2006-04-30

Ghazal Omid: State Department Sends Wrong Message to Iranians

Iranian activist Ghazal Omid was kind enough to spend some of her valuable time chatting with me on the phone recently. She conveyed her desire to educate the world about the true message of Islam, her admiration for the American people, and her frustration at the false images of Americans portrayed in the media. She also asked me to share the following letter, which she sent to President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

Dear Secretary Rice,

I recently read an article citing your statement that the United States subsidizes Voice of America and Radio Farda with an $85 million budget.

I am an Iranian born, Canadian citizen, author of Living in Hell, I have appeared on more than 160 radio and television shows in the US and Canada denouncing the barbaric mullahcracy that is destroying the Iranian people and threatening the world.

I have appeared on Voice of America and Radio Farda many times in English, Farsi, Kurdish and Afghan. You should be made aware that both censor my anti-regime comments, cautioning me off-air to be respectful to the Iranian authorities.

Many of the people running VOA and Radio Farda left Iran after the revolution as political refugees. Some of them travel to Iran frequently via their Iranian passport while working, as a US citizen, for VOA in the United States. Many have lives and businesses in both countries and are trying to keep their feet dry in both places.

VOA and Radio Farda, use entertainment and pop music and culture to gain the wrong kind of popularity among the youth; it may sell an album but will not sell a nation. The message being broadcast of Iranian society outside Iran is perceived as a hedonistic lifestyle of party goers, night clubbers and sinners who know nothing about Iran, have no respect for true freedom or religion and will never be able to help the future of Iran. They believe that the people of USA, by paying for the programming, approve of the VOA broadcasts.

VOA, Radio Farda and many other Iranian radio and television stations generously subsidized by the United States teach the wrong way to fight the Iranian regime. For instance, in an article in Time magazine about the youth resistance in Iran, the writer asked dissident Iranian youth how they were fighting the government of Iran. They said they demonstrated their opposition by drinking home made whisky on the streets, listening to pop music, dancing the night away, speeding 120 km per hour in the busy streets and smoking marijuana. Is this the image of freedom we want to portray to Farsi speakers of Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East? I do not believe we can fix a problem by creating a new one.

While in Dubai during the month of January 2006, as I watched these images broadcast via satellite, I wondered if the people of USA know how their own media is portraying them. The images of stripper/singer/pop-culture musicians give the government of Iran a tool to fight the West. They use your own funded TV and media to teach hate and convince generations that the US and its people are not only anti-God but have no morals, no conscience.

US soldiers should not die because false images of freedom are being broadcast in Iran and the Middle East. Men and women in uniform, who fight and die for freedom deserve better.

True freedom is not about wearing makeup, being scantily clad, drinking and smoking pot. It is the other side of freedom that is not been properly publicized. The US funded media is exploited by the Iranian regime; telling Iranians that US freedom is nothing but a whore wrapped in a USA flag. This image does not help the fight against terrorism, Iranian regime and hardliners. We need to show respect for each other’s beliefs, morality and religion to gain the respect of the average person.

If we are trying to help the Iranian people, we are sending the wrong message. Iranian people have no choice but go against the culture of sinners. Who can blame them for not liking a grim and false representation of the true nature of people of United States and its Persian population?

Should there be an attack on Iran, these stations will not become a trusted podium for the USA true messages of freedom. By continually being portrayed as out of touch with reality and more concerned about its own existence and life style, the US is working counter effectively to its goals and wasting a lot of taxpayer money.

You have a great chance to educate Iranians and Middle Easterners and help them stand up to evil. You are losing that opportunity by letting the negative part of US culture to be blown out of proportion. Middle Easterners accept your TV as a synopsis of the life of the real people of America. You have a chance to let them know who you really are and what you can do to help them.

Ghazal Omid

Ghazal Omid is the author of Living In Hell, as well as three forthcoming books: Islam 101, Iran and Its Future, and Poverty in Paradise. Keep reading Dreams Into Lightning for more information.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Let's blogroll!

Immigration debate: Gay Patriot is the site of a friendly debate on immigration. Average Gay Joe says he'll march on Monday: 'I have many Latino friends that are immigrants and a number of them called me all day expressing fear over being kicked out. Some of this is irrational probably stirred up from political opportunists, rumors, and perhaps bad experiences with the governments in their native countries. I say this because some of my friends I know are here legally with valid work visas, yet they too seem to have caught the “fear bug” going around. These folks, mainly from El Salvador, were granted permission to work in the U.S. and have been here for many years. They have married, had kids, bought homes, and in all respects that I’ve seen are the kind of people we want to have in our country. ...' Go to the link for the rest, including AGJ's suggestions for a "hard/soft" approach to immigration. Bruce, the original GayPatriot, responds: 'AGJ outlined some good reasons and also articulated the right immigration policy and on those points I completely agree. But I have to disagree with him marching as he will in effect be lending credence to those who wish not to IMMIGRATE but to INVADE. The groups organizing these marches are not interested in becoming Americans, but well-paid Mexican workers in a place that happens to be called America. ...' Full post at the link.

Fulla fun. Samantha Burns reports on Syria's newest role model for young girls: 'For me, it's good to know that a somewhat similar version of Barbie exists. It's depressing to see girls miss out on all the learning they could be doing with their Barbies because they are too busy escaping into the mind numbing, pathetic video game drone.'

We are amused. Well, sort of. Tigerhawk, guest of the Belmont Club, reacts to the "Two Bushes" comedy routine. On a more serious note, Tigerhawk summarizes a year's worth of analysis in this lengthy post on winning the Long War.

Whose 'true agenda'? Pamela at Atlas Shrugs scrutinizes CAIR's kvetching about the Sudan Freedom Walk. Meanwhile, Judith at Kesher Talk reports that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is being evicted: 'Back home in the Hague, she is being evicted by her neighbors because the fact that Islamists have targeted her for assassination, and therefore requires 24-hr. guard, makes them nervous.'

Uncomfortably numb. Also from Kesher Talk, Judith has a roundup of United 93 posts, and this: 't was interesting that many spoke of being numbed by the movie (as in temporarily emotionally overwhelmed) or un-numbed by the movie (as in emotional catharsis renewing one's focus and resolve). ... [But there is another kind of numbness:] This isn't the same kind of numbness as described by the bloggers above. They are temporarily numb from allowing the drama in the film to deeply penetrate their souls and inform their choices, which is one of the functions of art. The numbness Chesterton describes, which is similar to the reaction I gave examples of in the Mars and Venus post, comes from experiencing the same emotions, but keeping their meaning at bay. The reviewers I quoted are trying desperately to keep Flight 93 from mattering, to themselves or anyone else.'

Imshin has a post about nothing. And a parable.

Marian at Eight Drunken Immortals reflects on the movies, and tries to keep her mind off that whack job Tom Cruise. Roger Simon reports that Chirac and de Villepin have missed an opportunity to keep quiet and possibly slandered Sarkozy ... and it may bite them in the derriere.

Link farm at Creative Destruction. Patti's in Boulder. Neo's slacking. Tammy's not. Beth talks marriage.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

"We are Iraq, now you report!"

Iraqi Future:
I felt it very necessary for the first blog to be the true message that every Iraqi wants to tell the American soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, and American public. That message is simple, it is thank you. We thank you for everything that you have endured in bringing up liberation and bringing us a chance to move forward for tyranny and oppression. After the decades of misery the Iraqi people had really given up all hope that anyone would come to help them but then one day we saw those stars and stripes waving in downtown Baghdad and everyone knew what that flag represented. ...

I was recently at a cafe in Baghdad with a small group of close Kurdish friends and relatives. We were eating kabob and sharing a hookah when we heard a single explosion several blocks away. We jumped up and started moving towards where it came from and we knew we were headed in the right direction because I saw one of the 'ABC' station reporters heading in the opposite direction. My cousin went up to the man and grabbed him and said, "Where the hell do you think you are going, you want a story? Well you found one, go and film what you all want to write about."

So the reporter started following us over as he really didn't know what to do after this 6' 3" Iraqi just grabbed him and practically dragged him with us. We arrived to find a small group of Iraqis trying to help these two wounded U.S. soldiers who were injured from an apparent IED. The other soldiers weren't quite sure what to do when they saw these Iraqis calling for the police to come over and when they saw this older women in all black ripping a piece of her clothing and soaking it with water that she was carrying to try in comfort this soldier. Two medics came over and took over from there and then one of their commanding officers I guess drew a perimiter and told everyone to leave the area.

The immediate buzz amongst the people was, "I hope the soldiers are alright" and "God willing the perpetrators will be ravaged in the hell fire." I looked over to the reporter and saw what appeared like he just saw a ghost, as I guess he had never seen injured people after a bomb. I told him, "Now turn your camera on since you didn't at the site of the attack and report from Iraq. We are Iraq, now report!"

As soon as he turned his camera on a small group gathered around his camera screaming in Arabic, "That was not us! Death to the terrorists! God bless America!" I attempted to translate as much as I could to the camera in english as the group was chanting this in Arabic, but to no avail I said none of this in the reporting later that night from Iraq.

Hat tip: LGF comments

2006-04-28

"Are your men scared?" "Not enough."

Michael Totten on the Israel/Lebanon border:
Lisa [Goldman] and I met Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman Zvika Golan at a base in the north near the border. He told us to follow him in his jeep as he drove to a lookout point next to an IDF watch tower that opened up over Lebanon. ...

He introduced me to a young bearded lieutenant in the IDF [see link for photo] on border patrol duty.

What do you see when you look at Lebanon?” I asked the lieutenant.

“I see poverty and difficult circumstances,” he said. “I see poor farmers who work hard. After so many years of war, the last thing they probably want is more war.”

“Do you know what you’re looking at when you look into the towns?” I said.

“We track movement on the other side,” he said. “I can tell you exactly what each of those buildings are for.” ...

"The UN says Hezbollah started the last fight," I said to the lieutenant. "Do you ever start any fights?"

“They always initiate," he said. "We never do. I want to go home. I want to read the newspaper and get more than three hours of sleep every night. We have no business here.”

"Are you scared?" I said.

“I am scared," he said. "As an officer I want my men to be scared.”

"Are they?" I said.

“Not enough," he said. "Not enough.”

Go to the post at Michael J. Totten for the rest, with photos.

Morning Report, April 23, quoted a bulletin on Debka about Hezbollah in Lebanon:
Debka: US, France back down on Syria sanctions, set Lebanon back to "square one". Debka: 'When he visited the White House on April 18, Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora was shocked to discover that president George W. Bush had cooled to the campaign he launched with France against the Assad regime in February 2005, after the assassination of the Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri. He saw that Bashar Assad and his clique were getting away scot-free from being brought to account as suspects in the crime. Siniora also learned, according to DEBKAfile’s Washington and Middle East sources, that the Americans had abandoned their drive to oust Lahoud, disarm the Hizballah, disband Palestinian militias in Lebanon, and impose on them the implementation of a key UN Security Council resolution. As he left the White House, the Lebanese prime minister remarked: “Lebanon is back to square one. We are left with the ruins of the American-French initiative.” Our sources in Beirut report that, scenting the new winds blowing from Washington and Paris, all the Lebanese militias, including those linked to al Qaeda, are re-arming and rebuilding their strength. ...' Read the rest at the link. (Debka)

Here's the item at Debka.

DoS Attack

Just learned via Winds of Change and Little Green Footballs that some sites on Hosting Matters, including Michael Totten are down due to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack from Saudi Arabia. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Looks like Michael's up and running again.

Update: Posting Break

I'll be taking a short break from posting at Dreams Into Lightning, probably through the middle of next week. New developments on the personal front (good ones, but full of headaches) are currently occupying most of my time and energy.

Don't forget to visit Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad. It's still under construction, but you might want to bookmark it.

2006-04-27

Tony Snow, Press Secretary

Marian at Eight Drunken Immortals:
I see that Tony Snow will be the White House's press secretary. What a great moment. Finally someone with some backbone to represent the White House and Republicans. I once did an online question and answer segment with Tony Snow on AOL before they got to be the overblown mess they are now. It was extremely interesting.

I have nothing but respect for him and I know he will do a great job in his new postion. I can't wait to see how he handles that old battleax Helen Thomas. It should make her head explode. ...


Tammy Bruce:
I think he'll be very good in the job, and I have a feeling he'll be much more in control of the press room than Scott McClellan ever was. ... Tony is our kind of guy.

Muslim Woman: Afghan Women's Maternal Care Shows Little Improvement Since Taliban Era

Himadree at The Muslim Woman:
Life is still the same for the Afghan Women and children just as the way it used to be during the Taliban regime.

After the US led army ended the Taliban rule, Laura Bush had said: ‘The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women’.

But in contrary to the statement even today the pregnant women doesn’t have the rights to the basic amenities of life. The nations maternal care is in its worst condition and the government is least bothered about it.

According to a study conducted by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR):

Not even 1% pregnant women are taken care of by a professional health care worker.

Out of 174 hospitals in the entire country, a handful of 17 can actually practice caesarean deliveries and only 5 offers indispensable obstetric care. ...


Read the rest at the link, and don't forget to bookmark The Muslim Woman.



Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Michael Totten in Israel

"Rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish" wouldn't have been my first choice of words in describing Israel, but when it comes from Michael Totten we know what he means. Go read this terrific post to get the feel of how Palestinians and Israelis negotiate the borders of their world. I'm going to post a few thoughts of my own later.

Oh, and to be fair to Michael, here's the full quote in context:
Arab countries have a certain feel. They’re masculine, relaxed, worn around the edges, and slightly shady in a Sicilian mobster sort of way. Arabs are wonderfully and disarmingly charming. Israel felt brisk, modern, shiny, and confident. It looked rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish. I knew I had been away from home a long time when being around Arabs and Muslims felt comfortably normal and Jews seemed exotic.

First impression are just that, though. They tend to be crazily out of whack and subject to almost instant revision. Israel, I would soon find out, is a lot more like the Arab and Muslim countries than it appears at first glance. It’s not at all a little fragment of the West that is somehow weirdly displaced and on the wrong continent. It’s Middle Eastern to the core ...

Go read the whole post here.

2006-04-26

Avoiding the Charge of Rape

I've been looking for something more to say on the Duke lacrosse affair, but I cannot possibly improve on Bob Hayes at Creative Destruction so I'll just send you there.

2006-04-25

DiL, v2.0

Some readers may have already noticed the following message appearing at the bottom of my recent posts:
Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Yes, it's true: I've opened a TypePad account and Dreams Into Lightning has now entered a new incarnation.

The move was prompted by the recent meltdown at Blogger, but I'd been contemplating opening a new front for a while for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are complaints against Blogger and some are not:
- Blogger style buttons don't work with Safari. I don't know whether the blame rests with Blogger or with Apple for this (you can be sure each side will say it's the other's fault) but I am getting tired of the Blogger tech support people telling me to switch to Firefox. I have my gripes about Safari (and Apple in general), but the one feature of Safari I find absolutely indispensable is the built-in RSS feed in Tiger. It speeds and simplifies the blogging process beyond description, and it's the one feature, the proverbial "killer app", that outweighs the many shortcomings of Safari. These advantages are partially offset when I don't have formatting buttons and have to apply style tags manually by copying them from a template. With TypePad, the buttons work and that drawback is eliminated.
- I've said before that I see Dreams Into Lightning as mainly a text-based blog, but I like having the option of posting images if I need to.
- My current Blogger template has grown cluttered and cumbersome (obviously I'm responsible for that, not Blogger) and it's taking a long time to load. I kinda like the idea of starting out with a clean slate.
- More built-in features: category archiving (Blogger keeps promising but doesn't deliver), blogrolling, and a basic stat counter.
- I'm using one of the oldest Blogger templates, which apparently doesn't support newer features like auto-trackbacking. (I tried to add the code manually by following Blogger's directions, but the attempt was evidently a failure as the feature is still not working here.) Also Quick Editing doesn't work, and I really need it to, because I've got over 1,500 posts here and it's a real headache if I have to make a correction on an old post.
- I like the idea of having a backup. If one blogging tool is down (either TypePad or Blogger), I'll still be able to post on the other.

Posting will continue normally here at Blogger for the foreseeable future. But you might want to think about adding Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad to your bookmarks. I'm still exploring the features of TypePad, so the new site is still "under construction" but fully operational. Don't feel bad if I haven't added your blog to the sidebar yet, I probably just haven't gotten to it. Also, keep watching the new site because I may start posting extra material there.

One more time, that link: Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Morning Report: April 25, 2006

Analysis of Dahab bombing. Internet Haganah reports: 'The attack would appear to be part of an ongoing campaign against Egypt by the forces of the global jihad.' The site quotes a news source as saying that at least two suicide bombers were involved in the attacks, which killed at least 23 people in the Egyptian resort town of Dahab. It was the third attack on tourist resorts in the Sinai in the last 18 months, according to Egypt's Interior Ministry. Debka has this: 'Egypt now says two suicide bombers and a time bomb caused the three explosions that killed 22-30 people, injured 150, at two cafes and a supermarket of the Red Sea resort of Dahab in eastern Sinai Monday night, April 24. The casualties appear to be European tourists on their Easter break and Egyptians. There are no immediate reports of Israeli casualties. Few remained in Sinai after the Passover holiday ended last week. Overnight, Israel dismantled the situation room and recalled the ambulances set up at the Taba crossing. Cairo responding to Israel’s offer said no medical assistance was needed. The blasts occurred a day after Osama bin Laden released a new audiotape threatening the "Crusader Zionists." DEBKAfile notes that Israeli travelers had been assured by Egypt's government and their own that the Sinai was to be considered safe: 'Ten days earlier, Jordanian intelligence warned the Palestinian leader Abu Mazen that al Qaeda was holding a 10-man cell ready in N. Sinai or Gaza for a large-scale attack in Gaza. The cell was said to be under the orders of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in Iraq. The Egyptian authorities are now trying to find out if this is the same cell or that the Egyptian leader was fed a red herring. A year ago, 88 people, many of them tourists, were killed in a triple blast at Sharm el-Sheikh 100km south of Dahab. Two years ago, many Israelis died in multiple al Qaeda attacks in Sinai. This year, Israelis joined the stream of foreign tourists to Sinai after an Egyptian assurances that thousands of its security forces had finally cleared out the Qaeda strongholds in the central Sinai Hilal mountain range. A special operation had been conducted among their Bedouin collaborators. Peninsula resorts must now be considered safe. For the first time in three years, Jerusalem did not post a fresh warning to Israeli travelers to stay clear of their favorite Sinai haunts for the Passover holiday.' Freedom for Egyptians has more: 'Dr. Said Essa said he was headed to the scene of the blasts and that his casualty figures were for victims at the el-Khaleeg Hotel only. He said there were casualties from the other explosions but he had no details. Al-Jazeera television said one of the blasts hit a restaurant, and authorities said more than 20 ambulances and police cars were rushing to the el-Masbat section of the city.' Gateway Pundit has a roundup. Sandmonkey reports that the death toll has risen to 24, and carries eyewitness accounts; interestingly, he cites a news report that appears to contradict Debka's claim: 'Israel's ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen, said the Israeli government had warned repeatedly against visiting the Sinai. "Unfortunately, the warnings came true," he told Israel's Channel 10 TV.' BREAKING: Police detain 10. (various)

Iran and Syria: a bleak outlook. Iran's economic rating has been downgraded by London's Fitch agency from BB- to B+: 'The agency said that while economic sanctions against Iran were still some way off, the risks were increasing, leaving the economy vulnerable, especially in case of an oil price fall as structural reforms in the country have also faltered. '"The downgrade reflects the escalating confrontation between Iran and the international community over Iran's nuclear programme," Richard Fox, Head of Middle East and Africa sovereign ratings at Fitch (UK) said in a statement.' Syria's economic picture isn't looking so good either, according to The Intelligence Summit: 'The consequences of the assassination in February of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri, continue to overshadow Syria’s political outlook. A report mandated by the UN Security Council has appeared to confirm widespread international suspicion that Syria was responsible for the killing. If Syria refuses to co-operate with the continuing investigation it will almost certainly face international sanctions. Co-operating, however, may be even more hazardous, particularly as the inquiry is likely to lead to charges being levelled against very senior figures within the regime. Economic policymaking will gain little attention within this environment, and economic growth will be weak, slowed by declining oil output. The buoyant outlook for oil prices over the coming year will ensure that the government finances remain comfortable and the trade and current accounts stay in surplus next year. The position will weaken in 2007, however, as falling production compounds the impact of lower oil prices. ... The increasingly threatening political environment that Syria faces has led us to adjust our forecast for economic growth downward since our previous report.' (This unattributed report appears to come from The Economist.) Reuters via Iran Focus reports: ' Iran will cancel the 960 million euro ($1.19 billion) "Olefins 11" contract signed last year with German industrial gases firm Linde and South Korea's Hyundai, Iran's Oil Ministry Web site reported on Monday. Under the Olefins 11 contract, the two companies were to build two ethane crackers in the Gulf port of Assaluyeh. Conservative parliamentarians had argued that Iranian firms could carry out the project more cheaply.' (various)

JINSA: Iran's bid for hegemony. Jonathan Howland at JINSA: 'W While the international community focuses on Iran’s nuclear ambitions officials f the Islamic Republic have been busy exercising their rapidly increasing influence - fuel d by more than a decade of a lucrative petroleum sales and accelerated by the removal f Iraq as a regional counterweight - in the Persian Gulf and on the international stag . Complicating matters is Iran’s control of the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon a d increasing sway over the now ruling terrorist Hamas organization in the West Bank a d Gaza. The ability to frustrate Israeli-Palestinian peace making coupled with increasi g its political, economic and military influence, means that Iran is well on its way towa d dominating the wider region. ... Following the alarming mid-April announcement by Iranian President Ahmadinejad that Iran had mastered the enrichment process and entered the nuclear club, the Pentagon has announced a number of initiatives designed to defeat underground facilities like those increasingly in use around the world, including Iran. The Department of Defense has also been arming munitions with earth-penetrating warheads designed to burrow well beneath the surface of the earth before exploding, in order to collapse underground bunkers. On June 2, 2006, the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency will conduct an experiment, Divine Strake, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site. It will consist of the detonation of 700 tons (TNT equivalent to 593 tons) of the explosive ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) on the ground above an existing tunnel at the site constructed for other research efforts. ANFO is commonly used in mining and blasting operations, and the amount of explosive being used in the experiment was selected to cause various levels of damage to the tunnel. The experiment supports DoD’s Tunnel Target Defeat Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, which is intended to improve the military’s confidence in its ability to plan to defeat hardened and deeply buried targets.' Full article at the link. (JINSA)

In from the Cold: Weekend roundup. Spook 86:
First, there was the announcement that Russia is selling the advanced S-300P air defense system to its neighbor, Belarus. On the surface, that doesn't seem surprising. Among its former republics, Belarus has maintained the closest military ties to Moscow. Last October, Russian officials announced that the two nations would essentially merge their air defense networks, giving Moscow more defensive depth along its western borders. Under that arrangement, using common missile systems, radars and C2 networks certainly makes sense. The sale of the S-300 was hardly unexpected; there had been talk of such a deal for more than six months.

But there may be more to this transaction than meets the eye. According to some reports, Belarus plans to acquire at least a full brigade of S-300s (NATO designator: SA-20). That's more than sufficient to cover the country's airspace, considering that Russian batterys cover portions of Belorussian territory as well. Then, there's the cost factor. A single S-300 battery costs upwards of $300 million, and the Belarus economy is essentially stagnant. In other words, buying a full brigade would seemingly be beyond Minsk's financial reach, unless the Russians have arranged highly favorable terms (such as an arms-for-debt swap), or someone else is helping to finance the purchase.

And who might that someone be? ...

Morning Report knows the suspense is killing you. Read the rest at the link. (IFTC)

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

2006-04-24

George W. Bush, Dissident

Natan Sharansky in Opinion Journal:
There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.

Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader's lifeline is the electorate's pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.

That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.

With a dogged determination that any dissident can appreciate, Mr. Bush, faced with overwhelming opposition, stands his ideological ground, motivated in large measure by what appears to be a refusal to countenance moral failure.

I myself have not been uncritical of Mr. Bush. Like my teacher, Andrei Sakharov, I agree with the president that promoting democracy is critical for international security. But I believe that too much focus has been placed on holding quick elections, while too little attention has been paid to help build free societies by protecting those freedoms--of conscience, speech, press, religion, etc.--that lie at democracy's core. ...

Yet despite these criticisms, I recognize that I have the luxury of criticizing Mr. Bush's democracy agenda only because there is a democracy agenda in the first place. A policy that for years had been nothing more than the esoteric subject of occasional academic debate is now the focal point of American statecraft.

For decades, a "realism" based on a myopic perception of international stability prevailed in the policy-making debate. For a brief period during the Cold War, the realist policy of accommodating Soviet tyranny was replaced with a policy that confronted that tyranny and made democracy and human rights inside the Soviet Union a litmus test for superpower relations.

The enormous success of such a policy in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end did not stop most policy makers from continuing to advocate an approach to international stability that was based on coddling "friendly" dictators and refusing to support the aspirations of oppressed peoples to be free.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. ...

Please read the whole thing at the link.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Elham Mane'a: Against the Veil

Yemeni reformist Dr. Elham Mane'a, quoted in MEMRI:
Take Off the Veil, Sister

"I call on you, my Muslim sister, to take off the veil. This is an honest call... Its intention is not to defile you, nor to encourage you to [moral] lassitude. I call on you to exercise [free] thought and to use your own mind.

"You and your mind are sufficient. There is no need to search in books and in history, and there is no need to consult the opinions of the commentators... I request that you listen to my words and judge them without suspecting my intentions. After that, you are free. Free to choose [for yourself], to [shape] your own fate, and to do as you wish. You are your own master. You alone. No one but you has custody over you. After [you consider my words], don the veil or take it off - I will respect your decision. Ultimately, the decision must be yours...

"The wearing of the hijab in the Islamic world actually began with the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which made the veil obligatory for women - after the clerics succeeded in turning the tables on the middle class and the leftist groups, who paid with their blood to end the rule of the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Since this revolution was the first true awakening in the region, it was considered by many to be an example worthy of imitation - both [the revolution itself] and the garb that the women began to wear...

"Another well-known factor is the increase in oil [sales], which enabled Saudi Arabia and wealthy Saudis to provide financial aid for the dissemination of Wahhabi Islamic religious propaganda, and to set up a gigantic media network which emphasized daily that the veil was obligatory. This religious Islamic propaganda meshed with the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood and with the [thinking] of the Arab and Islamic parties that grew out of it. As a result, a new and strange kind of thinking spread through Muslim society, changing many [previous] behaviors and perceptions."


The Veil is a Political Issue

"The veil is, therefore, a political issue. In two countries [Iran and Saudi Arabia], the political elite rules in the name of religion, and strives to propagate its own model [of Islam] - while at the same time [using religion] to guarantee the legitimacy [of its rule]. Both these countries imposed the wearing of the veil on women, presenting it as a sign of piety, whether the women wanted to [wear it] or not. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

An-Naqed: Goose-Stepping Iranians

Alan Caruba at Wafa Sultan's "An-Naqed" website:
Most who lived during the 1930s rise of the Nazi’s Third Reich are dead and all that’s left are the images on the History Channel. That’s why the sight of goose-stepping Iranian soldiers is eerily redolent of goose-stepping German storm troopers.

In an even more bizarre reflection of the German regime that emerged in the 1930s is the obsessive rhetoric blaming the Jews for the troubles of the Middle East and the threats to wipe Israel off the map. In the midst of WWII, the Nazis diverted important resources to round up and kill six million European Jews, along with five million Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others they deemed “sub-human” or political enemies.

We know that in America, Spain and England, being an “infidel” is sufficient to get you killed as you commute to work or prepare for another day in the office.

We know that Europe hesitated to confront Adolf Hitler and paid a terrible price for it. We know, too, that those Jews who fled Europe were the fortunate few survivors and those who immigrated to Israel after the war had no place else to go. Would you want to go “home” to live next door to a neighbor who betrayed you to the death camps?

Barely one percent of the entire landmass of the Middle East and surrounded by twenty-two nations that still daily deplore its existence, Israel remains the victim of terrorist bombings of its civilian population, along with the rockets and mortars of the Palestinians to the north and south of its borders.

Rather than invading Gaza, Israel has withdrawn from it. Rather than remaining in southern Lebanon, it has withdrawn from it. Rather than retain sections of the West Bank, it plans to withdraw from parts of it.

This is not the picture of a militant, occupying force intent on retaining its gains in the 1967 war waged against it. This is a people who have opted to build a long, high wall to fence itself off from a totally toxic population on the other side. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Night Flashes

Bashar bashing is in full force tonight, as Lebanese Political Journal proclaims Assad's future "bleak": taking issue (once again) with the erstwhile Josh Landis, LPJ writes: 'Even if we are to take Landis' rosy forecast at face value, given the history of the area, it is highly unlikely that Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and (given Syria and Iran's historic relations with it) Armenia will become a bastion of peace and cooperation.' And lots more - go to the link ... meanwhile, Amarji is up to all kinds of no good with his case for regime change in Syria: 'By falling back on the Iranian option again (for let’s not forget here that this regime had sided once already with Iranian mullas during their long confrontation with the Saddam regime), and embracing the confrontational policies of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, the Assads of Syria have chosen a path that leaves no room for diplomatic maneuvers. The die has indeed been cast, and compromise is no longer possible. It’s all about victory or defeat now, and the US cannot afford to be defeated by the likes of Bashar, regardless of considerations of guilt and innocence, regardless of who should be assigned a greater share in the blame for bringing this situation about. This regime’s days are numbered.' And: 'The Syrian regime holds no cards of its own anymore, in fact, it itself has become a card in the hands of the Iranian mullahs.' Go to the link to find out what happens when the mullahs are deprived of that card ... and while you're at it, read about some Syrian political prisoners ...

Kofi Annan (yawn) condemns the terrorist murder in the Sinai peninsula ... so does (gag) Hamas ... and of course (bronx cheer) Mahmoud Abbas ...

Meanwhile, Kesher Talk congratulates Professor Pondscum on his possible accession to the hallowed halls of Yale: 'Kesher Talk has been following the bloggish career of Juan Cole, since one of our specialities is academic antisemitism. Now that Cole is being considered for appointment by Yale University, let's review: Cole uses guilt by association to accuse the brothers who write Iraq the Model being CIA agents, because they are supported by Americans who support the war. As the Fadhil brothers, sponsored by Spirit of America, travel around the US to meet their supporters, Cole and his blogosphere buddies stir up conspiracy theories about their motives, to the extent that Spirit of America feels it necessary to issue a disclaimer. These smears are then uncritically used as part of a story by a NYTimes reporter to further cast doubts on the Fadhils. Cole accuses MEMRI of getting under-the-table financing. Steven I Weiss challenges Cole's numbers, demonstrating that Cole has no idea how the real world works. Cole speculates on the personal life of reporter Steven Vincent not a week after his death, earning him a stinging email rebuke by Vincent's widow.' ... what a classy guy ... go to the link for the whole scoop ...

And finally, returning to the scene of the crime: 'Coordinated triple blast killed at least 30 people, injured 170, at Dahab, the Red Sea resort on eastern Sinai coast Monday night' ... Jane has a roundup and reports that Big Pharaoh is OK ... while Donald Sensing at Winds of Change writes about al-Qaeda's war against Muslims ...

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

The King of Nepal Sees the Light

Tammy Bruce:
Anyone who says democracy is a "western" notion should take note. No one needs to ask the Nepalese if democracy is worth fighting for--after theirs was taken away, you just need to take a look at the result of their demonstrations .

The King of Nepal had dissolved their parliament in 2002, and then in January 2005 he declared a state of emergency which allowed him to seize complete power. For some reason he thought the people of Nepal wouldn't care. He was wrong.

After weeks of seeing the lazy, spoiled and criminal march for their "rights" to continue to be lazy, spoiled or criminal (France and the U.S), it's heartening to see the Nepalese demonstrating for something as grand and noble as a return to democracy, with many giving their lives in the process.

And after weeks of protest, what did the king have to say? ...

Read the rest at Tammy Bruce, with lots of linkage.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Russian Bombers Penetrated US Airspace

Maybe the Russians have invisible planes too?

The Intelligence Summit:
Moscow, Russia(Rai Novosti): Russian military planes flew undetected through the U.S. zone of the Arctic Ocean to Canada during recent military exercises, a senior Air Force commander said Saturday.

The commander of the country's long-range strategic bombers, Lieutenant General Igor Khvorov, said the U.S. Air Force is now investigating why its military was unable to detect the Russian bombers.

"They were unable to detect the planes either with radars or visually," he said.

Khorov said that during the military exercises in April, Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and Tu-95 Bears had successfully carried out four missile launches. Bombing exercises were held using Tu-22 Blinders.

By the end of the year, two more Tu-160s will be commissioned for the long-range strategic bomber fleet, Khorov said.

Both new planes will incorporate numerous upgrades from the initial Soviet models, the commander said. The bombers will be able to launch both cruise missiles and aviation bombs, and communicate via satellite.


Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Ebru Umar

Tammy Bruce reminds us of the attack on Ebru Umar as posted at Peaktalk:
Ebru Umar, a Dutch writer of Turkish descent and a good friend of the late Theo van Gogh - she contributed to his website and took over one of his columns after his death - was attacked in Amsterdam on Friday, reports Arjan Dasselaar. He wryly adds that the Dutch public news service – which in terms of breaking news is usually an excellent source – has so far, two days after the attack, failed to report it.

Newspaper de Telegraaf however has a brief audio interview with Umar in Dutch who confirms that two Moroccan youths followed her and after saying “that’s her!” knocked her down just as she was about to enter her house.


Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Iran Regime to Ban Satellite Dishes

Marze Por Gohar:
Tehran: The Iranian Parliament is examining a bill presented by deputies close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which bans satellite television for private citizens.

The draft law provides for fines of up to 5000 euros for offenders. Saiid Abutaleb, the member of Parliament who drafted the reform, on Monday presented the bill to the media. Under the measures, which Parliament is to discuss in the coming days, private citizens who own a satellite dish have three months to get rid of it once the bill becomes law.

Offenders will be liable to fines of up to 5,000 euros, which most Iranian families can?t afford given that the average salary amounts to less than 200 euros a month.

Only public institutions and some associations will be allowed to own a satellite dish. Companies importing and selling satellite dishes who are not authorised to own them will receive fines of 50 thousand euros and their goods will be seised.

The government will use revenues from fines for the "fight against the West?s cultural offensive," said Mr Abutaleb.

The draft law allows companies to broadcast some foreign television channels provided they have obtained the government?s permission. Television channels broadcasting from abroad in farsi will be banned.


Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Irshad Manji: New Names on Manifesto

Irshad Manji has just updated her site with the names of people who signed the Manifesto Against a New Totalitarianism. My name is on there ... is yours?

Cross-posted here: Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad

Morning Report: April 24, 2006

Ahmadinejad says no to US talks. Iran Focus: 'Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ruled out on Monday direct talks between the Islamic Republic and the United States over Iraq. “Right now, we think that with the presence of a permanent government in Iraq there is no longer any need”, Ahmadinejad said in reply to a question on whether Tehran would seek to hold talks with U.S. officials in Iraq. Ahmadinejad added that Iran had no trust in the United States government. U.S. President George W. Bush had previously authorised American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to hold talks with Iranian officials over the security situation in Iraq.' (Iran Focus)

Terrorist blasts kill 100 or more in Dahab, Egypt. Debka: 'At least 100 dead and injured in three large terrorist blasts that hit the crowded tourist sites of Dahab on the eastern Sinai coast Monday night. One explosion at a hotel left 17 dead, 120 injured. No word of Israeli casualties. Egyptian police seal access and exit to and from Dahab and closes the Taba border terminal. Israeli Magen David medical aid has gone on high emergency and sent ambulances with paramedics and blood supply to Taba. Israeli defense minister offers Egypt medical aid. Many private cars are helping ambulances evacuate casualties. The blasts hit the resort one day after Osama bin Laden released audiotape threatening the "crusader Zionists." A year ago, 88 people, many of them tourists, were killed in a triple blast at Sharm el-Sheikh to the south of Dahab. A year ago, 88 people, many of them tourists, were killed in a triple blast at Sharm el-Sheikh to the south of Dahab. Two years ago, many Israelis died in multiple al Qaeda attacks in Sinai. DEBKAfile`s counter-terror sources add: This year, Israelis joined the stream of foreign tourists to Sinai after Egypt informed Israel and the United States that its security forces had cleared the al Qaeda cells out of their sanctuaries in the central Sinai Hilal mountain range and the Bedouin tribes and the peninsula resorts were now safe. For the first time in three years, Jerusalem did not issue a warning to Israeli travelers to stay clear of Sinai.' (Debka)

Mofaz disappointed at dismissal. Jerusalem Post: 'Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz expressed disappointment Monday over his imminent dismissal from his post. "It is no secret that I wanted to stay on as defense minister, however I am prepared to fill any role which allows me to contribute to Israeli society," Mofaz said during a conference on the Iranian nuclear issue at Tel Aviv University. "After 40 years of serving in the defense establishment as a soldier, officer, chief-of-staff and defense minister, I have learnt how to make tough decisions and I will be willing to take on a new position in any field in the new government," added Mofaz.' (JPost)

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad

Iran: Sexist Regime Steps Up Anti-Woman Activities

Using veiled female agents, the regime in Iran continues its policy of oppression against ordinary women. SMCCDI via Marze Por Gohar:
The Gender Apartheid Policy and repression of Iranian women has increased following the start, yesterday, of a new official campaign intended to enforce the observance of the Islamist mandatory veil in Iran.

Hundreds of fully black veiled and armed female security agents, qualified as "black crows" by most Iranians, have been deployed in each of Iran's main cities. Their official mission has been qualified as a 'suggestive guidance task intending to make respect the Islamic and moral values' and 'to fight the increasing western decadence'.

While officially they're 'not to use of any force or brutal manners', never less various reports are contrary to the official statements made, today, by the Islamic regime's President and heads of security forces. Reports are stating about the use of brutality, insults and fines against hundreds of maverick Iranian females who were seen opposing the black crows injunctions in several areas of Tehran, such as, Vali-e-Asr (former Pahlavi), Madar (former Mohseni) and Tajrish. Several young girls were seen arrested and transferred to security posts in order to what has been qualified as 'proper identification'.

In some places maverick Iranian males, offended or intending to protect their mothers, sisters, female friends or the victims, from the repressive female agents, were seen beaten by male security agents who have been deployed to protect their female colleagues.

It seems that some harsh critics made by some European and American circles against the discriminatory campaign have caused the sudden issuance of official statements on the 'peaceful nature of the guidance task'.

Reports of the same type of repressive measures have been received from some of the provincial cities, such as, Esfahan, Rasht, Ghom, Mashad or Shiraz where they have already been applied before its start in the Capital.

In reality, the whole campaign has started following the quasi-official rally which took place in front of the Islamic Parliament last week. It took place in order to offer a so-called legitimate and popular back up for the discriminatory crackdown on Iranian women and was composed by dozens of fully dark veiled female agents, as well as, foreign Islamist females and even what some many Iranians call as 'veiled governmental prostitutes'. This third category is used for various purposes by the Islamic regime, such as, collecting information or approaching foreign journalists while having a more western look or in some cases wearing more provocative clothing.

Tens of Iranian women have died and hundreds of other have been injured, since 1979, for fighting for gender equality in Iran. Many of them have used mass gatherings to burn their mandatory veils and to denounce the existing repression while some naive foreign circles have started to promote, since 1997, individuals, such as, Shirin Ebadi or Mehranguiz Kar as defenders of women's rights.

In reality, while thousands of Iranian women were marching in the streets of Tehran, in 1979, and shouting "No Veil, No Submission"; Ebadi and Kar were endorsing Rouh-Ollah Khomeini's backwarded Islamist revolution. Worst, they were seen as wearing the Islamist veil in sign of such support, despite having had higher law education and human rights courses.


In other Iran news, Nuremberg mayor Dr. Ulrich Maly urges the German government to do the right thing rather than allow Iran's chief thug Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit. YNet via MPG:
On June 11, at 6 p.m., the first game of the Iranian national team in the World Cup will get under way. Nuremberg's stadium is situated just dozens of meters from the first Nazi marching square and the enormous conference hall built for Hitler. The huge structure, which was never completed, is used today as historical testimony to the Nazi era.

The arrival of Iran's soccer team would not be causing such a stir, would it not be for the Holocaust denials of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his plans to arrive at the city in order to cheer on his team.

In the halls of government in Berlin, officials believe that the Iranian president will not arrive in the end. Therefore, they do not see a point in comply with a call by the Wiesenthal Center to declare Ahmadinejad as persona non grata.

"Ahmadinejad won't be our guest and he is not wanted among us," Maly told Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's leading newspaper.

"From the minute FIFA decided not to boycott Iran in the world cup, the arrival of the Iranians turned into a problem for the German government. We would prefer that other teams play here. I don't plan to prevent demonstrations against Ahmadinejad and against his intolerable statements on the Holocaust and the destruction of the State of Israel," he said.

Read the full article at the link.


2006-04-23

Iranians Rebel Against Islamist Regime at Soccer Match in Tehran

SMCCDI:
Hundreds of Iranians used the occasion, offered by the match played between Bargh e Shiraz and Esteghlal (former Taj) soccer teams, in order to protest against the Islamic republic regime. The local game took place yesterday at the "Azadi" ('Freedom') stadium of Tehran.

Slogans were shouted and street clashes took place in the Azadi, Karaj and Enghelab areas as security forces attacked the protesters. Dozens of security patrol cars and buses were damaged in retaliation to the brutality of Islamist Militiamen.

Tens were seen injured or arrested at the issue of the unrest.

Iranians are seizing the mass presence opportunity offered by soccer games or big events in order to protest and express their rejection of the Islamic regime. In that line, Iran was the scene of consecutive and massive protest actions, during the 2002 World Cup soccer qualification games but the trend was stopped by the believed forced loss of Iran to Bahrain. Since then, important soccer games have been often turned into popular protests, especially when they're played in Tehran.

Most opposition groups, such as SMCCDI and the Iran National Secular Party (INSP), and underground networks have planned massive popular protest actions, both inside and abroad Iran, at the occasion of the upcoming 2006 World Cup games in Germany. Iran's first game is scheduled for June 11th against Mexico and Its other first round games are against Portugal, on June 17th, and against Angola on June 21st.

SMCCDI is known for its importnat role in the promotion of Football (Soccer) Protests and especially in the coordination of last World Cup Soccer qualification games' riots. It constantly mobilized the masses via the intense use of digital technology, such as the Internet and satellite TV, as well as, help from some friendly Persian speaking radio stations abroad who were offering airtime for consecutive interviews and transmitting the Movement's calls:

http://www.daneshjoo.org/article/publish/article_486.shtml
http://www.daneshjoo.org/article/publish/article_485.shtml
http://www.daneshjoo.org/article/publish/article_482.shtml
http://www.daneshjoo.org/article/publish/article_479.shtml


Iran: Prosecutor Najafabadi Shot in Shadegan

Iran Focus:
Tehran, Iran, Apr. 21 – The prosecutor in the Department of Justice in the southern town of Shadegan was shot and seriously wounded, a semi-official daily reported on Saturday.

The official, identified as Najafabadi, was shot in his car on his way from work by masked gunmen who made their escape on a motorbike, the hard-line daily Kayhan wrote.

Najafabadi sustained injuries in the face and foot, according to the report.

Shadegan is situated in the Arab-dominated province of Khuzestan. Ahwaz, the capital of oil-rich province, has been the scene of unremitting anti-government protests since early 2005.


Afternoon Roundup

The Crispus Attucks Brigade. Van at Kesher Talk:
The shape of things to come, or a novelty? If nothing else, this story about black groups in Los Angeles teaming up with the Minutemen Project shows that somebody in the black community is willing to part from the conventional wisdom. And you've got to appreciate the historical sense behind the name of the Crispus Attucks Brigade.

Read the rest at the link.

The Penn State Inquisition. Sissy Willis has some thoughts on the Penn State cancellation of Josh Stulman's art exhibition:
"Mesh with the university's educational mission"? Good golly. Last time we checked -- as we wrote recently in our "Reduced by its ignorance into regurgitating regurgitations" critique of the self-appointed "effete corps of impudent snobs" who tend the flickering flame of the Whitney Biennial's delusional "truth-to-power" fantasy ...

Go read it all.

Repulsive Republican Watch

Average Gay Joe at Gay Patriot:
Ah yes, another “Repulsive Republican” who raises the ol’ barnyard animals canard:

Ohio’s Secretary of State is coming out strong in support of Issue One, the measure that would ban same-sex marriage. Kenneth Blackwell spoke to an energized crowd at the Cathedral of Praise Tuesday night.

Blackwell said it’s time for people of God to take a stand. He even drew a comparison between same-sex couples and farm animals. “I don’t know how many of you have a farming background but I can tell you right now that notion even defies barnyard logic … the barnyard knows better,” said Blackwell referring to the idea of same-sex marriage.


... When will the Republicans free themselves of these people who treat faith as some cheap whore in order to curry favor and gain power?

Russia to Sell Weapons to Iran

Tammy Bruce:
Our Friends the Russians ...

Are selling missiles to the Iranians which will be used to kill Israelis and Americans. And this from a country that was simultaneously partly in charge of negotiating with Iran to get them to stop their nuclear research, and has said it will veto any action (including sanctions of course, because that would shut down their income stream) in the UN Security Council. Absolutely outrageous ...

Read the rest at the link.


The Manifesto of 1,400

Irshad Manji has an up-to-date list of readers who have signed the Manifesto of 12. From the Manifesto:
We -- writers, journalists and public intellectuals -- call for resistance to religious totalitarianism.

Instead, we call for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values worldwide.

The necessity of these universal values has been revealed by events since the publication of the Muhammad drawings in European newspapers. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the arena of ideas. What we are witnessing is not a clash of civilizations, nor an antagonism of West versus East, but a global struggle between democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The preachers of hate bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a world of inequality. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred.

Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of greater power imbalances: man’s domination of woman, the Islamists’ domination of all others.

To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed people. For that reason, we reject “cultural relativism,” which consists of accepting that Muslim men and women should be deprived of their right to equality and freedom in the name of their cultural traditions.

We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia,” an unfortunate concept that confuses criticism of Islamic practices with the stigmatization of Muslims themselves.

We plead for the universality of free expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on every continent, against every abuse and dogma.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

Signed,

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq , Caroline Fourest, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Irshad Manji , Mehdi Mozaffari, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, Antoine Sfeir, Philippe Val, Ibn Warraq

More than 1,400 ordinary people have signed. Go to the link to see the list of names, and if your name isn't on there yet, you can follow Irshad's e-mail link to sign.

Fatah-Hamas Clashes Reported

Jerusalem Post:
Gunmen from Hamas and the Fatah engaged in a shootout at the Palestinian Health Ministry on Sunday, wounding three people in the latest internal clashes between the feuding groups.

The incident began when Fatah loyalists arrived at the ministry to talk with Health Minister Bassem Naim, a top Hamas official, and Naim called on Hamas militants to come protect him, ministry employees said.

When the Hamas gunmen arrived, a shootout broke out with the Fatah militants, witnesses said.

Our Resistance Was Spiritual

Via Jason at Countercolumn:
In all these 50 years we have been told that we didn't fight back. Against the most insane odds, perhaps, in the entire history of man, my two sisters and I escaped from the "death march," and though Hitler slaughtered most of our family, in some tragic, yet glorious way we won. Hitler perished and we lived, and today six beautiful human beings call us "mother." By only brother, who after surviving six concentration camps was shot in the leg in his attempt to escape is the father of two.

Our resistance, of course, was entirely spiritual. Made up perhaps only of love for each other. The mystery of it all still defies me.

What also defies me is the fact that it took six years for the world's mightiest forces to defeat the beast. I was unarmed, untrained in the business of killing, didn't even have a shoelace for a weapon, weighed about 40 pounds. Yet? I have always been told "didn't fight back." That accusation, too, falls within the insanity of Hitler's design to annihilate the Jews. Nonetheless, it hurts. It always did.

On VE Day, May 8th, 1945, the very day the war ended, the merchant marine ship, the SS Brand Whitlock, after nearly five weeks at sea, sailed into the sunlit harbor of Newport News, VA. Two days later, in Baltimore, MD, the ship discharged its never before seen cargo: The first survivors of Auschwitz. My two sisters and myself. In our battered being we carried the innocent, charred souls of millions of children, women and men. And we thank this best of all countries, America, for putting its healing arms around our weeping hearts.

Isabella Leitner
Isabella Leitner - Born Kisvarda, Hungary.

A survivor of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp, where her mother and youngest sister were murdered immediately on their arrival; May 31,1944.

Transported six months later to Birnbaumel, another concentration camp, where she was compelled to dig anti-tank traps against the advancing Russian army.

Escaped in a blizzard with two sisters during a forced death march to Bergen-Belsen, where a third sister perished.
Liberated by the Russians on January 25, 1945. Arrived in USA on May 8, 1945 (VE Day), the very day the war in Europe ended, making her and her two sisters the first survivors of Auschwitz to set foot on American soil.

Married American-born Irving A. Leitner, a combat veteran of World War II, on August 18, 1956. Two sons, Peter (graduate of Princeton University) and Richard (graduate of Bennington College.) Considers them "her greatest victory over Hitler".

Iran Report

More on guard commander's assassination. SMCCDI via Marze Por Gohar:
Subject: Top Islamist Militia General Gunned Down by Exsaperated Soldier
Source: SMCCDI
Date 23-04-2006

Official sources of the Islamic republic regime are revealing the murder on, Wednesday, of a top Pasdaran Corp. (Islamic Revolutionary Guards) commander in the religious city of Ghom.

General Kamal Kazemi was gunned down, by a 'crazy' conscript soldier 'who will then commit suicide', according to the same official sources which have not revealed the name of the soldier.

Kazemi was a top Pasdaran Corp. instructor and the local commander of the repressive Bassiji elements who are dealing with what the Islamic regime qualifies as "immoral behavior" or “social corruption”.

Most Iranians reject the rule of the Islamic regime and radical signs of exasperation, against the symbols of the theocratic power, are increasing in Iran.

Amil Imani: Use frozen assets against regime. Also from MPG, Iranian activist Amil Imani writes:
Recently, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has requested $85 million to support pro-democracy elements inside Iran and also assist the Iranian opposition groups outside of Iran.

While I am grateful for this kind gesture from President George W. Bush’s administration, I have serious doubts that this amount can change anything in Iran. I doubt that the $85 million (if Secretary Rice indeed receives it) will be used effectively and wisely.

President Bush, in his 2005 state of union address, once again reiterated his support of the Iranian people. He said, “And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.” A Tehran University student responded, “As long as President Bush stands with the Iranian people, the Iranian people will stand with him and with America."

Is it not totally ironic that the presidential race in the United States was won by a few percentage points, but in Iran, President Bush won by a landslide? What also remains irony is while President Bush is sinking in the polls in his home country, his popularity is climbing in Iran. Yes, the Persian speaking people have found a friend who says he cares about the Iranian plight. But, really, how serious is President Bush about the Iranian plight? Is it simply a lot of rhetoric with no action?

It has been 5 consecutive years that President Bush has adamantly supported the Iranian people in his state of the union address. What we have seen is too much carrot, but not enough stick or as they say in Texas all hat and no cattle. Mr. President, while I have supported your efforts to liberate Iraq and bring democracy to the region, I am afraid the key to peace in Iraq and the region is in the hands of the Iranian people. As long as the Islamic regime rules over the defenseless people in Iran, Iraq will never see the light of democracy. [Dreams Into Lightning has stressed this point often. - aa]

... So far Iranian-Americans have not given big money to the cause of liberating their fellow Iranians in Iran, nor has the U.S. government given any significant amount for the eradication of the mother of all terrorist groups in the world, the Islamic regime in Iran. Again, we are back to square one.

The United States still holds billions of dollars of the Iranian assets in U.S. banks. It only makes sense to utilize this fund for the regime change by the Iranian opposition abroad. This money must be returned to its legitimate heirs, the Iranian people.

Amil Imani homepage

Regime thugs continue harrassment of women. Iran Press Service::
Iran will increase police patrols to enforce women's skirt lengths, proper head scarves and even curtail dog-walking during the summer.
"In our campaign, we will confront women showing their bare legs in short pants", said Tehran's police chief, Morteza Tala’i.

"We are also going to combat women wearing skimpy headscarves, short and form-fitting coats, and the ones walking pets in parks and streets" he added.
Women who do not wear the veil can face 10 days to two months' imprisonment, or a fine.


Canadian LAV Convoy Takes Casualties in Afghanistan

Toronto Globe and Mail:
Kandahar, Afghanistan — Documentary filmmaker Rich Fitoussi never liked getting into the Canadian army's much-heralded, much-loved light armoured vehicle — LAV III — or its cousin the Bison armoured car.

Even though the largely windowless metal cocoon is meant to keep him and hundreds of dust-covered soldiers whose lives he chronicled safe, it was always a nerve-wracking, uncomfortable experience.

Never more so than Saturday, as the well-travelled Toronto-native found himself hunkered down inside a Bison when suspected Taliban militants unleashed their deadly fury on a Canadian convoy, killing four soldiers.

"I feel a little bit guilty," said Mr. Fitoussi, 32, in an interview Sunday, "because why them and not me? I'm told it's a natural reaction."

"I feel a great deal of dread for the families back home."

Mr. Fitoussi's lumbering, heavily-shielded vehicle was directly behind the lighter-weight G-Wagon, which struck an improvised explosive device on a remote, rock-strewn wadi, or dry river bed, just outside of Gumbad. His life was probably saved because he was in a Bison — a fact not lost on him. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Morning Report: April 23, 2006

Debka: US, France back down on Syria sanctions, set Lebanon back to "square one". Debka: 'When he visited the White House on April 18, Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora was shocked to discover that president George W. Bush had cooled to the campaign he launched with France against the Assad regime in February 2005, after the assassination of the Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri. He saw that Bashar Assad and his clique were getting away scot-free from being brought to account as suspects in the crime. Siniora also learned, according to DEBKAfile’s Washington and Middle East sources, that the Americans had abandoned their drive to oust Lahoud, disarm the Hizballah, disband Palestinian militias in Lebanon, and impose on them the implementation of a key UN Security Council resolution. As he left the White House, the Lebanese prime minister remarked: “Lebanon is back to square one. We are left with the ruins of the American-French initiative.” Our sources in Beirut report that, scenting the new winds blowing from Washington and Paris, all the Lebanese militias, including those linked to al Qaeda, are re-arming and rebuilding their strength. ...' Read the rest at the link. (Debka)

Iran: Revolutionary Guards commander shot and killed in Qom. The Intelligence Summit, quoting Iran Focus: 'A commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was shot dead in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, earlier this week by a conscript soldier, state-run Persian-language websites reported on Sunday. Seyyed Kamal Kazemi, an IRGC instructor from the 19th Training Garrison in Qom, was shot and killed by an unidentified soldier on Wednesday. The soldier then committed suicide by shooting himself. Kazemi was also a commander of the paramilitary Bassij forces in Qom and led “moral police” units who enforce Iran’s strict religious laws.' (Iran Focus via TIS)

Let's call it "democracy promotion" so we don't scare the Europeans. The US and UK are working on a strategy to support regime change democracy promotion in Iran and Syria, according to the Financial Times: 'The US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran, according to officials who see the joint effort as the start of a new phase in the diplomatic campaign to counter the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme without resorting to military intervention. A newly created Iran Syria Operations Group inside the State Department is co-ordinating the work and reporting to Elizabeth Cheney, the senior US official leading democracy promotion in the broader Middle East. “Democracy promotion is a rubric to get the Europeans behind a more robust policy without calling it regime change,” a former Bush administration official commented. The new direction, the former official said, reflected a growing belief in the US and UK that diplomacy through the United Nations and partial sanctions were unlikely to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. In the absence of a credible military solution, the argument went that international diplomacy could try to slow down the nuclear programme while more “robust” efforts continued towards the ultimate solution of regime change, he said. US officials said the British input was important because of the Bush administration’s lack of experts on Iran, the legacy of 25 years of frozen diplomatic relations. ... Seeking to fill the US knowledge gap, the State Department last month set up the Iranian Affairs Office in Washington and announced new diplomatic posts for Farsi speakers. Barbara Leaf, an Arabist [Morning Report rolls its eyes], is expected to head the office. At the same time, the separate Iran Syria Operations Group was established to plot a more aggressive democracy promotion strategy for those two “rogue” states. Funding is to come from $75m that Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, announced in February she was requesting from Congress this year, plus some $10m already in the budget.' (Financial Times)

Bolton: Iran to test UN. Knight Ridder via Iran Focus: 'The U.N. Security Council's impending showdown over Iran's nuclear ambitions is a critical test of the effectiveness of the world body, United Nations Ambassador John R. Bolton said yesterday. "If the Security Council can't deal with that threat, then you have to ask yourself what utility the Security Council would be in dealing with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," Bolton said at a midday appearance before the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.' (Iran Focus)

Egyptians protest for judicial independence. FFE: 'For the fourth day, the Egyptian judges’ sit-in is continuing in protest to the regime’s attempts to stifle the judges’ endeavors to separate the judiciary from the strong iron grip of the Egyptian regime and the executive power. In the latest escalation to foil attempts to liberate Egypt’s judiciary, the Minister of Justice referred judges Hisham Bastawesy and Mahmoud Mekky (cassation court) to a disciplinary council while threatening to oust them from their positions. Head of the cassation court who is also the head of the higher council for judiciary Fathy Khalifa has started looking into the case filed against Bastawesy and Mekky. Some of the procedures were described by the press as illegitimate. ...' Full post, with photos, at the link. (FFE)

2006-04-21

Dreams Into Lightning Celebrates Two Years

April 21, 2006 marks my second anniversary of blogging here at Dreams Into Lightning.

2006-04-19

Gretchen doesn't want a cell phone.

Via the magic that is ORblogs, Gretchen speaks out:
"Please help me understand. You are a 36 year old woman and you do not want a cell phone?" Clearly he was straying from the Sprint approved script. "That's right" I said, "I have never had a cell phone and I don't really want one."

Heh. Go read the rest at the link.

You know, for about two or three years (circa 1999-2001) when EVERYBODY WAS GETTING INTERNET, I closed my AOL account and went netless. Just as a lifestyle choice, for the same reason I don't watch TV. I'd get the strangest, most incredulous looks and questions. "You mean you don't have internet yet?" "Anymore," I corrected.

Nowadays, as you can see, I have internet access and spend quite a bit of time online. I had good reasons for choosing not to have internet service then, and I have good reasons for choosing to have it now. But I'll always admire people who have the nerve to make their own choices about technology.

And who knows? The day may yet come when I might give up internet again.

What Tammy said!

Tammy Bruce has a great new post linking to the Carnival of the Feminists at Daily Troll and making some important points:
While we tend to stick with blogs or news sites that we feel reflect out POV, consider the fact that you probably have disagreed with a number of my posts, but perhaps find the variety and the debate fun and informative. Take a look at Daily Troll, after all, they included my post knowing that they would be sending their readers to a conservative feminist site. Usually when liberals or lefties link to Tammy Blog it's in an attack post. Their linking here is an indication that they, too, have an open mind, and promote material they agree with even when it's from someone with whom they probably disagree with a whole lot of the time.

Oh, and don't miss her post on Sharon Stone. It's worth a visit for the pictures anyway, but read what Tammy has to say about the sexist double standard around older women vs. older men.



Germantown, Maryland Woman Escapes Iranian Prison

Unbelievable story from the Maryland Gazette via Marze Por Gohar:
When Jaleh Jahandideh left the United States in January to visit her 92-year-old father in Iran for the first time in 12 years, she took four huge suitcases full of clothing and gifts for her extended family.

A satchel the size of a large fanny-pack slung over her shoulder was the only bag the Germantown woman had when she returned Saturday, after 21 days in an Iranian prison and a harrowing escape by horseback over the steep Zagros mountains into Iraq.

The petite Jahandideh emerged, arms raised in a ‘‘V”, from U.S. Customs at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport with a look of joy and relief matched only by the expressions of her husband, stepson and daughter and son-in-law. The family spent a tense two-and-a-half months working to get Jahandideh out of Iran after authorities detained her when her ex-husband, a former military intelligence official and her daughter’s father, learned she was back in Iran.

Memo: If your ex-husband is a former military intelligence official for the Iranian regime, you probably want to be careful what you say to him.
Jahandideh’s trip to Orumiyeh to visit her family began peacefully. Then, her ex-husband –– with whom she attended state dinners in the 1980s during the reign of the Ayatollah Khomeini –– visited her. He grew increasingly angry as she spoke about her life in America, Jahandideh said during an interview Monday, adding that he recorded the conversation.

Well, you can probably guess what happened after that, but you'll never guess how she got away. Go to the link to read the whole thing, it's amazing. And a big cheer for the Kurds!

Who is Nazannin?

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is an Iranian-born singer/songwriter. She'd like you to know about another woman - also named Nazanin - who is still living in islamist-occupied Iran, and is facing the death penalty for defending herself against a rape attack.

Sign the petition. Then go visit singer Nazanin's homepage, and while you're at it go to Regime Change Iran to listen to "Someday - The Revolution Song".



Afternoon Roundup

Good riddance to Scott McClellan. Gay Patriot:
The White House press operation has done a terrible job of responding to disingenuous reporting. It seems as if the president, quite unlike his media savvy predecessor, thought it was merely the job of the press office to dispense information (as it once had been and perhaps should be in an ideal world where the media’s agenda in reporting the facts rather than giving its spin) and let the conservative pundits and blogs set the record straight. It’s been amusing to read all the false charges the MSM and others on the Left have leveled against the president. It’s been depressing to watch the Administration fail to rebut the better part of them.

Tammy Bruce:
Nice enough guy, but he always seemed to me to be in the defensive, regardless of what was happening. I never got the impression, frankly, that he was in charge of the press room. I realize it's the press secretary's job to 'handle' the press corp, but when they leave the impression there's blood in the water, the press get more brazen.



Morning Report: April 19, 2006

Happy Patriots' Day. From among my homies in LJ-land, Little Miss Gun-To-a-Knife-Fight was so excited she, er, jumped the gun. Remember, that famous ride transpired on "the eighteenth of April in 'seventy-five". (Kitiara)

McClellan resigns. Scott McClellan has resigned as press secretary: 'White House press secretary Scott McClellan has announced he is resigning - the latest prominent personnel change in President Bush's staff. McClellan told reporters Wednesday that the White House is going through a period of change right now, and that he is ready to move on to different things. He said the White House will transition to a new press secretary in two or three weeks. His replacement was not named. President Bush, who accompanied McClellan for the announcement at the White House, thanked him for his work, saying he handled the difficult assignment of press secretary with class and integrity.' Morning Report endorses this candidate. (VOA)

ITM responds to murder. Iraq the Model: Kill us, but you won't enslave us.
Last week our little and peaceful family was struck by the tragic loss of one of its members in a savage criminal act of assassination. The member we lost was my sister's husband who lived with their two little children in our house.

He was a brilliant young doctor with a whole future awaiting him, the couple were the top graduates in their branch of specialty. They had to travel abroad to get their degrees and the war started while they were there but months after Saddam fallen they decided to come back to help rebuild the country and serve their people. ...

The terrorists and criminals are targeting all elements of life and they target anyone who wants to do something good for this country…They think by assassinating one of us they could deter us from going forward but will never succeed, they can delay us for years but we will never go back and abandon our dream.

We have vowed to follow the steps of our true martyrs and we will raise the new generation to continue the march, these children of today are the hope and the future.

Tragedy Strikes ITM

Omar and Mohammed's brother-in-law was murdered last week.
He was not affiliated with any political party or movement and spent all his time working at the hospital or studying at home and he was dreaming of building a medical center for his specialty to serve the poor who cannot afford going to expensive private clinics.

We didn't know or anticipate that cruel times were waiting for a chance to assassinate the dream and kill the future.

It was the day he was celebrating the opening of a foundation that was going to offer essential services to the poor but the criminals were waiting for him to end his life with their evil bullets and to stab our family deep in the heart.

Grief and pain is killing me everyday as I hold my dear nephews, my sister is shocked beyond words while my parents are dead worried about the rest of us.

We are trying hard to close the wound, summon our patience and protect those still alive while we look forward to the future that we hope can bring peace for us.

The terrorists and criminals are targeting all elements of life and they target anyone who wants to do something good for this country…They think by assassinating one of us they could deter us from going forward but will never succeed, they can delay us for years but we will never go back and abandon our dream.

Go read the rest at Iraq the Model.

2006-04-18

Lasting Sacrifices, Enduring Courage

Army Specialist Craig Ivory was the adopted son of Patrick Ivory and was raised by his father and his stepmother, Terri Ivory, this item at Families United informs us:
He graduated from State College High School in Pennsylvania in 1996 where he excelled in a unique blend of extracurricular activities; while he was an accomplished athlete in football and track, he also was a talented musician with the concert and symphonic bands.

Craig’s military career was even more dynamic. He first enlisted in the Army in January 1997. He served in many different roles during his career: he served in the U.S., Korea and Iraq; he reenlisted twice and trained or served as a mechanic, paratrooper, support personnel for an MP unit, a candidate for the Special Forces, and finally, as a medic.

On March 26th, 2003, he was among 1,000 paratroopers from the 173rd dropped into Northern Iraq. He spent five months supporting the field units as a medic. His father recalls Craig’s exchange with an English-speaking Iraqi woman who pleaded with him: “Please don’t go home. We need you to protect us.” Craig consoled her and explained that while they have their own homes and one day would have to leave, “we’re here for you now.”

In the extreme battlefield conditions, including 135 degree heat, Craig suffered a stroke and was transported to Germany, where his father made the difficult decision to remove his life support. Craig had been planning to follow in his father’s footsteps as a physician’s assistant after his military career.

Craig’s father said Craig had a movie quote that he favored as a sort of motto: “What we do in life echoes through eternity.” For Craig, that has especially rung true beginning with his family donating a memorial to his high school and establishing a $1,000 annual scholarship fund in Craig’s memory for members of the military medics wanting to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. ...

Patrick Ivory explains that he felt compelled to join Families United after an incident with a reporter. He claims the reported totally spun his words and characterized his sentiments inaccurately to serve their agenda. “The media only reports the negative and the sensational. The positive information is never shared with America.”

“What we do in life echoes through eternity.” I like that. Take a moment to reflect on Craig's commitment and idealism, and think about what his words. As you already know, I am a combat vet and I lost several friends in the Desert Storm Iraq/Kuwait campaign in 1991. I hope more Americans will take the trouble to learn about our experiences, and why we do what we do.

Brave women are making sacrifices at the frontlines too, Donna St. George at the Washington Post reminds us.
Her body had been maimed by war. Dawn Halfaker lay unconscious at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, her parents at her bedside and her future suddenly unsure. A rocket-propelled grenade had exploded in her Humvee, ravaging her arm and shoulder.

She is one of 11 women combat amputees.
They have discovered, at various points of their recovery, that gender has made a difference -- "not better or worse," as Halfaker put it, "just different."

For Halfaker, an athlete with a strong sense of her physical self, the world was transformed June 19, 2004, on a night patrol through Baqubah, Iraq. Out of nowhere had come the rocket-propelled grenade, exploding behind her head.

The article continues,
The Iraq war is the first in which so many women have had so much exposure to combat -- working in a wide array of jobs, with long deployments, in a place where hostile fire has no bounds. In all, more than 370 women have been wounded in action and 34 have been killed by hostile fire. ...

n the hospital, female combat amputees face all the challenges men do -- with a few possible differences. Women, for example, seem to care more about appearance and be more expressive about their experiences, hospital staff members said. Among the women, there also was "a unique understanding or bond," said Capt. Katie Yancosek, an occupational therapist at Walter Reed.

The advent of female combat amputees has left an enduring impression on many hospital staff members. "We have learned not to underestimate or be overly skeptical about how these women will do," said Amanda Magee, a physician's assistant in the amputee care program. "Sometimes they arrive in really bad shape, and people are really worried. . . . But we've learned they can move on from a devastating injury as well as any man."

Go to the link to read about Juanita Wilson, and how she balances soldierhood and motherhood. And don't miss this:
On that winter morning, Wilson had already tied her combat boots, her right hand doing most of the work and her prosthetic holding the loop before it is tied. "I want it to be known that just because you're a female injured in combat, you don't have to give up your career and you don't have to look at yourself as disabled," she said.

She added: "I haven't met any female soldier yet who feels she shouldn't have been there."