oath of service in June 2003 and reported for two weeks of annual training.

The deployment has taken its toll on his personal and professional life, as it has for many other reservists. His law partner married, and he had to close his practice. "Clients don't really like their lawyer being in Baghdad," he said. (Nonetheless, he has filed two appellate briefs from here.)

Sergeant Slayton sent his 11-year-old son, James, the only one of his children left at home, to live with the boy's mother. He said he regularly called and sent e-mail messages to his son, but had underestimated how difficult his deployment to a combat zone would be on James. Despite the danger and hard stares he and his unit get from many Iraqis in the streets, Sergeant Slayton said he still believed in America's mission in Iraq. "While out on patrol recently, I had an older woman walk alongside me," he said. "She kept her eyes straight ahead so no one could see she was talking to me, and she kept thanking me for being here."

An amazing story. There's a picture of Sgt Slayton on the Time's page, complete with DCU pilot and jump wings.
30943  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Dance Card for the Gathering on: November 10, 2004, 08:26:44 AM
Francisco Taruc sounded interested.  I think he is also thinking about the Tinkoff brothers.
30944  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / how long to "spar" on: November 10, 2004, 08:22:56 AM
Woof All:

1) In my understanding numbering systems are not the same thing as striking patterns/combinations, although some combinations are usually found in numbering systems.  The numbers are but a way of naming strikes.

There are some differences in numbering systems.  Systems around lighter weapons tend to have a 2 on the diagonal, whereas in systems around bigger weapons it is more common to see the 2 come back on the mid-horizontal.  PT has 1 and 2 as horizontals to the head.  In my experience, many systems install the horizontal strikes only on the mid-lines and typically practitioners so trained often lack the horizontal on the head line.

In DBMA we prefer to simply name strikes with combinations of these words:  Forehand, Backhand, Redondo, Slash, jab, vertical, diagonal, horizontal, uppercut, thrust, and punyo, reverse, etc. (Kabaroan Eskrima has an analogous manner of naming its strikes that is more evolved.) Thus for example, a backhand vertical jab, a forehand slash uppercut, a reverse forehand redondo, etc.  Occasionally strikes have their own name e.g. the Caveman, the Dodger, the Bolo, etc.

Combinations are addressed directly as such.

2)Concerning when to start sparring/fighting:  It depends not only on the individual, but also on the level, attitude and composure of whom he is fighting.

The advantage to starting relatively soon is that it tends to innoculate one against martial arts fantasies and promotes getting the essence from training.  

The potential disadvantages are:
a) that it plays to the vanity of the player i.e. thinking himself a badass, he becomes too opinionated about training methods and techniques and may lessen his willingness to engage in mid and long term skill development, and

b) he may get dinged and put his tail between his legs because the experience overwhelmed him.

Guro Crafty
30945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 09, 2004, 11:41:20 PM
Col. (ret) Ralph Peters:



November 9, 2004 -- THE most decisive battle since the fall of Baghdad has begun. Thousands of U.S. Marines, Army units and Iraqi government forces have moved into Fallujah. Now we need to finish the job swiftly, no matter the cost in death and destruction, before the will of our civilian leaders weakens again. Stopping even one building short of the annihilation of the terrorists and insurgents would be a defeat. Al-Jazeera will pull out the propaganda stops, inventing American atrocities. The BBC will pressure Tony Blair to rein in our president. Iraqi faction leaders will press Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to accept a cease-fire for "talks."

The weight of the free world is on the shoulders of our Marines and
soldiers - and on the backs of our Iraqi allies. They've got to wrap up
major operations in a week.

We can do it. Our troops are the best in the world. The early phases of
combat last night showed solid intelligence work and adept planning. The
terrorists spent months preparing defensive traps, but our combat
engineers - key members of the team - blew right through the roadside bombs and barricades. We're off to an impressive start.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are attacking on multiple axes, keeping the terrorists off balance. Key sites within the city already have been seized - including a hospital that cared more about propaganda than its patients. Iraqi national forces have performed solidly thus far. A win in Fallujah will mark the birth of their new nation - one that never really existed in the past, when Iraq was held together only through oppression.

Significantly, the main assault began after darkness fell. Following months
of preparatory airstrikes and unpublicized raids by U.S. special operations
forces, the night attack instantly put the terrorists at a disadvantage.
Although our enemies may have acquired a few night-vision devices, our
troops are superbly equipped and trained as night stalkers.

In the irregular wars of the past, the guerrillas owned the hours of
darkness. Not anymore. G.I. Joe is the Midnight Master.

Expect 'round-the-clock ground and air operations that give the terrorists
no rest and deprive them of the initiative. Our troops know how important
this battle is. They'll fight ferociously. The Marines, especially, are
itching for revenge after being deprived of victory for political reasons
last April. They only need to be allowed to do the job right this time.

It's up to President Bush not to let them down. No matter what happens, no matter who complains or balks, no matter the false accusations from
Al-Jazeera and the BBC, our president needs to stand firm until the job is
done. By quitting in April, we created the terrorist city-state of Fallujah.
Now we need to shut it down for good.

Meanwhile, be prepared for media monkey business. No matter how well things go, we'll hear self-righteous gasps over the inevitable U.S. casualties. The first time a rifle company consolidates a position long enough to bring up ammunition, we'll hear that the attack has bogged down. If commanders on the ground decide to shift forces from one axis of advance to another, we'll be told that our troops couldn't make progress against "dug-in terrorists."

If four Iraqi units out of five perform well in battle, but one outfit fails
or flees, we'll be bombarded with reports insisting that our training
program hasn't worked, that the Iraqis aren't really with us, that the
interim government has no grass-roots support (sort of what the Dems said about George W. Bush).

And if Operation Phantom Fury goes miraculously well, we'll be criticized
for waiting too long to go in, for exaggerating the threat and for knocking
over a stop sign with a tank.

The global media lost the U.S. presidential election. They'll do their best
to win the Second Battle of Fallujah for the terrorists.

The truth is that war is cruel. And difficult. And complex. It's never as
smooth as it is in a film or a video game. In real life, heroes get killed,
too - sometimes by friendly fire. Mistakes are made, despite rigorous
planning. The enemy shoots back. And sometimes the enemy gets lucky. Tragedy is war's inseparable companion.

We cannot foresee all the details of the combat ahead. The fight for
Fallujah may prove easier than we feared, or tougher than we hoped. Time will tell. Meanwhile, don't let your view be swayed by the crisis of the hour. Have faith in our troops and their leaders.

In return, I can promise you one thing: If we don't fail our troops, they
won't fail us.
30946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Battle updates on: November 09, 2004, 10:10:52 AM


Email from Dave - Nov 3, 04  
Dear Dad -

As you have no doubt been watching, we have had our hands full around Fallujah.  It would seem as if the final reckoning is coming.  The city has been on a consistent down hill spiral since we were ordered out in April. It's siren call for extremists and criminals has only increased steadily and the instability and violence that radiates out of the town has expanded exponentially.  If there is another city in the world that contains more terrorists, I would be surprised.  From the last two years, I just don't see a way that we can succeed in Iraq without reducing this threat.  The cost of continuing on without taking decisive action is too high to dwell on.

The enemy inside the town have come to fight and kill Americans.  Nothing will sate their bloodlust and hatred other than to kill everyone of us or at least die trying.  It is hard to fathom as a Westerner as rational thought would dictate that we will only be here for a relatively short blip in their history and while we are here, billions of dollars in investments will pour in and opportunity that is beyond comprehension will open up for anyone willing to work.  This is not Kansas and this enemy does not think like that.

If we build a school or clinic, they destroy it.  They would rather deny medical care or education for the children of the citizens who live nearby than to have any symbol of the West in general and America specifically among them.  It is hard to comprehend.  Frankly, we are done trying.

For eight months, we have been on our chain.  The enemy has fooled itself misinterpreting our humanity and restraint for lack of will and courage. For eight months, we have watched Marines, Soldiers and Sailors maimed and killed by invisible cowards hiding behind some wall or in a canal as he detonates another IED.  For eight months, we have been witness to suicidal sociopaths driving vehicles laden with explosives into crowds of Iraqis and into our own convoys.  

Just last week, we lost another nine Marines killed and an equal number of wounded as the result of some ignorant extremists who was able to convince himself that killing himself and as many Americans as possible would send him to paradise where he could finally get his virgins.

Now, their own ignorance and arrogance will be their undoing.  They believe that they can hold Fallujah.  In fact, they have come from all over to be part of its glorious defense.  I cannot describe the atmosphere that exists in the Regiment right now.  Of course the men are nervous but I think they are more nervous that we will not be allowed to clean the rats nest out and instead will be forced to continue operating as is.  

Its as if a window of opportunity has opened and everyone just wants to get on with it before it closes.  The Marines know the enemy has massed and has temporarily decided to stay and fight.  For the first time, the men feel as though we may be allowed to do what needs to be done.  If the enemy wants to sit in his citadel and try to defend it against the Marine Corps and some very hard Soldiers... then the men want to execute before the enemy sobers up and flees.

It may come off as an exceptionally bellicose perspective but where the Marines live and operate is a war zone in the starkest reality.  When the Marines leave the front gate on an operation or patrol, someone within direct line of sight of that gate is trying to kill them.  All have lost friends and watched as the enemy hides within his sanctuary that has been allowed out of what one must assume is political necessity.  The enemy has been given every advantage by our sense of morality and restraint and by a set of operational rules that we are constrained to operate under.  The Marines feel like their time has come and we will finally be ordered to do what must be done and be given the latitude to do it.  Even though the price will be high, there is not a man here that would chose status quo over paying the price.

Every day, the enemy takes more hostages, assassinates developing Iraqi leaders and savagely beats suspected collaborators.  I will give you just one recent example that happened last week.  One of our patrols was moving down a street when they saw what looked like a fight.  The Marines closed with the scene.  It was a family that had come to Iraq on religious pilgrimage that was taken hostage and was being taken into Fallujah.  The muj stopped for some reason and the father began fighting.  The Marines interdicted and captured two of the kidnappers.  Two more ran and the Marines could not get a shot without fear of killing/wounding others.  

Every day, insurgents from inside Fallujah drive out and wait for Iraqis that work on our bases.  Once the Iraqis leave they are stopped.  The lucky ones are savagely beaten.  The unfortunate ones are killed.    A family that had fled Fallujah in order to get away from the fighting recently tried to return.  When they got to their home, they found it taken over by terrorists (very common).  When the patriarch showed the muj his deed in order to prove that the house was his, they took the old man out into the street and beat him senseless in front of his family.

Summary executions are common.  Think about that.  Summary executions inside Fallujah happen with sobering frequency.  We have been witness to the scene on a number of occasions.  Three men are taken from the trunk of a car and are made to walk to a ditch where they are shot.  Bodies are found in the Euphrates without heads washed downstream from Fallujah.  To date we have been allowed to do nothing.

I have no idea the numbers of beheadings that have occurred in Fallujah since I have been here.  I have no idea the number of hostages that have ended up in Fallujah since we have been here.  I just don't know that Americans would be able to comprehend the number anyway.  Unfortunately, the situation has only gotten worse.  There is no hope for any type of reasoned solution with an enemy like this.  

Once again, we are being asked by citizens who have fled the city to go in and take the city back.  They are willing for us to literally rubble the place in order to kill the terrorists within.  Don't get me wrong, there are still many inside the town that support the terrorists and we cannot expect to be thanked publicly if we do take the city.  There is a sense of de ja vu with the refugees telling us where their houses are and asking us to bomb them because the muj have taken them over.  We heard the same thing in April only to end up letting the people down.  Some no doubt have paid with their lives.  The "good" people who may ultimately buy into a peaceful and prosperous Iraq are again asking us to do what we know must be done.  

The Marines understand and are eager to get on with it.  The only lingering fear in them is that we will be ordered to stop again.  I don't know if this is going to happen but if it happens soon, I will write you when its over,


30947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: November 08, 2004, 06:48:10 PM
Our best Howl of Respect to our troops in Fallujah (and elsewhere):

While driving along today in peace and tranquility I thought of our troops going into battle today in Fallujah.

I take this moment to thank them, and all the others elsewhere in this struggle, for what they do for all of us.

Crafty Dog of The Unorganized Militia


Shortly after its opening strikes, the assault against Al Fallujah moved into a phase in which U.S. and Iraqi troops gained a tactical advantage. The capture of several key points within the city would make it possible for the coalition troops to push insurgents into a corner or, at the very least, divide the city and restrict the guerrillas' movements. The pace of the attack as it continues will reveal the political climate surrounding the military maneuvers.


The joint U.S.-Iraqi assault against Al Fallujah has begun. After a lengthy preparation, troops moved quickly from the operation's opening strikes into what seems to be their main thrust into the rebel-held city.

The coalition forces' moves have put them in a position to back the insurgents into a corner. The next maneuvers in the operation depend on whether the insurgents will give up any further ground -- and the rate of those maneuvers will depend on the political climate in the city.

U.S. forces have taken two key bridges over the Euphrates River at the western end of the city. Between the entrances of those bridges is Al Fallujah's largest hospital, which U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured. The hospital has several tactical advantages. As one of the tallest buildings in the city, it provides a good observation point -- especially for troops to watch travelers on the main road through town or on the bridges on either side of the hospital. The capture of the hospital also made it unavailable to insurgents as a base of operations and as a medical facility. Al Fallujah's citizens -- guerrillas and civilians alike -- will have to depend on three smaller hospitals that remain in rebel hands inside the city.

Click here to enlarge the image.

The bridges and hospital were secured, along with a key railhead to the north of the city, just before U.S. and Iraqi forces thrust into two neighborhoods in the city proper -- the northwestern Jolan district and the northeastern Askari district.

Whether U.S. forces intended this effect, the maneuvers they have conducted thus far will put them in a very tactically advantageous position. After seizing the two key bridges -- thereby blocking off the westbound Baghdad Highway -- and pushing south with two assault heads from the northeast and northwest, the U.S.military can push insurgent forces toward the Baghdad Highway running from east to west through the center of Al Fallujah.

That highway is wide enough that close air support assets, such as A-10 attack planes and AC-130 gunships, could be used with little danger of collateral damage. The highway makes a perfect track for strafing attacks against those who attempt to move south across it. There have been reports that during the preparation for the U.S.-Iraqi attack, Al Fallujah's insurgents established a tunnel system in the city -- possibly under the main roads and possibly to avoid just such an air assault.

The scenario of a U.S. "flush maneuver" designed to drive the insurgents south into a "kill zone" -- the Baghdad Highway -- hinges on one simple thing: whether the insurgents can be made to give up their ground and be driven toward the highway. If the insurgents dig their heels into the neighborhoods throughout northern Al Fallujah, they could either repel the U.S. assault or be killed where they stand.

If the military cannot drive the insurgents toward the Baghdad Highway, then it will likely control the highway with air support in an attempt to bisect the city and effectively split the defending insurgents' strongholds. This would help the U.S. forces keep the guerrillas from moving their manpower and heavy weapons from the north to the south and vice versa.

There have not been reports of troops in the southern half of Al Fallujah -- as there were when U.S. troops pushed in from the southeast during the April assault against the city. This does not mean there is no activity in that area; it only means there have been no official statements or other reports about troops in that area. If there is something going on in southern Al Fallujah, it will be some time -- possibly not until the end of the entire operation -- before the activity is made public.

At this point, the initial assault against Al Fallujah is not over, nor has the fighting reached its apex. As of this writing, it seems U.S. forces are maintaining their tactical initiative against the insurgents. However, reports of counter U.S. thrusts or insurgent attacks have not filtered in -- other than an unconfirmed report from Al Jazeera that an Apache helicopter was shot down -- and thus the picture remains incomplete.

The momentum of the maneuvers in Al Fallujah should be noted. The speed at which the assault continues will indicate the nature of the operation's political tactics. A slower assault with more pauses for logistics and rest will indicate more willingness to continue negotiations with leaders in Al Fallujah as the fighting goes on. An aggressive, fast-paced campaign will indicate the opposite -- that Washington and Baghdad are no longer interested in negotiations but want a military victory over the insurgent hotbed of Al Fallujah.
30948  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hello! (Women fighters at Gathering) on: November 08, 2004, 06:41:18 PM
Woof Linda:

  You better look out!  On top of her previous training she trained with me in Bern and with Guro Lonely in Germany evil  Cheesy

30949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3 on: November 05, 2004, 11:12:37 AM
Woof All:

This piece deals with more than WW3, but this seems the thread for it.


The Second Term
November 05, 2004  0503 GMT

By George Friedman

The election is over and the worst did not happen. The United States is not locked in endless litigation, with the legitimacy of the new government
challenged. George W. Bush has been re-elected in a clear victory. Depending on your point of view, this might have been the best imaginable outcome or the second-worst possible outcome. Possibly, for some, it is the worst outcome, with complete governmental meltdown being preferable to four more years of Bush. However, these arguments are now moot. Bush has been re-elected, and that is all there is to that.

This means that for slightly more than four years the United States will be
governed by a president who will never run for political office again. In
general, two-term presidents tend to be less interested in political process
than in their place in history. They tend to become more aggressive in trying to complete their perceived missions, and less cautious in the chances they take. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all encountered serious problems in their second terms, most due to their handling of problems they experienced in their first terms. Nixon had Watergate, while Reagan was handling Central American issues and hostages. Clinton wound up impeached for his handling of matters in his second term.

Going further back in the century, Woodrow Wilson had the League of Nations fiasco in his second term, and Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court. Dwight Eisenhower alone, his place in history assured, did not suffer serious setbacks from misjudgments, unless you want to view Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin and the shooting down of the U-2 over Soviet air space as personal failures.

Second-term presidents tend to look at re-election as vindication of their
first-term policies and as a repudiation of their critics. They see
themselves as having fewer constraints placed on them, and they become less sensitive to political nuances.

Bush is an interesting case because he was not particularly sensitive to
political nuance in his first term. It is difficult to remember a president
in his first term who was less constrained by political considerations or
political consequences. For better or worse, Bush did not govern with one eye on public opinion polls. As we learned in the course of his term, he was not particularly flexible, even when he was running for re-election. We therefore need to imagine a George W. Bush who is not relatively, but completely, indifferent to political nuance.

Add to this that his legacy is far from assured. Bush's presidency will be
measured by one thing: Sept. 11 and his response to it. It is far from clear how history will judge him. There are many parts to the puzzle -- from Iraq, to homeland defense to Pakistan and so on. They are moving parts. For Bush to assure his legacy, he must bring the conflict to a successful conclusion -- not easy for a conflict in which success remains unclear.

We therefore have two forces at work. First, second-term presidents tend to feel much greater freedom of action than first-term presidents -- and tend to take greater risks. Second, Bush enters his second term with greater pressure on his legacy than most presidents have. Bush needs to make something happen, he needs to get the war under control, and he does not have all that much time to do it. If he is to complete his task before the end of his second term, he needs to start acting right now. It is our expectation that he will.

His re-election represents the first step. Globally, there was a perception
that Bush had blundered massively. There has also been a long-standing myth that the United States cannot stand its ground because casualties generate decisive antiwar movements. In spite of the fact that Nixon buried George McGovern in 1972, and followed with the Christmas bombing of Hanoi, global expectations have always been that events in Iraq would generate a massive antiwar movement that would force Bush from office.

This expectation was first shaken by Sen. John Kerry's campaign. For all his criticism, Kerry did not campaign against the war. He campaigned against Bush. This was explained in many circles as merely what Kerry had to say to get elected, and that after election his true colors would emerge. However, to more sensitive ears, the fact that Kerry had to campaign as he did in order to have a hope of election was jarring. The antiwar vote was too small for the theory. With Bush's victory, one of the fundamental assumptions about the United States went out the window. In spite of casualties and grievous errors, not only was there no antiwar candidate (save Ralph Nader), but Bush actually won the election.

This puts in motion two processes in the world. First, there is a major
rethinking of American staying power in the war going on. The assumption of a rapid conclusion of the Iraq campaign due to U.S. withdrawal is gone -- and it is surprising just how many non-Americans believed this to be a likely scenario. The reassessment of the United States is accompanied by the realization that the United States will not only maintain its pressure in Iraq, but on the region and the globe itself.

American pressure is not insubstantial. Virtually every country in the world wants something from the United States, from a trade agreement to support on a local conflict. They can do without an accommodation with the United States for months, but there is frequently serious pain associated with being at odds with the United States for years. Throughout the world, nations that have resisted U.S. actions in the war -- both within and outside of the region -- must now consider whether they can resist for years.

We can expect two things from Bush in general: relentlessness and linkage.  Having won the election, Bush is not going to abandon his goal of crushing al Qaeda and pacifying Iraq and, indeed, the region. That is understood. Equally understood is that Bush will reward friends. Bush's test of friendship is simple: support for the United States and, in particular, support for the policies being pursued by his administration in the war. For Bush, active support for the war was a litmus test for good relations with the United States during the first term. The second term will make the first term look gentle.

Countries that made the decision not to support Bush did so with the
assumption that they could absorb the cost for a while. They must now
recalculate to see if they can absorb the cost for four more years -- and
even beyond, if Bush's successor pursues his policies. For many countries, what was a temporary disagreement is about to turn into a strategic misalignment with the United States. Some countries will continue on their path, others will reconsider. There will be a reshuffling of the global deck in the coming months.

The same analysis being made in the world is also being made in Iraq. There are the guerrillas, most of whom are committed to fighting the United States to the death. But the guerrillas are not a massive force, and they depend for their survival and operational capabilities on a supportive population. In Iraq, support comes from the top down. It is the tribal elders, the senior clergy and the village leaders who make the crucial decisions. They are the ones who decide whether there will be popular support or not.

There has been an assumption in Iraq -- as there has in the world -- that as the pressure builds up in Iraq, the United States will move to abandon the war. Bush's re-election clearly indicates that the United States will not be abandoning the war. They are therefore recalculating their positions in the same way that the rest of the world is. Holding out against the Americans and allowing their populations to aid the guerrillas made a great deal of sense if the United States was about to retreat from Iraq. It is quite another matter if the United States is actually going to be increasing pressure.

It is no accident that as Election Day approached, U.S. forces very publicly -- and very slowly -- massed around Al Fallujah. Al Fallujah was the town in which the United States signed its first accord with the guerrillas. As the election approached, the town went out of control. Now the election is over, the town is surrounded and Bush is president. It is a time for recalculation in Al Fallujah as well, as there can be no doubt but that Bush is free to attack and might well do it.

Throughout the Sunni areas of Iraq -- as well as Shiite regions -- elders are considering their positions, caught between the United States and the
guerrillas, in light of the new permanence of the Americans. The United
States will be aggressive, but in an interesting way. It will be using the
threat of American power as a lever to force the Sunni leadership into
reducing support for the guerrillas. Coupled with the carrot of enormous
bribes, the strategy could work. It might not eliminate the guerrilla war,
but could reduce it to a nuisance level.

The basic reality thus creates the strategy. The re-election of Bush creates a new reality at all levels in the international system. His intransigence, coupled with American power, forces players to think about whether they can hold their positions for at least four years, or whether they must adjust their positions in some way. As the players -- from sheikhs to prime ministers -- reconsider their positions, U.S. power increases, trying to pry them loose. It opens the possibility of negotiations and settlements in unexpected places.

It also opens the door to potential disaster. The danger is that Bush will
simultaneously overestimate his power and feel unbearable pressure to act quickly. This has led some previous presidents into massive errors of
judgment. Put differently, the pressures and opportunities of the second term caused them to execute policies that appeared to be solutions but that blew up in their faces. None of them knew they would blow up, but in their circumstances, no one was sufficiently cautious.

It is precisely Bush's lack of caution that now becomes his greatest
bargaining chip. But his greatest strength can also become his greatest
weakness. The struggle between these two poles will mark the first part of
his presidency. We will find out whether the second part will be the success of this strategy or his downfall. The book on George W. Bush will now be written.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.
30950  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / "Kali" player on trial for killing bouncer on: November 04, 2004, 08:02:22 AM
Does anyone have any updates on this case?
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