2005-08-28

"There is no button on a typewriter which will lose your document."

Typewriters. Even if they won't do a superscript "th" for you, there's lots to love about them. Thanks to Barney's Bendblog for passing this on. Go visit Blue Moon Camera and Machine and leave your digital angst behind.

Morning Report: August 28, 2005

Gunman shoots, wounds judge in Iran. A gunman shot and wounded Iranian judge Mohammad Reza Aghazadeh, according to a Reuters article posted at Regime Change Iran: ' A gunman has shot an Iranian judge in the eye and hand outside his Tehran home, seriously wounding him, the justice minister said on Sunday. The official IRNA news agency said Mohammad Reza Aghazadeh had been handling cases involving large land transactions near Karaj, an industrial satellite city to the west of Tehran. "He is now in surgery," Justice Minister Jamal Karimirad told reporters. "I hope God helps us keep him alive". Aghazadeh is the second judge to be shot this month. Hassan Moghaddas, a judge who sentenced several reformist dissidents to jail, was shot dead in his car on August 2.' (Reuters via RCI)

Drone crashes in Iran. Also via Regime Change Iran, a drone aircraft has crashed in Iran: 'An unmanned single-engined plane has crashed in a mountainous area of western Iran and the wreckage has been recovered by the Iranian armed forces. It was not clear if the plane was Iranian or foreign, although the influential Kayhan newspaper pointed out that "usually these sort of planes are used for spying on other countries". The reports quoted Ali Asgar Ahmadi, deputy head of security in the interior ministry, as saying the plane went down on Thursday in the Alashtar mountains near the city of Khorramabad, the capital of Lorestan province, 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of Tehran. The hardline Kayhan newspaper said that as soon as the plane crashed, police sealed off the area -- just 150 kilometres from the border with Iraq -- and "a group of experts from Kermanshahr airbase went to examine the fuselage". (AFP via RCI)

Iraq constitution update. CNN reports that the Iraqi Constitutional Committee has signed Iraq's draft constitution: 'The Iraqi constitutional committee signed off on a draft of a constitution Sunday after making some minor amendments, a committee spokesman said. The draft was signed by the committee and submitted to the Transitional National Assembly on Sunday. It was not put to a vote in the assembly in which the Shiite-Kurdish bloc has an overwhelming majority.' Iraq the model has a running commentary on Iraq's constitution: 'Montasir Al-Imara (Assembly member) confirmed that voting on the draft will take place in the coming few hours but also said "There are 153 clauses in the draft and naturally these clauses won't satisfy all Sunnis as Sunnis or all Kurds as Kurds but it's a project for a nation that looks at everyone's interests. The draft concentrated on equality among all Iraqis and there will be no 2nd degree citizens". ... Hussein Falluji (Sunni CDC member) told Al-Arabiya TV that the committee of the "marginalized" (in reference to the Sunni politicians) is holding a separate meeting right now for the purpose of preparing an announcemnet to clarify the "challenges and pressures" they were subjected to:

We did not have sectarian or partisan demands; all we care about is the unity of Iraq...we're arranging for a large campaign now to tell the people the truth about what happened. After all, it's all up to the people to decide since the people are the source of authority and sovereignty. All we asked for was to be given more time because we were expected to deal with all of Iraq's chronic problems in a matter of only two months!

We've got nothing to do now but to look forward to the next step; that is the referendum.

Humam Hammodi made a short introductory speech where he pointed out that this constittution is "not a holy text" and that amendmendts can follow in the future.

A representatives of each political, ethnic, religious faction will be reading a part of the draft in front of the National Assembly. ...' (ITM)

"A Moving Testament"

"I’m sure that all of you are by now familiar with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey, her son who was killed in Iraq last year, and her vigil outside the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. Her story has moved the hearts of millions just as it has angered the neocon spinmeisters who pushed for this war. Though she has hesitated and backpedaled more than once, she has brought out into public view the one flaming truth that the Jewish-controlled left and Jewish-controlled right are desperate to conceal: that her son, and all the other Americans being brought back home in body bags, died for Israel, not America.

Whatever mistakes Cindy Sheehan has made or will make, and whatever defects in her understanding, her story is a moving testament to the horrible injustice and irreparable harm done to our people by the Jewish supremacists."
- The National Vanguard; link at Little Green Footballs

Not Pioneers but Pawns

Michael Totten has some reflections on the Israeli settlers evacuated from Gaza, and he quotes Leon Wieseltier's TNR article at length. Michael compares and contrasts the twin irredentisms of Greater Palestine and Greater Israel. Money quote from Totten:
In a perfect world, both “greater” movement would be defeated simultaneously. But the world is far from perfect, as it always has been, and Palestinian society is more dysfunctional and corrupt than Israeli society. So the Greater Israel movement is being defeated before the Greater Palestine movement, if only because the intifada has been largely walled off from Israel proper.

Money quote from Wieseltier:
These settlers were not pioneers, they were pawns--the eager and fervid pawns of various Israeli governments acting on a grandiose geopolitical scheme whose futility has finally become apparent to a majority of the citizens of Israel. For a few decades the settlers seemed to be winning, and now, at least in Gaza, they have lost. That is all.

Unfortunately, Judaism is not devoid of the kind of "magical" thinking Wieseltier describes: If only enough Jews would keep the Sabbath, or live in the Land of Israel, or recite the right scriptural verses, then the Almighty would be compelled to bring in the Messianic Era - so the thinking goes. But there are also many devoutly religious Jews who reject these notions, and who do not believe that the mundane laws of cause and effect will be so lightly set aside. History seems to favor the Muggles.

Go read Michael's post at the link.

Basrawis Rock!

So says Queen Amidela, and Fayrouz concurs, in this post on clashes between Badr brigades and Sadr militia. A pox on both their houses, says Fay. On the darker side, QA reports on power outages in Basra. This is no joke, especially in the summer.
During the previous regime, we accused the government of deliberately wasting the electricity or not providing it to us. Why? Well, we knew that Saddam hated us. He called the three governorates -- Basrah, Nassriyah and Ammara -- "the black governorates" because of the 1991 incidents. Saddam is gone. What's happening now? The answer is it's worse, much more worse.

For the last 12 months, we've had electricity for 12 hours per day. For the last three weeks, we haven't had electricity at all. Is the government deliberately doing this? I say they are because there is a lot of aid coming from the coalition countries. God knows where this aid is going.

Read the full post to find out how Allawi lost the Basra vote.

Rebuilding the Spirit

Mino 19 at Friends of Democracy has some thoughts about rebuilding the Iraqi individual:
... Administrative and financial corruption is probably the most dangerous. It is obvious that corruption was the natural result of a devilish seed planted by the former regime. It was cleverly and deliberately watered later under the rule of civil administrator Paul Bremer, and it finally gave its fruits under Allawi's interim government. New thieves from abroad were imposed on the government, many of whom were experts not only in robbery but in creating an atmosphere of corruption to encourage others from inside and from abroad to plunder the country's riches.
Many of those expatriates became prominent leaders and officials as if Iraq were devoid of qualified honorable individuals from inside. This begs the question: when will the right person ever fill the right place in Iraq? One who will truly serve the people instead of those who seek power and positions for their own personal gain?
I have to say here that the reconstruction of the Iraqi psyche is far more important and urgent than the reconstruction of our infrastructure. What use is a prosperous country when it is governed by sick, greedy individuals looking for their own interests?
You can treat this as a call to return to our timeless, noble values and morals such as altruism, sacrifice for the sake of others, and other sacred values which have disappeared and are almost extinct in the new Iraq which is full of empty slogans such as transparency, accountability and democracy. ...

Read the full post at the link.

I hate being right ...

... about stuff like this. The other day I compared the anti-war moonbats to Fred Phelps. Well, take a look at this:

Fred Phelps gang protests at soldiers' funerals:
Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

The church members were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the church members cars’ down a highway, waving flags and screaming “God bless America.”

“My husband is over there, so I’m here to show my support,” 41-year-old Connie Ditmore said as she waved and American flag and as tears came to her eyes. “To do this at a funeral is disrespectful of a family, no matter what your beliefs are.”

They're right in step with these left-wing creeps protesting at the Walter Reed military hospital:
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the current home of hundreds of wounded veterans from the war in Iraq, has been the target of weekly anti-war demonstrations since March. The protesters hold signs that read "Maimed for Lies" and "Enlist here and die for Halliburton."

The anti-war demonstrators, who obtain their protest permits from the Washington, D.C., police department, position themselves directly in front of the main entrance to the Army Medical Center, which is located in northwest D.C., about five miles from the White House.

Among the props used by the protesters are mock caskets, lined up on the sidewalk to represent the death toll in Iraq.

Code Pink Women for Peace, one of the groups backing anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford Texas, organizes the protests at Walter Reed as well.

Gay Patriot weighs in on Fred Phelps and Cindy Sheehan:
They are now inextricably linked together as radical nutcases masquerading as anti-war protestors but instead spouting similar deceitful, misleading, anti-American statements that will probably be used in an upcoming al-Qaeda recruiting video.

Read GP's whole post at the link.

2005-08-26

New to Blogroll: Chantel

A fiery red-head [or fill in your own favorite redhead sterotype] talks about the life and times of Chantel. She's an amazing woman with incredible tales to tell. (Oh, and she's also an old pal from work.) Go check out her blog. (Hat tip: OrBlogs.)

Morning Report: August 26, 2005

Norway rated best place to live. According to news sources, the UN Development program (UNDP) rates Norway the best place to live for the fifth year in a row. 'Rich from North Sea oil and with a generous welfare state, Norway has led the world ranking since it ousted Canada from top spot in 2001. The annual list ranks countries by an index combining wealth, education and life expectancy.' (MSNBC)

Iran news roundup. An Iran Focus item posted at Free Iran highlights a ban on "Music Day", the brothers Mohsen and Parviz Esmaeili, street children in Tehran, and other issues: 'Iran’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, banned newspapers from declaring any day of the year as “Music Day”. Hard-liners consider music as un-Islamic. ... President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has chosen two ultra-Islamist brothers for two key government posts. Mohsen Esmaeili, a young jurist on the powerful Guardian Council, has been earmarked to become cabinet secretary and government spokesman. His brother, Parviz Esmaeili, will be the new head of Iran’s official news agency, IRNA. ... Tehran’s chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi announced that a new wave of crackdown would commence to root out “troublemakers”. The hard-line daily Kayhan earlier quoted Mortazavi as saying, “There are various methods to ensure public security and peace. Combating troublemakers is an important such method”. ... The semi-official daily Jomhouri Islami earlier quoted the director of the Social Ailments branch of the Tehran Mayor’s Office as saying that his organisation had rounded up 14,205 homeless children from the streets of Tehran over the past year. Oil-rich Iran has an estimated 100,000 street children.' (Iran Focus via Free Iran)

Equal rights, equal responsibilities. An AP item at the Washington Blade explores a California Supreme Court ruling on lesbian and gay couples: 'Same-sex couples who raise children are lawful parents and must provide for them if they break up, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. The precedent-setting decision puts former gay and lesbian couples on equal ground with unmarried heterosexual couples who break up and marks the latest decision by the court recognizing rights of same-sex couples.' (Washington Blade)

In brief. Kat at The Middle Ground reflects on the quiet majority; Sam at Hammorabi has an analysis of the silent war between Syria and America; Jane at Armies of Liberation blasts the Yemen regime's campaign of intimidation against Jamal Amer; and Imshin has a moving piece on the family of an innocent man named Osama who was murdered by a terrorist named ... well, just go read the article. (various)

2005-08-25

Michael Yon: Gates of Fire

If you haven't already, please go read this extraordinary post from Michael Yon. After Ruiz is killed, Lieutenant Colonel Kurilla gets up close and personal with the terrorists (at the expense of his watch), and journalist Yon gets in some amazing shots ... not all of them with a camera. Read it all at the link.

Iranian Dissident Killed in Sweden

Via Free Iran:
ranian dissident killed in Sweden
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Aug 24, 2005
http://www.daneshjoo.org/publishers/currentnews/article_2527.shtml

An Iranian Kurd was murdered on Monday night in the Swedish City of Lindsborg by three unidentified individuals.

The victim's name is Kaveh Zare-i aged 25.

The spread of this news has increased the fear among many Iranian opponents on the resumption of the wave of extra-judicial killings made by Islamic regime's intelligence on foreign soils.

Over 200 Iranian dissidents, such as, the late Shahpoor Bakhtiar were murdered in the 80s and 90s in major European countries with a kind of impunity.

Here's hoping the EU will stand up against fascism and terrorism on its soil.

Lower than Low

Scum. Vermin. Swine. These much-too-kind words are what come to mind when I read about the self-absorbed halfwits protesting in front of a military hospital. You know who these slimeballs remind me of? Fred Phelps and his "God hates fags" goons doing their vile vaudeville act at the funerals of AIDS victims. They're right in the same class.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike.

Update

My DSL upgrade is now in effect (woo hoo) which means I can post even more often and more easily. Aren't you lucky.

And speaking of upgrades, Doctor Zin at Regime Change Iran has just ordered that new laptop! The good folks at Portable One were kind enough to give him a discount, too. Hopefully the machine will be delivered early next week. (Faster, please!)

My posting break doesn't officially end for another week, but I will probably yield to the temptation to post a few random thoughts before then.

Oh, and I'm now listed on OrBlogs.

2005-08-24

Muqtada al-Sadr, Please Call Your Office

Muqty's political career is not going particularly well.

Iraq the Model reports:
Muqtada's office in Najaf is on fire.
Right now there are bloody clashes in Najaf between the supporters of Muqtada Al-Sadr and the residents of the city.
The clashes started after Al-Sadr men tried to reopen their office which has been closed for months but the locals attacked the office, set fire in it and clashed with Sadr's men.
The police forces intervened and the casualties till now are 7 killed and tens wounded.
I have received news saying that a curfew has been imposed in the city.

It's worth mentioning here that the governor prohibited demonstrations arranged by people from outside the city "who wants to demonstrate can go and do that in his own city" said the governor in a statement yesterday.

I was told in a phone call from a friend who lives there that gunfire can be heard right now in najaf.

As a reaction, a number of Sadrists suspended their membership in the National Assembly and warned from "serious consequences" accusing the governor and his party (the SCIRI) of being responsible for the tension in the city.

Update:

Al-Hurra just reported that the Najaf police force is exchanging gunfire with the followers of Muqtada Al-Sadr.
The militia men are now hiding and returning fire from the shrine of Imam Ali.

At the same time, the Badr organization (military wing of the SCIRI) denied connection with the conflict.

Update:

There are news about clashes extending to reach parts of Baghdad and apparently followers of Muqtada have attacked some offices tht belong to the Badr organization of the SCIRI while the news are confirming that the first clashes originated between the Sadrists and civilian residents.

On the other hand, the ministers of transport and health (both Sadrists) have suspended their membership in the government.

You might have heard something on the MSM about "clashes". This is what's happening. Stay tuned.

2005-08-22

Watts at 40: John McWhorter on Rebellion

On the 40th anniversary of the Watts riots, John McWhorter has some reflections on the romance of rebellion in this Washington Post op-ed:
On Aug. 11, 1965, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles broke out in flames on the nation's television screens. Many cherish the memory as the moment when the militant became mainstream in a "fed-up" black America, replacing the nonviolent, gradualist efforts of old-guard civil rights leaders. The Watts riot indeed shaped modern black American history more decisively than the Voting Rights Act. The question is whether it was in a good way.

In comparison with the polite sleeve-tugging and forms of nonviolent protest typical of the earlier civil rights generation, the sea change in 1965 may seem at first glance to have been an overdue response to the injustice that black America had endured for so long. But after researching the riot and the policies established in its aftermath, I have come to a different conclusion. In teaching poor blacks that picturesque battle poses were an "authentic" substitute for constructive intentions, the "Burn, Baby, Burn" ethos ultimately did more harm than good to a people who had already been through more than enough.
...
The Watts riot began when white police officers stopped an intoxicated black driver in South Central Los Angeles. He resisted arrest and was forcibly subdued. [Sounds awfully familiar. -aa] A rumor quickly spread that the officers had beaten a pregnant black woman, and a growing mob started throwing rocks and bottles at the cops. The incident snowballed into a five-day conflagration, with blacks destroying a thousand businesses. Thirty-four people died, more than 1,000 were hospitalized and nearly 4,000 were arrested.
...
The conventional wisdom at the time was that blacks were rebelling against the conditions they were forced to live in. I was born two months after Watts, but growing up, this was the justification I heard time and again.

But. There were a few things about the Watts riots, McWhorter says, that didn't quite add up. For starters, these were the first race riots instigated by blacks, and not by mobs of white bigots. And yet, "black rioters in Watts ruined black-owned businesses as lustily as white ones." Then there's another curious thing: "the worst riots happened in places where conditions for blacks were best" - nothing comparable to the Watts riots happened in Atlanta or Birmingham.

Not wishing to presume any further on the writings of a fellow word geek, I'll stop quoting here and let you go read the rest at the link. Pay attention as McWhorter describes the lethal mix of rebellion for its own sake and a carefully cultivated entitlement mentality, and the devastating effects this ideological "Molotov cocktail" had on African American society.

Revolution, Communism, and the legacy of racism are the subject of Neo's fascinating three-part study on Paul Robeson and his friendship with the ill-fated Russian Jewish poet Itzhak Feffer. Feffer - an early casualty of what probably would have become Stalin's "final solution" - desperately signaled his impending death to Robeson in their last meeting - but to no avail. Robeson kept quiet about Feffer, and - with the exception of a purely symbolic, and utterly useless, protest in the form of a Yiddish folksong he performed publicly - about Soviet Jewry in general. Some highlights from Neo's series:
The trajectory of Robeson's life is a highly cautionary tale of the ideological seduction of a gifted man by what was originally an idealistic dream, his failure to see the horror that dream had become, his severe moral compromise as a result, and the cost of that compromise to him and others. Robeson was a perfect example of just how very difficult it can be for a mind to change, no matter how insightful or otherwise intelligent that mind might be.

So it seems that Robeson's love for Communism was rooted in his idea that it was the antidote to the racism that had tormented this very proud man all his life. In this, of course, he was utterly mistaken, but it was a powerful dream that he could not relinquish: "Here, for the first time in my life...I walk in full human dignity." When push came to shove and Stalin's crimes became known, Robeson, like so many others, faced a choice between clinging to an ideal and rejecting that ideal because of the horrifically flawed reality that it had become. Like so many others, he clung to the power of the dream rather than face a harsh reality. (Once again, in describing this, I am not offering an excuse; merely an explanation. Robeson is responsible for his own moral failures.)

What is it that ultimately distinguishes those such as Robeson, who refuse to abandon the cause even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, from others who are able to renounce the cause in which they once believed? We cannot know for sure. But my guess would be that it depends partly on how deeply they need to believe (the deeper the need, the more difficult to face reality), and how much they have already compromised their own integrity in the service of that cause.

For some, perhaps the implications of having to face their own guilt are simply too great....

I'm not going to try to make a direct connection between Neo-Neocon's article on Robeson and John McWhorter's piece on the Watts riots; but I do think that they both provide insights into how the drive for justice and the quest for the greater, common good - both noble pursuits in themselves - can become distorted into an atavistic, destructive force that brings only destruction. Today's liberals would do well to pay attention.

Steven Vincent's Widow Responds to Professor Pondscum

Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, the widow of the journalist Steven Vincent who was recently murdered by paramilitary death squads in Iraq, has given Juan "Professor Pondscum" Cole a piece of her mind in response to the academician's attempted character assassination of Vincent:
Mr. Cole -
(I refuse to call you professor, because that would ennoble you. And please change the name of your blog to "Uninformed Comment", because that is precisely what the above paragraph is.)

I would like to refute this shameful post against a dead man who can no longer defend himself against your scurrilous accusations, a dead man who also happened to be my husband. Steven Vincent and I were together for 23 years, married for 13 of them, and I think I know him a wee bit better than you do.

For starters, Steven and Nour were not "romantically involved". If you knew anything at all about the Middle East, as you seem to think you do, then you would know that there is no physical way that he and she could have ever been alone together. Nour (who always made sure to get home before dark, so they were never together at night) could not go to his room; he could not go to her house; there was no hot-sheet motel for them to go to for a couple of hours. They met in public, they went about together in public, they parted in public. They were never alone. She would not let him touch her arm, pay her a compliment, buy her a banana on the street, hyper-aware of how such gestures might be interpreted by the misogynistic cretins who surrounded her daily. So for you brazenly claim that she was "sleeping around," when there is no earthly way you could possibly know that, suggests to me that you are quite the misogynist as well. Cheap shot, Mr. Cole, against a remarkable woman who does not in any wise deserve it. ...
Yes, Steven was aggressive in criticizing what he saw around him and did not like. It’s called courage, and it happens to be a tradition in the history of this country. Without this tradition there would have been no Revolutionary War, no Civil War, no civil rights movement, no a lot of things that America can be proud of. He had made many friends in Iraq, and was afraid for them if the religious fundamentalists were given the country to run under shari’a. You may dismiss that as naive, simplistic, foolish, but I say to you, as you sit safely in your ivory tower in Michigan with nothing threatening your comfy, tenured existence, that you should be ashamed at the depths to which you have sunk by libeling Steven and Nour. They were on the front lines, risking all, in an attempt to call attention to the growing storm threatening to overwhelm a fragile and fledgling experiment in democracy, trying to get the world to see that all was not right in Iraq. And for their efforts, Steven is dead and Nour is recuperating with three bullet wound in her back. Yes, that’s right - the “honorable” men who abducted them, after binding them, holding them captive and beating them, set them free, told them to run - and then shot them both in the back. I’ve seen the autopsy report.

You did not know him - you did not have that honor, and you will never have the chance, thanks to the murderous goons for whom you have appointed yourself an apologist.

Go read it all at the link. (Hat tip: LGF.)

As it happens, I was just talking with Michael Totten about the Middle East, and the subject of "Arabists" came up. Arabists are the subject of a book by Robert Kaplan; they are Westerners, often academicians, who not only study Middle Eastern culture but assimilate its values - and sometimes the worst of those values. Read Lisa Ramaci-Vincent's response to Juan Cole, to learn what people with REAL values believe in.

On Disengagement - from a Reader

The following is excerpted from an e-mail sent by a reader:
I'm an old lady, so as time passes I learn a lot. And, I've been observing both my president, George W. Bush, and Arik Sharon. And, I've discovered they could care less what the press says. Perhaps, Ronald Reagan was the last of the media giants? But it no longer matters.

With the Disengagement, Arik planned it well. He fired the heads that wouldn't cooperate. And, both the military and the police were trained to perfection. It's as if Arik learned everyone who wants to be on TV will operate like the nuts who show up to be televised on the Jerry Springer Show.

How sad for the Torah, really. It doesn't take much to realize our world has changed. And, only people who refuse to change manage to cling to age-old religions.

Did you know in the Diaspora Judiasm grew branches? Not just the ultra-orthodox; but the men and women who joined the greater society. Philosophers. Like my favorites: Spinoza. And, Martin Buber. And, there's the Conservative movement. And, the Reform movement. ...

Yet, I saw Arik's gifts above all of this. And, the decent way the IDF and the police went about disengaging from the very hostile place called gaza. (I also saw the earthquake that has been set off under the feet of the arabs. Who sat, amazed. Whose TVs also turned to the pictures that flashed out of the ordeal of separating a few from their homes. For the benefits ahead. That will probably include an influx of funds from America. To see the Negev invigorated with building projects. Why not think that in two years some settlers will be showing off new homes? Would they remember to apologize for the violence done in their names? I really don't know.

But I'm so proud of how Arik PLANNED this thing to be as successful as possible. While others thought he could be stopped in his tracks.

The world's changed. ...

Many thanks to Carol Herman in California who sent this in.

Breaking News on Iraqi Constitution

Iraq the Model reports:
National Assembly member Bahaa Al-Aaraji just told Al-Iraqia TV that an agreement has finally been reached among the leaders of political bodies on the final draft of the constitution and that disputes over issues like federalism, distribution of resources and the role of Islam have been solved.

"All we need now is a couple of hours to reprint the document and produce enough copies to submit them to all the members of the National Assembly to get theri approval later this evening…" Al-Aaraji explained.

Till now there has been no announcement from the head of the constitution drafting committee but Al-Iraqia reporter in the green zone is confirming the news.


UPDATE from ITM: "Regarding Islam and the constitution: it was agreed upon that no laws that are against the widely agreed upon values of Islam can be issued and no laws that are against the values of democracy and human rights can be issued."

Whatever that means. Sounds like politicians at work. Anyway, it looks like there's no immediate cause for panic over the prospect of a theocracy in Iraq. I really don't think the Iraqis would go for that.

UPDATE II: Michael Totten is worried: 'There is no silver lining here, no “bright side” to look on. It’s bad news, period.' Read full post at link.

2005-08-21

Steyn: Sheehan vs. Sheehan - and the Democrats

Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times hits one out of the ballpark with this column:
Cindy Sheehan's son Casey died in Sadr City last year, and that fact is supposed to put her beyond reproach. For as the New York Times' Maureen Dowd informed us: ''The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute."

Really? Well, what about those other parents who've buried children killed in Iraq? There are, sadly, hundreds of them: They honor their loved ones' service to the nation, and so they don't make the news. There's one Cindy Sheehan, and she's on TV 'round the clock. Because, if you're as heavily invested as Dowd in the notion that those "killed in Iraq" are "children," then Sheehan's status as grieving matriarch is a bonanza.

They're not children in Iraq; they're grown-ups who made their own decision to join the military ...

And it just gets better. Go and read the whole thing.

Help Abolish Slavery

There are things you can do to help make life better for enslaved people around the world. Here are some ideas.

Victoria Brownworth, one of my favorite columnists (even when I don't agree with her), has an important piece in the new print issue of Curve covering the problem of enslaved women and girls.
According to the United Nations and the British-based organization Anti-Slavery International, there are more people living in slavery today than at any other point in history. Almost 30 million adult slaves, including victims of human trafficking, debt bondage, and serfdom, are scattered across the globe. And the overwhelming majority of modern slaves - 75 percent - are women. According to the United Nations, 246 million children also live as slaves or in serfdom through unrestricted child labor, which the United Nations terms "virtual slavery." The majority of these children are girls whose parents have sold them into slavery or indentured servitude.

Brownworth's article goes on to cite cases of backbreaking child labor in quarries in India, chained textile laborers in Pakistan, Kenyan coffee workers poisoned by pesticides, and "virtual slaves" in agriculture in the United States. She also points out that the United States has refused to sign UN charters against the slavery of women and children, and has granted MFN status to countries that employ child labor.

One important anti-slavery organization is iAbolish. Go to the link to find out how you can provide humanitarian support to survivors of slavery and help raise international awareness (thanks, Andrej Mucic, for your Tour de Freedom event), and don't miss the chance to send our Secretary of State an e-mail urging her to do the right thing, and to "place the security of the Sudanese people at the top of your agenda, especially in this time of confusion and renewed violence in Sudan."

But wait! There's more. The Bush Administration has courageously invested some $400 billion, the lives of our fighting men and women, and a great deal of political capital in the liberation of Iraq from Saddam's Ba'athist regime. There's still much more to be done, though, and it's up to you and me to help. So here's my plug for Women for Women International, which was founded by an Iraqi woman named Zainab Salbi. There's information about what you can do to help Iraqi women. But it's not just about Iraq - Women for Women has programs in Afghanistan, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Colombia, DR Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

Finally, one more antislavery organization is Free the Slaves, which works in partnership with Anti-Slavery International to pressure governments on the problem of slavery.

I know there's going to be somebody out there whining that "I can't support this or that organization because they're endorsed by right/left -wing nutjobs, and I'm a left/right -wing nutjob." Get over it. This is everybody's problem. Now go do something.

2005-08-20

Let's blogroll!

Nick Kiddle is the author of The Iron-On Line. He's 27, a yet-to-be-published novelist, a fan of English football (soccer to us Yanks) and a proud supporter of Scunthorpe United. Oh, yeah, and he's pregnant. All the best to Nick and the little parasite. Have an easy delivery, dude. (Hat tip: Alas.)

What part of "thou shalt not" wasn't sufficiently clear? LaShawn has some thoughts on big-name entertainers and adultery.

What do voters want, anyway? Americans don't need a second Republican Party, agrees Rob Port guestblogging at Wizbang. What they do need is "an opposition party that has ideas of its own outside of knee-jerk obstruction", and a lot more. Read it all, and visit Say Anything.

Mercury goes direct. With that nasty retrograde now a thing of the past, the channels of communication are open once again, and Paula Gaon can finally move that work off the drawing board. Satchel Paige speaks for all of us.

Wanted: Egyptian wife. Must know words to "The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round." So, when are you getting married? That's the question Sandmonkey has been dreading ... but fortunately, he's got a few quetions for Mom, too.

Ten things to do with your new bits. Via Beth, we have some musings on how to use the new equipment.

2005-08-16

Bambi Sheleg on Disengagement

Who disengaged first? A recent editorial by Bambi Sheleg - which was forwarded to me via e-mail - calls for some soul-searching on the part of the religious Zionist movement. I will quote a few excerpts:
... In the years following the Yom Kippur War we [religious Zionists] came to believe, with true sincerity, that we were the flag-bearers of the Jewish people. After all, we had not forgotten the Torah of Israel and its values; we knew from whence we came and where we were going; we had more humility, we were imbued with faith.

The Yom Kippur War had not badly shaken our world of beliefs, as it did with the leading strata of Israeli society up until then. Just the opposite. That war actually strengthened us. The more mature among us discerned a leadership and ideological vacuum, the need for a new ideal to "uplift the people's spirit" – then at an ebb in wake of the war's tragedy – and charged toward the new and exciting goal: settling Judea, Samaria [i.e., the West Bank] and Gaza. Thus the great internal disengagement of religious Zionism began.

...

All this was done consciously by the leadership out of an internal sense that "our people" were worthy of replacing the old and corrupt elites in power, who lacked the true values, the values that we held.

The combination of an internal sense of power, of knowing the way, and the hatred we felt from the old elites who fought against our dream of settling the entire land caused many of us to stop dealing with the weighty questions on our doorstep. For example: What would we do with three and a half million Palestinians lacking civil rights?

Very few among us related to this weighty question with the proper seriousness. This, perhaps, is the main reason that the helm of power has still not come close to being in religious-Zionist hands.

On the other hand, the seclusion, combined with a deep internal sense of being in the right without asking for or needing external confirmation, caused a deep blindness in many of us.

...
Embarrassing as it is to admit, we fell in love with ourselves. We have strong communities, good schools and devoted teachers. We have a path, we have a destiny. We know how things should progress, and if events don't move the way we think they should, we will volunteer to show reality the way.

DEAR FRIENDS, this is so difficult for me to write: We were wrong, and we misled our society. On the way to redeeming the land of our forefathers, we forgot our people. We looked out for ourselves and our children very well, and we forgot so many children of other people.

We tried to give new life to the Torah of Israel so it would suit the tasks of this generation, but the generation of rabbis that were born to us disappointed. Our Torah is not relevant to the real situation of the great majority of the Jewish people in this generation. Its language is cut off and its thoughts not directed to the simple and basic and existential troubles of our society.

...
We looked out for ourselves, did we not? The beautiful settlements we built, the huge and ostentatious houses in so many of them, we thought this was something we deserved by right. While our schools flourished – and we made sure our children received more and more hours of schooling – there was no one to look out for the other children.

We strengthened our own small and prestigious state religious schools and national haredi [Orthodox] schools and neglected, even when we held the Education Ministry portfolio, all the other school systems. We acted like any self-interested sector, not as a worthy leadership.

We have no interest in the rights of workers, which are gradually being eroded – not of Jewish workers and certainly not of foreign workers; we have nothing to say about Israel being a world leader in the trading of women, and we of course have nothing to say about the Palestinian issue.

Except for a very few in our society, we don't even notice their existence. The Palestinians are invisible. They are a phenomenon of nature. We only see them when they strike at us.

And to all this it must be added that the institution closest to us, the one our people still control, the rabbinical courts, function like the legal system of a third world country, and we do almost nothing to change this disgrace.

The behavior of so many of us in the last few months shows that we have lost our wits. The hysterical demonstrations, the tacit consent to sending children to block roads and clash with security forces, all this attests to a deep sense of insult – as if society had betrayed us, the best of its sons.

And yes, many of us are indeed the best of its sons; but we betrayed society first. Innocently. Out of genuine idealism. But also out of arrogance. We disengaged first.


I simply can't overstate how important I think Bambi Sheleg's article is - not just for religious Zionists, or for Jews, but for all of us. Not everyone is familiar with the various factional and ideological struggles within Jewish and Israeli society; but many of us have dreamed, in some fashion, of "creating a better world." This dream has its dangers.

"...we fell in love with ourselves. We have strong communities, good schools and devoted teachers. We have a path, we have a destiny. We know how things should progress, and if events don't move the way we think they should, we will volunteer to show reality the way."

For those of us who have been on the political and cultural Left in America for the last 30 years, this article is like looking into a mirror. THIS IS US.

Please read the full article at the link
.

Update: Imshin has translated portions of the article, with her comments. Also follow her link to the Hebrew original in Ma'ariv.

Update II: Welcome Imshin readers!

Update III: And Kesher Talk readers! Thanks, Judith.

Update IV: Welcome Michael Totten readers! Michael's post speaks for me: "The country has - correctly, in my opinion - quietly moved to the left on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That's because the intifada is no longer what it recently was. It has been beaten back, and history is moving on without some people."

A reader in Germany was skeptical of the analogy I drew between the religious Zionists and the American left, so I'll try to explain a little better - because I believe this is essential for our understanding of the political realities of today's world.

Like the religious Zionist movement, the American Left was the only segment of society that was strenghtened, not weakened, by the last war - in our case, Vietnam. Over the next three decades, the liberal movement - that is, the increasingly dogmatic ideology that called itself "liberalism" - consolidated its hold on our media, our educational and cultural institutions. Liberal communities like Berkeley and neighborhoods like, well, the one I live in, ensured that left-leaning Americans could live comfortably without having to rub elbows with "red-staters".

Liberal Americans, guided by a "deep internal sense of being in the right without asking for or needing external confirmation,", built and strengthened their own communities but rarely stopped to ask themselves what they might learn from their conservative neighbors, or how they might address the conservatives' legitimate concerns about social values and national security. Now that "the helm of power" is slipping farther and farther away from liberal-Democratic hands, many of them are losing their minds.

The settlers sought to compel the Israeli government to follow the religious-Zionist ideology in its foreign policy, by holding themselves and their children hostage in land that was not part of the State of Israel. In the end, they lost their bet; and rather than concede defeat gracefully, they forced the Israeli Defense Forces to expend valuable resources in forcibly repatriating them to Israel proper. They had to be dragged, literally, kicking and screaming.

American leftists, too, refused to accept political defeat. But then, the political process was never really the point for them, either. As Michael wrote at Tech Central Station, "they march for themselves". "They were their own audience. Everyone else was a prop. Everyone else's eyes were mere mirrors. If they had any practical effect on the ground it was the alienation of their moderate allies." Go read Michael's piece at TCS, and go back and read Bambi Sheleg again.

The extreme right-wing Israeli settlers and the extreme left-wing American liberals may not have much in common politically, but they share the same pathology. As a lifelong liberal, and also a person with personal ties to the Orthodox world, I have great respect for both communities. We must learn the difficult lessons that these difficult times come to teach us.

What A Pr*ck

This is repulsive:
CRAWFORD, Texas - A pickup truck ran over wooden crosses erected at antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan's campsite on Monday night in the latest sign of tension over the peace vigil outside vacationing President Bush's Texas ranch.

Larry Northern, 46, of nearby Waco, Texas, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the incident, Crawford Police Chief Donnie Tidmore said.
...


Read it all at the link. Evidently this jackass didn't get the memo: In a civilized society, there are civilized ways to express your opinion. This isn't one of them. What a sick POS.

2005-08-15

Worth Reading

A few posts from around the blogosphere:

Alas, a Blog takes a look at feminists for life. I don't often post on abortion, but this is well worth reading. Follow the links to the article at The Nation and the FFL homepage.

For no particular reason, I've failed to link Jack Bog's Blog. For every reason in the world, I'm linking it now. Go pay Bojack a visit.

Just when you thought you'd heard it all, Kesher Talk posts on a breathtakingly ludicrous comparison. And follow her link to the latest from Hitch.

Also in the outrageous comparisons department, PETA are getting lots of mileage out of that permission slip, says Baldilocks.

And speaking of grieving parents, Neo-Neocon wants you to know about Kathe Kollwitz.

Sherri has a heartwarming post on the hardest job in the world.

Update

Due to various activities and obligations both blogospheric and personal, I will be taking a posting break through the end of the month. Light posting, or none, at Dreams Into Lightning until September.

I'm looking forward to a visit from The Next Generation who is rapidly approaching his tenth birthday and will be visiting next week from San Francisco.

Also I'm going to be updating some of my side projects, including Morning Report Archives (no link 'cuz it's not finished yet) and several other entities in the Dreams Into Lightning universe.

Morning Report: August 15, 2005

"All frozen." Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of a tragic airplane crash near Athens, Greece that killed all 121 people aboard - including many children - on Sunday. The plane apparently suffered a loss of air pressure, and many of the bodies were frozen. CNN reports: 'All but two of the bodies have been recovered, a Greek government spokesman said Monday, and officials hope autopsies and cockpit recorders will hold clues to Sunday's crash of Helios Airways Flight 522. The autopsies were ordered to determine if the 115 passengers and six crew were already dead or oxygen-starved before the crash, the spokesman said. ... Akrivos Tsolakis, head of the Greek airline safety committee, said the plane's data and voice recorders were being sent to French air safety investigators for further examination, but that the voice recorder was badly damaged. "It's in a bad state and, possibly, it won't give us the information we need," The Associated Press quoted him as saying. "Both boxes will be sent to Paris where a French committee will help us and the foreign experts that are here to decode (it)." ... The Boeing 737, en route from Larnaca, Cyprus to Athens, crashed north of the Greek capital shortly after 12 p.m. (5 a.m. ET). The plane had been scheduled to continue from Athens to Prague, Czech Republic. A Cyprus government spokesman said all the passengers were Cypriots.' Debka says: 'Helios Airways grounds all its planes. Two flight recorders sent to Paris for analysis. Athens defense ministry source says bodies recovered from Cypriot airline crash were frozen solid. Investigators seek clues to cause of Helios Boeing 737 crash north of Athens killing all 121 people aboard, 49 of them children bound from Larnaca to Prague. One pilot and the passenger were reported unconscious, the second pilot absent, by the Greek air force F-16 jets sent up when the plane failed to respond to signals from Athens control tower. The two flight recorders have been recovered. They may answer some puzzling questions which explain why a terrorist hijacking was not ruled out by the Greek army chief and which sent Mediterranean airports on hijack alert. Early indications that sudden decompression caused the crash do not disclose how this breakdown occurred on an aircraft less than two years old. Where was the missing pilot, an experienced British flyer, minutes before touchdown at Athens? Why did he fail to signal Athens about a decompression problem? The fragmentation of the plane into small bits of widely scattered debris suggests a possible explosion. ...' (CNN, Debka)

Israeli army evicts Gaza settlers. In a dramatic and historic confrontation, the Israeli army began the sometimes forcible evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, under the provisions of the Bush/Sharon disengagement plan. The conflict between the "orange" (pro-settler) and "blue" (pro-government) factions is singular in Israel's modern history. The deadline for the settlers to leave the area coincided with the Jewish fast day of Tisha b'Av, a solemn commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire in the year 70 CE. The settlers' motivations are both political and religious: like many right-of-center Israelis, they see Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories as tactically disastrous for the Jewish state; many also envision an Israel whose borders more closely match the boundaries of the ancient Jewish homeland ("Eretz Israel") than do the current 1948/1967 borders. The Jerusalem Post: 'IDF [Israel Defence Forces] Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz declared Monday that since the Disengagement Implementation Law went into effect at midnight Sunday, everything was going as expected. By 2:00 p.m. soldiers finished distributing eviction notices in Dugit, Nisanit and Pe'at Sadeh. In the Gaza settlements of Atzmona, Katif and Netzer Hazani, the army reached an agreement with the settlers by which notices were given to the settlements' secretariat to distribute. At 3:30, Morag and Gan Or had also received the decrees. Police said that by the end of the day Monday, they expected the northern Gaza settlements of Elei Sinai, Nisanit and Dugit and the southern Gaza settlement of Pe'at Sadeh to have emptied. Altogether, roughly 1,850 live in those four settlements. In those settlements, soldiers will spend the afternoon aiding the families in doing their final packing and transporting their belongings to their new homes and destinations. ...' Arutz Sheva: 'A woman in Morag threatens to employ violence against herself and her children -and Noga Cohen of Kfar Darom, three of whose children lost their legs in a terrorist attack, attempted to mollify her. The woman, named Ofrah, a 17-year veteran of Morag in southern Gush Katif, screamed at an army officer who arrived to deliver the expulsion notices: "By what right do you come and throw me out of my house? Did I hurt anyone? Did I do something? You're coming in the name of the law, in the name of the government - I'd like to see Ariel Sharon come here himself! He came here once and shook my hand and encouraged me to keep living here; I even have one child named Ariel and one named Sharon... In a chilling ending to the exchange, in which the army officer was barely able to respond, the woman then said, "I never hurt anyone, but I want to stay in my home. If I have to shoot myself and my children, I will." She then turned around and walked to the house.' Also from Arutz Sheva: 'Tense and charged stand-offs between soldiers/police and residents outside Chomesh, in the Shomron, as well as outside Gan-Or, Gadid, and Ganei Tal. Just south of N'vei Dekalim, the main Gush Katif road leads to a turnoff to the twin communities of Gan-Or and Gadid. At 7 AM this morning, the residents blocked the main gate leading to the two, and held a large prayer service. At around 9 AM, the local brigade commander, Col. Hagi Yehezkel, arrived. One eyewitness said, "Behind him was a long line of black-uniformed forces, which could not help but leave very unpleasant associations with Jewish history of several decades ago. The officer kept saying, 'We are coming in peace,' but many of the residents attacked him [verbally] very strongly. ...' Debka: 'Half a dozen Gaza and two West Bank communities bar soldiers handing out individual 48-hour eviction orders Monday amid heated verbal exchanges. Troops are not forcing their way in. No arms on either side. Neve Dekalim blocked 30 container trucks for removing belongings for hours. Israeli cabinet majority approves Stage B of evacuation operation – all of Gush Katif bloc communities - by sixteen ministers to 4 Likud dissenters.' MSNBC (AP story): 'Defiant and tearful Jewish settlers locked their communities’ gates and formed human chains to block troops from delivering eviction notices Monday, as Israel began its historic pullout from the Gaza Strip after 38 years of occupation. Police and soldiers waited patiently in the sweltering sun and avoided confrontation at the behest of their commanders. One sobbing settler pleaded with a brigadier general not to evict him before the two men embraced. “It’s a painful and difficult day, but it’s a historic day,” said Israel’s defense minister, Shaul Mofaz. ...' NOTE: For an excellent round-up of the disengagement debate, please see Kesher Talk. (various)

Bush on Iran: "All options on table." President Bush has refused to rule out military action on Iran. Via Free Iran: 'US President George W Bush refused to rule out the use of force against Iran over the Islamic republic's resumption of nuclear activities, in an interview with Israeli television. When asked if the use of force was an alternative to faltering diplomatic efforts, Bush said: "All options are on the table." "The use of force is the last option for any president. You know we have used force in the recent past to secure our country," he said in a clear reference to Iraq. "I have been willing to do so as a last resort in order to secure the country and provide the opportunity for people to live in free societies," he added. Bush was speaking from his ranch in Crawford, Texas to a reporter from Israeli public television. The Jewish state has accused Iran of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and believes it is the prime target of the alleged arms program. ...' Also in the same thread: 'President George W. Bush yesterday raised the possibility of a U.S. military response to Iran's decision to restart its nuclear energy program. ``All options are on the table,'' Bush said in an Israeli television interview from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, according to a transcript provided by his staff today. He said military force would be a last resort. ``We've used force in the recent past to secure our country,'' Bush added, when asked to elaborate. ``It's difficult for the commander-in-chef to put kids in harm's way. Nevertheless, I have been willing to do so as a last resort in order to secure this country and to provide the opportunity for people to live in free societies.'' Iran reopened uranium conversion facilities at its Isfahan plant on Aug. 8, restarting a uranium enrichment program the oil- rich nation claims is needed for energy purposes. Material produced by the process, which Iran hopes to export, can fuel a nuclear power plant or a nuclear bomb. ...' (varous, via Free Iran)

2005-08-12

Khamis Mushayt Girl

"Saudi executions are invariably grisly. This one promises to exceed all previous records. ..." A 26-year-old rape victim faces execution in Saudi Arabia. Go read the rest of this post on the Khamis Mushayt Girl at The Religious Policeman.

Mohammed: A Response to Cindy Sheehan

Mohammed Fadhil at Iraq the Model writes this message to Cindy Sheehan:
I realize how tragic your loss is and I know how much pain there is crushing your heart and I know the darkness that suddenly came to wrap your life and wipe away your dreams and I do feel the heat of your tears that won't dry until you find the answers to your question; why you lost your loved one?

I have heard your story and I understand that you have the full right to ask people to stand by your side and support your cause. At the beginning I told myself, this is yet another woman who lost a piece of her heart and the questions of war, peace and why are killing her everyday. To be frank to you the first thing I thought of was like "why should I listen or care to answer when there are thousands of other women in America, Iraq and Afghanistan who lost a son or a husband or a brother…”

But today I was looking at your picture and I saw in your eyes a persistence, a great pain and a torturing question; why?

I know how you feel Cindy, I lived among the same pains for 35 years but worse than that was the fear from losing our loved ones at any moment. Even while I'm writing these words to you there are feelings of fear, stress, and sadness that interrupt our lives all the time but in spite of all that I'm sticking hard to hope which if I didn't have I would have died years ago.

Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity.
Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families.
Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.

We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over.
We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation.
For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom.

The mothers went to break the bars of cells looking for the ones they lost 5, 12 or 20 years ago and other women went to dig the land with their bare hand searching for a few bones they can hold in their arms after they couldn't hold them when they belonged to a living person.

I recall seeing a woman on TV two years ago, she was digging through the dirt with her hands. There was no definite grave in there as the whole place was one large grave but she seemed willing to dig the whole place looking for her two brothers who disappeared from earth 24 years ago when they were dragged from their colleges to a chamber of hell.

Her tears mixed with the dirt of the grave and there were journalists asking her about what her brothers did wrong and she was screaming "I don't know, I don't know. They were only college students. They didn't murder anyone, they didn't steal, and they didn't hurt anyone in their lives. All I want to know is the place of their grave".

Why was this woman chosen to lose her dear ones? Why you? Why did a million women have to go through the same pain? ...

Read the rest here.

The Arabs are coming! The Arabs are coming!

Here's a roundup of recent posts from the Arab blogosphere.

I'm going to devote a separate post to The Religious Policeman, but it would be a sin not to mention his blog here. Go read what this Saudi expat has to say - and why he calls himself the Religious Policeman.

Karfan of Syria Exposed fears he may be suffering delusions of adequacy as he explodes Myth No. 11:
Two months ago, it became obvious that King Lion the 2nd and his entourage grew weary of people barking at them from all sides. Being completely hopeless towards the big strong harmful dogs barking from the safe heaven of outside, they decided to start beating the dogs that they can beat: the tiny little harmless poodles inside the country. So they started a charitable campaign of filling some empty cells with people who dared to speak out loud demanding reforms and democracy. Some of the names they took are famous or became famous after the rides, like the Atassi seven and their snow-white princess. Some were never mentioned in media and they were known by word of mouth only. Some were released and some were not. So Karfan and I, being lawful disciples of chicken-citizenship conditioning, decided to keep a low profile for a while.

After taking a month and a half vacation from this virtual ranting duty, we realized that there is really nothing for us to fear from. We were fooling our selves by thinking that we are actually so important that a security service apparatus would waist their brilliant informants time to track us down ....

Karfan doesn't ask much of his government ... just one little thing. Read the post to find out what it is.

Syrian heretic Amarji has the latest on a conference in Venice:
The words and addresses if the conference organizers and participants, in contrast, were thankfully much more humble, albeit, at times, they could still be too apologetic.

“Modernization is not synonymous with westernization.” Said one of the speakers. Oh really. Can anyone name one thing that is modern but not Western? Whenever I ask this question, people are often tempted to refer to Japanese ingenuity. Obviously they haven’t heard of Commodore Perry and gunboat diplomacy.

Will gunboat diplomacy work with a certain country I wonder? It might be worth considering.

The problem with reform in the region, the reason why we don’t have enlightened despots at work, is simply the total corruption of our political and economic elite. We have thieves and thugs for decision-makers, avaricious morons for policy advisors and dreamy nincompoops for technocrats. How on earth can we modernize with this lot?


Big Pharaoh has this to say about the Iraqi women who demonstrated the other day:
And please don't tell me that the unveiled jeans wearing ladies are less Muslim than the women who are clad in black. Please don't try to convince me that Allah or God who created Mars, Venus, Jupiter, the rivers, the roses, and the water falls had a bad day today because a group of Iraqi women dressed in jeans decided to braze the terrorists and a terrible weather to demand equal rights and a better life.
Read it all at the link. And did you hear about the two stoners going into the one dude's apartment? No? Well, better go here: Osama who?

Also from Egypt, Sandmonkey is breaking out the bubbly:
'Omar Bakri has been living in Britian for 20 years now as a refuge after Saudi
declared him to be an "islamic extremist"- imagine how bad you have to be for
that to happen- and kicked him out of Saudi. The fact that he wasn't arrested
for all of those years of hate incitement and support for terrorism was pissing
me off, and the fact that he came under fire finally after the London bombings
is the one good thing I consider to ever come out of this tragic event. Altough
to be fair ,the fact that he didn't keep his mouth shut after it either and
calling the 7/7 bombers the "fabolous four" , kind of helped.

Omar Bakri sparked outrage last week when he said he would not inform police if he knew Muslims were planning a bomb attack on a train in Britain and supported Muslims who attacked British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So faced with the threat of going to jail for hate-incitement, our boy Bakri had to escape London and went to Lebanon, after overstaying his welcome and abusing the kindness of people who took him into their country, which is something that I am kind of glad about. And i am not the only one who thinks so it seems:

Omar Bakri's departure, however, was welcomed by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. "There can be a bit of a celebration. That is something which I think will bring a bit of real joy and happiness to the community," he said.

Well, Sir Iqbal, I am happy to report that the good news just keeps on coming, and by good news I mean bad news for Bakri: They arrested him in Lebanon...'
Read it all at the link.

Nadz, one of our favorite members of Dreams Into Lightning's Axis of Estrogen, admits to being a little spooked by beards:
'One thing we can learn from all of these attacks is this - religious nuts with beards are trouble. I'm not out to dis all of you bearded readers, but my experience is that regardless of your faith, the ones with beards are the scariest.

Case in point: Jewish settler nutcases goes on a shooting spree, killing 4 palestinian-israeli citizens. Following the example of previous asshole Baruch Goldstein, it seems. Look, it's just as evil when Hamas does it as well. I don't care if you're palestinian or israeli or tibetan, this is terrorism, pure and simple. My heart goes out to the victims' families and loved ones.

Another angry beardie won't shut up - Ayman Zawahiri is back in the news with a new videotape. And here's the shocker - he still wants to wage his jihad against infidel imperialist crusader zionist invaders. What a twist! And because it's fun, I'll examine his "logic".

"Blair has brought to you destruction in central London, and he will bring more of that, God willing,"
al-Zawahri said in the broadcast excerpts.

Of course! Don't blame the guys who actually blew up the train, blame Tony Blair! And Karl Rove, if you can manage it. It's just like the rapist who blames his victim by saying that she provoked him.
...
He warned the Palestinians against what he called attempts to drag them into the election game in order to extract legitimacy for the Palestinian Authority
(source: AlJazeera)

That's right, my fellow Palestinians: ignore the "game" of elections, democracy and reform, and instead use the tactic of blowing up buses full of civilians. That's the way to change things! Because it has worked well in the past and it's the "correct" thing to do, you see. Idiot.

"In Palestine, we are not only facing the Jews but also the anti-Islam international alliance headed by the US crusaders."
And international alliance? I wonder where their secret headquarters are? And
another thing - the crusades happened several CENTURIES ago! Get over it, you
touchy whiner.

Nadz also suspects there are a lot of closeted moderates out there:
... In case you haven't noticed, many of the Middle Eastern bloggers have
opinions that may surprise the average news-watching American. Sure, you have
your Raeds and Riverbends, but you also have your Iraq the Models and countless
others. Maybe it's because we are truly a minority that we use the internet to
speak to like-minded thinkers. Maybe it's because we are a frustrated silent
majority that needs a safer, more anonymous way to talk. Either way, blogs have
allowed people like my friend and passing drivers to say things that others
don't want to hear. And that can only be a good thing...

Mahmoud, who will NOT be registering his blog with the Bahraini government, thank you very much, offers some voices from the Bahraini blogosphere:

The first that cought my attention this morning was Silly Bahraini Girl where
she tells us in no uncertain terms that there is no connection between our blogs
and the oppossition, I know what prompted that one, or at least think I do, but
in any case it is absolutely true: as far as I know and observed there is
absolutely no connection between any of the blogs (currently alive) and the
government or the opposition, we are an independent bunch and hope that this
situation will continue.

emoodz once again has a thought provoking post
asking the simple question about patriotism, and more importantly to me is his
observation that

Ever since the opposition movement was lead by the
turban, sugarcoated with the sweet and drugging ideologies of Islam, people
followed without question, without doubt and with a lot of trust, to a dead end.
It is as I write this that people around me are awakening, realizing that this
is not the way to go. ...


Also, Mahmoud runs out of patience with some inept attempts at the English language.

And if you haven't been following Kuwaiti Girl's astronautical aspirations, go visit her site.

Morning Report: August 12, 2005

Baghdad: Municipal coup d'etat. The New York Times reports: 'Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia. Relatives visited Nasser Khathem Nasser at Al Kindi Hospital after he was wounded by a car bomb near an American patrol in Baghdad. The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'├ętat. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life. "This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal." The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control of Iraq's capital city and that Mr. Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri. The militia has been credited with keeping the peace in heavily Shiite areas in southern Iraq but also accused of abuses like forcing women to wear the veils demanded by conservative Shiite religious law. ...' (NYT)

ITM: Iranian regime, islamist parties taking over Basra. Mohammed at Iraq the Model writes on the growing influence of Iranian agents and local fundamentalist parties in Basra: 'Abddul Aziz Al-Hakim the head of the SCIRI called to day for the formation of a federal state in the south of Iraq and Hadi Al-Amiri chief of the Badr organization (the military wing of the SCIRI) said that if the Sheat don't persist in forming this state they will regret it. I don't really know why Amiri chose the word "regret" in addressing the people of the south, instead he could've said something like 'we would like to see a federal state in the south and we respect the people's choice about it' because I think this tone of threats to the people he's part of carries a lot of possible suspicious meanings. I think the Islamic leaderships have realized that it's difficult to lead a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country by forcing one perspective that has a specific religious inclination and that's why they're thinking of creating a smaller state in the south which can be more loyal (or less defiant) to them and their strategic ally in Iran, not forgetting the economic advantage of this region of Iraq which possesses the largest oil reserves and Iraq's only port. So they think that implementing an example that matches the visions of these parties in this region would be easier and safer especially with the presence of the desirable sectarian majority. Also these parties have established strong basis for them in this region as a step in the preparation for the future federal state (or mere state) and actually right now there's nothing that can stop this plan except the other religious trend that is spreading in the south represented by Muqtada's group. These two Sheat religious trends do not seem willing to coexist peacefully in the same place and in the past months the southern cities became an open field for a war between these parties and cities like Samawa, Najaf and Kut have witnessed continuous conflicts over power and influence. ...' Read the full post at the link, including Mohammed's selection of quotes from the BBC Arabic site - some of which are quite disturbing. (ITM)

Stefania at TCS: Iran and Europe. Stefania LaPenna has an article at Tech Central Station on the EU and the IRI: 'Iran's recent move to resume its nuclear activities both defies the European Union's warnings and makes a mockery of the EU's diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. It is a defeat of Europe's policy toward the Islamic Republic. It demonstrated, in case anyone still doubted it, the determination of a terrorist regime to get its hands on a nuclear bomb. Above all, it has proven that neither economic incentives nor any form of dialogue can change the Mullahs' minds. And yet, it seems that Europe still doesn't get it. We read that the EU Big 3 (France, Germany and UK) are now "getting tougher" with the Mullahs by threatening UN sanctions. But there is little to hope that this threat will become a reality. The Europeans have significant economic interests in Iran, and they are not willing to compromise them anytime soon. The Mullahs know who is on their side and who is not. Nevertheless, the future doesn't look good for the Islamic Republic. ...' Read the rest at the link. (TCS)

Winds of War. The latest edition of Winds of War is up. Among other items: 'The National Council of Resistance of Iran (yet once again) produced a secret Iranian document detailing the manufacture of centrifuges by the Mullahcracy’s nuclear program. They also stated that Iran has 4,000 of the undeclared centrifuges deployed throughout Iran's research/enrichment facilities. Again, the toothless IAEA merely has tickets to the show as they watch Iran unseal ‘IAEA sealed’ centrifuges, as others threaten meaningless trips to the UN Security Council, complete with Russia's veto power as they contract to build more Iranian plants. ...' Read it all at the link. (Winds of Change)

Turkmenbashi goes too far. The president of Turkmenistan is a fruitcake. You already knew that, you say. Well, yes. But now the egomaniac is taking his egomania to a whole new level. (Armies of Liberation)

2005-08-09

Why?

Mamamontezz offers this response to Cindy Sheehan:
Your son, as well as every other soldier killed in this conflict, died because he made an informed and conscious decision to join the military of a nation committed to protecting its citizens during a time of terror and upheaval. To say he was duped by a recruiter with promises of cash and a guarenteed slot in the Chaplancy is to call into question and discount to the world his intelligence, his sense of duty, his honor, and his manhood. You turn him from the man he was into the child you raised. He earned his manhood and independence, and the world owes him it's respect.

Your son died because he stepped up bravely when he was needed and did what was necessary to quell rioting near Baghdad. He knew the risk and accepted it.

Your son died because thousands of foreign nationals cross the border into Iraq every day from such places as Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Jordan, Palestinian Israel, Morrocco, Pakistan. They cross the border and take up arms, not for the freedom of a nation, but to preserve the status quo of corruption, despotism, fanatisism, and intollerance. They do so, emboldened by the words and deeds of those here who do not merely question or debate the war, but who take up verbal and written arms against this nation, her government, and her military for no other reasons than intellectual arrogance and political intollerance.

Your son is dead because France and Germany and Russia put their own greed and self interest ahead of the good of an entire people held in servitude by the avarice and ego of one man, Saddam Hussain, and his quest for ever increasing territory and power in the Middle East. Even after the US pulled away from him after the gas attacks during the Iran-Iraq war, these countries and more continued to trade with him, enhancing his military and his outlandish palaces while leaving his country in ever increasing poverty. If you want to yell "No Blood for Oil" and accurately address the involved parties, you will need to have a visa and risk imprisonment. Most of these countries are not nearly as open to dissent as what you are used to.

If you want to know why your son is dead, look in the mirror. He is dead because you raised him right, in spite of your behavior now. ...

Go read her whole post. It's magnificent. Great job, Mamamontezz.


Update: A little background on Cindy Sheehan.

Meeting GayPatriot

Bruce, aka the original GayPatriot, is in Portland for a few days to attend a Lewis & Clark event. I managed to persuade him to join me for drinks at the Blue Moon.

Bruce is a young ( = under 40), soft-spoken guy with short hair, glasses, and endless curiosity. He's an American History buff (especially pre- Civil War). We talked about urban sprawl, dating, the military, Log Cabin, and the changing face of liberalism in America. And we talked about the process of "coming out" as Bush supporters in an overwhelmingly anti-Bush environment.

Go check out GP's posts on Lewis & Clark, gay politics, and gays in the military. (Keep watching that last topic, especially.) Also read the posts about LCR (which are mostly written by Bruce's blogging partner, GayPatriot West).


And don't forget to add GayPatriot to your blogroll.

What happened to Marla's car?

Don't miss this unforgettable slice-of-life vignette from Manchester, Connecticut, circa early 1980's.

Help the Women of Iraq

Via Kat at The Middle Ground, here's some information on what you can do to help the women of Iraq:
1) Write your senator and representative asking them to support these organizations with additional funds or statements of support for women's rights. (If you are not in the United States, please feel free to write your parliament member or other government representatives to give support to these organizations.)

2) Donate funds directly to any of the women's organization's listed [below].
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
American Islamic Congress
Independent Women's Forum
Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq

3) If you work for a company or are a member of an organization, particularly any organizations for women within your country or region, ask them to provide assistance, either financially, materially (ie, donating time, media assistance, printing, supplies, etc) or politically.

4) Donate to Spirit of America: Iraq Democracy Project which supports "grass roots pro-democracy projects created by women" and provides other support like computers, paper and the "Arabic Blogging Tool" to these groups so that they have a voice in Iraqi politics and spread the word about democracy.

Some may be concerned that this assistance will come too late. It is never too late. Changes to the constitution are being made as you read this and will be made up to the last moment before the referendum. Even after the constitution is written and the referendum passed, women's rights in Iraq will still be an issue and these women will need our support.

Keep watching TMG and Dreams Into Lightning for more information on helping Iraqi women.

Ali on What's at Stake

Ali Fadhil of Free Iraqi has this to say about al-Zawahiri threats
It's amazing how the terrorists themselves keep showing us in words and actions how vital the war in Iraq is for them and at the same time we have westerns and Americans saying that this war has nothing to do with fighting terrorism and that it's only increasing the danger of terrorism!

Another thing that this message and previous ones show is what other bloggers have already noted in that the Jihadis are following the western media and using the arguments of the far left to feed the fears of westerns and Americans, like the note about Vietnam and the use of the "no blood for oil". That's why I think that people like George Galloway and Michael Moor are doing a great service to the terrorists.
...
It's interesting to see how bold Al Zawahiri was in threatening to launch more attacks against London but settled with the threat of killing more American soldiers in Iraq when talking about America. He has lost the initiative when it comes to attacking America in America so he's looking for the "next best thing", a big target that he still can safely attack without having to worry about a massive counter attack on all his bases and supportive regimes. He knows very well that if he attacks America the tyrannies that help him and his organization in attacking Iraq would not only stop offering him any help but will also do all they can to save their necks, like turning in any Al Qaeda men they have on their lands or if they can't then they would cooperate fully with the US in security field giving her access to all the info they have on Al Qaeda which I guess they have a lot to tell after their lands where used as a passage for the terrorists to Iraq with them turning a blind eye or even facilitating the process.

Read the full post at the link.

Morning Report: August 9, 2005

Shuttle lands at Edwards AFB, doesn't blow up. The Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, according to media reports. CNN: 'The space shuttle Discovery touched down Tuesday morning, completing NASA's first shuttle mission since Columbia broke apart during re-entry in February 2003. The shuttled landed at 5:11 a.m. PT at NASA's secondary landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California. As commander Eileen Collins brought the orbiter to a stop on runway 22, NASA spokesman James Hartsfield stated, "Discovery is home." (CNN)

Iraqi women demonstrate for, against civil constitution. Iraq the Model reports (with pictures): 'In spite of the heat and the dust that's covering Baghdad for the 2nd day, more than a hundred Iraqi women representing NGOs and active groups gathered to declare their demands in equality and a civil family and personal affairs law. The women set a large tent in Al-Firdows square which witnessed the fall of Saddam in April 2003. Under this icon of freedom the women held their signs and demands high. I met some of the activists who talked enthusiastically about plans for more protests and conventions to show their disapproval of the constitution's draft because they're afraid that religion might hijack the constitution and deprive them of their rights.' The liberal activists were met by a counter-demonstration of about 30 pro-islamist women. Responding to a question about the status of women witnesses in an Islamic court, one of them told Mohammed, 'It's an honor to me to be half of a garbage collector because that's what Allah said and it's not you who can explain to me what Allah said.' Read Mohammed's interview with the pro-islamist woman, and the rest of the article, at the link. (ITM)

It should have never had to end this way. Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the US atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan near the end of World War II, Neo-Neocon responds to some provocative questions: 'Why didn't they drop a nuke on an unpopulated area and say, 'See that goddamn horror? We'll drop another one on your heads in two days if you don't surrender.'
My post had ended with this quote from Fussell's article about the atomic bomb, which I think is especially relevant to anonymous' question: The past, which as always did not know the future, acted in ways that ask to be imagined before they are condemned. Or even simplified. Many of those who are critical of the dropping of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs seem to lack the capacity to understand that those who made the decision were given a certain set of circumstances with which to work. One of those circumstances was a fairly basic one: the US only had two atomic bombs at the time....' Read the rest, and visit Neo's previous post, at the link. (Neo-Neocon)

2005-08-07

Update

New in the Dreams Into Lightning universe: yes, another blog; this one will primarily be of interest to family members and relatives. The Town Down the River will feature memoirs, trivia, memorabilia, and genealogical information about my family of origin.

Chapter 6 of Pacific Memories is complete, with my father's reflections on the people of Fiji.
The picture of a husky Fijian ambling along, scowling in the glare of the bright sun, and generally carrying a bolo in his hand, is a sight that makes you glad that these fellows are on our side. But the Fijians recognized this allyship, and acted accordingly, playing the perfect hosts.

Read it all at the link. In the next chapter, the men of the 37th Infantry Division will defy predictions ... but we're getting ahead of our story.

Also a couple of newly posted poems by my sister at Wilderness Vision. At Iridescence, Stephanie explains - at age fifteen - a little about her writing:
A person can search years for one thing and have to settle in the end for only a glimpse of the dream. Sometimes that's enough.


Many thanks to Erik Svane for the link, and thanks, as always, to visitors for dropping by.

Iraqi Women

Kat at The Middle Ground answers some questions about Iraq's evolving constitution in her new post:
First, the issue of Islam and Shari'ah in the constitution. To date, the constitution has been changed several times. Earlier on, there was specific reference that Islam would be THE basis of law. Approximately a week ago, that was negotiated down to "one of the sources of law" in which some were willing to allow local religious courts to participate in adjudicating certain criminal and civil issues (like divorce) as an elective choice outside of the civil process....

While the changes to the draft are an improvement, it by no means guarantees that women in rural areas or areas controlled by religious parties will not be forced to go to these courts by their family and the area instead of seeking redress in civil courts. And it does not preclude “civil courts” applying shari’ah law. This is why this is important that it is civil, secular and equitable law that is the main source of law for all citizens.

[Note: I believe a similar arrangement exists in Israel, where Jewish religious courts exist side-by-side with secular courts. Unfortunately I am not knowledgeable enough about the details and ramifications of this system to discuss it here. Readers who are "in the know" about religious courts in Israel are invited to comment. - aa]

Second, women's rights in Iraq, prior to the invasion, is an interesting history and mix of culture and modern civilization. Long before Saddam Hussein was in power, the women of Iraq, like many other countries in the ME, had a women's rights movement in the 1920's. By the 1950s women had become very much "westernized" in appearance and education and by 1958, civil laws protecting their rights were introduced and had been the law of the land long before Saddam came to power.

You may be surprised to know that a similar movement took place in such countries as Bahrain, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia. As another poster has pointed out, this backwards move towards Shari'ah is a very new phenomenon if you count the last two decades as "new". This is not an issue of the United States forcing it’s own concepts or cultural ideas on another culture. This is an issue of protecting existing cultural and social standards against other groups supported by extremist governments outside of Iraq and who are using their superior funding and positions to impose an idea that IS actually foreign to Iraqi society (barring traditionalists that have lived in the rural areas by these same rules)....

Third, on the Israel “discrimination” issue, the latest draft has removed any reference to Israel and has actually removed the reference of Iraq as an "Arab" state since there are so many ethnicities within it's borders. This is good because it separates them from their surrounding countries that are less amenable democracy.

What this tells me is that there are logical and reasonable people drawing up this constitution and capable of compromise.

Fourth: representation in the Iraqi government for women. The TAL (or Transitional Authority Law) gave women 25% representation in the assembly and government offices. In the January election, every third candidate on the party lists was a woman and there is slightly over 25% representation in the assembly. There are also women on the constitution committee. The committee tried to remove the representation clause, but it was put back on in the last two days. Which means women still have some rights to representation, but it does not guarantee them protection under civil laws, particularly when some of these women are members of SCIRI or DAWA or other non-secular parties....

For the full seven-point article, go read Kat at the link.

Women protest in Najaf. Omar at Iraq the Model reports (August 4):
For the 1st time in Najaf, women go out in an independent protest demanding their full rights and condemning the parts of draft of the constitution that threatens the state of women rights.

The protest which took place in front of the office of the Najaf human rights organization yesterday was reported by radio free Iraq:

The responses to the draft that was announced on Al-Sabah on July 26th varied in the Najafi street between cautious agreement and total disagreement but one group of women went to the streets in a protest that is considered the first for women in Najaf.
The report also included an interview with Ms. Intisar Al-Mayali who organized the protest.

When we asked Al-Mayali about the reasons behind the protest and the demands of the participating women, she said:

"Today we have women from 17 civil society organizations was organized to show that we strongly reject the parts of the proposed constitution that are against our rights as Iraqi women and this protest is in support of the memorandum we sent to the CDC in which we clarified our demands".

Then she details the women's demands and concerns:

"We want to make clear that we're against any attempt to revive the notorious 137 personal affairs law which was born during the period of Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim when he was the head of the GC.


We want a civil law to govern issues like marriage and inheritance and we also want to reactivate the related international treaties that Iraq had already signed and approved long time ago and even the existing civil law that we support needs to be modified and improved in a way that matches the needs and rights of Iraqi women and we insist that Islam must not be the only source of legislation".


Basra in the summer isn't always fun, especially when the power's out and there's no air conditioning. Iraqi-American blogger Fayrouz, herself a Basrawi, interviews a woman who's living there now. Go to the link to get a "before and after" picture in words, and some thoughts about the British troops.