2006-09-26

Morning Report: September 26, 2006

Women and men in today's conflict. An Afghan official is assassinated, Iraq's president responds to threats, an intelligence report is discussed, and more.

Afghan Women's Affairs minister killed. Feminist Daily News: 'Safia Amajan, the provincial director of Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs in Kandahar, was killed by gunman today outside of her home. There is speculation that she was killed in retaliation for her outspoken support of women's rights and her work opening schools for women in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press and BBC News. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the murder. Amajan had unsuccessfully requested bodyguards and secure transportation from the Afghan government; at the time of the attack, she was getting into a taxi to go to work, BBC reports. Aleem Siddique, spokesperson for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said his agency "is appalled at the senseless murder of a woman who was simply working to ensure that all Afghan women play a full and equal part in the future of Afghanistan." (FMF)

Talabani to meddling neighbors: We can play that game too. Debka reports that Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, warned the governments of Iran, Syria, and Turkey: “We’ll support the opposition in other countries… try to make trouble for them as they are doing for us. ... Our policy is not to interfere in the internal affairs of these countries and we ask them and beg them not to interfere in our internal affairs because it creates chaos in the Middle East.” He was talking about this report from Debka, which alleges: 'Turkish and Iranian air units as well as armored, paratroop, special operations and artillery forces are poised for an imminent coordinated invasion of the northern Iraqi autonomous province of Kurdistan.' Full article at the link. (Debka)

Gay Patriot: NYT puff piece on Somali islamists. Gay Patriot calls out this New York Times story on its smarmy treatment of islamist thugs in Somalia. Says the Times' Jeff Gettleman: 'But over the past three months, the Islamists in control here have defied international expectations - in many ways. Not only have they done the unthinkable, pacifying one of the most dangerous cities in the world, they also seem to have moderated their message.' GP says: 'Gee, it almost sounds like a CNN report from pre-2003 Baghdad. Remember, when CNN covered up the truth in order to “gain access” to the Saddam regime?' Follow GP's link to the latest developments in Somalia. Tammy Bruce has more. (NYT via Wilmington Star News, Gay Patriot, Tammy Bruce)

In from the Cold on the NIE and the NYT. In from the Cold has a summary of some points in the National Intelligence Estimate that somehow escaped the attention of the New York Times:
Thankfully, the actual NIE is not the harbinger of disaster that the Times and WaPo would have us believe. According to members of the intel community who have seen the document, the NIE is actually fair and balanced (to coin a phrase), noting both successes and failures in the War on Terror--and identifying potential points of failure for the jihadists. The quotes printed below--taken directly from the document and provided to this blogger--provide "the other side" of the estimate, and its more balanced assessment of where we stand in the War on Terror (comments in italics are mine).

In one of its early paragraphs, the estimate notes progress in the struggle against terrorism, stating the U.S.-led efforts have "seriously damaged Al Qaida leadership and disrupted its operations." Didn't see that in the NYT article.

Or how about this statement, which--in part--reflects the impact of increased pressure on the terrorists: "A large body of reporting indicates that people identifying themselves as jihadists is increasing...however, they are largely decentralized, lack a coherent strategy and are becoming more diffuse." Hmm...doesn't sound much like Al Qaida's pre-9-11 game plan.

The report also notes the importance of the War in Iraq as a make or break point for the terrorists: "Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves to have failed, we judge that fewer will carry on the fight." It's called a ripple effect.

More support for the defeating the enemy on his home turf: "Threats to the U.S. are intrinsically linked to U.S. success or failure in Iraq." President Bush and senior administration officials have made this argument many times--and it's been consistently dismissed by the "experts" at the WaPo and Times ...

And there's this: 'The estimate also affirms the wisdom of sowing democracy in the Middle East: "Progress toward pluralism and more responsive political systems in the Muslim world will eliminate many of the grievances jihadists exploit."' Read it all at the link. As Spook says, "The ball's in your court, Mr. Keller and Mr. Downie." (IFTC)

Death of Umar Faruq. Counterterrorism Blog:
Indonesian security officials privately welcomed news that Umar Faruq had been killed in Iraq on 25 September, as there has been a lingering concern the al-Qaeda terrorist might attempt to return to Southeast Asia after his July 2005 escape from an Afghan prison. Some comments on Faruq:

* After his June 2002 capture in Indonesia, Faruq proved to be one of the most prolific sources of information regarding foreign extremists in Southeast Asia. As was the case with Hambali, he began talking almost immediately after his arrest, and went on to provide details of his activities during questioning that lasted for more than a year. Faruq apparently did not need to be coerced into talking; he was reportedly proud of his role in extremist activities.

* Faruq was questioned by Indonesian police investigators in 2003 in order to obtain information for the trial of militant Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir. In order to abide by Indonesian law, Faruq's testimony would only be valid in court if it was given on Indonesian territory. The Indonesians reportedly came up with a pragmatic solution: an Indonesian flag was unfurled and Faruq's cell temporarily was declared Indonesian soil. In the end, his comments were of little value: Faruq had only a couple of fleeting encounters with the cleric, and most of his information about Ba'asyir was hearsay. ...

Read the rest at the link. (CTB)

Sandmonkey gets an accomplice. There's a new voice at Egyptian Sandmonkey's blog. Sandmonkey's intro: 'Enter Dandash, a muslim arab egyptian afircan female who couldn't be even more of an opressed minority unless she was lesbian and deaf. She is smart. She is cynical. She is funny, and she is the new contirbutor to this blog. So please make her feel at home!' Dandash:
My name is Dandash, and I live on the Sandmonkey planet. From our alternative reality, the land of the A.P.U. I greet you.

I am proud to introduce myself as a new ranter on the Sandmonkey's fantastic space for hurling insanely fantastic ideas about life in this blessedly divine region of the world which we share with the Chosen People of God, the Chosen Party of God and the Chosen Horror Comedy of the Universe. Fantastic.

And the fantabulous part? I'm a female. Yes finally some action. Mwahahaha, Ima take over this place-er, I mean giggle giggle.

So, nice to meet you. May the Sandmonkey always rule his domain, as long as he buys me pretty and expensive things.

Better do as she says, Sandmonkey. Sounds like you don't want to mess with this one. (Sandmonkey)

Women in war. Feministing links to a New York Times piece on women in combat. Vanessa at Feministing: 'The article also discusses the debate on women in combat as well as the number of physical and mental effects on women who survived the war. My favorite sentence on this: “A whole crop of veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress and lost limbs, circumstances that sometimes prove more difficult for women who often fill the role of nurturers to their families.” Forget about working women, who will take care of the babies??' Commenter Amanda responds: 'I don't think the article's primary concern was "who will take care of the babies," but rather with the stress that taking care of children - needing to care for them in a nurturing role - puts on women who are struggling with PTSD. My mother has PTSD, and this makes perfect sense to me - it's stressful to be needed as a caregiver when you need to heal yourself.' StarDragon the Canadian notes: 'About one in seven of the Canadian regular infantry troops in Afghanistan are women.Same qulifications,same standards,same training,same duties. Of course the Canadian Armed Forces have already presided over it's first same-sex marriage,so we're cleary all bolshies up here,letting gays and women-folk have weapons and all....' More discussion in the comments thread. (NYT via Feministing)

Commentary. The Belmont Club says of the National Intelligence Estimate: 'A nonpartisan assessor might probably ask, what did we do right? What did we do wrong? What can we do better? But that would imply a common purpose.' It's up to each of us, as citizens of our nation and of the world, to decide what our purpose is. Not all will answer the question the same way. But we have to answer it.

2006-09-21

Media Ignores Pro-Israel Rally at the UN

Thousands of people showed up at the United Nations colony in New York to protest uber-fascist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and to support Israel.

Good Lieutenant:
The small 2000-person anti-war anti-Bush morons got the news coverage, but as usual, they're not the story.

Atlas has lots more, with pictures.
Tens of thousands of freedom loving people showed up from all over the country.

It was gorgeous. They came in droves to protest holocaust denier, nuked up Ahmadinejad's outrageous appearance at the UN.

They're saying 35,000 to 40,000 people were there.

JTA:
Jewish groups and others came out en masse Wednesday to protest against Ahmadinejad in a rally organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and other groups.

Some 35,000 people rallied across from the United Nations to protest Ahmadinejad’s presence at the world body. The crowd also wanted to show solidarity for Israel and implore the United Nations to enforce Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended Israel’s war this summer with Hezbollah and calls for the release of three Israeli soldiers taken hostage by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Abizaid on PBS

Via CENTCOM, General John Abizaid is interviewed by Jim Lehrer on PBS:
JIM LEHRER: And now to our interview with Army General John Abizaid, commander of the Central Command, which includes all U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. I talked with him earlier today.

General, welcome. U.N. Secretary-General Annan said the other day that, if current trends continue, Iraq could break down into a full-scale civil war. Is he right?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, Top U.S. Commander in the Middle East: I think current trends today look certainly better than when I testified back in August. The situation is improving somewhat.

Certainly, there's a lot of sectarian violence. I believe that we've got the military capacity and the Iraqis have the political will to get things under control. And I think it will start moving towards stability slowly but surely.

JIM LEHRER: Why can't the sectarian violence be stopped?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: The sectarian violence is very, very difficult to control, because it involves very small, cellular groups of death squads that move about the city, that move into pre-designated targets that they've already selected, that has already been surveilled, that have certainly been well-known to various people that are plotting to get these particular people.

And they go in and get them. And then, when they can't get their designated targets, they go after completely random targets, so it's a very, very difficult military security problem that's tough to defend against.

JIM LEHRER: And you're saying that's getting better? It seems, in the last several weeks, at least on our program every day, we've been reporting more and more bodies found, people being tortured. There seems to be on the increase, but you're saying it's getting better?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: It's certainly better in the areas where we've applied military forces. ...

Read it all at the link.

More Blogger Downtime

Blogger status:
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Blogger will be down for maintenance tomorrow (Sep 21) for 45 minutes starting at 4pm (Pacific Time).

As always, you can read Dreams Into Lightning on TypePad when Dreams Into Lightning on Blogger is down - and vice versa.

Women Today

No dating, please, we're Muslim. Himadree at The Muslim Woman reports:
You and me will definitely tag it as ‘speed dating‘ when a boy and girl meet up for a seven minute chit-chat, but for the growing American Muslim community, they prefer to label it in a more respectable term called ‘Matrimonial Banquet‘.

This particular term came up at the recently organized Muslim conference in North America. With the offshoot of an emerging trend among the Muslim community in America, more and more boys and girls are getting to know each other through a short session meeting called as the speed dating. However, the elders give it a more dignified term. ...


Yemen: Women as voters, but not candidates. Jessica at Feministing:
Women are not too pleased about the lack of lady candidates--some even protested in a recent march, demanding a 15 percent quota in local elections.

Huriyah Mashhoor of the Women's National Committee says that "men in Yemen want women as voters only, rather than strong challengers."

Full post, and article, at the link.

Study: Women face discrimination in science and technology. Feminist Majority Foundation:
Women face discrimination from academic institutions in science and technology fields, according to a new report released Monday from the National Academy of Sciences. The report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” finds that women’s lack of participation within science and technology fields in academia can be attributed to gender bias and barriers within hiring and promotion practices in research institutions. Emphasized in the report is the important role that women scientists play in keeping the US competitive in science and engineering fields.

“Women are capable of contributing more to the nation’s science and engineering research enterprise, but bias and outmoded practices governing academic success impede their progress almost every step of the way,” said Donna Shalala, chair of the committee that wrote the report and current president of University of Miami, in a National Academies release accompanying the report. ...


Jen is trying to feel empowered. Oddly, though, she feels condescended to. Jen at Feministing:
Last Tuesday was primary day in Washington. There's a polling place right next to my office, so I ended up walking through a gauntlet of signs and supporters of various candidates. I was talking to one of my coworkers about two of the mayoral candidates. When we passed one volunteer, I mentioned that she was "also good." The volunteer overheard and said "she's the best." We kept walking. Then he (middle aged white man) raises his voice and starts telling me (young black woman), in a remarkably condescending tone, "I'm trying to empower black women." Seriously, that's what he said. I said something smart-assy about being plenty empowered to vote for another candidate, and kept going.

Read the rest at the link. And a big welcome to Jen.

Honor killings up in Afghanistan. Feminist Majority Foundation:
There has been a significant increase in so-called honor killings of women in Afghanistan from last year, announced the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Friday. The AIHRC believes that the increase is due to discrimination against women, the lack of enforcement of laws protecting women, and a weak judiciary, according to IRIN News, a United Nations humanitarian news and information service. So far this year, 185 women and girls have been killed by family members, though many cases go unreported, IRIN reports.

While the Afghan Constitution protects women’s rights, long-term changes in men’s attitudes towards women are necessary to end the practice of honor killings, said Dad Mohammad Rasa, an interior ministry spokesperson, reports IRIN. The number of killings is worse in the south, where there has been a resurgence of the Taliban. ...

Link: FMF campaign for women and girls in Afghanistan.

How to resist rape: Be ladylike. Jessica at Feministing:
From macho-man Harvey Mansfield's book, "Manliness." (I can't believe I didn't catch this until now.)

“To resist rape a woman needs more than martial arts and more than the police; she needs a certain ladylike modesty enabling her to take offense at unwanted encroachment.”

Yeah, right.

Go read Cobb.

Just do it. I'm too tired and preoccupied with petty worries to write anything tonight, so I'll just direct your attention to this fiercely intelligent and underappreciated blogger. Here's a post on the Pope's speech, explaining that to act against reason is to act against the nature of G-d. (I dealt with a similar theme recently, but Cobb's summary of Pope Benedict and Father John Neuhaus puts it in the perspective both of Christianity and of current events.) And there's his post on the history of marching, and of the black church in America - its achievements and its limitations. And as much as he admires the Pope, he's not keen on the idea that it's America's job to defend everything the Pope says.

Don't forget to bookmark Cobb on your browser.

2006-09-19

Blogger: Scheduled outage, 4pm Pacific.

Blogger reports:
Monday, September 18, 2006
Blogger will be down for maintenance tomorrow [September 19] for 15 minutes starting at 4pm (Pacific Time).
Posted by Prashant at 16:41 PDT

Please visit Dreams Into Lightning on TypePad for updates during Blogger outages.

Milestones

Dreams Into Lightning began publishing on Blogger in April 2004 and on TypePad in April 2006.

On September 11, 2006, a reader in Los Angeles, running Firefox on a Linux system and apparently looking for an e-book download of "Redemption Ark" by Alastair Reynolds, became the 50,000th visitor to DiL on Blogger according to SiteMeter.

Also on September 11, a reader in Tucson, running Internet Explorer on Windows XP and looking for information on Ghazal Omid, became visitor number 6,000 to DiL on TypePad and spent almost 12 minutes perusing the site.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to visit.

Hekmatyar Arrest Report Incorrect

Well, it was too good to be true. Previous reports of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's arrest in Afghanistan on September 11 have proved to be incorrect:
... a subsequent identification by fingerprinting indicates the person in question is not Hekmatyar. The captured suspect is a high level commander in Hezb-i-Islami, and is said to be a dead ringer for Hekmatyar.

Hat tip: Judith at Kesher Talk.

2006-09-17

Adnan Shukrijumah, Nuclear Terrorist

Lifeboat Foundation:
OVERVIEW

We would like the nuclear terrorist Adnan G. El Shukrijumah to be captured. There is a $5 million reward for assisting in his capture.

DATA

Date of Birth Used: August 4, 1975
Hair: Black
Place of Birth: Saudi Arabia
Eyes: Black
Height: 5'3" to 5'6"
Sex: Male
Weight: 132 pounds
Complexion: Dark, Mediterranean
Build: Average
Remarks: El Shukrijumah occasionally wears a beard. He has a pronounced nose and is asthmatic. El Shukrijumah speaks English and carries a Guyanese passport, but may attempt to enter the United States with a Saudi, Canadian, or Trinidadian passport.
Aliases: Adnan G. El Shukri Jumah, Abu Arif, Ja'far Al-Tayar, Jaffar Al-Tayyar, Jafar Tayar, Jaafar Al-Tayyar.


AKI:
Dubai, 12 Sept. (AKI) - Osama bin Laden is planning to carry out new, more destructive attacks inside the United States, and there is someone working on this terror plot currently in the US, according to Hamid Mir, the famed Pakistani journalist who obtained the only post-9/11 interviews with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In an interview quoted on the website of the al-Arabiya television network, Mir spoke about his last trip to Afghanistan and his meeting with al-Qaeda members and Taliban leaders.

In his interview with Al.Arabiya.net, Mir said that the al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters referred to attacks targeting the US-led coalition forces during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins on 24 September, and that the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden was in "good" health during a meeting he had recently with the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Mir also said that bin Laden has assigned a man named Adnan Al-Shukri Juma to carry out a new attack within the US which is intended to be larger than the 11 September, 2001 attacks. According to Mir, Adnan Jumaa has smuggled explosives and nuclear materials into the US through the Mexican border over the last two years and is hiding somewhere in America where the FBI has not been able to locate him.

The Pakistani journalist also gave a brief background on Adnan Jumaa. Born in Saudi Arabia, he moved to the US where he met a group of a Al-Qaeda members in the Al-Farouq mosque in New York in 2000. He then traveled to an Arab state and from there to Pakistan then Afghanistan. He left there two years ago and since then has smuggled nuclear material from Mexico to the US. Jumaa has earned the nickname "Al-Qaeda nuclear whizz" and is tagged to play the same role in a future attack as Mohammed Atta did in the 9/11 attacks. ...


Canada Free Press:
Urgent news from Abu Dawood, the newly appointed commander of the al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan:

Final preparations have been made for the American Hiroshima, a major attack on the U. S.

Muslims living in the United States should leave the country without further warning.

The attack will be commandeered by Adnan el Shukrijumah ("Jaffer Tayyer" or "Jafer the Pilot"), a naturalized American citizen, who was raised in Brooklyn and educated in southern Florida.

The al Qaeda operatives who will launch this attack are awaiting final orders. They remain in place in cities throughout the country. Many are masquerading as Christians and have adopted Christian names.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban will also launch a major strike (known as the "Badar offensive" against the coalition forces in Afghanistan during the holy month of Ramadan.

The American people will be treated to a final audio message from Osama bin Laden which will be aired within the next two weeks. ...

Ace of Spades: Ace of Spades Reader Spotted Wanted Terrorist?
Aliases: Adnan G. El Shukri Jumah, Abu Arif, Ja'far Al-Tayar, Jaffar Al-Tayyar, Jafar Tayar, Jaafar Al-Tayyar


More at:
Gateway Pundit - Terrorist Shukri-Jumaa may have been spotted in Texas.
Jawa Report - Al Qaeda dirty bomber spotted in Austin, Texas?
Beth at My VRWC - Adnan el-Shukrijumah update.
Gateway Pundit - Video of "nuclear terrorist" Adnan Shukrijumah found.

One note: From what I have been able to read so far, it is not entirely clear to me whether the planned act of terrorism would be committed with a nuclear fission device or with a radiological device.

UPDATE. Stratfor (subscription) reports: 'According to the FBI, El Shukrijumah is especially dangerous because of his intelligence and because his appearance, which enables him to pass as a Latino or Indian, allows him to blend in with non-Muslims. Also, having spent a considerable amount of time in the United States, he speaks English well and is familiar with U.S. culture. The State Department, through its Rewards for Justice Program, is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to El Shukrijumah's arrest. There also is speculation outside of the government that he is well-versed in nuclear technology and is an accomplished pilot, but these claims are not supported by the FBI's investigation. His technical background, however, suggests he would be able to construct a dirty bomb. Operationally, an "American Hiroshima" plot would be difficult to successfully carry out. ... ' Full report is avialable to subscribers.

Creation

Rosh ha-Shanah comes this weekend, and although we won't be reading the creation story in Genesis (parashath Bereshith) until next month, it's not too early to start pondering the meaning of Creation and the role of G-d in the universe. After all, Rosh ha-Shanah is "the birthday of the world".

About a month ago, Richard Fernandez posted his essay A Reason to Believe at Pajamas Media. As anyone who reads this site knows, I'm a big admirer of Fernandez and a daily reader of The Belmont Club, but I found myself shaking my head when Fernandez cited Ann Coulter:
Ann Coulter claimed that “if a Martian landed in America and set out to determine the nation’s official state religion, he would have to conclude it is liberalism, while Christianity and Judaism are prohibited by law.” Liberalism, Coulter argues, is a religion in all but name with its own sacraments (abortion), holy writ (Roe v. Wade), martyrs (from Soviet spy Alger Hiss to cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal), clergy (public school teachers), churches (government schools,) and creation myth: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Fernandez adds somewhat lamely that "Coulter’s comparison is provocative, but fails in one essential respect: unlike “early revolutionary Communism”, liberalism is neither visionary enough nor sufficiently disciplined to qualify as a fighting faith."

A couple of thoughts.

First: If Ann Coulter is the only thing standing between us and islamist fascism, then G-d help us all.

Second: Note that Coulter's statement is not an argument - that is, a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition - and Fernandez doesn't try to claim that it is. It is simply rhetoric, and I think it fails on a lot more than "one essential aspect".

I don't intend to expend a lot of energy arguing with Ann Coulter, but I do want to zero in on the implicit assumption that there's a fundamental dichotomy between "religion" (which, under this assumption, strictly implies a literalist, six-day scriptural belief in creation) and "secular science" (which dogmatically rejects any role of the Divine in the evolution of the universe and the Earth).

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was one of the great religious leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries; he was Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and of what was then "British Palestine", and a founder of what we now know as religious Zionism. His life was spent walking the highwire between intellect and spirituality, the religious and the secular, Israel and the nations. He is one of my personal heroes.

I am by no means qualified to interpret Rav Kook's teachings, but let me share this with you, from no less a source than Arutz Sheva:
The Torah does not come to negate scientific knowledge or theory. In fact, science can often expand our understanding of Torah ideas. Nonetheless, it must be noted that unlike religious truths, scientific knowledge is constantly being challenged and changed.

Rabbi Kook, in a series of letters that address the thrust of your question, gives us an encompassing approach to this issue.

Concerning the story of the world’s creation, Rabbi Kook writes:

“The Torah certainly obscures the meaning of the act of Creation and speaks in allegories and parables, for indeed everyone knows that the stories of Genesis are part of the Kabbalah. If all these narratives were taken literally, what secrets would there be? The Midrash states, ‘To reveal the power of the act of Creation to mankind is impossible, and therefore the text, In the beginning, is worded vaguely.' What is important about the act of Creation is what we learn in regard to the knowledge of G-d and the truly moral life.”[citation in original post]

The Zohar underscores the importance of this deeper understanding:

“Rabbi Shimon said, Alas for a man who regards the Torah as a book of mere tales and everyday matters…. The stories of the Torah are only the outer garments, and whoever looks upon those garments as the Torah itself, woe to that man for he will have no portion in the World To Come….Wine cannot be kept save in a jar – so too the Torah needs an outer garment. These are the stories and narratives, but it behooves us to penetrate beneath them.”[citation in original post]

Rabbi Kook continues:

“There is no contradiction whatsoever between the Torah and any of the world’s scientific knowledge. We do not have to accept theories as certainties, no matter how widely accepted, for they are like blossoms that fade. Very soon, scientific technology will be further developed, and all of today’s new theories will be derided and scorned, and the respected wisdom of our day will seem small-minded - but the word of G-d will remain forever.”[citation in original post]

Go to the link for the rest. For further reading, here's a discussion of the issue at an Orthodox Jewish site, Hirhurim:
R. Avraham Yitzhak Kook also wrote of the possibility of accepting the theory of evolution. In two letters published in Oros Ha-Kodesh (pp. 559, 565) and translated into English in Challenge, R. Kook discusses the matter:

The evolutionary way of thinking... has caused considerable upheaval among many people whose thought had been wont to run in certain regular, well-defined paths. Not so, however, for the select, hard-thinking few who have always seen a gradual, evolutionary development in the world's most intimate spiritual essence. For them it is not difficult to apply, by analogy, the same principle to the physical development of the visible world.

R. Kook goes on to say that those who are reluctant to accept evolution as a possibility have hesitations but "[t]hese hesitations have nothing to do with any difficulty in reconciling the verses of the Torah or other traditional texts with an evolutionary standpoint. Nothing is easier than this. Everyone knows that here, if anywhere, is the realm of parable, allegory and allusion."

There's much more at the link, and it's a fascinating and illuminating read.

I do not think the present conflict requires us to choose between one fundamentalism and another. Nor do I believe that we must choose between faith and reason. I would wholeheartedly agree with Richard Fernandez' main point, that we must find within us the strength and the wisdom to counter the terrorist enemy with something deeper and nobler. I would submit that the belief in an all-present Divinity, working eternally and unseen according to an unknowable plan, is a part of that something. So, too, is the belief that humankind are called to be co-creators with G-d - a belief that is deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition.

Alabama Democrats Dump Larry Darby

Alabama's Democratic Party has declared Larry Darby persona non grata after the Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic atheist brought unwelcome attention with his run for attorney general. (Previous Dreams Into Lightning post here.) Integrating the Derivative reports:
Kudos to the Alabama Democratic Party for throwing out Larry Darby from any of their future primaries.

Agreed. Here's the AP story at SFGate:
Democratic Party leaders want a former candidate for attorney general who denies the Holocaust occurred to stay out of their future primaries.

The party's executive committee passed a resolution Saturday informing Larry Darby that "he is not welcome in the Alabama Democratic Party."

Darby, the founder of the Atheist Law Center, responded by saying the vote shows that the state party's leadership is "intellectually and morally bankrupt."

"This is the typical heavy-handed behavior of the Alabama Democratic Party for the last 30 years," Darby said. "They're censoring me for having the wrong views."

Darby lost to Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. in the June 6 primary race. He received 43 percent of the vote.

Darby, for his part, took revenge on his fellow atheists:
Darby said he changed his views on atheism "based on experiences or understanding of the world around me." He didn't respond directly when asked if he was renouncing atheism to position himself better politically.

"I agree with moral precepts put forth by Jesus of Nazareth and I am Christian in a sense that Jesus of Nazareth would approve," Darby wrote.

2006-09-15

Morning Report: September 15, 2006

Secrets, journeys, and a death. Thoughts about secret airplanes and undercover operations make today's report, while two Middle Eastern bloggers post from a big city in America ... and freedom activists mourn the passing of one of Europe's bravest warriors.

Oriana Fallaci dies. The Belmont Club remembers: 'A few months ago, a friend in Manhattan attended to what must have been one of her last public appearances. By then she was 76 and very sick of cancer. And still she spoke, through the written word and at small gatherings. And this time I paid attention, not to a woman in the autumn of her beauty, but to a warrior in the fullness of her strength.' Read the full post at the link. Jeremayakovka: 'That her mere body, wracked of late with cancer, has perished means little compared to the relentlessness with which she chastised a dead Europe and exhorted its would-be savoir step-children, America and Israel, to carry on the fight -- our fight -- for civilization. Fallaci's voice was a restless and rambunctious rebuke to all our intellectuals who have gone deaf, dumb and/or mute in the face of the calamitous threat of Islam.' (Belmont Club, JMK)

A look at Area 51. Joe Katzman at Winds of Change: '"Area 51" in Nevada, USA has been the stuff of myth and legend. Known world-wide as the birthplace and testing ground of famous planes like the U-2 Dragon Lady, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk, and other "black program" aircraft, it has also been the subject of wilder UFO rumours and speculation by people who watch too many X-Files episodes. In the October 2006 issue of Popular Science, noted "black project" researcher Bill Sweetman pieces together "The Top-Secret Warplanes of Area 51." It covers some of the projects he believes to be underway there, based on patent filings, budget holes, and unfilled niches in the USA's arsenal. Comes complete with concept art pictures, which is always nice.' Here's the Popular Science link. (Winds of Change)

Zeyad wants to be a part of it. Healing Iraq is spreading the news: Zeyad has arrived in New York. 'I finally made it to New York. Arriving last week at JFK, the 13-hour trip was uneventful: leaving a sunny Amman at 10:30 am, sleeping through most of the flight, waking up and asked by a flight attendant to fill out a couple of forms for “non-citizens” (my first taste of the ton of paperwork that was to follow later) and arriving at a rainy and chilly New York at 4 pm.' Read the post to learn about Zeyad's experiences with US Customs (and a good guy named Bob). A revelation: 'My first impression about America? It’s not at all what it appears like through Hollywood (well, perhaps just a little bit!).' No word on whether he'll meet up with Silly Bahraini Girl ... but her attention seems to be focused elsewhere. (Healing Iraq, SBG)

ThreatsWatch on Syria attack. ThreatsWatch: 'lmost immediately after the attack occurred, the finger pointing began. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood claimed that Assad’s usual suspects were behind the attack while some within the Syrian regime suggested that America herself was behind the attacks. Interestingly, few give much credence to the independent capabilities of Jund al-Sham, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group - once led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - that claimed responsibility. ... n the other hand, is it not possible that the Syrian faction of Jund al-Sham is so heavily infiltrated by Syrian intelligence that the Syrian infiltrator(s) know of planned attacks - if not plan and/or even approve them - alerting Syrian intelligence long before hand?' (ThreatsWatch)

Leading Al-Qaeda in Iraq figure reported slain. The Intelligence Summit: 'A leading figure in al-Qaeda in Iraq - possibly the group's number two - has been killed by security forces, the Iraqi interior ministry said Thursday. It identified the slain man as Abu Jaafar al-Liby, saying he was right hand man to the terror group's new leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Director of operations Brigadier Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraqi forces had killed Liby along with four militants several days ago, and captured two others alive. Eleven days ago, the authorities announced the arrest of man they called al-Qaeda's second-in-command in Iraq - identifying him as Hamed Juma Faris al Suaidi and linking him to the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February. No details were given of where he was arrested.' (AKI via TIS)

Debka: Al-Qaeda preparing for Lebanon attack. Debka: 'Al Qaeda appears to be preparing a large-scale terrorist attack on Israeli and UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon. According to some Western and Lebanese intelligence sources, al Qaeda has named veteran Abu Rush al-Miqati, 56, an old Middle East hand, to organize the attack. Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat reports 13 al Qaeda cells are operating in Lebanon and are being mustered for the attack. The Italian defense minister Arturo Parisi, who visited Italian forces at Ras a Maroun in South Lebanon, reminded them that al Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri this week stated that UNIFIL forces in Lebanon faced attack as “enemies of Islam.” Parisi said he was not surprised by al Qaeda’s message and warned the soldiers their mission could be “long, risky, costly and difficult.” But we are here, he said, to defend the security of Israel and strengthen Lebanon’s ability to control its territory. “We know the terrorists are not on our side.” Italy has agreed to send up to 3,000 soldiers to Lebanon, making it the biggest contributor to the UN`s force there.' (Debka)

Commentary. It's hard to know what is behind the Administration's confusing signals about Iran. One possibility, though, is that President Bush and his team are simply waiting for the right moment to strike. At least, it's what I'd do: continue making ambiguous statements, while noting each and every time when the Iranian regime has done something aggressive and unacceptable - and let them think they can keep getting away with it. In other words, I think the Chief is biding his time while preparing to make his move on his own schedule - not the enemy's.

Advanced weapons systems may be among the things that need to fall into place if we are going to successfully take on the mullahs in Tehran. In April 2004, I wrote this post mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it would not surprise me if some of our more sophisticated "black" aircraft have been mistaken for UFOs. In the case of Iran - which we know to be a technologically sophisticated adversary - it would pay to invest the extra time and resources.

I posted at Kesher Talk that there seem to be some encouraging signs coming from Europe. The strong presence in Lebanon of troops from Oriana Fallaci's homeland - tasked with defending the security of Israel - is, perhaps, further reason to hope.

2006-09-12

Islam is not the enemy ...

... Islamic fascism is. Ralph Peters has a column on "Islam-Haters: An Enemy Within":
Islamist fanatics attacked us and yearn to destroy us. The Muslim civilization of the Middle East has failed comprehensively and will continue to generate violence. The only way to deal with faith-poisoned terrorists is to kill them.

And the world's only hope for long-term peace is for moderate Muslims - by far the majority around the globe - to recapture their own faith.

But a rotten core of American extremists is out to make it harder for them.

The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn't the irresponsible nonsense on the left - destructive though that is. The really ugly "domestic insurgency" is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism. ...

Tom the Redhunter:
I agree with Peters that this sort of thing is wrong, and here's why.

Let me say right now that I am not talking about things like stopping or reducing Muslim immigration. I think that the Europeans should slow down or stop immigration into their countries by Muslims, and need to work hard to assimilate those that have. Nor, heaven knows, am I saying that the way Islam is practiced by many is not evil. Further, I am disgusted at how moderate Muslims (and yes they exist) have not done more to confront and counter the radicals. Many Mosques in Western countries are infiltrated by radicals and the Muslim community is not doing nearly enough to root them out.

But none of this the same as saying that Islam is evil. I am a Christian, and as such believe that Islam is a false religion. But it is not evil.

Tammy Bruce:
We do not need to think about wiping out Islam to defeat the enemy--we do need to democratize the Middle East, giving the people control, which should isolate and marginalize fascists. Once people get freedom, they like it. Fascists, of course, by their very definition, require totalitarian control.

For those who say I'm wrong, and it's Islam that needs to be wiped away and how all this is folly, I'll use WWII as an example. We did not need to "wipe away" all Germans or Japanese to win that war. Yes, we needed to defeat them completely, but we also forced democracy on them and forced the Japanese to westernize. But there is also one other thing we did to both countries that today's bending to political correctness precludes--banning state religion.

With the Japanese, we banned Shinto, and the with Germans we banned Nazism (which, of course, was the worship of Hitler and so-called Aryanism). When it comes to the Middle East, the equivalent for Afghanistan and Iraq would not to ban Islam, but to require a secular government, secular constitutions, and to ban the Wahabbist (the modern Shinto/Nazi problem) sect/interpretation/practice of Islam.

The Redhunter adds another post:
I've [seen] several right-wing (I won't call them conservative) sites in which the authors and commenters are convinced that Islam is a religion of hate, violence, it is evil, unreformable, the whole bit. Anyone who dares to disagree is a dhimmi. Once I see where the comments are going I usually don't chime in, as there's no point.

Anyone who's read more than this post knows that I believe that Islam as it is currently practiced [emphasis in original - aa] by all too many Muslims has a problem with violence. Far too many Muslims are completely hypocritical on the issue of military force, unable or unwilling to understand the difference between direct attacks on civilians and attacks on military targets where civilians are killed as an unfortunate byproduct (hmm, many Western liberals are confused there too). They excuse terrorism with weasel words. Abuse of women and total lack of civil rights are the hallmarks of most Islamic societies. I could go on but you get the point.

And he names names. Go to the link to read the rest, and to find out where he (slightly) disagrees with Ralph Peters.

Morning Report: September 12, 2006

Battles and more battles. A failed attack on an embassy, a successful arrest of a warlord, and an ongoing war against a flower ... plus first-rate analysis from our favorite writers.

US embassy in Syria attacked. Debka: 'Syrian news agency reports 14 people injured including 2 security forces members and a local embassy employee in terrorist attack on US embassy in Damascus. One Syrian guard and 3 assailants were killed and one wounded and captured. No US diplomatic personnel were hurt, according to Syrian sources. The attempt to storm the embassy took place Tuesday, Sept 12, the day after the anniversary of al Qaeda’s 9/11 assaults on America and threats of fresh attacks. According to some reports, the assailants threw hand grenades and RPG rockets and opened heavy automatic fire on the Syrian guards outside the embassy. One car bomb went off and a second, a van loaded with pipe bombs linked to gas canisters, failed. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources add the assault team, almost certainly Al Qaeda from Lebanon, was large enough to attack the US embassy compound from several directions and plant bomb devices around the building.' AKI via The Intelligence Summit : 'Three gunmen who attacked the US embassy in Damascus's downtown Rawda area on Tuesday were killed, authorities said. A fourth attacker was wounded and in custody, they said. It was not immediately clear however how many attackers were involved. At least one Syrian guard at the embassy also died but there were reportedly no US casualties. Several civilians were injured. Syrian interior minister Bassam Abd al-Majid said militants tried to blow up two cars in the attack but only one exploded while security forces successfully detonated a bomb in the second vehicle.' (Debka, TIS)

ITM on 9/11: Blaming the victim. Mohammed at Iraq the Model writes:
I'll try to clarify more and dig up the main reason for the conflict which, I believe, is the thousand year-old interpretations of Quran which were made (the interpretations) divine and holy by despotic rulers and clerics who used these interpretations of the Quran to prohibit rational thinking and obstruct the natural course of mental and cultural evolution of the society asserting that the solution is in returning to the Salaf (ancestors and their doctrine) and not in going forward, these are the kinds of interpretations that shaped the visions of the terrorists who carried out the attack and other attacks.

These interpretations state clearly without any chance for confusion what the attitude toward non-Muslims must be; either convert them to Islam, or force them to pay the Jizya (tax/tribute) or it is war and of course the idea of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect based on equality does not exist, neither do peace treaties. What exists instead is Hudna (temporary cease-fire) which ends once enough power to fight and/or eliminate the enemy is gained.

Now I wonder, if the west chose to change its policy would this encourage the interdependent clerics and dictators to change those interpretations or cancel them along with the set of beliefs derived from them?

Again I don't think so and this what makes the confrontation inevitable. Inevitable because they want it and not the "other" and no matter how the west tries to avoid it, it (war) will come to the west.

The war in fact is one between the set of ideas that seeks to pull the word back into the dark ages and the set of ideas that seek freedom of mind and wants to move human civilization forward.

Go read the whole thing at the link. (ITM)

Michael Yon on Afghanistan's drug empire. Michael Yon at National Review: 'In Afghanistan, heroin has become the Devil’s cocktail. “Smack” is already one of the most addictive and destructive drugs on Earth, and now numerous academic studies show addiction levels on the rise, particularly among younger children. In the place where 90 percent of the world’s heroin supply originates, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and others harvest profits from opium poppy cultivation to buy weapons and equipment used to attack soldiers and civilians engaged in a mostly stalled reconstruction mission. A reverse symbiosis is at work: Those who benefit most from the opium/heroin trades also benefit most from a destabilized Afghanistan, because a stable country with functioning government systems, reliable security forces, and a framework of laws is a bad climate for the drug trade. Conversely, farmers growing crops such as cotton and beans benefit from a stable government climate, which affords the opportunity to think beyond the next crop cycle. In order to make agriculture a more successful business venture, farmers need a stable government as a partner. But since the interests of poppy farmers and narco-kings are in aggressive opposition to any plan to stabilize Afghanistan, this partnership is not even in the talking stages. ...' Read the rest at the link. Afghan Lord has this to say:
The president of the United States George W. Bush has promised for developing and building Afghanistan as a model in the region and among Muslim countries but regretfully contrary to Afghan expectations from the United States there is no news from making Afghanistan as a model or development.

When U.S started war against Sadam hosein regime, the world and U.S attention diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq, in some point they left their serious tasks uncompleted in order to get success in Iraq.

In the five years not only the terrorism eradicated but increased not only in Afghanistan but other Muslim countries. Unfortunately the security situation in both country Afghanistan and Iraq is getting worse. Suicide attacks increased in the capital, the continuing of this situation people think that they lost their dreams for peace and prosperity of their country.

The world and U.S made a mistake which thought Taliban after their fall has finished. Whereas they returned back to their religious schools. The United States underestimated the Taliban which recently the Coalition Forces accepted that they made a mistake. The United States and the world community never tried to talk and put pressure the Pakistan government that supporting the Taliban. [link added - aa]

Full post at the link. (NRO, Afghan Lord)

Hekmatyar arrested in Afghanistan. Pajamas Media: 'Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, former prime minister of Afghanistan, who declared jihad and joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the fight against coalition forces was arrested “after credible intelligence led Afghan and coalition forces to his compound”. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)' Dreams Into Lightning has a roundup. (PJM, DiL)

Overtime at the Belmont Club. Richard Fernandez observes September 11 with a one-man blogburst, giving us four posts in a single day. The Day After September 11: 'Distributed terror. The distributed manufacture of nuclear weapons. Fourth generation warfare. The institutions of the late 20th century steadfastly resist acknowledging the existence of these phenomena because doing so would be tantamount to an admission of obsolescence.' How Not To Hunt a Tiger, or how not to interview Christopher Hitchens. (Don't try this at home ... unless you are Christopher Hitchens.) History as Fable: Decline and fall? And the unwashed masses in France issue A Challenge to the Princes: 'Without anyone noticing, in the years between World War 2 and the present the Press has acquired the power to be the arbiter of a great many events: the success or failure of public enterprises, the guilt or innocence of the accused and even the power to declare defeat or victory in war. Vietnam was the first clear exercise of that power. It is a vast power jealously guarded to this day. The trials are less about who killed Muhammad al Durah than about what institutions have the quasi-official power to pronounce upon it.' (Belmont Club)

Commentary. It's been said before, by far more noteworthy blogs than this one: We are in a war for the mind and for the soul, and all of us are involved in the struggle. It is also (as has been said before) a Long War. This means that all of us who care about shaping the future must understand our stake in it, and that victory in the war of ideas will not come quickly or easily. But as the irascible Hitchens reminds us, confidence can be a potent force multiplier.

2006-09-11

Hekmatyar Arrested

Previous Dreams Into Lightning report here.

The Fourth Rail:
The commander of Hezb-i-Islami and al-Qaeda ally detained during a raid in eastern Afghanistan

On the day of the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attack, Coalition forces score a high value target in Afghanistan. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the commander of Hezb-i-Islami and ally of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has been captured during a joint U.S. and Afghan Army raid in “eastern Afghanistan.” Hekmatyar, contrary to his rhetoric gave up to the Coalition forces without a fight. Hekmatyar's arrest is said to be part of an 'ongoing operation.'


Winds of Change: 'Hekmatyar has been a problem for a long time as the commander of Hezb-i-Islami and ally of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In fact, I've disliked him for longer than that, and with reason.' Follow Joe Katzman's link to Hekmatyar's profile.

Via LGF, here's (again) M&C:
Kabul - In an operation launched by Afghan coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, a known al-Qaeda facilitator and six other suspected al-Qaeda associates were detained, coalition forces said.

The commander of the Hizb-i-Islami militia in Hafezan in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, was arrested after credible intelligence led Afghan and coalition forces to his compound, the statement said.

No shots were fired and there were no injuries reported.

Hikmatyar, the former prime minister of Afghanistan, announced jihad or holy war against what he called the US invasion of Afghanistan four and half years ago and the joint opposition of the Afghan government by Taliban and al-Qaeda in the fight against coalition forces.

Two other al-Qaeda suspects were arrested last week in the south- eastern province of Khost.


Finally, Judith at Kesher Talk remembers Sheikh Massoud:
On September 9, 2001, two days before planes flew into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the last remaining anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan was assassinated by two suicide bombers pretending to be journalists. The bomb was hidden in their camera. A documentary filmmaker and newspaper editor, Faheem Dashty, was almost killed in the blast. The assassins were sent by Osama bin Laden, in concert with the Taliban, who wanted to eliminate Massoud before turning their attention to the US.

Go read it all.

Morning Report: September 11, 2006

Five years on.

Gay Patriot remembers James Joe Ferguson. Gay Patriot:
The last time we had dinner, Joe told my partner John and I about how much he was looking forward to being a part of the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Typically, I found myself jealous of him. In his role as Director of Geographic Education at the National Geographic Society, Joe had one of the most unique and rewarding jobs I can ever imagine having.

He traveled around the world, bringing American school children face-to-face with the natural wonders of our Earth. He was not only a teacher but also provided a critical turning point for these kids, many of whom had never before left their own neighborhoods. Joe provided the path for these students to experience things that many of us never will in our entire lives. In addition, he got to travel to the four corners of the globe. How rewarding that must have been. How do I sign up for that job?

I got an email from Joe on Thursday, September 6, 2001 ...


Kesher Talk: Never again. Kesher Talk has a roundup.

Neo: The watershed. Neo-Neocon:
What were the main assumptions that had died in that instant for me? They had to do with a sense of basic long-term safety. Some utterly fearful thing that had seemed contained before, although vaguely threatening, had now burst from its constraints. It was like being plunged into something dark and ancient that had also suddenly been grafted onto modern technology and jet planes--Huns or Mongols or Genghis Khan or Vlad the Impaler or Hector being dragged behind Achilles' chariot--a thousand swirling vague but horrific impressions from an ancient history I'd never paid all that much attention to before. ...


Gateway Pundit on Marine Sgt. Jason Thomas. Gateway Pundit:
"I'm not a hero. I'm far from a hero. Those men who ran up in there are the heroes, whether it be law enforcement guys, fire department guys or even volunteers and coworkers. Those are the heroes."
Sergeant Jason Thomas
US Marine who helped find a pair of police officers buried in the rubble at the World Trade Center on 9-11.

WCBS-TV in New York carried this story of a no longer anonymous hero from the World Trade Center attacks on 9-11:

For years, authorities wondered about the identity of a U.S. Marine who appeared at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, helped find a pair of police officers buried in the rubble, then vanished. ...


Tammy Bruce: Michael Ledeen rembmbers Barbara Olsen. Tammy Bruce: 'Michael Ledeen's moving tribute to Barbara (via PJM), and his unmitigated critique of where we are (or more accurately, are not) five years after 9/11, is one of your must reads for this 5 year anniversary of the horrible event that took so many.' Here's Michael Ledeen:
It seems at least a decade ago, and I am still angry, maybe even angrier. 9/11/01 was the day they killed Barbara Olson, one of Barbara Ledeen’s closest friends, and we have yet to take proper vengeance. ...


Atlas Shrugs: Before and after. Atlas Shrugs: 'Lifeboat is an extraordinay organization desperately in need of funds. Their objective is to save humanity. If you could, please make a donation. With the world basically ignoring Iran's development of nuclear weapons, and with virtually no effort being put into halting the spread of biological weapons, the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place and few are noticing this fact.'

Sandmonkey remembers. "In remembrance of the day that changed the world."

Beth Mauldin: Still angry. Beth's Contradictory Brain:
I'm still really sad, very angry, and mostly frustrated.

I still shed tears at the drop of a hat, but especially when I see images from that terrible day, or hear transcripts or phone calls to loved ones. I hate imagining what the people on those airplanes went through.

I'm at the office today where I work alone and have only a few patients all day. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it'd be better if I were around more people - more distracted. But I think I'd rather not be distracted from my sadness today.

CNN.com is running it's broadcasts from that morning, I can't watch it, and not just because I'm at work and not at home. I don't think I could watch it at home, but maybe...

There's much I'm angry about. I'm angry that we haven't had more resolve to attack our enemies. I'm angry that so many on the left just don't seem to get who the enemy even is. I'm angry that our media is so full of shit in such important times.

But I try not to let the anger and sadness ruin my basic optimism. ...

Read it all.

2006-09-08

Morning Report: September 7, 2006

US Army hands over control in Iraq. Gateway Pundit: 'In a ceremony today in Baghdad Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took control of the Iraqi army in a major step forward for the fledgling democracy of Iraq.' Read the rest at the link. (Gateway Pundit)

Gay Patriot: Bush's fault. Gay Patriot has a list of things you can blame on President George W. Bush. (Gay Patriot)

Seeking a united vision. Mohammed at Iraq the Model:
What concerns me here while we are amid this continuous confrontation on the first front of war on terror is the world's position from this war. When I say Iraq is the first front in this war, I mean what I say and it's not a personal opinion but it's what the leaders of al-Qaeda have said and it's what the acts and intentions of terror-supporting regimes have proven through rejecting the democratic change in Iraq and siding with al-Qaeda to make Iraq fail by all means they have. Such regimes have been providing terrorism with financial, logistic and media aid showing clearly that their goal is one which is not allowing a plural democratic power from emerging in the middle east since that is also a common threat to both, totalitarian regimes and the ideology of terrorism.

Looking at how many free countries deal with this war disappoints me, their failure to form a united front to deal with the challenge and hesitation in addressing the magnitude of the threat has reflected negatively on us who have chosen freedom and pluralism and rejected totalitarianism and extremism.

Read the rest at the link. Omar thinks the flags can wait. (ITM)

2006-09-05

Morning Report: September 5, 2006

Signs, symbols, and substance. Some analysts think it looks like an awful lotta boats for one little peacekeeping force. A couple of flag debates round out today's edition.

Debka: Lebanon's shores see largest naval armada since WWII. Debka reports that the stated purpose of supporting UNIFIL in Lebanon is a smokescreen for "the greatest sea and air armada Europe has ever assembled at any point on earth since World War II" in the eastern Mediterranean.
The extraordinary buildup of European naval and military strength in and around Lebanon’s shores is way out of proportion for the task the European contingents of expanded UNIFIL have undertaken: to create a buffer between Israel and Hizballah.

Close investigation by DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discloses that “Lebanese security” and peacemaking is not the object of the exercise. It is linked to the general anticipation of a military clash between the United States and Israel, on one side, and Iran and possibly Syria on the other, some time from now until November.

This expectation has brought together the greatest sea and air armada Europe has ever assembled at any point on earth since World War II: two carriers with 75 fighter-bombers, spy planes and helicopters on their decks; 15 warships of various types – 7 French, 5 Italian, 2-3 Green, 3-5 German, and five American; thousands of Marines – French, Italian and German, as well as 1,800 US Marines.

It is improbably billed as support for a mere 7,000 European soldiers who are deployed in Lebanon to prevent the dwindling Israeli force of 4-5,000 soldiers and some 15-16,000 Hizballah militiamen from coming to blows as well as for humanitarian odd jobs.

Full article at the link. (Debka)

Flags: Gateway Pundit on Kurdish flag in Iraq. Gateway Pundit: 'You may have read about how the Kurdish zone of Iraq announced last week they would start raising the Kurdish Flag instead of the Iraqi Flag on government buildings in the region. The media may not have told you why the Kurds decided to take this action. ...' Read the rest at the link. (Gateway Pundit)

More flags: Slate's Prudence gets it. Via Gay Patriot and The Corner, Dear Prudence at Slate responds to a reader who was offended by a worker wearing an American flag:
Dear Uneasy,
When did an American flag come to mean, "I want to assault gay people"? You know nothing about this man's views except that he feels patriotic. Since you are the one who provoked the discussion, do you really want to require that the person building your breakfast nook pass your political litmus test? (And yes, if I were to get a letter saying, "I went to a potential construction job this morning and the owners of the condo were obviously gay. I think homosexuality is abnormal and I hate the idea of gay marriage. I don't know whether I should go ahead and submit a bid," I would find that letter just as objectionable.) We are lucky to live in a society in which one doesn't have to belong to a government-sanctioned party or avow a list of beliefs in order to make a living. ...

Go to the link for the whole thing. (Slate)

Commentary. I can relate to that last item. Recently I posted on my personal journal that I was investigating some job prospects, and a screen pal asked me whether my association with the queer community would hurt my chances. I told her that that had never been a problem, but that I had encountered other forms of discrimination.

What actually happened was that I was flatly turned down for a job because of my politics a few weeks ago. In the middle of a seemingly promising interview, the employer asked, out of the blue, "What do you think of the Bush Administration?" He explained that they would only hire someone who was anti-Bush, because, he said, "it's a small office." I told him I didn't want the job and walked out.

2006-09-03

Morning Report: September 3, 2006

Telling it like it is. An American-turned-jihadist speaks his piece in plain English, while his accomplices in the media are more coy about their program - but at least some Middle Eastern officials are being honest about the prospects for peace.

Afghanistan: 3 Canadians, 200+ Taliban killed. Debka: 'Afghan officials say 3 Canadian NATO soldiers were killed in a major operation in which 200 Taliban were claimed killed in two days. An investigation was ordered into the cause of the Nimrod MR2 aircraft crash that left 14 British military personnel dead in Kandahar, S. Afghanistan, earlier Saturday.' (Debka)

American Azzam's message from al-Qaeda: Surrender or die. Walid Phares at Counterterrorism Blog has an analysis of the English-language jihad message from Adam Gadahn, who goes by the nom de jihad "Azzam the American". 'In short, the “Azzam” video reconfirms clearly, in an English language that academic translators won’t be able to distort, that al Qaeda’s movement worldwide and in the United States is seeking total annihilation or conversion of the enemy: American and other democracies.' On friends and enemies:
The “speech writer,” emulating many commentators on al Jazeera or al Manar, hopes to rally many among those who “hate Bush and Blair” but stops short of stating that Jihadism will hate all future US Presidents and British Prime Ministers “if they do not convert.” He reminds us of the Crusades, Inquisition, Hiroshima, and killings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, the “writer” skips the Genocides of Sudan, and the massacres of Algeria, the Kurds, Shiites perpetrated by Salafists or Baathists. ...

Sensationally but not unexpectedly, he “name” a number of intellectual-enemies in this country: Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, Robert Spencer and Michael Spencer. Rarely Jihadi Terrorists at this high level media exposure named symbols of their enemy’s intelligentsia. And in addition to “experts” named in the tape, Gadahn goes on a ferocious attack against American “Tele-Evangelists” and their media, showing the other type of foes al Qaeda is very upset with. ...

“Azzam” names “sympathetic” personalities for whom he has messages for action; He asks journalist Seymour Hirsh to “reveal more” than what was published in a New Yorker article on the War: Obviously an open call by al Qaeda to M Hirsch to resume the attack against the US War on Terror. Then “Azzam” turn to two British journalists and thank them for their “admiration and respect for Islam” encourage them to do the final step: Convert. He names British MP George Galloway and journalist Robert Fisk. But more troubling in Gadahn’s tape was his direct call to Jihadists within the US Armed forces to work patiently till the time comes and they should continue to aggregate while escaping the surveillance of their military authorities.

Read the full article at the link. (CTB)

Mark Steyn: Seeking converts to journalism. 'Did you see that video of the two Fox journalists announcing they'd converted to Islam? The larger problem, it seems to me, is that much of the rest of the Western media have also converted to Islam, and there seems to be no way to get them to convert back to journalism.' Read the rest of Steyn's column to learn the well-kept secret of those three mullet-headed men who are reported to have assaulted a 16-year-old girl in Sydney, Australia. (Mark Steyn, Chicagu Sun-Times)

Al-Qaeda in Iraq number-two man arrested. Gateway Pundit: 'Al Qaeda #2 in Iraq, Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, Arrested. Abu Humam is directly responsible for the bombing of the Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra in February. Hamed Juma Faris al-Suaidi, also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, the second most senior figure in al Qaeda in Iraq.' He ranks immediately second to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and is also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana.' Full story with Reuters article at the link. (Gateway Pundit, Reuters)

Tammy: Why Hitler had it easy. Tammy Bruce: 'This entire debacle with Iran has enlightened us to one thing. Now we know how and why Hitler had a relatively easy time of it. For him it was a world that really couldn't have know what he had in store for them. Oh, wait a minute, actually they should have known because Hitler made it all very clear in "Mein Kampf." Churchill, having read Hitler's blueprint for the future, was then the world's Cassandra, warning of things to come. And yet Churchill's world didn't take it very seriously at all, either. "Negotiations," or "incentives," or "treaties," were the buzzwords then as they are now.' (Tammy Bruce)

Livni: No peace with Syria. Jerusalem Post: 'Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday ruled out peace talks between Israel and Syria for now, saying that a "sequence" must be followed, with an end to Syrian support of Lebanese and Palestinian extremists coming first.' (AP via JPost)

Siniora: No peace with Israel. Ha'Aretz: 'Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday he had made numerous and unsuccessful overtures to his Lebanese counterpart to talk peace. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's office said no such invitations had arrived and would be rejected anyway.' (Ha'Aretz)

Who you callin' a mercenary? Richard Fernandez observes that 'It's funny how Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, though receiving money and training from states to attack other states (called "proxy warfare") are never referred to as "mercenaries".' (Belmont Club)

UK: Anti-terror police search East Sussex Islamic school. Debka: 'British anti-terror police search an Islamic boys’ school for two days running in Crowborough, East Sussex Saturday after 16 overnight arrests in London and Manchester. The fresh anti-terrorist crackdown is unrelated to the airline terror plot of last month. Twelve of the 14 London detainees were picked up at a Chinese restaurant in South London on suspicion of planning acts of terror. The men arrested in Manchester are suspected of involvement in the training and recruitment of others to engage in terrorist activity. A senior anti-terror British officer reported “thousands are under investigation” on suspicion of terrorist activity.' (Debka)

Commentary. The latest developments make what was already clear, even clearer, and impossible to ignore: that the West and its liberal tradition are in danger from a deadly threat by Islamic fascists.

2006-09-01

The End Is Near!

Debbie Schlussel: Men wear blouses. World ends.

Afternoon Roundup

Michael Totten: Pick two.
“Do you just want to sit on top of Palestinians forever?” I said to Zvika.

He shrugged.

“What is the solution to this problem?” Shika asked Zvika. Zvika had no answer, not even a bad one.

“What is the solution?” Shika said again. “What do you think is the solution?”

Zvika didn’t say anything.

“You want to keep the West Bank but give them Gaza?” I said.

“We gave them Gaza,” Zvika said, “and Lebanon. But Hamas and Hezbollah still want to kill us. Why? What did we do to Lebanon? Nothing. And they want to kill us!”

“The West Bank is different from Lebanon, though,” I said.

“Yes,” Zvika said. “It is our land.”

Zvika is in the minority. Shika calls him a “fanatic,” even though they are friends. The Israeli center as the well as the left wants out of the West Bank as well as out of Gaza. Ehud Olmert was elected in part on that platform.

There’s an old formula that has been floating around for a while.

1. Greater Israel
2. Democracy
3. Jewish Majority

Pick two.


Zvika and the rest of Israelis to the right of the mainstream still think, somehow, they will find a way to hold onto all three.

Read the rest at the link.

Tammy Bruce on Katie Couric's Photoshop diet.
This is a good example, however, of what you should be on the lookout for when it comes to Couric--if you can't trust her to be honest about her own image, how can you trust her with the news?


Portland's Stacy Bias raises body consciousness. Recently, Stacy was the target of some unkind words by journalist Karla Starr in the local weekly Willamette Week. Now - thanks to a show of support from Stacy's friends and fans - Karla "gets it". Bravo to Karla for doing the right thing, and to Stacy for standing up against body-image prejudice.

Nagib Mahfouz remembered. Freedom for Egyptians:
This is one of the moments when I wish I could to be home in Cairo. Since I was a child, the name of this fountain of creativity and authenticity named Naguib Mahfouz has been in the center of the corners of our lives. It was such a coincident that the first time I read for Mahfouz I was a teenager and it was his banned novel in Egypt "Awlad Haretna" or Children of the Alley that my family smuggled into our house. The novel was banned in Egypt by the Sunni Al Azhar religious institution in 1959 and until today on allegation that it symbolizes Allah or God and his children who are the prophets and messengers. It was one of those summers in my life that I spent with Mahfouz reading his ever-lasting unforgettable masterpiece, "Awlad Haretna". His death bring to me memories of reading his novel in every corner at my parents' home in Cairo. I also surprise myself to remember, how young I was yet I could fall in love with such big complicated novel. It is one of those novels you do not want to leave until you finish, but it is so big in size. When I moved to the U.S. , one of the things I was proud to carry all the way from Cairo to here for my friends were translated copies of this particular novel.

Encouraged by the fatwa of Al-Azhar that his novel is banned on religious allegations and blasphemy that he dared to talk about God and his messengers, Islamic terrorists took advantage of believing they can send an infidel to his God to put him in hell as punishment. ...

Read it all.

Harlan Ellison - Connie Willis Incident

Dora at Shrub.com reports an incident in which
at the Hugo Awards ceremony at Worldcon, Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis on stage.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden was the primary source of the news:
Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis on stage at the Hugos wasn't funny and it wasn't okay. I understand (from third parties; I haven't spoken to her about it) that Connie Willis's position is that Ellison has done worse and she can handle him, but I really didn't want to watch it and neither, I think, did a lot of other people in the audience. Up to then the comedic schtick aspects of the Hugo presentation had been genuinely funny. After that, I think, many of us just wanted it all to stop.

Just as with George W. Bush's now-famous uninvited shoulder-rub of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the basic message of Ellison's tit-grab is this: "Remember, you may think you have standing, status, and normal, everyday adult dignity, but we can take it back at any time. If you are female, you'll never be safe. You can be the political leader of the most powerful country in Europe. You can be the most honored female writer in modern science fiction. We can still demean you, if we feel like it, and at random intervals, just to keep you in line, we will."

Dora goes on to make a few things clear:
First, let’s be clear about what I’m not saying:
-Ellison is the oppressor of all women
-Ellison is the personal cause of oppression for Willis
-all men are horribly sexist
-touching = the root of sexist oppression

Nota bene: That's not what this is about. More from Dora:
This is what Ellison did: he invaded a woman’s personal space, and furthermore, touched a private body part (at least, it’s private in Western society since we sexualize and obsessively cover up women’s breasts). He did something similar to another woman at the same convention. Groping Willis was not a freak incident, but an indication of his disregard for personal space - the personal space, it appears, of women.

I’m not saying that Ellison took a moment, thought, “Boy, I disrespect Connie Willis! Let me show her who’s boss!” and grabbed her breast out of malice. The point is he didn’t have to stop and think. He simply assumed that it would be all right to grab a woman’s private body part without her prior permission, on a stage in front of a massive audience.

That’s the whole point. That assumption. The general attitude that makes people believe, without consciously thinking about it, that it’s okay to touch a woman without asking. (See George Bush’s invasion of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal space at the G-8 Summit.) The assumption that goes along with that belief is that, somehow, women just don’t get as much say over what people do to their personal space. Over who touches their bodies.

How many times have you seen a man touch a woman without asking: pat her head, pet her hair, grab her arm, put a hand on her waist? How many times have you been that woman? Both men and women do it - both genders absorb the idea that it’s somehow okay to do it. Women are expected to put up with it ...

Read the rest at the, yes, link. Don't miss Dora's thoughts on "when good authors suck as people".

Harlan Ellison's statement is here.

You don't have to be anti-Ellison to find this behavior disgraceful, any more than you have to be anti-Bush to find the President's contact with Ms. Merkel highly inappropriate.