Saturday, December 31, 2005

Media Watch-Reuters

At first, it was the headline that caught my eye: "Israel kills two Palestinian militants as truce ends".

That's a load of disinformation in one headline. If you were not well-informed, you might think that Israel broke a truce, and took aggressive (rather than defensive) action against Palestinians.
Israeli artillery fire killed two Palestinian militants in Gaza on Saturday after rocket attacks were launched from the area, Palestinian security sources said, as a truce declared by militant groups drew to a close.
Okay, the Israelis were responding to an attack. Still, the ending of the "truce" is still not germane to this story, since rocket attacks from Gaza have been taking place for quite some time. Whatever.

Reading on, I came to a bigger load of disinformation:
Israel has demanded that Abbas disarm gunmen as a condition to renewing a "road map" peace plan.
This is a popular practice of the media; claiming that Israel is making demands of the Palestinians. Here is part of Phase I of the "road map" peace plan:
Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.
Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
Looking at the facts, it is obvious that the Palestinians are not living up to their first obligation under the "road map" peace plan. Is it asking too much to expect news articles to be accurate and objective?

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Eye Of The Beholder

Sometimes it's interesting to read different press accounts of the same events. Without a doubt, there was some level of chaos at the Gaza-Egypt border. Palestinian police, reacting to the death of a colleague, either stormed, blockaded, or gathered peacefully at the border crossing. European observers fled the area, or briefly withdrew to their offices.

Palestinian Police Storm Gaza-Egypt Border

Palestinian policemen angry over the killing of a fellow officer stormed the Gaza-Egypt border crossing Friday, firing shots in the air and forcing European monitors to close the border and flee, Palestinian and European officials said.
Police protest forces closure of Gaza border

Gazan policemen incensed at the death of an officer in a clan clash blockaded the border with Egypt on Friday, prompting European monitors to briefly withdraw in a new blow to Palestinian efforts to curb chaos.
Police halt border crossings in anarchic Gaza

Palestinian police have added to the sense of anarchy in the
Gaza Strip by forcing a halt to crossings into Egypt as security forces continued their search for three kidnapped Britons.

Around 100 members of the police force gathered outside the front of the Rafah terminal on Friday, prompting staff to retreat to their offices for a brief period, in protest against the killing of one of their colleagues on Thursday.

An official at the terminal told AFP that it was a "peaceful protest" and that the workers at the crossing had returned to their offices as a precautionary measure.
Update: Now, it was a "rampage".

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Information Casualties", The Environment, and Complex Systems

The population explosion, Y2K catastrophe, climate change, Chernobyl, management of the environment. What these issues have in common is fear-mongering by "experts" and the media, who also have a basic misunderstanding of the complexity of our world. Michael Crichton explains.

National Security And Politics

The Washington Times:
Some centrist Democrats say attacks by their party leaders on the Bush administration's eavesdropping on suspected terrorist conversations will further weaken the party's credibility on national security.
"I think when you suggest that civil liberties are just as much at risk today as the country is from terrorism, you've gone too far if you leave that impression. I don't believe that's true," said Michael O'Hanlon, a national-security analyst at the Brookings Institution who advises Democrats on defense issues.
"I get nervous when I see the Democrats playing this [civil liberties] issue out too far. They had better be careful about the politics of it," said Mr. O'Hanlon, who says the Patriot Act is "good legislation."
One problem is the knee-jerk anti-Bushism of some Democrats. They probably believe that they are playing to their base, but they may not be considering how their actions are perceived by moderates who support a strong defense. Let the legal issues play themselves out, but don't play politics with national security.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Winning The Fight Against Islamism

Jeff Goldstein has an interesting post on an important part of the struggle against radical Islam: the philosophical battle.

Judging The Case For War

The Chicago Tribune examines the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq.
After reassessing the administration's nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege.
Read it all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Media Watch

This AP article about a report from House Democrats that is critical of the Department of Homeland Security reveals valid areas of concern:
The report concludes that gaps remain in federal efforts to secure an array of areas, including ports, borders and chemical plants. There also are still delays in the department's sharing terror alerts and other intelligence with state and local officials, the review said.
However, it is troubling to see this article accompanied by this picture of the DHS Secretary, who is not even mentioned until the last line of the story.

Nope, no message here.

Religion Of Tolerance?

The Guardian reports on a Christian church congregation in Iran. The lay preacher, and all of the church members have converted to Christianity from Islam. Such conversions can be punishable by death according to Islamic law.
"We have big problems with the government," said Mr Jaeintan, 33, a once-devout Muslim who converted 14 years ago. "The authorities monitor the church to see who goes into the services. The entry of non-Christians is strictly forbidden.

"We are suffering repression for worshipping a God and the problems are getting worse. I am not allowed to travel abroad to study to be ordained as a priest. The most important thing for the authorities is that Iran remains an Islamic republic, with the Islamic part being more important than the republic.

"I was called into an interrogation with the intelligence service. They told me that the period when people were killed for being Christian is past but that I might find myself with two kilos of heroin in my possession. The punishment for that is life in prison or death. They told me they won't make a hero out of me."

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Controversial New Mosque In Boston

Just over three years ago, ground was broken on a $22 million mosque in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. The mosque is being built for the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB).
In the following months, the Boston Herald and Boston's Fox Channel 25 published reports documenting the ISB's ties with terrorists, terror supporters, and anti-Semites. The Herald reported that members of the ISB's Board of Trustees had at one time included one of the Islamic world's most prominent and vocal supporters of terrorism and another gentleman who would become notorious for his anti-Semitic writing. The media also reported that one of the ISB's eight founders was a genuine terrorist who had since been arrested, convicted, and sent to jail.
The ISB responded with lawsuits for defamation. This tactic of attacking anyone who is critical of them is common to at least one other Muslim organization (CAIR). A Boston citizen sued the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for selling the ISB the land for the mosque at a price that was well below market value. The attorney for the plaintiff contends that this sale violates the establishment clause of the Constitution.
THE LAND TRANSFER AND THE POSSIBLE government subsidy that accompanied it focused media attention on the Islamic Society of Boston.

Although the ISB widely and often claims to champion a "path of moderation, free of extremism" and "condemns all forms of bigotry," it has had relationships with some unsavory figures. For example, one of the Society's founders, Abdurahman Alamoudi, has been languishing in a federal prison for the past 18 months because of his ties to terrorism; his sentence calls for him to remain under government supervision for the next three decades. United States Attorney Paul McNulty called Alamoudi's conviction a "milestone in the war on terrorism."
Other controversial characters have been and are associated with the ISB. For example:
WALID FITAIHI, who, all parties agree, is in fact a member of the ISB's Board of Trustees. Fitaihi was one of the co-signers of the land conveyance between the ISB and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Fitaihi is also the author of an article in an Arabic language newspaper that labeled Jews "murderers of prophets" and claimed that Jews "would be punished for their oppression, murder and rape of the worshippers of Allah." Fitaihi also exhibited scorn for the "Zionist lobby in America . . . which has recruited many of the influential media." Fitaihi's writings came to the public's attention in October of 2003 in the Boston Herald and prompted a letter from the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League requesting that the ISB take action against Fitaihi.

The ISB initially responded that it was "shocked" by the nature of Fitaihi's writings. Ultimately, however, it supported Fitaihi...
Another interesting item is that when the land transfer was made, the paper work, which required signatures of the ISB trustees, had to be sent to Saudi Arabia.
One of the private citizens named in the suit is Dr. Charles Jacobs, the head of a group called the David Project (naturally also a defendant), which is dedicated to a "fair and honest understanding of the Middle East conflict."
Dr. Jacobs, who also leads an anti-slavery organization that he founded, commented in yesterday's Boston Globe:
THE STORY on the lawsuit filed against us by the Islamic Society of Boston (''Praised by beacon, mosque project stalls amid rancor," Page A1, Dec. 18) did mention that the society's founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi, raised money for Al Qaeda and is in jail (in connection with a plot to assassinate a Saudi prince). But the story omitted even more worrisome facts.

The society's leaders have praised suicide bombers and called for attacks on Americans. A website in Qatar associated with society trustee Yousef al-Qaradawi, an internationally known leader of extremists, calls for gays to be executed by either stoning or burning. Al-Qaradawi has been barred from the United States. The society website praises as ''very good" a book that refers to the women's liberation movement as a ''Jewish plot" to corrupt society and argues that wife-beating is at times necessary. The library of the society's current Cambridge mosque contains literature containing vitriol directed against Christians, Jews, and Americans. While mosque spokesmen speak of ''dialogue" and tolerance, Qaradawi says ''there is no dialogue between us [and the Jews] except by the sword and the rifle.' "

As citizens, we were concerned. We wanted the society to answer simple questions, questions that it took pains to avoid answering. As a result, we have been sued by the society and forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend ourselves. This is not a case about Boston bigots with discriminatory suspicions. It is a case of citizens rightfully worried that their city might be importing -- and subsidizing -- hatred and misogyny with links to terror.

The David Project

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Chanukah!

On Bethlehem

Both of the following stories are in today's edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Story #1:
In 2002, Israel began building a 25-foot concrete wall around the city, severing it from Jerusalem and the northern West Bank. Today, the streets of Bethlehem are quiet. Once-thriving shops are virtually empty. Only a handful of tourists joins the local population of 30,000 Christian and Muslim Palestinians.
Story #2:
In the first eight months of 2005, 160,000 tourists traveled between the cities. Tourism officials expect that 30,000 of the 80,000 Christian tourists arriving in Israel for Christmas will make the crossing to Bethlehem to visit Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto venerated by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus.

After years of decline, tourism in Israel is on the rise, according to Arthur Frommer.
Most articles about Bethlehem mention the Israeli security barrier between that town and Jerusalem, but they fail to mention why that barrier was built. If it wasn't for terrorism, there would be no barrier. Isn't it probable that the increase in tourism is due to the decrease in violence that can be attributed to the barrier being in place?

Might there be even more tourists if not for acts like this:
A group of Fatah gunmen on Tuesday [Dec. 20] stormed the Bethlehem Municipality building on Manger Square, demanding money and jobs in the Palestinian Authority's security forces. The attackers left the building 90 minutes later after receiving assurances from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that their demands would be met.

The attack enraged many residents, who accused the PA security forces of failing to impose law and order on the eve of Christmas. Mayor Victor Batarseh and other local leaders expressed outrage at the attack, describing it as a "severe blow" to tourism and the credibility of the PA.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

NY Times Watch: Hamas On The Ballot

An editorial in today's NY Times urges the Bush administration to urge Israel not to interfere with the upcoming Palestinian elections. In the name of democracy, the Times concedes the right of Hamas members to run for office.
Israel is concerned about a strong showing by Hamas. That's understandable, but democracy doesn't work this way.
Maybe the editorial board of the paper of record should familiarize itself with the following section of the Oslo Accords (Annex 2, Article III):
The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration once made will be canceled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions:

1. commit or advocate racism; or
2. pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non- democratic means.
Both counts would appear to cover Hamas. The mainstream media as a whole, not just the NY Times, is guilty of ignoring the fact that Hamas members should not be eligible to run for office.

Here's A New One: Bush=Botha

It's moral equivalence time again, and Arlene Getz at Newsweek is in full stretch mode as she compares George W. Bush to P.W. Botha (hey, they both have a "W").
For anyone who has lived under an authoritarian regime, phone tapping—or at least the threat of it—is always a given. But U.S. citizens have always been lucky enough to believe themselves protected from such government intrusion. So why have they reacted so insipidly to yet another post-9/11 erosion of U.S. civil liberties?

I'm sure there are many well-meaning Americans who agree with their president's explanation that it's all a necessary evil (and that patriotic citizens will not be spied on unless they dial up Osama bin Laden). But the nasty echoes of apartheid South Africa should at least give them pause.
What was happening in Botha's apartheid South Africa?
No matter that Pretoria was detaining tens of thousands of people without real evidence of wrongdoing. No matter that many of them, including children, were being tortured—sometimes to death. No matter that government hit squads were killing political opponents. No matter that police were shooting into crowds of black civilians protesting against their disenfranchisement.
I'm not minimizing the importance of the issue of government surveillance, but comparing it with South Africa's past is quite a leap. This commentary says more about the author than anything else.

Obvious Headline Of The Day

CNN: Judge: Caged kids were abused

Ya think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More U.N. (In)Action

The United Nations and the African Union on Wednesday condemned an attack on a village in Darfur in western Sudan in which camel and horse-riding assailants killed 20 civilians and burned their huts.

The 500 men, suspected Arab militiamen known as the Janjaweed, swept through the village of Abu Sorouj in the war-wrecked Darfur region on Monday, killing the villagers and destroying and looting their houses, U.N. spokeswoman Radhia Achouri told reporters.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the attack, Achouri said, warning that "the security situation in Darfur remains volatile. Militia attacks on villages continue."
And the attacks will continue until the U.N. stops issuing condemnations, and starts actually doing something to stop the genocide. Actions are needed; not more words.

Story Of The Day

I don't know who is more in need of help: the woman involved, or the judge who issued the restraining order.
A [New Mexico] state judge granted a temporary restraining order to Colleen Nestler, who alleged in a request filed last Thursday that [David] Letterman has forced her to go bankrupt and caused her "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation" since May 1994.

Nestler requested that Letterman, who tapes his show in New York, stay at least three yards away and not "think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering."
Nestler's application for a restraining order was accompanied by a six-page typed letter in which she said Letterman used code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to convey his desires for her.

She wrote that she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after his show began in 1993, and that he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come East.

She said he asked her to be his wife during a televised "teaser" for his show by saying, "Marry me, Oprah." Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her, and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time.
Okay, then.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Alaskan Pork Update

There is some new information concerning the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere". How about throwing a little conflict of interest into the mix?

The Anti-O'Reilly

It's Christopher Hitchens, coming to rain on your Holiday Christmas parade.
...what I have always hated about the month of December: the atmosphere of a one-party state. On all media and in all newspapers, endless invocations of the same repetitive theme. In all public places, from train stations to department stores, an insistent din of identical propaganda and identical music. The collectivization of gaiety and the compulsory infliction of joy. Time wasted on foolishness at one's children's schools. Vapid ecumenical messages from the president, who has more pressing things to do and who is constitutionally required to avoid any religious endorsements.
Bah, humbug indeed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Islamism In Canada

An Islamist candidate has been nominated by the Liberal party to run for Canada's parliament.
On December 2, the Liberal candidate for Mississauga-Erindale, Omar Alghabra, made his victory speech after winning the nomination. In that speech, he reportedly exhorted his audience, "This is a victory for Islam! Islam won! Islam Won! ... Islamic power is extending into Canadian politics".

Alghabra's victory speech was delivered to an audience of several hundred in the Coptic Christian Centre of the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in Mississauga.

David Ragheb, a member of the congregation, reported that following Alghabra's victory speech, Markham Councillor Khalid Osman took to the stage and declared, "We have the east, we have the west, and now we have Mississauga!" to cheers and applause from the audience. Ragheb also reported that Rogers Cable was present throughout and may have filmed the event. "A member of parliament is supposed to represent my concerns about taxes and roads in Mississauga, not promote an Islamic agenda," said Ragheb.
(Via LGF).

The December 19 press release from CCD was based on reports from several independent individuals who were present at the Liberal nomination of Omar Alghabra. While those reports were consistent, the resultant release was wrong on two key points and the inferences it drew from them. Firstly, the date of the nomination meeting was December 1, not December 2 as reported. Secondly, witnesses reported that the statements attributed to Omar Alghabra were actually spoken by Khalid Usman, the individual introduced by Mr. Alghabra as his major supporter following Mr. Alghabra's nomination victory. Witnesses reported that Mr. Alghabra's celebratory actions on the podium appeared supportive of Mr. Usman's declarations, and that Mr. Alghabra did not distance himself from the comments nor offer any correction

Headline Of The Day

The Poop on Diarrhea Vaccine

The story:
An experimental vaccine provided some protection against that scourge of tourism, traveler's diarrhea, when put to a rigorous test among U.S. students in Mexico and Guatemala, scientists reported Friday.

The Wealth Of Nations

The average American has $513,000 in wealth. Really. Ronald Bailey discusses "a new study from the World Bank, Where is the Wealth of Nations?: Measuring Capital for the 21st Century, which makes estimates of the contribution of natural, produced, and intangible capital to the aggregate wealth of 120 countries."
80 percent of the wealth of rich countries consists of intangible capital. "Rich countries are largely rich because of the skills of their populations and the quality of the institutions supporting economic activity," argues the World Bank study.

As noted above, 90 percent of intangible capital is accounted for by years of schooling and the rule of law.
Where is the Wealth of Nations? convincingly shows what countries need to do to create wealth and lift billions of people out of abject poverty. Establish the rule of law and educate people. The big question that the World Bank researchers don't answer is : How can the people of the developing world rid themselves of the kleptocrats who loot their countries and keep them poor?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Media Watch: Study Says Media Bias Is Real

According to a study led by a political scientist at UCLA, media bias does exist. Some of the findings are surprising (and some are not):
While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.
"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.
(Via Instapundit).

Hamas And The EU

Europe's top diplomat warned Sunday the European Union might cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas militants win next month's parliamentary election, reflecting international alarm over the Islamic group's strong showing in West Bank local voting.

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said during a tour of the region that European taxpayers would have a hard time supporting the Palestinian government if it included a party that supports violence and advocates Israel's destruction.
Joe's Dartblog:
Now that Hamas is a politically viable entity with a likelihood of controlling the PA, and is no longer solely a gossamer front for anti-Israeli terror and anti-American rhetoric, Western Europe is paying attention and threatening to take action. Is it, then, that when Hamas threatens to hijack the outfit Europe has spent so much time and money supporting, it must be answered forcefully, but when it is merely an underground enigma bent on daily car bombings, RPG attacks, and missile deployments, its political wing must be respected? Is it that the cheap and tawdry excuse has died?

As Roger L. Simon said in reaction to the news, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thoughts on Iran

Charles Krauthammer writes about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the (insert your own favorite adjective) Iranian president:
So a Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election. (Pity the Democrats. They cannot catch a break.) This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person. Indeed, with millennial bliss pending, he would have positive incentive to, as they say in Jewish eschatology, hasten the end.

To be sure, there are such madmen among the other monotheisms. The Temple Mount Faithful in Israel would like the al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount destroyed to make way for the third Jewish Temple and the messianic era. The difference with Iran, however, is that there are all of about 50 of these nuts in Israel, and none of them is president.
Read it all.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Iraqi Election

Pajamas Media has this well-covered, and Iowahawk's special correspondent reports live.

Reporting From Iraq

From an embedded reporter:
I still haven’t seen U.S. troops engaged or encounter car bombs or explosives. But I did see them play backgammon with some local police and Iraqi soldiers. I saw them take photos with more locals and make jokes mostly lost in translation. They gave advice and expertise to local troops on how to conduct a neighborhood patrol. They drank the local customary tea, and many admitted they’ve become addicted to it. They know several locals by name. I didn’t hear one slight or ridicule of a very distinct culture. One soldier mentioned it might be a good idea to clean up the trash around one polling place, and another commented on the status of women in the culture, but they were nothing but respectful, friendly and buddy-buddy with the Iraqis they mingled with today.

And this is good stuff.

More than anything in the last few days I’ve heard from soldiers and commanders that people back home don’t quite get it. They don’t see the real picture. They don’t get the real story. Some of them, like Lt. Col. Gregg Parrish, look seriously pained in the face when he says only a part of the picture is being told; the part of car bombs and explosives and suicide bombers and death. It’s a necessary part of the picture, but not a complete one, he says.
(Via Instapundit).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Vigil For "Tookie"

Zombie has photos and video from the vigil that was held for convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams outside of San Quentin prison on the eve of his execution.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thoughts On Iraq

From Henry Kissinger:
Whatever one's view of the decision to undertake the Iraq war, the method by which it was entered, or the strategy by which it was conducted – and I supported the original decision – one must be clear about the consequences of failure. If, when we go, we leave nothing behind but a failed state and chaos, the consequences will be disastrous for the region and for America's position in the world.

For the jihad phenomenon is more than the sum of individual terrorist acts extending from Bali through Jakarta, to New Delhi, Tunisia, Riyadh, Istanbul, Casablanca, Madrid and London. It is an ideological outpouring comparable to the early days of Islam by which Islam's radical wing seeks to sweep away secularism, pluralistic values and Western institutions wherever Muslims live.
(Via Donklephant).

The First 2005 Retrospective

From James Lileks:
Behold: 2005 was the most important year in human history.

Okay, maybe not. There have been better years, and worse ones. The Goths did not sack New York City. No plague. Asteroids didn'’t deform the globe. The center held, and if some rough beast was slouching toward Bethlehem it appears he was diverted to a time-share in Branson for the season.

Nothing blew up-—over here at least. Despite the usual rash of false alarms, Americans no longer seem to be waiting for the other shoe bomber to drop. The economy grew much more than gloomy reporters expected. The Batman movie was good, for a change. No one on the Supreme Court tested positive for steroids. Politically, the Administration seemed determined to get the third year of its second term out of the way in the first.

All in all, not bad.

(Via Instapundit).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Good News From Iraq

The Opinionated Bastard takes results from an Iraqi poll, and turns them into easy to read pie charts. Mmm, pie charts.

Car Bombs In Lebanon

The targets are anti-Syrian leaders. Hmm...
Today, the general manager of the anti-Syrian, pro-independence newspaper An Nahar and a legislator from Beirut was assassinated by a car bomb. Almost all of Gebran Tueni’s editorials that have been published in the English-language version of the paper, Naharnet, have been against Syria. The last one published called the mass graves discovered by Lebanese authorities a crime against humanity.
The pattern of car bombings has always been apparent. They all target anti-Syrian leaders mainly from the Christian and Sunni communities. After a long occupation this goes to show just how well Syria has learned the vulnerabilities that can be exploited in Lebanon’s system of government, the consociational system. For one, the system is highly susceptible to external influences, as Syrian occupation and Hezbollah’s integration into the political system has shown.
Also, the system is highly dependent on a stable group of elites that represent their communities. The targetting of prominent anti-Syrian politicians from the Maronite and Sunni communities is meant to erode the leadership of those communities, as they are the center of power in Lebanon now, to the point where they are in disarray.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Remembering Richard Pryor

Here's a personal account from Roger L. Simon.

Here Comes The Stick

From the Sunday Times:
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.
Defence sources in Israel believe the end of March to be the “point of no return” after which Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead in two to four years.

“Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran,” Sharon warned recently. “We have the ability to deal with this and we’re making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.”

Friday, December 09, 2005

Profile Of A Killer

Foreign Policy tells the story of the most wanted man in Iraq.

(Via Andrew Sullivan).

ElBaradei Gets Tough With Iran

Well, not really.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said Friday that the international community is losing patience with Iran over its nuclear program. ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he hopes the outstanding nuclear issues with Iran will be clarified next year.
"I'm not sure we are showing restraint, I think we are doing a full-court press, if you like, on Iran," ElBaradei said.

"As long as we are moving forward, as long as we haven't seen an imminent threat, a smoking gun, I don't see what other alternatives we have, frankly. … I think the best alternative today is inspections, to be on the ground … and unearth the facts," ElBaradei said. He also said turning the matter over to the U.N. Security Council, which can impose sanctions on the country, was not an immediate answer.

"Let us not think we should jump the gun, and use enforcement," ElBaradei said. "You still have to go back to the negotiating table afterward."
So, it appears that we're in for more of the all carrot, no stick approach until Iran actually has nuclear weapons. That's deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Defeating The Defeatists

From Victor Davis Hanson:
"The idea that we are going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong."
— Howard Dean

"And there is no reason… that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the — of — the historical customs, religious customs."
— John Kerry

"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home."
— John Murtha
Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Congressman Murtha represent the Democratic mainstream. And that’s the problem. None of them can be characterized as embracing the Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan fringe, and none are even prone to the wacky grandstanding of Jimmy Carter or Barbara Boxer.

Yet what we get from the national chairman, the former presidential candidate, and the new popular icon — on the verge of the third and final election in Iraq — is a de facto admission that we are losing and must leave.
Dean, Kerry, and Murtha are bright and good men who rightly worry that more Americans will die in a far-off place for a cause that they think is now hopeless. But to follow their apparently popular advice would lead to an abject national disaster as well as calamity for their own party. In short, they have become metaphors of why even Democrats are uneasy about voting for Democrats.

More importantly, the Democrats spent the last quarter century, following Vietnam and Jimmy Carter, trying to reestablish their lost fides on national defense (which were once unquestionable in the age of FDR, Truman, JFK, and senator Henry Jackson). If Joe Lieberman cannot save mainstream Democrats from themselves, perhaps the Iraqis who vote on December 15 can.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What Is An Arab?

It's very easy to have pre-conceived notions of cultures that you have never personally experienced. Many Americans (including myself) have never been to the Middle East, and we develop our views about the region without direct contact.

Lebanon.profile, filling in at Michael Totten's blog, thinks that Americans have a poor understanding of the complex demographics in the Middle East.
The way Americans think about the Middle East is the very way that pan-Arabists and pan-Islamists want them to think about the Middle East: it's a region of Arabic speaking Muslims who don't drink alcohol, hate the United States, want to destroy Israel and massacre Jews, and want a revolutionary socialist government.
The term Arab is about as useful as the term American. It doesn't tell you all that much. A recent immigrant from the Asian subcontinent and the descendent of Mayflower migrants have little in common culturally. And it's similar here.
Read it all for an informative lesson.

(Via Instapundit).

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Terrorist Killed By Israeli Missile

Here's the story:
An Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car carrying Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said, killing at least one terrorist and wounding 10 other people.

Israeli military sources said the target was Mahmoud Arkan, who is a member of the Popular Resistance Committees. Palestinian sources confirmed that the dead terrorist was indeed Arkan.
Was he actually a terrorist? What does the media think? Some headlines:

CNN: "Palestinian activist killed"
BBC: "Israel air strike kills militant"

Here's more of the story:
According to the IDF, Akran was responsible for a substantial number of the terror attacks carried out in the area of Rafah during the past few months. These include anti tank missile attacks and shooting attacks against IDF forces.
In June 2005, the army said, Arkan was involved in an attack, in which anti-tank missiles were launched at a construction team near the "Girit" outpost. An IDF NCO was killed and two IDF soldiers were wounded.

Arkan operated in coordination with the Islamic Jihad, the Abu Rish faction and non-affiliated terrorists, in order to carry out terror attacks and smuggle weaponry into the Gaza Strip, the officials added.
Yes, terrorist it is.

Update: CNN has changed their headline.

Root Causes

What are the "root causes" of Palestinian terrorism? From Honest Reporting:
...despite official condemnation of terror attacks for "harming Palestinian interests," by providing cash for the families of suicide bombers and using its state controlled media to glorify "martyrdom," it is actually the Palestinian Authority which is the "root cause" of Palestinian terrorism.
The PA gives financial support to the families of suicide bombers.
The PA's message to its people is clear, suicide bombings are legitimate and worthy of state compensation. In a major piece on the motivation of female suicide bombers, it would have made sense for Newsweek to recognize the support their families receive from the PA.
As documented by Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority continues to run media programming that encourages suicide attacks. This has not changed since the death of Arafat, despite the PA's clear Road Map obligations to end all incitement and control terror.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Courtesy Of Our Friends, The Saudis

Where do the Saudis get all this money?
Mainstream US Muslim organizations are heavily influenced by Saudi-funded extremists, according to Yehudit Barsky, an expert on terrorism at the American Jewish Committee.

Worse still, Barsky told The Jerusalem Post last week, these "extremist organizations continue to claim the mantle of leadership" over American Islam.

The power of the extremist Wahhabi form of Islam in the United States was created with generous Saudi financing of American Muslim communities over the past few decades. Over 80 percent of the mosques in the United States "have been radicalized by Saudi money and influence," Barsky said.

Made In America (With Qualifications)

Dennis Kucinich met with Auto Workers Union officials in Ohio to discuss ways to protect jobs in the auto industry.
"This is about our children and grandchildren," he [Kucinich] said. "We have to get the word out - 'Buy American.' This is a matter of our allegiance to our own communities, our belief in each other, our commitment to each other."

While Ohio has about 16,000 workers building Honda automobiles, engines and transmissions, Kucinich later said he defined "American" as being made by a union. The UAW has failed in its effort to organize the Honda plants.

Bad Cookies!

News from Denmark:
A group of Danish Muslims refuse to eat traditional “Jewish” cookies because they feel offended by the name.

According to the daily Danish newspaper B.T., Ole Poulsen, head of the public food consumer department said that the Muslim refusal to buy the cookies could have an effect on sales.

"If this will be the case, then we would be obliged to do something about it," he declared.

He added that changing the product name was a possibility, as had in the past been done with the “Negroes’ kiss” cakes, which were rebranded with a more neutral name.

Jewish cookies, which are made with cinnamon and hazelnuts and actually have nothing particularly Jewish about them, are very popular in Denmark during the pre-Christmas period.

Denmark’s chief rabbi, Bent Lexner, said that he did not see any problem in a name change.

“There is nothing Jewish in it and I wouldn’t mind another name, but I think that it would be better to educate Muslims to respect the culture of the majority in Denmark, if they want the majority to respect their culture".

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mark Warner's New Routine

Virginia governor Mark Warner, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, spoke on Saturday night at the Gridiron Club winter dinner in Washington.
As you know, many Virginians went on to become president of the United States -- Washington, Jefferson, Madison. Eight Virginians in total have served as president. That means for every six presidents, you get a Virginian."

Warner, who was born in Indiana and raised in Connecticut, continued, "And we haven't had one since our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson. So we're due. We're overdue, in fact.

"And I tell you this, ladies and gentlemen, for one simple, obvious reason -- George Allen told me to."
"One of the things I'm most proud of is my commitment to bipartisanship," said Warner, who has formed a national fundraising committee and visited such key presidential states as New Hampshire and Iowa.

"That's why, if I do run for president, I may ask Senator Allen to be my running mate. Think about it -- what's more presidential than this:

"I'm a red-state governor, who failed at a couple of businesses, and I liked to party too much in college, and I recently got in a well-publicized bike accident," Warner said.

"He's a guy named George who's done nothing more than live off his dad's legacy. Together we wouldn't just get elected president -- together, we already are the president."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dhimmitude At Marriott?

This morning, I attended a meeting at a local Marriott Hotel. This evening, I discovered this:
The Georgetown Marriott Conference Center rejected a "terrorism" symposium on the grounds that the sponsoring organization was too controversial and the venue inappropriate for this type of forum. Concurrently, another Marriott Hotel in the Washington area is hosting the Council on American- Islamic Relations' annual conference – and participating as a panelist at the gala will be an alleged coconspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. According to the Georgetown Marriott executives, the decision to reject the event, being hosted by the People's Truth Forum, a fact-based, non-partisan organization, was based upon business considerations: "The event would call for heightened security since protesters might be attracted from both the student body and off campus. These same protesters might block the front entrance leading to confrontations with hotel guests and/or room cancellations." But starting today, CAIR will host its 11th Annual Banquet at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. CAIR is a self-proclaimed Muslim advocacy group that has its roots in the Palestinian Hamas. CAIR's parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine, was founded by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. CAIR, itself, has had numerous individuals convicted in and/or deported by the United States for terrorist activity. And CAIR is the defendant in a lawsuit put forward by the family of a lead FBI agent for that agent's murder during the September 11 attacks.
Robert Spencer has more.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Congress At Work

A controversial war, budget deficits, terrorism, border control. These are just a few of the important issues facing our nation. It's refreshing to know that our representatives have time to tackle issues like this:
Calling the Bowl Championship Series "deeply flawed," the chairman of a congressional committee has called a hearing on the controversial system used to determine college football's national champion.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, charged with regulating America's sports industry, announced Friday it will conduct a hearing on the BCS next week, after this season's bowl matchups are determined.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Flight 93 Memorial

Yesterday, the AP told us this:
Designers of a Flight 93 memorial have made a bowl-shaped piece of land its centerpiece, replacing a crescent-shape design that some critics had said was a symbol honoring terrorists, officials announced Wednesday.
Leave it to bloggers to dig a little deeper. According to Alec Rawls at Error Theory, not much has changed:
The redesigned flight 93 memorial, announced today, still contains all of the features that made it a terrorist memorial. Architect Paul Murdoch's infamous red crescent is still there, still planted with red maple trees, still inscribed in the exact same circle as before, and with the same two crescent tips still intact. Thus the crescent bisector defined by these crescent tips is also the same as before. It still points almost exactly to Mecca, making the crescent a Mihrab (an Islamic prayer station, where the believer faces into a crescent, towards Mecca, to perform his ritual prostrations). The design still incorporates a separate upper terrorist-memorial wall, centered precisely on the red-maple crescent. There are still 44 translucent blocks on the flight path to the crash site, matching the total number of dead, instead of just the forty translucent blocks that are dedicated to the forty murdered Americans*. Lastly, the Tower of Voices part of the memorial is still an Islamic prayer-time sundial.
Read it all for an in depth analysis.

*Note: Of the forty passengers and crew on Flight 93, two were not American. Alec Rawls makes this correction later in his post.

(Via LGF).