Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The U.N. And The Internet

Doesn't it just make you feel good to know that the fine people at the United Nations who brought us the oil-for-food scandal would like to control the internet. Who better than repressive tyrants and money hungry bureaucrats to ensure the free flow of information around the world?

Claudia Rosett is on the case.
The UN’s 1945 founding mandate was to promote peace. Sometime during the past six decades of dictator-packed voting blocks, diplomatic privileges, immunities and institutional secrecy, the UN instead got into the business of promoting mainly itself. At today’s UN, that involves the self-interest of two basic groups, and neither bodes well for the internet.

The first UN group is interested mainly in censorship, though they’re also partial to money where they can get it. That would be the General Assembly, made up of the UN’s 191 member states. Unfortunately, that membership includes dozens of repressive regimes, such as China, Cuba, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and information-summit-hosting Tunisia; in other words, countries whose despots have a common interest in hating and fearing the kind of freedom the Internet might offer their subject fellow citizens. Under the guise of taking control of the net to bring orderly access to all, they hope to acquire control over exactly who gets what. It is telling that in the list of financial contributions for the Tunis summit, the third-largest donor state after Japan and Sweden (both jockeying for influence at the UN) was Saudi Arabia— whose rulers specialize in banning just about every freedom you can imagine, including free speech.

The second group is the UN Secretariat, which is mainly interested in money, though they’re also partial to censorship when they can get away with it – which, since they operate with diplomatic immunity, is most of the time. According to the UN charter, the Secretariat is simply supposed to function as the administrative arm of the UN, run by a Secretary-General whose job is basically to manage the shop. But for quite some time the Secretariat has been evolving into more or less a state unto itself, led by a Secretary-General whose ambitions-- on the evidence of his various campaigns, programs and proposals over the past eight years-- tend less toward managing the office than running the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Inside Lebanon

Michael Totten photoblogs from Lebanon's border with Israel.

More Airline Criticism-Gender Profiling

When a man who was flying on Air New Zealand was asked to change his seat because he was sitting next to an unaccompanied minor, a new policy was uncovered that is also followed by Qantas.
Mark Worsley was told to swap seats with a woman sitting nearby, who then moved into the seat next to the boy, about eight years old, for the 80-minute flight.

"I was pretty shocked -- I think most people would be," the 37-year-old shipping manager and father of two said Tuesday.

"I complied straight away and moved seats. But as I sat on the plane during the flight I got more and more angry about it."

Part of the problem, Worsley said, was that the plane was full. When the flight attendant arranged the seat swap, "certainly there was enough disruption that people in the immediate vicinity would have heard what was going on. I felt totally embarrassed."

He had later confronted the airline staff, who confirmed the company policy.

(Via Instapundit).

Monday, November 28, 2005

This, I'd Like To Hear

James Q. Wilson presents the speech that Bush should give:
My fellow Americans: We are winning, and winning decisively, in Iraq and the Middle East. We defeated Saddam Hussein's army in just a few weeks. None of the disasters that many feared would follow our invasion occurred. Our troops did not have to fight door to door to take Baghdad. The Iraqi oil fields were not set on fire. There was no civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites. There was no grave humanitarian crisis.

Saddam Hussein was captured and is awaiting trial. His two murderous sons are dead. Most of the leading members of Saddam's regime have been captured or killed. After our easy military victory, we found ourselves inadequately prepared to defeat the terrorist insurgents, but now we are prevailing.

Iraq has held free elections in which millions of people voted. A new, democratic constitution has been adopted that contains an extensive bill of rights. Discrimination on the basis of sex, religion or politics is banned. Soon the Iraqis will be electing their first parliament.

An independent judiciary exists, almost all public schools are open, every hospital is functioning, and oil sales have increased sharply. In most parts of the country, people move about freely and safely.

According to surveys, Iraqis are overwhelmingly opposed to the use of violence to achieve political ends, and the great majority believe that their lives will improve in the future. The Iraqi economy is growing very rapidly, much more rapidly than the inflation rate.

In some places, the terrorists who lost the war are now fighting back by killing Iraqi civilians. Some brave American soldiers have also been killed, but most of the attacks are directed at decent, honest Iraqis. This is not a civil war; it is terrorism gone mad.

And the terrorists have failed. They could not stop free elections. They could not prevent Iraqi leaders from taking office. They could not close the schools or hospitals. They could not prevent the emergence of a vigorous free press that now involves over 170 newspapers that represent every shade of opinion.

Terrorist leaders such as Zarqawi have lost. Most Sunni leaders, whom Zarqawi was hoping to mobilize, have rejected his call to defeat any constitution. The Muslims in his hometown in Jordan have denounced him. Despite his murderous efforts, candidates representing every legitimate point of view and every ethnic background are competing for office in the new Iraqi government.

The progress of democracy and reconstruction has occurred faster in Iraq than it did in Germany 60 years ago, even though we have far fewer troops in the Middle East than we had in Germany after Hitler was defeated.
Read it all.

(Via QandO).

Alms For Terrorists

The head of Hamas' charity funds committee has been accused of diverting charity money from around the world to the families of suicide bombers and prisoners.
The committee dealt with about USD 1 million per year, collected through alleged charity organizations in Europe, North America and
Arab countries. The money was transferred to families of suicide bombers, prisoners and Hamas members in order to reward them for their activities.

The 100,000 Myth

A highly dubious study that estimated Iraqi civilian deaths since the U.S. invasion at 100,000 has been often cited by anti-war activists.

Logic Times crunches the numbers and comes up with a figure of 7976 innocent civilian deaths.
The only way to describe the actions of the U.S. Military in its role of "occupier" is a compassionate and careful army that avoids collateral damage despite its dangerous mandate to hunt for terrorists and non-uniformed combatants hidden within the civilian population. It is nothing short of miraculous that our Armed Forces have been able to eliminate as many terrorists and enemy combatants as they have with so little actual collateral damage.
(Via LGF).

Sunday, November 27, 2005

How I Spent My Thanksgiving (Seven Hours In Charlotte)

This was only the second time that I had done any long distance traveling at Thanksgiving, and the first time that I had flown on a holiday. My previous experience of holiday travel hell had been a drive from Queens to Baltimore on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1989. What was normally a four hour trip took me seven hours. That seven hour figure returned this year, in a different way.

Early on Thanksgiving Day, I left my home for the short drive to the Richmond airport. My destination was Lexington, KY, and I had a connection in Charlotte. I was due to arrive in Charlotte on US Airways at around 10 am, and my flight on US Airways Express (Mesa Air) was scheduled for 11:10 am, with an arrival time in Lexington of 12:33 pm. It was not to be.

My first flight arrived in Charlotte on time, and I found the gate for the second part of my journey. The plane was already there, so I expected an on-time departure. I was wrong. The plane needed maintenance (for a door), so the flight was delayed. I watched as a maintenance man came, went, returned, and left again. At about 12:15 pm the flight was cancelled because maintenance did not have the proper part to fix the door! An airline did not have a part to fix an airplane at one of its hub airports.

I quickly made my way to the service desk, where I was booked on the next flight to Lexington, and given a $5 voucher for lunch (woo hoo!). This flight was scheduled for a 1:50 pm departure, but it was already delayed until 2:40 pm.

After a fine meal at the airport Burger King, courtesy of US Airways, I found my new gate. An announcement was made that our plane was still on the ground in Montgomery, AL waiting for maintenance. At 2:30 pm we were told that the plane was loaded. At 3:20 pm the plane was in the air, and arrived in Charlotte at a little after 4 pm.

When all of the passengers from Montgomery were off the plane, we were told that the crew had requested maintenance. Next, we were advised of a change of planes (and gates) due to this maintenance issue. At 4:30 pm, the crew asked for maintenance to come to the replacement plane. Finally, at 5:00 pm, a plane full of tired, angry passengers was on its way to Lexington. For those of you not keeping score, I had expected about a one hour layover in Charlotte, and ended up spending seven hours waiting there on Thanksgiving Day.

In Charlotte, I faced six hours of delays, one flight cancellation, three planes, and a total of three gate changes.

As you might imagine, as I arrived at the Lexington airport on Saturday for the trip home, I was wondering what US Airways and US Airways Express had in store for me this time. I immediately saw that my flight back to Charlotte was delayed by about one hour. Let's just say that I wasn't surprised, and muttered some thoughts about the airline to myself. Luckily, I had over two hours (scheduled) between flights, so I would still make my connection from Charlotte to Richmond.

The flight ended up being delayed about 90 minutes, and before boarding, we were told that the lavatory on the plane was not operable. Once we were on the plane, the captain announced that the delay had been due to (wait for it) maintenance issues earlier in the day.

I made my connection, and my flight from Charlotte to Richmond was on time.

The flights that were cancelled or delayed were from US Airways Express, operated by Mesa Air. The service was appalling, and the number of maintenance problems sure doesn't give you much confidence in the airline.

One thing for sure is that I'll remember this Thanksgiving experience long after US Airways is out of business.

Update: I'm really proud of myself for having written this entire post without once saying how much I think US Airways sucks.

Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers, to my very first Instalanche. To comment on what Glenn wrote, I was surprised that an angry mob did not form. As a relocated New Yorker, I'm sure that there would have been quite a scene if this had been a New York flight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Pitfalls Of Socialized Medicine

Here's a couple of interesting links: First, "Dead Meat" is a 25 minute documentary about health care in Canada. Next, Brussels Journal looks at attempts to control health care spending in Europe.

Lieberman: U.S. to Finish Iraq Mission

Joe Lieberman: A Democrat who makes sense.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Iraq's prime minister Wednesday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq until their mission is complete, despite growing unease in Congress about the progress of the conflict here.

"We cannot let extremists and terrorists, a small number, here in Iraq deprive the 27 million Iraqis of what they want which is a better freer life, safer life for themselves and their children" Lieberman said after his meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Update(11/29): There's more from the Senator here.

A Surprise From The U.N.

Jerusalem Post:
Following intense US pressure, the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday issued an unprecedented condemnation of Monday's Hizbullah attacks on northern Israel.
When asked what changed from Monday to Wednesday, one diplomatic official replied: "John Bolton," a reference to the US ambassador to the UN. Bolton lobbied vigorously for the passage of the statement.
Yes, John Bolton.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Was The Pope Jewish?

A MANCHESTER historian has claimed that Pope John Paul II was Jewish.

Yaakov Wise says his study into the the maternal ancestry of Karol Josez Wojtyla (John Paul II's real name) has revealed startling conclusions.

Mr Wise, a researcher in orthodox Jewish history and philosophy, said the late Pope's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were all probably Jewish and came from a small town not far from Krakow.
(Via Donklephant).

Jewish Life In France

Common sense will tell you that the combination of longstanding European anti-Semitism and Muslim immigration does not bode well for Jews living in France. In fact, French Jews have been leaving the country in increasing numbers.

Romain Barthel, the principal of a private Jewish secondary school in Paris, gives a tour to a visiting journalist:
Mr. Barthel walks me through the school, which was built three years ago to what he calls "new specifications for a new reality."

"All of our windows are made with glass both bomb- and bullet-proof; there are security cameras in all the common rooms," he says. "You will also notice there is no sign outside of the school that could single it out as a Jewish place."

In the past few years, Jews in Canada may have become familiar with some security measures in synagogues, notably around the high holidays, but nothing approaching this level of stringency.

Mr. Barthel explains the buddy system instituted at the Benvenuti school for children both arriving and leaving the premises. The students must travel in a pack and are not allowed to wear visible skullcaps or Stars of David anywhere but inside the school. They are also discouraged from dressing in a manner that Mr. Barthel calls "Shalala," meaning that they asked to refrain from dressing in a style which in North American parlance might be termed "Jappy."

"The Diesel jeans, the tight bomber jackets, these things can also make them look like Jews," he says. "They must look more quiet now, for safety."

Mr. Barthel is the father of two young children. Last year, his children's school bus, belonging to a Jewish school in Epinay-sur-seine, a northern suburb of Paris, was set on fire. "The bus was empty when it was attacked, but still, nobody did anything about it, not the police, not the government."

He says the Jews of France have increasingly felt as if they have had to take safety into their own hands. "For us now, this means one of two things: bunker in with bomb-proof glass, or leave.

How To Lose A War

Ralph Peters has some thoughts on the matter:
Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies — that's what Americans do.

While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.

Whatever you do, don't talk about any possible consequences. Focus on the moment — and the next round of U.S. elections. Just make political points.
My fear is that the Democratic call for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq has more to do with the 2006 elections than prudent policy. Democrats aren't the only ones to blame, as at least a part of the Bush administration's mishandling of the situation in Iraq is due to politics.

Stat Of The Day

People like to ridicule the NFC North division of the NFL, but yesterday the AFC East managed to only score a total of 34 points.

After tonight's game, the NFC North teams will have a record of 18-22, while the AFC East teams will have a record of 15-25.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mr. Galloway Goes To Syria

Here are some excerpts from a speech that British MP George Galloway gave recently at Damascus University.
For me he [Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad] is the last Arab ruler, and Syria is the last Arab country. It is the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs, and that's why I'm proud to be here and addressing you this evening.
The reason that Syria is facing this crisis is not because of any bad thing which Syria has done or any weaknesses within its democracy, or within its economy, or within its human rights record - and there are weaknesses in all three of these. The reason why Syria is being threatened is not because of anything bad which she did, but because of the good which she is doing. That's the reason why Syria is being threatened - because she will not betray the Palestinian resistance, because she will not betray the Lebanese resistance, Hizbullah, because she will not sign a shameful surrender-peace with General Sharon, and above all - more than any of these others - because Syria will not allow her country to be used as a military base for America to crush the resistance in Iraq. These are the reasons why Syria is being targeted by these imperial powers.
The crisis that Mr. Galloway is referring to involves the Mehlis report, which implicates Syria in the killing of Rafik Hariri, a former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
...everybody should be aware that the verdict of the Mehlis inquiry was already fixed before he began his investigation. This murder of Hariri was deliberately planned and executed precisely to implicate Syria and to set in train the events which have unfolded.

Murtha's Argument For Withdrawal From Iraq

David Adesnik at OxBlog has been all over this. He has multiple posts over the past few days. Just keep scrolling.

Sharon To Form New Centrist Party

Jerusalem Post:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will announce on Monday that he intends to quit the Likud and form a new centrist political party, sources close to Sharon said on Sunday.

Sharon is to visit President Moshe Katsav on Monday and ask him to dissolve the Knesset. This would set off a process that would lead to elections in 90 days, unless an MK succeeds in forming a new coalition within the next three weeks.

Iran Votes To Block Nuclear Inspections

TEHRAN, Iran: Parliament approved a bill Sunday requiring the government to block international inspections of its atomic facilities if the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency refers Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

The bill was approved by 183 of the 197 lawmakers present at the session, which was broadcast live on state-run radio. The vote came four days before the International Atomic Energy Agency board meets to consider referring Tehran for violating a nuclear arms control treaty.

Friday, November 18, 2005

VDH Friday

The latest from Victor Davis Hanson: "War & Reconstruction".
So the real crux is a real legitimate debate over whether our ongoing costs-billions spent, thousands wounded, nearly 2,100 American soldiers lost-will be worth the results achieved. Post facto, no death seems "worth it". The premature end of life is tangible and horrendous in a way that the object of such soldiers' sacrifices — a reformed Middle East, a safer world, enhanced American safety, and freedom for 26 million — seems remote and abstract.

Nevertheless, that is what our soldiers died for: a world in which Middle East dictators no longer murder their own, ruin their won societies, and then cynically use terrorism to whip up the Arab street and deflect their own self-induced miseries onto the United States. This is the calculus that led to 9/11, and the reason why Saddam gave sanctuary to 1980s terrorists, the killer Yasin who failed in his first attempt to take down the twin towers, and the likes of Zarqawi.

While the U.S. military conducts a brilliant campaign to implement democratic reform that is on the eve of ending with an Iraqi parliament, while there has been no repeat of promised 9/11 attacks here at home, and while the entire dictatorial Middle East from Lebanon and Syria to Egypt and Libya is in crisis — baffled, furious, or impressed by a now idealistic United States pushing for something different and far better — our intellectual and political elite harp on "WMD, WMD, WMD..."

Sadder still, they stay transfixed to this refrain either because polls show that it is good politics or it allows them a viable exit from an apparently now unpopular war.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The European Problem

The French riots have reminded us of the existence of a segregated society in Paris and around that country, as well as elsewhere in Europe. While some blame the native French for not welcoming immigrants into the mainstream culture, others make the observation that some immigrants don't want to assimilate:
Millions of "French Muslims" don't consider themselves French. A government report leaked last March depicted an increasingly two-track educational system: More and more Muslim students refuse to sing, dance, participate in sports, sketch a face, or play an instrument. They won't draw a right angle (it looks like part of the Christian cross). They won't read Voltaire and Rousseau (too antireligion), Cyrano de Bergerac (too racy), Madame Bovary (too pro-women), or Chretien de Troyes (too chretien). One school has separate toilets for "Muslims" and "Frenchmen"; another obeyed a Muslim leader's call for separate locker rooms because "the circumcised should not have to undress alongside the impure."
For many Muslims in Europe, self-segregation has come naturally. What's tragic is that European authorities have supported it. Rejecting the American approach - namely, encouraging immigrants to work and integrate - they've instead helped newcomers to maintain distinct communities and provided benefits that have made it easy for them to stay unemployed. Why did these authorities prefer segregation? Supposedly they were enlightened "multiculturalists" who respected differences; for many, the real reason was a profound discomfort with the idea of "them" becoming "us." Naively, they imagined they could preserve their nations' cultural homogeneity while letting in millions of foreigners and smiling on their preservation and perpetuation of values drastically different from their own.
What they've reaped, alas, is a generation of Muslims, many of whom view their neighborhoods as colonies amid enemy territory - and who demand this autonomy be recognized. These riots, in short, are early battles in a continent-wide turf war.
It's a war authorities can't afford to lose.

Andrew Sullivan:
This is not a case simply of an ethnic minority denied integration; it's a case of a religious minority refusing integration, indeed attacking and denying the very values of secularism and liberalism upon which the West rests.

The "Boogie To Baghdad"

Byron York:
“Boogie to Baghdad” is the phrase that Richard Clarke, when he was the top White House counterterrorism official during the Clinton administration, used to express his fear that if American forces pushed Osama bin Laden too hard at his hideout in Afghanistan, bin Laden might move to Iraq, where he could stay in the protection of Saddam Hussein.

Clarke’s opinion was based on intelligence indicating a number of contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq, including word that Saddam had offered bin Laden safe haven.

It’s all laid out in the Sept. 11 commission report. “Boogie to Baghdad” is on Page 134.
Now, that doesn’t at all suggest that Iraq had a role in Sept. 11, but it certainly does suggest a relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda.

"Boogie to Baghdad" would seem to be a catchphrase that the media would grab onto. Why has it been ignored?

NY Times Watch (Or, Iraq=Vietnam Watch)

A headline from yesterday:
Vietnam Archive Offers Parallel to War in Iraq.
An editorial today:
The actual content of the resolution, passed on a vote of 79 to 19, was meaningless. The Senate asked the administration to provide regular reports on progress in Iraq, and took the position that next year should be "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty." It was a desperate - but toothless - cry of election-bound lawmakers to be let off the hook for a disastrous military quagmire.
Maybe this should be "Hyperbole Watch". Tune in tomorrow for our next episode.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Open Source Media Launches

What is OSM?
A media Web site scheduled to debut Wednesday will seek to blend traditional journalism with the freeform commentary developed through the emerging Web format known as blogs.

Some 70 Web journalists, including Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds and David Corn, Washington editor of the Nation magazine, have agreed to participate in OSM _ short for Open Source Media.

OSM will link to individual blog postings and highlight the best contributions, chosen by OSM editors, in a special section. Bloggers will be paid undisclosed sums based on traffic they generate.

The ad-supported OSM site will also carry news feeds from Newstex, which in turn receives stories from The Associated Press, Knight- Ridder/Tribune News Service and other traditional media organizations.
The mainstream media responds (sort of).

NY Times Watch

It's Iraq=Vietnam time again. The headline:
Vietnam Archive Offers Parallel to War in Iraq.

Terror Attacks Around The World

In Thailand:
A couple and their seven children were massacred yesterday in southern Thailand, where a Muslim insurgency has killed more than 1,000 people in two years. Officials said around 30 Islamist militants surrounded a house in the village of Bo-Ngo, firing bullets and grenades before shooting those inside with handguns. The victims were Luteng Arwarebueza, 44, his wife, and their seven children, aged from one to 20. Nine other people in nearby houses were injured. The governor of Narathiwat province, Pracha Tearat, said that Mr Arwarebueza was a former rebel who quit the insurgency five months ago. He "had received constant threats from militants and the massacre was to set a precedent for other defectors," said Mr Pracha. "They killed the entire family for revenge. It's barbaric."
In India:
A car bomb explosion in Indian Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar, has killed at least four people and injured about 60 others. The attack comes amid a surge in violence in the insurgency-wracked region.

A wounded woman is assisted by a man near the site of an explosion in Srinagar, India
A wounded woman is assisted by a man near the site of an explosion in Srinagar
The massive blast rocked a busy traffic intersection in the heart of Srinagar Wednesday morning as the city's streets were bustling with office workers and shoppers.

Chaos ensued as people fled the scene, and ambulances rushed to help the dozens of injured.

A lawmaker and former minister in the state government, Usman Majid, was slightly hurt in the attack. Police said the bomb might have been aimed at him.

Wednesday's attack was the third mounted by suspected guerrillas this week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Business As Usual

Nothing changes at the U.N.:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan reversed his decision to fire a key official in the Iraq oil-for-food probe, the United Nations said Tuesday, an embarrassing move as the world body recovers from one of the worst scandals in its history.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Those French "African-Americans" (PC Euphemism Alert)

I just saw this story from a few days ago. It seems that with the widespread use of the term "African-American", people just don't know how to describe "people of color" who are not American.

Case in point: CNN's anchor Carol Lin ("Asian-American", I presume) was commenting about a report on the French riots:
[Chris] Burns reported: “The priority right now is to restore order before trying to deal with some of the underlying issues, but even after what [French President Jacque] Chirac said, we’re seeing more violence. What you could point out, though, is that there is at this point about half as many vehicles torched as the night before, so you might call that progress, Carol.”

“Hard to say,” Lin responded, “because it’s been 11 days since two African-American teenagers were killed, electrocuted during a police chase, which prompted all of this.”
Actually, the teenagers were of Tunisian origin, and they were French citizens. Time for a new euphemism.

Adopted For Jihad

From the Sunday Times:
CHILDREN orphaned by the Kashmir earthquake are being “adopted” by terrorist groups that hope to train them to fight in the jihad, or holy war, writes Dean Nelson.

Pakistan’s leading human rights organisation, the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust, said jihadi groups fighting the Indian government were taking orphans off the streets and putting them in training camps.

The organisation said it also had evidence that sympathetic government officials were passing children on to the jihadis to be looked after.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

NY Times Watch

The headline:
French Unrest Subsides, but Violence Persists in Lyon
The text:
The recent unrest roiling France continued to subside Sunday without having touched the capital's tourist districts, as had been feared.

The police said the number of cars set ablaze Saturday night fell to 374, from 502 a night earlier, the lowest tally in 11 days. It was not clear whether the state of emergency called last week had helped stem the violence or whether the unrest was simply running out of steam.
Oh, so "only" 374 cars were burned on Saturday night. Yes, that sure sounds like the violence is winding down.

I can't help but think that the NY Times would be reporting similar riots in this country a lot differently.

The Usual Suspects

You thought it was Al Qaeda that was responsible for the suicide bombings in Jordan? Sure, they claimed responsibility, but why blame fellow Muslims when you've got your old standby to blame:
...people agreed that whoever committed such an act could not be a Muslim. But many meant this literally, that the attack must have been carried out by outsiders, namely Israeli agents.
Is it paranoia? Is it a cultural bias towards conspiracy theories?

"People don't blame Israel out of a vacuum," said Rami Khoury, a Jordanian political commentator and writer based in Lebanon. "There is a very strong historical reason, because Israel has caused a lot of grief for Arab people one way or another."
"You have to understand, Baghdad was the capital for Arabs and Muslims for 1,000 years," Mr. Masri said. "It is occupied by Americans now. Jerusalem and Baghdad are both occupied. It is too much for ordinary people to bear.
When Muslim residents of Alexandria in Egypt tried to attack a Coptic church last month after word spread that a play held in the church two years earlier denigrated Islam - and that the play was being distributed on videodisc - one local member of Parliament charged publicly that Israel was behind the strife. "Israel is the only country in the region that does not want Egypt to be stable," said Muhammad al-Badrasheni, the member of Parliament. "It wants to cause sectarian strife that would result in international intervention like what is happening in Iraq now."
The second factor routinely pointed to as proof of Israel's involvement is the idea that Egyptians, Syrians or other Arabs are not clever enough to have carried out such an effective attack.
However, interspersed with all of this are bits of truth:
...this became an easy way not to deal with our problems that are based in our own society."
The [Egyptian] official also blamed Arab leaders who have deflected criticism of domestic issues by focusing public anger on Israel.
So, what else is new? It's really a lot more simple than Arab leaders playing on any legitimate suspicions of Israel. It's called anti-Semitism. If you need a scapegoat, blame the Jews. There's no need to intellectualize it any more than that.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Rumor Causes Rampage in Pakistan

Muslim Crowd Burns Two Pakistan Churches
LAHORE , Pakistan - Hundreds of Muslims attacked and burned two churches in Pakistan on Saturday after reports that a Christian man had desecrated Islam's holy book.
The fires came a day after a local Muslim resident accused a Christian of burning a one-room Islamic school along with copies of the Quran. Dogar said the allegations were apparently leveled by people who lost money while gambling with the Christian man on Friday, but police had detained him and were investigating.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Palestinians Against Suicide Bombing

Of course, this only applies when Palestinians are the victims.
In this Palestinian village, the Akhras clan mourned 17 relatives killed by a suicide bomber in Jordan — the first time Palestinians have been a target in a suicide attack.

"Oh my God, oh my God. Is it possible that Arabs are killing Arabs, Muslims killing Muslims?" asked a weeping Najah Akhras, 35, who lost two nieces.

Similar thoughts were heard over and over in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday, as Palestinians expressed outrage over suicide attacks aimed at civilians.
Will this terrorist attack change Palestinian views about suicide bombings?
"Palestinians have tasted the blind violence that does not differentiate between people — children, women, wedding parties, ordinary people," said Palestinian newspaper commentator Hani al-Masri.

"I expect now a significant change in the Palestinian political culture," he said. "For sure, this attack will push Palestinians to reconsider this way of suicide bombings, and I think it would reduce support for attacks that kill people without any differentiation."
On the other hand:
Such condemnations were widespread Thursday, but many Palestinians seemed most upset that the victims in Amman were Muslim. Some hinted that attacks against Israeli or American targets could still be acceptable.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Intelligent Design

Is Intelligent Design a (bad) scientific theory that merits a place in science classrooms, or is it not science at all? Scientists and philosophers have long pondered what science truly is, and what differentiates a scientific theory from a non-scientific theory.

Uriah Kriegel turns to Karl Popper, the late philosopher of science, for an answer.
Popper concluded that the mark of true science was falsifiability: a theory is genuinely scientific only if it's possible in principle to refute it. This may sound paradoxical, since science is about seeking truth, not falsehood. But Popper showed that it was precisely the willingness to be proven false, the critical mindset of being open to the possibility that you're wrong, that makes for progress toward truth.
If we examine ID in this light, it becomes pretty clear that the theory isn't scientific. It is impossible to refute ID, because if an animal shows one characteristic, IDers can explain that the intelligent designer made it this way, and if the animal shows the opposite characteristic, IDers can explain with equal confidence that the designer made it that way. For that matter, it is fully consistent with ID that the supreme intelligence designed the world to evolve according to Darwin's laws of natural selection. Given this, there is no conceivable experiment that can prove ID false.
From this, we must conclude that while Intelligent Design may be a valid theory, deserving of research, analysis, and debate, it is not a scientific theory. It does not have a place in a science classroom.

Media Reaction To The Riots

Publius Pundit has a roundup of British and French media reaction to the French riots.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Media Watch-USA Today

From an opinion piece about the French riots by Souhelia Al-Jadda:
The riots in France that started in the Parisian suburbs are ringing alarm bells throughout Europe. These incidents of civil disobedience should serve as lessons to neighboring countries on how not to treat a minority population.
Civil disobedience? This is especially disturbing considering the recent death of Rosa Parks, a paragon of civil disobedience. I don't think she burned any buses.

Here's a little information for Souhelia Al-Jadda, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Civil disobedience encompasses the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government or of an occupying power without resorting to physical violence.

Election Lessons

From Michael Barone (this was written before election results were in):
If Kaine wins [in Virginia], one of the losers will be Hillary Rodham Clinton. Reason: that will be a big boost for outgoing Gov. Mark Warner, who has very high job ratings and wants to run for president in 2008. Warner will argue that Democrats need a moderate who can win states like Virginia, which Bush won 54 percent to 45 percent. A Kaine win will add strength to this argument.

Few in mainstream media will probably pay much attention to New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg leads Democrat Fernando Ferrer by 2-to-1 margins in polls. And the national implications of this race are limited. But they do teach one lesson. When the Democrats nominate a left-wing candidate, they can lose, even in a city that voted 75 percent to 24 percent for John Kerry.
Also, RealClearPolitics has an election roundup.

The Virginia Vote

Democrat Tim Kaine has defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore in the race for Governor in Virginia. Republican Bill Bolling will be the new Lt. Governor, and Republican Robert McDonnell is ahead in a close race for Attorney General, with 97% of the vote counted.

Larry Sabato was just on the local news here in Richmond, and he believes that Tim Kaine's victory will give a boost to Mark Warner's possible Presidential run. In a traditionally conservative state, Tim Kaine, who is to the left of Mr. Warner,
rode into office on the popular governor's coattails.

While it currently appears that Republicans have won the other two statewide races, the small margin of victory may be a sign of increasing power for Democrats in Virginia. The race for Lt. Governor was especially close, considering the fact that Bill Bolling (R) is considered to be quite conservative, while his opponent, Leslie Byrne (D), was seen as being to the left of fellow Democrat Tim Kaine.

On a personal note, I would like to congratulate Frank Cifarelli, who undertook his first campaign in a run for the State House in New Jersey. Unfortunately, he was not victorious, as he was forced to wage an uphill battle, running as a Republican in the heavily Democratic 37th District.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

CAIR Attacks

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization which calls itself a civil liberties group, has a history of trying to silence those who dare to be critical of Islam or Muslims.

Robert Spencer, of Jihad Watch, spoke at the Temple of the Arts in Los Angeles on Yom Kippur.

From CAIR's press release:
CAIR-LA has learned that Robert Spencer, who operates the "Jihad Watch" Internet hate site, spoke at Temple Shalom for the Arts during a Yom Kippur event. Spencer's website is notorious for its depiction of Islam as an inherently violent faith that is a threat to world peace.
Robert Spencer responds:
Am I anti-Muslim? I answered that here. I challenge CAIR and Ayloush: if I have said anything actually false about Islam, produce it. From my own words, not those of others. And prove that it is false.

This CAIR press release is yet another example of that organization's attempt to stifle free speech about Islam and terrorism in the United States, and to intimidate into silence those who dare to step out of line.
CAIR is as likely to meet Robert Spencer's challenge as he is to be intimidated by CAIR's usual tactics.

A Sign Of Hope

Last Thursday, during clashes in the West Bank town of Jenin, an Israeli soldier shot a 12 year old Palestinian boy who was holding a toy rifle. Ahmed al-Khatib died on Saturday. The boy's parents donated their son's organs to those in need.
Ismail Khatib said the decision to donate his son Ahmed’s organs Sunday was rooted in his memories of his brother, who died at age 24 while waiting for a liver transplant, and in his family’s desire to help others regardless of their nationality.

“I don’t mind seeing the organs in the body of an Israeli or a Palestinian. In our religion, God allows us to give organs to another person and it doesn’t matter who the person is,” Khatib said. He added that he hoped the donation would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.
Six Israelis have been the recipients of Ahmed's organs. This story even has Meryl Yourish feeling optimistic.

Monday, November 07, 2005

On The Radio

Radio Blogger has posted a transcript of Victor Davis Hanson's appearance on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. Here are some excerpts:

On the French riots:
Well, there's two messages. One, that we in America can see where an unassimilated un-integrated a population goes, and where that leads to, it leads to a sort of an apartheid. And two, we can see what happens with an EU that can't create real economic growth, and has high stagnant unemployment of 10%. And three, this is I think a little bit more controversial, that we can see what happens to a society that doesn't ask the immigrant to integrate, and the immigrant doesn't feel that he has to integrate, or to learn the language, or learn the traditions of the West.
On what this means for Americans:
I think it's two-fold. I think it tells us that with our own un-policed borders, and ten to fifteen million illegal aliens in the United States, that we can immigrate and assimilate them much better, because of our egalitarian, populist traditions, if we get serious. And we do not want to have a MECHA, ATZLAN, La Raza culture dividing us. That's one. And two, I think it should really bring a little sobriety about Europe. We've had this nostalgia, this idea that the Europeans have transcended all of our problems. In fact, economically, militarily, politically, socially, they're in a complete mess, and I got that the last three and half weeks.
On the dangers of a backlash:
...the history, whether we look at the unworkable Weimar to Hitler, or whether we look at the Spanish revolution to Franco, or whatever radical swing we see in Europe, there's always this...because they are so far left, and when the left proves unworkable or chaotic, then the answer is always a man on a horse. So we have to watch this very carefully, because there will come out of the shadows a French politician to say look, I'll put a lid on all this. And the same way, if you look at the legislation that's been proposed in the Netherlands, that would never stand up in our U.S. Supreme Court. So while the American people were apologizing for the Patriot Act, to their left-wing European friends, they have not a clue that the legislation a lot of European parliaments is so far to the right of anything that we could imagine, such as deporting a naturalized citizen, without a hearing, as if an Arab-American were in the United States, and somebody accused him of terrorism, they just sent him back to Egypt. We could not do that.

The Riots in France

It's about time:
France will today broaden powers to impose local curfews across the country, one of several measures announced by Dominique de Villepin, prime minister, last night in a bid to quell widespread rioting.
The New Editor has a map which highlights the locations of violence across France.

Here is a collection of photos.

Terror Arrests In Australia

Australian authorities arrested 16 terror suspects on Tuesday including a prominent radical Muslim cleric sympathetic to Osama bin Laden and said they had foiled a major terror attack on the country by men committed to "violent jihad."

The Australian Federal Police said seven men were arrested in Sydney and nine in Melbourne in coordinated raids that also netted evidence including weapons and apparent bomb-making materials.

"I was satisfied that this state was under an imminent threat of potentially a catastrophic terrorist act," said New South Wales Police Minister Carl Scully.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Media Thought

When the Paris riots began, it was not easy to find detailed information in the media, and articles were not positioned prominently in publications. However, there is no shortage of reporting about downloadable porn for the new video iPod. (Sorry, no links here, but they're not difficult to find).

Friday, November 04, 2005

Paris Is Burning

Are the riots in France a result of failed government policies? Are they caused by the discrimination that non-native French face? Is the refusal of immigrants to assimilate into French society responsible?

Whatever the cause, the children of immigrants have an identity crisis. They were born in France, but they do not see themselves as French. They are outsiders in the country of their birth; alienation sets in. This situation leaves these people open to the influence of Islamists, which leads to further isolation from French society, and increases the likelihood of conflict.

Whatever the cause(s), violence cannot be tolerated. The police cannot be afraid to enforce the law in certain neighborhoods (in Paris, in Brussels, in Malmo). The welfare state is a failure; appeasement does not bring peace.

Some will place all the blame on the French government, and some will place all the blame on the Muslims. The truth is somewhere in between. The French have a reputation of being culturally chauvinistic. Islam is seen by many as a chauvinistic religion. French secularism collides with Islamic fundamentalism.

I don't claim to have the answer, but it will have to include economic reform, the rule of law, and Muslim integration into French society. I hope the French government comes up with a viable plan that offers long-term solutions. The wrong moves will result in more violence now, or short-term relief that will allow deepening alienation and cultural separation that can only lead to a larger explosion down the road.

VDH Friday

Today's piece from Victor Davis Hanson looks at the global plague of Islamism, and what the world must do to stop it.
...the world — if it is to save its present liberal system of free trade, safe travel, easy and unfettered communications, and growing commitment to constitutional government — must begin seeing radical Islamism as a universal pathology rather than reactions to regional grievances, if it is ever to destroy it materially and refute it ideologically.

Yet the antidote for radical Islam, aside from the promotion of democratization and open economies, is simple. It must be militarily defeated when it emerges to wage organized violence, as in the cases of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Zarqawi’s terrorists in Iraq, and the various killer cliques in Palestine.

Second, any who tolerate radical Islam should be ostracized. Muslims living in the West must be condemned when they assert that the Jews caused 9/11, or that suicide bombing is a legitimate response to Israel, or that Islamic immigrants’ own unique culture gives them a pass from accustomed assimilation, or that racial and religious affinity should allow tolerance for the hatred that spews forth from madrassas and mosques — before the patience of Western liberalism is exhausted and “the rules of the game” in Tony Blair’s words “change” quite radically and we begin to see mass invitations to leave.

Third, nations that intrigue with jihadists must be identified as the enemies of civilization. We often forget that there are now left only four major nation-states in the world that either by intent or indifference allow radical Islamists to find sanctuary.
A key point is that
we need leaders who have to ability to explain far more cogently and in some detail — rather than merely assert — to the Western public the nature of the threat we face, and how our strategy will prevail.
People (including myself) like to blame the media for the messages that the public receive, but in the end, it is up to our nation's leadership to articulate a clear message about the nature of the challanges that we face.

The Paris Riots

Instapundit and Michelle Malkin have beaucoup links.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Violence In Europe

Riots in France; riots in Denmark. Violence in Malmo (Sweden), and Brussels. The Brussels Journal has more.

Quote of the Day

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK):
"I was part of that wild and crazy Class of '94 that shook the political landscape by taking over the House after more than 50 years of unfettered Democrat control. We came to Washington full of ideals and conviction. But sadly, what they say about absolute power is coming to reality in the 2005 GOP Washington. Republicans in just 10 years have developed the arrogance it took the Democrats 30 years to develop."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Paris Riots

There have now been riots taking place in Paris suburbs for seven straight nights, and Dafydd at Big Lizards is as curious and perplexed as I am.

What exactly is going on? Who is rioting, and why? Why isn't there more extensive coverage by the media? Why do the articles that are being written seem incomplete? Is there a lack of information? Is the media crippled by political correctness? Is it something else? A good place to start would be for someone to provide the public with some facts. Just the facts.

No Media Bias Here

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The militant group Hamas said Wednesday it would not renew an informal 9-month-old truce, which expires at the end of the year, after
Israel killed one of its leading activists in an airstrike in Gaza.
"Activists" organize marches, start petitions, increase public awareness of their cause, etc. They do not fire rockets at civilians!
The truce was brokered by Egypt, which is expected to invite militant groups, including Hamas, to Cairo in the coming weeks to discuss extending the agreement.
In the past nine months, violence has dropped sharply, and Hamas refrained from carrying out suicide bombings in Israel. But
it has repeatedly fired rockets from Gaza at Israeli towns, in what it said was retaliation for Israeli truce violations, such as airstrikes and deadly arrest raids.
We may have a chicken and egg argument here. However, Israel is targeting known terrorists, and Hamas is targeting anyone or anything that its inaccurate rockets can hit. Are these actions equivalent? Even if Israel was striking first, which I don't believe it is, can you say that Hamas is obeying a truce?
On Tuesday, a Hamas activist and a top fugitive from another armed group were killed in an Israeli airstrike in a Gaza refugee camp.
There's that benign "A" word again. Now, let's skip ahead.
In an airstrike Tuesday, missiles slammed into a car carrying Hassan Madhoun, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent offshoot of Abbas'
Fatah party, who was involved in a bombing at the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Israel had been pressuring Abbas to arrest Madhoun since the beginning of the year, providing the gunman's address and cellular phone number. At the urging of Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice also brought up Madhoun with Abbas, Israeli officials have said.
Is it appropriate to describe the leader of a terrorist group as a "gunman"? At least they didn't describe him as an "activist".
Militant factions interpret the cease-fire to mean they can respond to individual Israeli attacks while remaining committed to the truce, a position Abbas has dismissed as unacceptable. Since the truce, Hamas and Al Aqsa have refrained from carrying out attacks in Israel, while Islamic Jihad has been responsible for four suicide bombings.
Refrained from carrying out attacks? Except for the aforementioned rocket attacks, sure.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Wednesday that operations against militants would stop once Abbas, widely known as Abu Mazen, decides to disarm them.

"We said very clearly that if we leave Gaza, any (militant) operation would draw a very tough Israeli reaction," Shalom said. "If Abu Mazen would make the strategic decision that he has refused to make, to dismantle terror organizations and prevent them from carrying out activity from the
Gaza Strip, believe me, on that same day all the operations in Gaza will stop."
It took a long way to get here. Could it be that simple? This pretty much invalidates a large part of the article, and of course, this little bit of truth and reason can easily get lost considering all that precedes it. Here's the rest:
Abbas is locked in a struggle with the militants for control of Gaza and has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to stop attacks against Israel. He has shied from forcibly disarming them, fearing that would provoke civil war.

A Palestinian legislator, Ziad Abu Zayyad, told Israel's Army Radio on Wednesday that Israel had rejected a
Palestinian Authority proposal that Israel stop targeting militants if they would lay down their guns.

Sharon aide Raanan Gissin said, "We're not going to pay with Israeli lives while they are experimenting in trying to reach understandings with terror organizations and they continue to carry out terror attacks against us."

Not Seen In The New York Times

Last week, Michelle Malkin posted about something that the NY Times did not print. In a story about the "2000 dead in Iraq milestone", the Times printed an excerpt from a letter written by Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, a Marine who was killed in Iraq. This letter was found on his computer after his death. This is what the newspaper printed:
Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. ''I kind of predicted this,'' Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ''A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.''
Here is a more complete quote, which shows what the NY Times omitted:
He wrote: "Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."
Michelle Malkin updates the story here.

It's Not Just France

If you only get your news from the mainstream media, you probably know a little, but maybe not a lot about the six straight nights of riots in France.
FRANCE'S centre-right Government was in crisis last night as rioting spread across the suburbs of Paris for the sixth successive evening, in the country's worst case of urban violence among its poor immigrant Muslim community in years.

After five nights of unrest in Clichy-sous-Bois in the northeast of the capital, gangs of youths were faced down by riot police when 60 cars were torched in the Seine-Saint Denis area.

Police also confronted violence in Seine et Marne, Val d'Oise, Hauts de Seine, Yvelines and Bondy where youths pelted officers with stones, resulting in four arrests.
Far less coverage is being given to similar riots that have been taking place in Denmark. In fact, I cannot find any English language reports. Viking Observer offers a translation of an article from the Danish press.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Shari'a For All

The Guardian provides a forum for Osama Saeed, of the Muslim Association of Britain, to tell us that life under Shari'a, in a new Caliphate, would be just peachy.

Scott Burgess disagrees.

As evidence that Shari'a is just and fair, here are photos of an eight year old boy who was caught stealing bread in Iran. CAUTION: These photos are disturbing.

Update: There is a dispute about what these photos really are representing. You can follow the discussion at the original link.

Gerard Depardieu To Retire

Retire from what? Oh, from acting:
France's best known cinematic export, Gérard Depardieu, is saying au revoir to showbiz.

The Oscar-nominated thespian told the French newspaper Le Parisien Dimanche that he plans on putting an end to his prolific film career, which totals nearly 200 credits.

"I'm in the process of stopping filming," he said in Sunday's edition. "I'm a guy who's leaving! A guy who's not drunk. For once."
I'll always remember him for his roles in "Green Card" and...

What was that other one?

I'm thinking...

He will be missed.