Morning Report: January 5, 2005

Indonesia begins building refugee camps. 'Indonesia’s government has started breaking ground on four camps around Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra, for the estimated 1 million people left homeless by the tsunami.' Go to Command Post / Global Recon for more updates. And consider making a donation to Mercy Corps. You might also take a moment to reflect on what Rabbi Oppenheimer had to say. (Command Post)

Debka: Palestinian terror factions intimidate Abbas. Despite outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent admonitions to Mahmoud Abbas, the aspiring President of Palestine will be under the watchful eye - and thumb - of at least seven Palestinian terrorist groups, according to this article from Debka: 'Seven Palestinian terrorist groups have formed an ad hoc coalition with a more far-sighted goal than drawing the Israeli army into an extreme reprisal so as to sabotage the vote and Mahmoud Abbas’s election. Their eye is on the election’s aftermath. Taking Abbas’s win for granted, they are playing on his weakness to keep him running scared and make him too dependent to raise a finger against them. These groups are Abbas’s own Fatah, its suicide arm, the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Abu Rish Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committee’s Battalions, Hamas’s Ezzadin al-Qassam, Jihad Islami and, a newcomer making its first appearance, the Abu Masoud Squads.' Referring to the recent scene that caused Powell such concern, Debka's analysis concludes: 'The terrorists carried him on their shoulders – not as a sign of affection and respect, but as a warning to keep his feet and hands off their territory if he wants to survive.' (Debka)

IRIN: Ivory Coast anarchy speeds deforestation. From the Head Heeb comes this disturbing IRIN report from the UN explaining how the breakdown of law and order in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has contributed to an epidemic of illegal logging in the shadow of that country's two-year-long civil war: 'Sources in the timber trade told IRIN that pro-government militia chiefs, rebel warlords, timber companies and ordinary villagers were indiscriminately felling the giant hardwood trees that dominate the equatorial forests of southern and western Cote d’Ivoire. "When war breaks out, forests are suddenly up for grabs. Long-term forest protection policies are abandoned for short-term financial gain," said Frans Bongers, a Dutch ecologist who has been carrying out research in West Africa's forests for the last decade, told IRIN.' The article also notes that rising fuel costs are forcing many poor Ivorians to switch to wood for fuel. (IRIN via The Head Heeb)

Helen on Trinidadian music. Helen of CaribPundit has a fascinating essay on Trini music and its cultural roots. 'So, we went online, since soca is not available in the stores out here, and managed to download Rudder, Onika Bostic, Denise Belfon, Iwer George, Bunji Garlin, and a host of others, including our particular favorite, Sparrow. There is a sense to which the Trini desire to be ‘the other’ is reflected in the country’s music. If you doubt this, try listening to i955 FM for a period of time. ... Soca began with Ras Shorty I and was a new beat that was not a significant departure from its roots in calypso. However, as we trace the development of soca, from the complex rhythms of Ras Shorty I to the present day, we realize that rather than remaining purely Trini, soca began to reflect the inherent Trini desire to be ‘the other’; we’re pirating the terminology from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skins, White Masks. In this case, the ‘other’ to which Trini musicians aspire is not a racial ‘other’ but a musical one that has stunted the musical complexity and full development of soca’s rhythmic form and set it adrift from its moorings in calypso. Thus, it is possible to hear soca music that sounds like reggae, dancehall, rap, pop, blues, and the whole plethora of other musical forms that are not calypso. ... ' (CaribPundit)

Ali Fadhil: Terrorists losing in Iraq. In this new post at Free Iraqi, Ali notes that the pre-election terror campaign against the Iraqi people is no surprise, but that the Iraqis' will remains firm. 'It's truly a critical time in the history of Iraq, the region and the whole world. The terrorists are attacking almost everyone who does not agree with them. Today they threatened to" transfer the battle to America's land". If this should tell us anything new then it should be that the masters of these monsters are terrified as hell. They see all their efforts as not leading to the desired result; the withdrawal of American troops or at least the delaying and then the canceling of the elections. This is an important point that most of us, Iraqis and the coalition, forget most of the time. Just as we despair sometimes we should remember that our enemies are in even a worse situation than ours. I'm not talking about the terrorists, as these idiots have set up their minds to ride the highway to "heaven" through ending their miserable lives as soon as possible taking as many as possible of innocents' lives with them. I'm talking about those who finance them. The daily attacks in Iraq cost a fortune that no one and no single organization can afford.' Observing the dramatic improvement in Iraq's economy and in living conditions for ordinary Iraqis, he concludes that 'spending millions of Dollars to ruin Iraq's economy is not a great investment. And as Iraq is not ruined economically and politically, it seems that the only thing that these rulers can hope to achieve their sick dreams is making the lives of Iraqis a daily suffer through maintaining the difficult security. But even this is not a real victory and has failed to attract more supporters to turn it into a wide spread chaos that involve the whole country when tried three times. ' Readers wishing to help lessen the suffering of the Iraqi people should donate through Spirit of America. You can also help promote democracy in Iraq by supporting the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party.

Scottish MP says no to IRI appeasement. Scotland's Struan Stevenson of the EU Parliament speaks out against the EU's accommodationist stance towards the Iranian regime in this article from the Washington Times, posted on the Free Iran message board: 'The EU's lack of spine in dealing with Tehran has emboldened the mullahs to step up repression in Iran. A resolution just adopted by the U.N. General Assembly censured Tehran for "failure to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice, the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and right to counsel, the continuing executions, in particular the execution of persons below 18 years of age, the arbitrary arrest and detention without charge or trial, the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in particular the practice of amputation and flogging as well as the systemic discrimination against women and girls." The deterioration of human rights in Iran has revealed new depths of barbarity, where pregnant women and children are routinely executed and floggings and amputations are an almost daily public spectacle. ' (Washington Times via Free Iran)