2007-05-31

Update

A number of recent developments in my personal life will likely have an effect on the shape of Dreams Into Lightning.  I'll go into more detail later (don't worry, it's all good stuff) but the bottom line is that I'm going to focus on using my blogging time more effectively and finding innovative ways to enhance the quality of this weblog.



For most of the last three years I've been posting mainly on a Mac in the Safari browser.  When Apple came out with Tiger, I started using the built-in RSS feature, and got hooked on RSS.  Now I'm trying to broaden my computer proficiency a little bit and I divide my time about equally between my two Macs and two PCs.  (A dual-core G5 PowerMac, a G4 PowerBook, a Toshiba Satellite, and a dual-cor HP Compaq.)  I'm making the switch over from Safari (and Explorer, which I used occasionally) to Firefox. 



Some friends clued me in to the option of online feed aggregators, and I've set up an account with Google Reader, which will probably take the place of Safari's RSS when I read and post.  I'm still getting used to composing in Firefox.  I have to say I don't like it quite as well as Safari for composing html, but the net advantages will probably come out in Fx's favor.  Meanwhile, please bear with me if you see glitches in the formatting of the posts.



I'm still mostly a novice at html, but planning to develop some more proficiency there too.  I didn't know what a bold tag was when I started blogging; now I know enough to compose a post, but not much more.  So I started a web page - got an account at a free hosting service, downloaded FTP clients (StaffFTP for Windows, Cyberduck for Mac ... with a name like Cyberduck, you know it's going to be for Mac), and started playing around with header fonts and RGB hexcodes.  I have Adobe GoLive for editing, too, but I'm probably not going to use it right away.



That's probably more information than you needed to know, but my point (and I do have one) is that I'm always looking for ways to improve the quality and functionality of DiL.  And here's one new item I can offer you tonight:  selected items from my Google News Reader, which I'm calling News1@DiL.  You are cordially invited to bookmark the link.

Night Flashes - May 31

US-Iran talks:  No goodies for the mullahs.  A subscription article from Debka gives a blunt assessment of the recent negotiations between Iranian and US diplomats:  "What they saw was a tough American front."  The analysis asserts that the Administration's "stance was strictly limited to an agenda dictated by US demands and direct Iranian responses to those demands".  Further underscoring the uncompromising position of the American side was the presence of a large and still growing strike force off the Iranian coast.  Debka's analysts, who are not always impressed with Washington's Middle East policy, saw the talks as a shrewd play to raise anxiety in the Iranian regime and exploit rifts between hardliners and pragmatists in Tehran.  While Bush is taking some heat back home for the talks, Debka asserts that the consensus in Tehran was quite different:  Bush was the clear winner.



ITM:  Bad guys killing bad guys.
  Iraq the Model:  'Fighting in a western Baghdad district between two insurgent groups continued for the 2nd day, eye witnesses told ITM.
The clashes erupted yesterday around noon between two groups of insurgents that are competing for control in the Amiriya district, one of Baghdad's most violent and lawless districts.  The two groups, teams actually, were later identified; on one side there's al-Qaeda and the Islamic state in Iraq and on the other there's the Islamic army and 'Jaish al-Mujahideen' (The brigades of the 1920 revolution in another account), the latter are know to be largely military and intelligence officers of the former regime as well as members of the Baath Party.  "I saw seven or eight bodies of militants who were killed in the clashes lying on the ground" one eyewitness said this morning. This was before the fighting resumed after a short pause.'



Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks out.
  Brisbane Times:  'AS A small girl, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's clitoris and labia were cut off with a pair of scissors. She was then sewn up with a piece of twine "to keep her chaste".  In the world in which she then lived, Ali was not alone: the World Health Organisation estimated in 2000 the number of girls and women who had undergone genital mutilation between 100 million and 140 million.  The practice is widespread in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Islam is dominant in these countries, and Ali links the mutilation to Islam.  "Islam is a totalitarian doctrine that puts women in a position that no other totalitarian doctrine, not even Communism, not even Nazism, did," says Ali. "In Islam, women come off the worst."'  Family Security Matters notes that she received death threats even when she spoke in Pennsylvania.



Eleventh Israeli killed by Qassams.
  'Thirteen-year-old Chai Shalom suffered from cerebral palsy, and was deaf, mute, and confined to a wheel-chair. He was hospitalized after a rocket landed next to a bus transporting him and three other disabled children.' - JPost.  Via IRIS.



RNC hears a giant sucking sound.
  Tammy Bruce isn't surprised by this report from the Washington Times:  'Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times...  There has been a sharp decline in contributions from RNC phone solicitations, another fired staffer said, reporting that many former donors flatly refuse to give more money to the national party if Mr. Bush and the Senate Republicans insist on supporting what these angry contributors call "amnesty" for illegal aliens.  "Everyone donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue," said the former employee.'  Tammy adds:  'To force the RNC to shut its phone fundraising operation is a remarkable accomplishment. Congratulations. This is what hurts them the most and is immediately felt, let; McConnell fantasize about what '08 may or may not bring. What Senate Monkeys like him must face, as Howard Beale made so clear, is we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.  I want to make one thing very clear--you must not let up. ... Our job will not be over until that bill is dead.'

The Apple Guy and the PC Guy

Via Ars Technica, here's an interview with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

2007-05-30

Fifty-one kinds of North American quarters.

Note to self:

If it has a picture of Queen Elizabeth on one side and a caribou on the other, it's Canadian.

Otherwise, you can do your laundry with it. This includes bisons (Kansas), palmettos (South Carolina), Minutemen (Massachusetts), ships at Jamestown (Virginia), peaches (Georgia), and the Statue of Liberty (New York).

Note to the United States Mint:

OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE PEOPLE. 

Is there some sinister plot by Al-Qaeda to flood the American economy with worthless counterfeit twenty-five-cent pieces?  Perhaps Osama bin Laden wants to plunge the innocent people of the United States into an abyss of abject misery with a lifetime of expired parking meters, jammed vending machines, and wet underwear.

Or maybe the good people at the Treasury Department just have way too much time (and money - duh) on their hands.  I'm betting on the latter.

Is it oxymoronic to say that "the Mint is making too much money"?

Grrrrr.

Morning Report: May 30, 2007

A look at mortar attacks and missiles in this morning's post.

Update on Baghdad security.  Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at CTB:

Shortly after arriving in Iraq, I blogged about the worsening security situation in the International Zone (IZ, also sometimes known as the "green zone"). In criticizing the media's coverage of the increase in mortar attacks against the IZ, I noted that the press has failed to answer some basic questions: "has there been an increase in attacks, or just an increase in their lethality? When did the IZ begin to see the increase in lethal mortar strikes? Are they being carried out by Sunnis are Shias? What is motivating these attacks?" At the time I wrote that, my sources in the IZ were unable to answer all of these relevant questions -- but a recent briefing by Major Brynt Parmeter has helped to clarify these critical questions for me.



Major Parmeter and Major Guy Wetzel informed me that there has been an increase in the number of mortar attacks hitting the IZ, and not just an increase in the attacks' accuracy. I have also heard the same from reliable eyewitnesses in the IZ. One American contractor working there e-mailed me: "Believe me, rocket attacks are way more frequent than when I first got here. Last night one came screaming over my office and detonated a block away . . . . I got intimate with the floor in my office as I waited for the next one to drill in. (They're usually launched in twos and threes.) That rocket hit a villa across the street from where some of my coworkers are lodged."



So who is carrying these attacks out? Major Parmeter said, "The chance of these attacks all being coordinated by one group is basically nil." I previously reported that U.S. forces haven't gotten much of a chance to interview the people who have been carrying out the attacks -- basically because the Americans have been killing the attackers rather than capturing them. Despite that, the officers delivering the briefing were confident that the attacks are being carried out by both Sunnis and Shias. This is because we have good "fingerprints" of the neighborhoods from which the mortars are being launched, and they are consistently being launched from both Sunni and Shia areas.



I speculated in my last post that the timing of the increase in mortar attacks suggests a propaganda purpose. The majority of military sources I spoke with agreed with this assessment. However, Major Parmeter introduced another relevant factor to the analysis: the seasonal nature of attacks. He reminded me that April through June are the peak months for insurgent attacks. So the relevant base of comparison isn't just levels of violence in the IZ now versus where they were two months ago: instead, a comparison to the same period last year, in 2005, etc. would help to account for spikes and valleys that are driven by factors like climate and holidays. The majors delivering the briefing did not have the relevant data on hand to undertake such a comparison, but such an analysis would help us determinatively understand if the current increase in mortar attacks outstrips the general seasonal variation.

TMG on Russia.  Kat at The Middle Ground:  'BBC reports on the strange case of apparent growing affluence barely covering the potential crash and burn of the economy. Russia, though apparently full of local products, is still a major importer of goods and not an exporter. Except for oil and natural gas.  At the same time, the state, fearing the complete break up of Russia into many mini-states who can be manipulated and use their economic power (dare I say, energy power?) for their own benefit (cutting off the main land from exports/imports and any income from energy). Putin fears this most. He may indeed love Russia, but he loves it more than any principle or idea. He loves the land and being Russia. If it is a democracy, a kleptocracy, an autocracy or any other beauracracy, Putin doesn't care as long as Russia is Russian as close to the empire of old (evil or not).   It is this fear that continues to see Russia placing itself in opposition to the US even if it seems counter-intuitive; even onto manufacturing reasons to do so.'

2007-05-29

Iraq: Awakening from Terror

Via Michael Ledeen, here's JD Johannes at Outside the Wire:
"In fact, there is a civil war in progress in Iraq, one comparable in important respects to other civil wars that have occurred in postcolonial states with weak institutions. Those cases suggest that the Bush administration's political objective in Iraq--creating a stable, peaceful, somewhat democratic regime that can survive the departure of U.S. troops--is unrealistic." Professor James D. Fearon, writing in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs.

There is one problem with Professor Fearon's thesis--the facts on the ground that I am seeing right now and that he has not seen in person or not seen recently.

A major part of Fearon's well reasoned argument is that U.S. support for the Maliki government, "encourages Sunni nationalists to turn to al Qaeda in Iraq for support against Shiite militias and the Iraqi army."

His argument is logical and would be correct if the Sunnis of Anbar cooperated with his argument--but they are not cooperating with the good professor's thesis. In fact, they are doing just the opposite. The Sunnis of Anbar are now siding with the coalition and fighting Al Qaeda.

Go to the post to find out what happened in Shiabi when a new sheriff named General Sadoon came to town.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on the strategy and the surge:
The Strategy: Virtually all the U.S. officials with whom I spoke feel that American strategy now boils down to a single goal: strategic disengagement. That is, the U.S. wants to strengthen the Iraqi government to the point that it is self-sustaining enough that the country will not collapse into chaos as U.S. troops are brought back home. ...

U.S. strategy is not just military in nature. Rather, it is designed to eliminate some of the underlying conditions that sap the average Iraqi's faith in the country's civil society. For example, in the districts that 2-32 patrols -- Yarmouk and Hateen -- there are four lines of operation: security, governance, economy, and essential services. According to Major Brynt Parmeter, who works at the brigade level, the overall goals are to reduce sectarian fighting, increase the Iraqi security forces' capabilities, and improve local government to empower it to provide the services that Iraqis need. ...

The Surge: Multiple military sources stated that my patrols with 2-32 provided a snapshot of the fruits of the surge. One of the surge's stated goals was to stabilize Baghdad. In Yarmouk, the surge functioned just as military leadership hoped. I spoke with a large number of soldiers in 2-32 about the state of Yarmouk when they arrived, and all of them painted the same picture: the soldiers would routinely find corpses and there were a large number of IEDs and VBIEDs (vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices). On one dangerous road that the U.S. military calls Whitesnake (other Baghdad road names form a virtual tribute to Eighties bands), there was only one checkpoint. There are now three, and the Iraqi army presence makes it harder for insurgents to plant IEDs.

Multiple sources informed me that since 2-32 moved to Yarmouk as part of the surge, a lot of residents who had previously left have moved back, and a number of stores have opened up. ...

Read the full article at The Fourth Rail.

MNF-Iraq:
In the first days after his battalion began operating in east Baghdad’s Sha’ab neighborhood, Capt. Will Canda said he often saw the beds of Iraqi police trucks stained red with dried blood.

“It was like they had just come from a butcher shop,” said Canda, a Westcliffe, Colo. native and commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.

Like wagons rolling through plague-stricken villages in medieval times, the police trucks were being used to pick up the bodies of murder victims found littering the neighborhood.

That was in February, when Canda’s battalion became one of the first units to move into a battle space as part of Operation Fardh al Qanoon – which translated, means “enforcing the law” and is the name for the strategy to stabilize violence in Baghdad by pushing thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi forces into the city’s neighborhoods.

Since then, troops have continued to pour in, dotting Baghdad with small outposts and joint security stations.

Top U.S. commanders have cautioned that any verdict on the overall success of the plan will have to wait until after all units are in place and conducting operations. But Canda and his paratroopers have been on the ground long enough to begin drawing their own conclusions.

Three months after they arrived in Sha’ab, the bodies are gone, the murders have stopped, and the neighborhood has come back to life, Canda said.

“It’s night and day from when we got here,” he said. ...


Remarks. As Steve at ThreatsWatch observes, the real "surge" in Iraq is The Awakening:
Led by Sheikh Abd al-Sattar from Ramadi, The Awakening is the national anti-al-Qaeda grassroots movement that sprang from the Anbar Salvation Council. Its significance for Iraq and Iraqis going forward is difficult to overstate.

Morning Report: May 29, 2007

Iraqi captives are freed from hell, an activist speaks out Down Under, and the mullahs keep blowing smoke. Meanwhile, a petty obscenity mars Memorial Day in the American Northwest.

US frees 42 captives in Iraq raid. Some of the 42 Iraqis had been "hung from ceilings and tortured for months" according to AP via Yahoo. Dear God.
American forces freed 42 kidnapped Iraqis — some of whom had been hung from ceilings and tortured for months — in a raid Sunday on an al-Qaida hideout north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Military officials said the operation, launched on tips from residents, showed that Iraqis in the turbulent Diyala province were turning against Sunni insurgents and beginning to trust U.S. troops.

"The people in Diyala are speaking up against al-Qaida," said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.

Also in the news item,
Gunmen also killed the renowned Baghdad calligrapher Khalil Mohammed al-Zahawi in a drive-by shooting in a Shiite dominated area in eastern Baghdad, police said. Al-Zahawi, 52, who was also a lecturer at Baghdad University, was waiting for a taxi on a main road when the gunmen sped past.

Tammy Bruce comments: 'When allowed to fight the enemy our troops naturally set people free. Literally. There could be no more perfect example of this, along with the perfect timing of Memorial Day weekend, than the news that our troops in Iraq have freed 42 prisoners held hostage in an al-Qaida prison. This news, of course, also proves the Democrats correct once again--that Iraq has nothing to do with the WoT, and there is absolutely no relationship between our work in Iraq and the savages who attacked us on September 11th.'

Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak in Australia. The Australian (h/t LGF):
Ayaan Hirsi Ali will arrive in Sydney today amid tight security normally reserved for foreign dignitaries or royalty.

Her writings and talks focus on what she calls the backwardness of Islamic culture and the persecution of Muslim women.

The Somali-born Muslim - who fled to The Netherlands, became a Dutch citizen and renounced her religion - has been under 24-hour guard since the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh's film Submission, which examined the oppression of Muslim women, was written by Hirsi Ali. His killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, left a five-page death threat addressed to her, pinned to the filmmaker's chest. ...

In her writings, Hirsi Ali describes being circumcised [genitally mutilated - aa] as a young girl and how she escaped an arranged marriage. ...

She has two public functions at the Sydney Writers Festival: a discussion on Saturday and the festival's closing address on Sunday. Both are sell-outs.

Trilateral Iraq/Iran/US meeting. Iraq the Model: 'Iran's and America's ambassadors to Baghdad met here today. Iran's attitude didn't only make the meeting unproductive, it made it insulting. Ignore the meaningless diplomatic pleasantries of "the meeting was positive" or "we'd like to meet you again in the future" and stuff like that that we hear after almost every meeting between diplomats. Iran mocked Iraq and America today, their ambassador was here just to laugh at us and buy time for his regime by trying to fool us with his we-want-to-work-this-out-through-negotiations.'

Commentary. You know what? I'm not even going to link to the stories about Cindy Sheehan and Rosie O'Donnell - both of whom have reached the end of their shelf life, their fifteen minutes, and their rope - because they've had enough attention already. Even their self-destructiveness is boring. What a couple of tiresome, self-absorbed nitwits.

I'm only posting on this unspeakably vile act of grave desecration in Orcas Island, Washington because it illustrates just how depraved and desperate the anti-American lunatics have become.

2007-05-27

Morning Report: May 27, 2007

Not for them the dismal science. A French bank pulls out of an Iranian venture, but Ahmadinejad plays the economic game by his own rules. "Sham" has two meanings - one in English and one in Arabic - and both of them seem to fit a new organization that has mysteriously sprung up in the Levant. Finally, we look at efforts to help unwed mothers in Morocco.

French Development Bank drops Iran business. Victor Comras at CTB: 'As a critic of the effete sanctions measures adopted by the international community against Iran, I want to be among the first to recognize a success in the application of US Treasury tactics re foreign banks doing business with Iran. Under pressure from the United States the French Bank of General Development has withdrawn from its commitment to invest some $1.8 billion for the development of the South Pars (SP) oil and gas field development phases 17 and 18. The French Bank had agreed in 2005 to be the lead investor in this project, covering some 85% of its cost. One can only speculate whether this result should be attributed in part, also, to the election of French President Sarkozy, who has already indicated a willingness to adopt harsher measures against Iran, if necessary.'

More on Iran investment. Canada-based Iranian expat Winston at The Spirit of Man:
A new American Enterprise Institute's project, "Global Investment in Iran: Interactive," documents major world business transactions with the Islamic regime of Iran between 2000 and 2007. Canada included in the list with 4 major financial transactions, US is also there with 9, China with 27 and France with 66 major transactions. Incredible, isn't it? Each penny invested in Iran will enable the Islamic regime to live one more day longer and prolongs the misery of milions of enslaved hostages the mullahs have kept inside that country since 1979...

Paleo Lithics:
Amateur Hour continues in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Ayatollah Khomeini once dismissed the concerns of his first prime minister with the observation, “Economics is for donkeys!” What was important was Islam - not the economy. Continuing in the same mindset, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently ordered the lowering of interest rates at a time of hyper inflation. Conventional wisdom is that lower interest rates increase the demand for borrowed money which increases inflation. The result:
*Panic selling on the stock market
*Bank share values plummet


Al-Qaeda wannabes. Citing SITE, Anton Efendi at Across the Bay writes: 'This is so transparent, it's like the Syrian regime is not even trying anymore. Don't even bother with the religious paraphernalia (as al-Hayat noted). Just go straight to the point in threatening the end of the tourist season, spewing venom against the Patriarch, and a warning for Aoun (who went against Hezbollah on entering the camp and finishing off Fateh Islam), as well as a warning to the Army Commander Michel Suleiman (who in many was is the man in the spotlight, and Syria is monitoring his behavior carefully, and it and Hezbollah are said to be very upset with him for refusing the proposal to head a second government to rival Seniora's and to be established by Syria's puppet Lahoud when his term expires...). You know, when I think of al-Qaeda's global aims, I always think of the above, which only coincidentally happen to be precisely those of the Syrian regime.'

Helping single mothers in Morocco. Via Or Does It Explode - and marking Glamour's second appearance in Morning Report, here's Marianne Pearl:
I am sitting by the Atlantic Ocean facing Casablanca’s Mosque Hassan II, named for the Moroccan king who died in 1999. From the mosque’s tower—the world’s tallest minaret—a laser beam shining toward Mecca can be seen for miles. I am here to meet a vocal advocate for Arab women, Aicha Ech-Chenna, whom some call “the Mother Teresa of Morocco.” Aicha and I share a powerful history: Both our lives have been deeply affected by Islamic extremism. Aicha has spent decades fighting for the rights of unwed mothers, who are pariahs in Muslim society; for this, a few religious fanatics have threatened to stone her to death. Ironically, the same kind of people made me a single mom. ...


Commentary. I was going to write something about the idiot thug that sits in Tehran, but what is there to say, really? Never interfere with the enemy when he is self-destructing. Instead, I'm going to close with a bit more of the Glamour article by Marianne Pearl:
In 1985, Aicha and a cofounder expanded on her groundbreaking work by starting Solidarity Feminine, the first organization in Morocco dedicated to helping unwed mothers keep and support their babies. To give women job skills, Aicha opened a restaurant in Casablanca and hired 11 single mothers as its staff. Today Solidarity Feminine employs about 60 unwed mothers at two restaurants and a bakery, and provides them with education, child care and health care. The women earn enough to rent their own apartments for about 1,000 dirhams, or $120, a month. Although women usually stay in Aicha’s program for three years, some leave sooner for better-paying jobs. “We help them live with dignity,” says Aicha.

2007-05-25

Mary Cheney's Baby, Samuel David Cheney, Born Wednesday

One of our favorite lesbian Republicans has just become a mom.

Fox News:
WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary delivered an 8-pound, 6-ounce baby boy on Wednesday, the first child for her and her female partner of 15 years, Heather Poe.

Samuel David Cheney was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley Hospital in Washington, the vice president's office announced. Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne, paid a visit to their new — and sixth — grandchild a few hours later.

Gay Patriot bloggers weigh in:

Mary Cheney's baby and her father's quality.
While gay activists seem to love to bash the Vice President because they don’t like his conservative politics, they should bear in mind that they claim to working to improve the lives of gay Americans. They may not agree with the Vice President on a whole host of issues, notably foreign and defense policy, but they should note that the one time he has publicly distanced himself from the president (since he was tapped to be his VP) was when he came out against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Not only that. Just to see that image of the beaming Grandpa makes us realize what kind of man Dick Cheney is. That he loves his daughter, knowing she’s gay. That he welcomes her partner Heather Poe into his family. And that he welcomes their child into his family. What better way to support the mainstreaming of gay couples — and gay families — than this open and loving acceptance. Kudos, Mr. Vice President.

Mailroom error.
If Dick and Lynn Cheney were as evil as the Gay Left wants us to believe, they’d take this opportunity to come out and make an example of how wrong they think homosexuality is and their abhorrence for homosexuals having babies. After all, what better platform from which to speak, a baby born to lesbians in their own family? Quite the contrary, they are proud and happy grandparents.

On the other hand, if the Gay Left were as dedicated to forwarding the message that gay and lesbian parents are just as loving and deserving of rights because they’re just like any other family, they’d be praising the birth and looking for fans of the Vice President and his family to follow his loving example.

The White House - Office of the Vice President. 'Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, welcomed their sixth grandchild, Samuel David Cheney, Wednesday, May 23, 2007. He weighed 8 lbs., 6 oz and was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. His parents are the Cheneys’ daughter Mary, and her partner, Heather Poe.'

Related.
Mary Cheney's baby.

Remarks. I'm not going to make any more political comments on this. I'm just going to say congratulations and wish all the best to Mary, Heather, and Samuel David Cheney. And let's keep working together for fairness for all families.

More Uppity Middle Eastern Women

Sand Gets In My Eyes
Wajeha Al-Huwaider is a rare woman in Saudi Arabia. She is an outspoken feminist, an activist, a writer and poet, a fearless reformist, and an advocate for women’s rights in a place where the rights of half the population are severely and routinely determined by the whims of the other half.

Al-Huwaider has a lot to say about Saudi Arabia, and she’s not afraid to hit the country’s hot buttons or talk out loud about the many hush-hush issues.

On Arab Men – "With regard to the sons of the Gulf countries, and particularly the men from the oil countries: They were raised to think that they are the best, and that there is nothing in front of them or behind them. What they aspire to more than anything else, after sitting in a chair labeled 'manager,' is [the finer points of dress]... They are narcissistic, and suffer from a malignant and chronic tumor - that is, [they think that] maintaining guardianship [of women] is manly...”

On the treatment of women – "In Arab countries, and particularly in the Gulf countries, the cycle of discrimination against the woman begins when she is a fetus in her mother's womb; [it continues] when she emerges into the air of the world, and goes on until her death. According to men's interpretation, the woman is always 'lewdness' and sometimes 'impure'... The woman is [flawed in mind and in religion] - yet it was the Muslim mothers [i.e. the wives of the Prophet Muhammad] who taught the people a great deal about the commandments of the religion and its foundations. The woman is 'weak and her emotions rule her' - yet at the same time she has the responsibility for educating the younger generation, the basis of the pride of the homeland... The woman is 'temptation' - yet she was created for the man to trust, and to bring him serenity. The woman's 'tricks are greater than the tricks of Satan' - yet a man takes two, three, or four wives. The woman is a '[delicate] vase' that must be treated gently, so it will not be scratched - yet [if she is disobedient, her husband] keeps her away from [the marital] bed and beats her soundly. From cradle to grave, the woman cannot be her own guardian - because she is 'limited and incapable of taking on responsibility for her affairs' - yet the Prophet's dearest and most beloved wife ['Aisha] headed the first opposition in Islam, led an entire army, and waged an historic and critical battle [the Battle of the Camel]...

On Western apathy toward the treatment of Arab women - "I wish I knew why the situation of the women in certain Arab states is not condemned by the countries of the world, and does not enrage their citizens. Why do the human rights activists ignore their suffering as though they do not even exist? Why isn't the cry of these millions of women heard, and why isn't it answered by anyone, anywhere [in the world]? Why? Why? Why? Is it because they are women, while our patriarchal world is ruled by men without an ounce of compassion in their hearts? Maybe that is [indeed the case]."


More writings by Wajeha al-Huwaider appear in English at MEMRI.
The reason most women who are depressed, submissive, and subject to various types of injustice accept their wretched situation is their increasing fear. The fear gnaws away at their sense of being independent entities, and harms their self confidence every day. Thus they always fail at removing the oppression. The real reason for this fear among Saudi women is that there is no law to protect them from violence and discrimination.

In a world of technology, rapid globalization, and continuous international challenges, improving the lot of Saudi women and mobilizing them is no longer a matter of choice and luxury; it is a necessity. The Saudi government must increase its efforts to remove the fear from the hearts of the women, who are half of society, so that they can participate in building [society]...

We must open our eyes to the truth... and that is that all the men, the oil revolution, military force, and financial liquidity [in Saudi Arabia] cannot build a strong homeland when the role of the woman is ignored...


Freedom for Egyptians
When I was a little girl, I read so many children's stories classics in Arabic and in English. It was my mom's treat to take me to a bookstore Down Town to buy the books I like.

Most of the girls' stories were ending in victory because the prince fell in love with her. The girl's happiness was always dependent on winning the heart of the prince. The only way to get out of her misry is by marrying her prince..

In today's world, men and women equally create their own happiness and such stories are no longer valid that's what got today in the new fairy tale.....

This is the fairy tale that should have been read to us when we were little:

Once upon a time
~~~~~~~~
in a land far away,
~~~~~~~~
a beautiful, independent,
self-assured princess
~~~~~~~~
happened upon a frog as she sat
contemplating ecological issues
on the shores of an unpolluted pond
in a verdant meadow near her castle.
~~~~~~~~
The frog hopped into the princess' lap
and said: " Elegant Lady,
I was once a handsome prince,
until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.
~~~~~~~~
One kiss from you, however,
and I will turn back
into the dapper, young prince that I am
~~~~~~~~
and then, my sweet, we can marry
~~~~~~~~
and set up housekeeping in your castle
~~~~~~~~
with my mother,
~~~~~~~~
where you can prepare my meals,
~~~~~~~~
clean my clothes, bear my children,
~~~~~~~~
and forever feel
grateful and happy doing so. "
~~~~~~~~
That night,
~~~~~~~~
as the princess dined sumptuously
~~~~~~~~
on lightly sauteed frog legs
~~~~~~~~
seasoned in a white wine
~~~~~~~
and onion cream sauce,
~~~~~~~~
she chuckled and thought to herself:
~~~~~~~~
I don't freakin think so


Related.
Saudi women are happy!

Morning Report: May 25, 2007

Muqty returns to Iraq from a temporary vacation in Iran, but one of his top thugs makes a permanent exit. Israel hits back in Gaza, and the squeeze on Syria is felt in Lebanon. Get ready for some interesting times.

British troops kill top Mahdi Army terrorist. The Telegraph: 'The leader of the Shia Mahdi Army militia in the southern Iraqi city of Basra has been killed in a shoot out with British soldiers, Iraqi police said. Wissam al-Waili, 23, also known as Abu Qadir, was shot and killed along with his brother and two aides during the battle. The Mahdi Army of radical Shia Muqtada al-Sadr is fiercely opposed to the presence of US and British troops in Iraq. However, the militia has lowered its profile since US-led forces began a security crackdown in Baghdad in February. The gunbattle began about 4pm when British forces attempted to arrest al-Waili after he left a mosque in Jumhoriyah a middle class, residential area in central Basra, police said. Al-Waili and his three companions opened fire and were killed in the subsequent gunbattle, police said. The British military could not immediately be reached for comment.' The Fourth Rail: 'Coalition forces responded to Sadr's return by killing a senior leader of the Mahdi Army in the southern city of Basra. "Wissam al-Waili, 23, also known as Abu Qader, was shot and killed along with his brother and two aides during the battle Friday afternoon," the Associated Press reported.British troops killed Qader after he resisted arrest. "He was suspected of involvement in planting roadside bombs, weapons trafficking, assassinations and planning and participating in attacks against British troops," Reuters noted. Basra has seen an increase in violence since the British announced they would be drawing down forces in the region.'

Israel renews airstrikes on Gaza. AP via Fox: 'GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli aircraft struck a succession of militant targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday, after hitting a house in the refugee camp where Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh lives. ... Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes in recent days in retaliation for stepped-up Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israeli towns. Haniyeh stayed away from public prayers on Friday, even though Israel denied he was a target of the missile fired at the Shati refugee camp just before midnight Thursday. No one was hurt in that attack, which Israel said targeted an unspecified structure used by Hamas.' Go to the link for the obligatory AP photo of a helples Palestinian child running in terror before the brutal onslaught of the bloodthristy Jews. JPost (also from AP): 'An Israeli air strike hit a Hamas training center south of Gaza City on Friday, destroying the compound but causing no injuries, witnesses said. Palestinian security officials said three missiles struck the Hamas executive force base. The building was empty and no one was harmed in the attack.' Debka: 'Overnight, the Israeli air force struck eight Hamas and Jihad Islami targets in Gaza. Thursday, 18 missiles exploded in Israel north and south of Gaza Strip. There were no casualties although the early warning alarm system failed to work in Sderot and other places. In the morning, Israeli forces rounded up 33 Hamas officials on the West Bank, including the Palestinian education minister. In addition to the minister, Nasser e-Din Shear, the Hamas mayors of Nablus and Qalqilya, local council heads and several members of parliament were detained. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that after the kidnap of Gilead Shalit last June, Israel rounded up scores of Hamas officials on the West Bank and in Jerusalem - to no avail. Our sources add that the officials arrested this time too are not involved in the missile offensive waged by Hamas military chiefs in the Gaza.'

US aid for Lebanese army. Debka: 'US airlifts ammunition and advanced weapons to Lebanese army in response to Beirut’s plea for aid against Islamic radicals. US military sources report the first of six cargo planes arrived Friday. For five days, Lebanese tanks and artillery have been pounding Fatah al-Islam gunmen barricaded in the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp without achieving a breakthrough. The fighting has escalated dangerously following the infiltration of pro-Syrian reinforcements to the camp. They are led by members of the pro-Syrian Palestinian extremist Ahmed Jibril’s group, armed by Damascus and directed by Syrian military intelligence officers, who maintain a presence in North Lebanon. The Bush administration decided to rearm the Lebanese troops with better weapons because if they fail to suppress the Islamist uprising in the northern camp, the unrest will spread. The south Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp of Ein Hilwa in the south is already getting restive, stirred up by the hundreds of extremists linked to al Qaeda who have settled in the camp. The IDF’s northern command has placed Israeli units along the Lebanese and Syrians on the alert in case of a flare-up. Washington, Jerusalem and Beirut all believe Bashar Assad is pumping up war tensions to intimidate the UN Security Council which is due to vote Tuesday, May 29, on an international tribunal for suspects in the Hariri assassination. Assad has announced he will not recognize the tribunal. UN investigator Serge Brammertz plans to issue international arrest warrants for putting some of his close family members and high intelligence officers, stalwarts of his regime, on trial for murder.' Reuters via MSNBC:
The United States and Arab allies sent military aid to Lebanon on Friday and the Lebanese army deployed extra troops to a Palestinian camp where it has been battling Islamist militants this week.

A fragile truce held between the army and the Fatah al-Islam militant group in northern Lebanon at the Nahr al-Bared camp, where the faction is based, despite sporadic overnight clashes.

Lebanese Defense Minister Elias al-Murr said the government was leaving room for negotiations but the army would act if necessary. “What is required is the handing over of those terrorists and criminals,” he told reporters.

See Update, following Commentary at the bottom of this post.

More US ships to Persian Gulf. Debka: 'Nine US military ships enter Persian Gulf Wednesday, assembling off Iran’s coast in largest American naval move since 2003. [Illustration: USS Bonhomme Richard LHD 6 Group, the world’s biggest amphibious strike force.] They sailed through the Strait of Hormuz by day - according to US Navy officials for training exercises. The vessels carry around 17,000 combat and marine personnel. They include the two aircraft carriers, USS Nimitz and USS Stennis, as well as the USS Bonhomme Richard LHD 6 Group, the world’s biggest amphibious strike force. Iran was not notified of the planned arrival. DEBKAfile reports the maneuvers take place less than two weeks after Vice President Dick Cheney visited the region and informed Saudi King Abdullah and fellow Gulf rulers that President George W. Bush has determined that if Iran refuses to waive a nuclear weapon capability, the US will attack its nuclear, military and economic infrastructure before he leaves the White House in Jan. 2009.'

Iraqis take the lead at Al Suleikh. CENTCOM:
Capt. James Peay was starting to feel like a third wheel.

Peay, a battery commander with the 82nd Airborne Division from Nashville, Tenn., was accompanying Iraqi police chief Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdullah on a combined engagement patrol through the east Baghdad neighborhood of Suleikh.

Whenever they stopped to speak with people on the street, Ahmed did most of the talking. Peay stood off to the side, listening as his interpreter translated. His comments were mostly limited to hellos, goodbyes, and thank-yous.

This was Ahmed’s show, and Peay was more than happy to give him the spotlight. It’s not that he is shy, Peay said later, it’s that, ultimately, stability in Iraq depends on the Iraqi security forces – and people like Lt. Col. Ahmed - taking the lead.

Successfully negotiating that difficult transition has become one of the major focuses of the entire war effort, especially since the kick-off of the new security plan for Baghdad, which has placed thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad communities, often living together in the same compounds.

Peay commands one of those new shared bases – the Suleikh Joint Security Station. For more than three months, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been living and working side-by-side with the Iraqi police and Iraqi army at the JSS to coordinate security efforts in Suleikh.

The paratroopers from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, man the JSS 24 hours a day. ...


Ukraine president takes over ministry troops. Reuters via MSNBC: 'KIEV - President Viktor Yushchenko said on Friday he was taking control of interior ministry troops loyal to Ukraine’s prime minister, a direct challenge to the rival he has confronted for months. Yushchenko issued his decree hours after riot police controlled by the interior minister took over a key building in Kiev following scuffles. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich’s supporters planned a rally in the city center later in the day. The decree concerns troops largely responsible for maintaining public order and not the army, which is controlled by one of pro-western Yushchenko’s few allies in the cabinet.'

RAF jets save Iraqi police commander. MNF-Iraq:
A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 crew saved the life of an Iraqi Police commander by "scaring the all living grace of God" out of rogue militias that had ambushed him.
The crew, Flight Lieutenant Ben Cable, on his first tour of Iraq, and Flight Lieutenant Mike Morgan are both serving with 12 (Bomber) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland.

They were on a routine patrol mission over Baghdad when they were directed to provide air support to Iraqi Police Commander Brigadier General Ali Al-Maksusi.

The General and his men were surrounded and under intense fire from militias armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades. They had ambushed the general while he was visiting the Sadr City area of Baghdad.

They called on the Iraqi Police to lay down their arms so they could take the general prisoner. Before doing so, the general was able to contact U.S. forces in the area, which responded immediately by calling in a pair of GR4s. ...


Coalition forces capture 20 suspected al-Qaeda terrorists. MNF-Iraq: 'Coalition Forces detained 20 suspected terrorists during several raids targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq around the country Friday morning. In Baghdad, Coalition Forces raided a house looking for a suspected al-Qaeda battalion commander. The ground force detained three suspected terrorists at the targeted location, including the alleged leader. Intelligence reports indicate he is responsible for numerous attacks in Baghdad, including assassinations, attacks on news media and attacks on the city’s infrastructure. Coalition Forces detained 11 suspected terrorists in an operation southwest of Baghdad targeting al-Qaeda leadership. One of the individuals detained is allegedly a close associate of a Libyan who facilitates the movement of foreign fighters in the area.'

Sadr back in Iraq. Debka: 'Iraqi Shiite Moqtada Sadr condemns Israel, Britain and US as “evil trio” in first sermon since returning to Iraq. He addressed 6,000 worshippers at Kufa south of Baghdad Friday. At the same time the powerful cleric urged his followers to use peaceful means to expel the occupation forces. DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that after an absence of four months, Sadr has signaled he is amenable to talks with the Americans and Iraq’s Sunni Muslims.' The Fourth Rail: 'Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement and commander of the Mahdi Army, has reappeared in Kufa, the twin city of Najaf, and delivered a sermon after a four month self imposed exile in Iran. Sadr is believed to have slipped back into Iraq one week ago. While Sadr's spokesmen have long claimed Sadr never left Iraq, the pretense has now been dropped. Sadr spoke to over 6,000 followers at a in mosque Kufa, and he railed against the U.S. presence in Iraq. "No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel," Sadr chanted at the opening of his sermon. "We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal... I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation even for a single day." Sadr fled Iraq on January 14, after General Petraeus assumed command of Multinational Forces Iraq and announced the Baghdad Security Plan would be taking effect. Sadr immediately left Iraq and sheltered in Iran, and was guarded by Iran's Qods Force, according to reports. Questions remain on what the impact Sadr's return will have on the ongoing Baghdad Security Plan, the status of the Mahdi Army and efforts to quell the sectarian violence.'

Commentary. So with the Hariri investigation moving ahead, the heat may be getting hotter for Bashar Assad. The airlift to Lebanon isn't happening in a vacuum, and Babyface Bashar isn't going to sit still. Here's Across the Bay responding to a May 2 post by "the Syrian regime's obedient flack" (he means, of course, Josh Landis), who suggested that "there is little chance that even Sarkozy, should he be elected, will want to begin his presidency by placing his money on the March 14th government in Lebanon":
The sinister, depraved projection is paradigmatic from someone who has consistently been advocating the abandonment of Lebanon and the return of brutal Syrian suzerainty, the scuttling of the tribunal and with it the complete discrediting of the Security Council, as well as advocating the defeat of the US in the ME.

In other words, the fantasy that the now-incumbent Sarkozy will cave in to "realism" and engage the Assad regime is wishful thinking on Landis' part. Efendi goes on to quote France's new Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who has made it clear that "France and the international community are determined to establish the tribunal to try the assassins."

Another hot summer? Iran might get in on the act. And if Debka is to be believed (yeah, I know, it's a big if), "President George W. Bush has determined that if Iran refuses to waive a nuclear weapon capability, the US will attack its nuclear, military and economic infrastructure before he leaves the White House in Jan. 2009."

Update. Whenever the topic turns to Lebanon, I keep one eye on the blog of my friend and fellow Portlander, Michael Totten, and so should you. He's just posted a comprehensive roundup on the next war in Lebanon. Go to Michael's post for the links and excerpts, but here are a few phrases that set the tone: "I thought the citizens of Aley exhibited just the right mix of resolution, self-control, and defiance." "While it may be easy for [the regime in Damascus] to provoke conflict in Lebanon, as they did throughout the war years between 1975 and 1990, the Syrian leadership might not be able to resist the blowback this time around if new hostilities break out." "Almost every Lebanese I know, has changed their MSN display picture to some sort of symbol of patriotism such as the flag, or the army’s emblem and almost every one of them have placed a flower (F) before their display name symbolising their support for the Lebanese Army." "The bottom line is this: everyone knows that this is a rabid terrorist campaign by a psychopathic murderous thug in Damascus, who will stop at nothing. The tribunal must be established without delay, and Assad must be made to pay a tangible painful price for his murderous policy. It's as simple as that."

And there is the transformation of Perpetual Refugee:
The Lebanese were collectively punished last summer for not being able to control a mad man who thought that kidnapping the cubs of a lioness was a game. As he hid safely like a pussy behind a chastity belt, over 1,000 Lebanese died. And the dreams of millions along with them. I hated the Israelis then. Even though I knew a lot of them personally who did not hate me back each time a missile hit Haifa.

And as we collectively punished the Palestinians in their camp for not being able to control mad men who thought that killing the kittens of a declawed housecat would demonstrate their power, I felt no remorse. None. Hypocrite. They should have controlled the madmen, I thought.

Then Boom. A bomb in Achrafieh. Again. A dead innocent woman. Again. Boom. Another bomb in another affluent neighborhood. Verdun. Boom. Another bomb in Aley. Here we go. The birthing pangs of our rebirth.

While the mad men of Damascus started softly gloating, my numbness turned to rage. And while we exercised power over the powerless, I thought back to July of 2006. And I realized. Realized that I was guilty. Of hypocricy.

The terrorists need to be eliminated. There is no question of that. Yet, unfortunately the Lebanese army can't do it. After all, the terrorists don't live in a camp by a cold river. Or in the mountains of Tora Bora. The terrorists live on a hilltop in Damascus. Just follow the sounds of laughter. And the aura of invincibility.

2007-05-24

TNR looks at Giuliani, finds socially moderate Republicans.

Thomas B. Edsall's article on Rudy Giuliani in The New Republic (registration required) indicates that someone at TNR has figured out what many of us have known for some time: that the Republican Party of today is no longer the domain of unchallenged social conservatism that it was in the 1970s - and that this bodes well for the Giuliani campaign.
What if we are witnessing not Rudy moving toward the rest of the Republican Party, but rather the Republican Party moving toward Rudy? What if the salience of a certain kind of social conservatism is now in decline among GOP voters and a new set of conservative principles are emerging to take its place? What if Giuilianism represents the future of the Republican Party?

I haven't had the chance to read the article carefully yet, but it looks fairly positive and appears to hit some of the main points that the liberal media have generally missed: that social moderates are now a strong force in the GOP; that Republicans see in Rudy Giuliani a much-needed managerial competence; and that Giuliani's no-nonsense manner and his 9/11 "street cred" are strong assets in his favor.

Here's one more snip from the article:
In brief, among Republican voters, the litmus test issues of abortion and gay marriage have been losing traction, subordinated to the Iraq war and terrorism. According to the Pew Research Center, 31 percent of GOP voters name Iraq as their top priority, and 17 percent choose terrorism and security. Just 7 percent name abortion and 1 percent name gay marriage.

The roots of this transformation predate September 11 and are partly the result of demographics. The lions of the Christian right--Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson--no longer dominate Republican politics as they once did. Their grip is slackening as their older followers are slowly replaced by a generation for which the social, cultural, and sexual mores that were overturned by the 1960s are history, not memory. In retrospect, these men reached the height of their power in the late '80s, when, by a 51-to-42 majority, voters agreed that "school boards ought to have the right to fire teachers who are known homosexuals." Now a decisive 66-to-28 majority disagrees, according to Pew. In 1987, the electorate was roughly split on the question of whether "aids might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior." Today, 72 percent disagree with that statement, while just 23 percent concur.

Giuliani is on the cutting edge of these trends, seeking to exploit new ideological lines between conservatism and liberalism. ...


Related.
Desperately seeking Archie Bunker.
Mary Cheney's baby.

2007-05-15

Mullah Dadullah

Welcome, Mullah Dadullah, to the exclusive but ever-growing ranks of the Dead Terrorists. We hope you enjoy your stay.

Wikipedia - Mullah Dadullah:
Mullah Dadullah or Dadullah Akhund (1966? – May 12, 2007) was an ethnic Pashtun from Uruzgan province in Afghanistan. He was the Taliban's senior military commander until his death in 2007.


StrategyPage:
May 14, 2007: In a major setback, the senior Taliban field commander, Mullah Dadullah, was cornered and killed by NATO forces in Helmand province over the weekend. NATO and Afghan troops have been chasing Dadullah around southern Afghanistan for a month. Dadullah knew he was being tracked, and his pursuers knew he was trying to get to safety in Pakistan. This time, Dadullah didn't make it.

Dadullah was a member of the Council of Ten that runs the Taliban, and the chief military strategist. Getting killed may have been a good career move, because his terror strategy wasn't working. The Taliban were getting battered worse this year than last, and Taliban popularity was declining in the south. Now the Taliban can simultaneously praise Dadullah as a martyr for the cause, and the reason the cause is failing. The Taliban first denied, then admitted Dadullah was dead. Dadullah was a big fan of terrorism, but he was also important because he managed to get normally hostile groups to cooperate with each other. The government will probably be able to get more Taliban groups to negotiate peace deals now, without the threat of Dadullah "punishing traitors."


Stratfor:
Geopolitical Diary: Examining Mullah Dadullah's Death
Stratfor, 5/14/07, 8:00 CDT

Afghan intelligence announced on Sunday that top Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah was killed early Saturday during a battle with an Afghan-NATO force in Helmand province. The 40-year-old Taliban leader had emerged as the most important operational commander on which Mullah Mohammad Omar could rely in pressing ahead with the jihadist insurgency in the country. Under his leadership, the Pashtun jihadist movement adopted the tactic of suicide bombings, and he represented the faction close to al Qaeda.

Dadullah's killing is the first major success for Kabul and NATO against the Pashtun jihadists since the resurgence of the Taliban shortly after the ouster of their regime in
2001.


CTB:
On May 10, 2007, the Nine Eleven Finding Answers (NEFA) Foundation was able to secure access to an exclusive interview with Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah--only 24 hours before Dadullah was killed by Afghan and NATO military forces. During what would become his final interview, Dadullah stated that American and British Al-Qaida recruits are in the midst of planning and training for new terrorist strikes in their home countries: "We will be executing attacks in Britain and the U.S. to demonstrate our sincerity," he explained in Pashto, "to destroy their cities as they have destroyed our cities." A senior U.S. official told the Blotter on ABCNews.com that recent intelligence reports confirmed Dadullah's claim that U.S. citizens were being trained in Taliban and al Qaeda camps. "The number is small, not large, but even once is dangerous," the official said.


ABC News:
Thirty-six hours before he was killed by U.S. forces, Taliban Commander Mullah Dadullah said he was training American and British citizens to carry out suicide missions in their home countries, according to a videotape interview to be broadcast on ABC News' "World News" Monday.

"We will be executing attacks in Britain and the U.S. to demonstrate our sincerity," he told an Afghan interviewer, "to destroy their cities as they have destroyed our cities."


Linda:
I hope it hurt. I hope it hurt a lot.

State Representative Dan Zwonitzer of Wyoming Supports Marriage Equality

From Alas, a Blog:
This is kind of old news, but I missed it at the time, and maybe some “Alas” readers did too. Wyoming State Rep Dan Zwonitzer, who is straight and a Republican, in February of this year voted against a measure that would have forbidden Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. ...

Thanks to Ampersand for passing this on. Pandagon has more. Here is an excerpt from Zwonitzer's speech:
Being a student of history, as many of you are, and going back through history, most of history has been driven by the struggle of man against government to endow him with more rights, privileges and liberties to be bestowed upon him.

In all of my high school courses, we only made it through history to World War 2. It wasn’t until college that I really learned of the civil rights movement in the 60’s. My American History professor was black, and we spent a week discussing civil rights. I watched video after video where people stood on the sidelines and yelled and threw things at black students walking into schools, I’ve read editorials and reports by both sides of the issue, and I would think, how could society feel this way, only 40 years ago.

Under a democracy the civil rights struggle continues today, where we have one segment of our society trying to restrict rights and privelges from another segment of our society. My parents raised me to know that this is wrong.

It is wrong for one segment of society to restrict rights and freedoms from another segment of society. I believe many of you have had this conversation with your children.

And children have listened, my generation, the twenty-somethings, and those younger than I understand this message of tolerance. And in 20 years, when they take the reigns of this government and all governments, society will see this issue overturned, and people will wonder why it took so long. ...

And here is Zwonitzer's message, posted at Pandagon:
I have obviously thought about this issue a great deal in the last 24 hours, and have truly come to realize that marriage in any form is greater than allowing a group of our citizens to continually be persecuted; and I’ve come to understand that many of the reasons they are vilified in our society is directly related to the fact there is not an opportunity to form recognized, committed long-term relationships.
It is my sincere hope that the outside world does not continue to believe Wyoming to be an intolerant and bigoted state. We have a low population which does not allow a lot of room for intolerance here as everyone knows everyone. When people come to know others who are different and accept them, their attitudes change.

Luckily, I have not had significant negative feedback today from people in my District. Yes, there has certainly been some comment from citizens from the “deep red” portions of my state. I am hoping that the silent majority of Wyoming understands and agrees with me, as I am fairly confident they do. It was greatly controversial right up until it was killed in committee, and within a day things have settled back down.

Morning Report: May 15, 2007

Iranian nuclear project moves forward. Khaleej Times: 'Iran has made progress in enriching uranium, UN nuclear inspectors learned on a visit last weekend to a key site, diplomats told AFP on Tuesday. This shows Iran moving towards meeting the claim made in April by its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Teheran has reached an ”industrial scale” of enrichment, the process which makes what can be fuel for nuclear power reactors or in highly refined form the raw material for atom bombs. Iran is defying demands, and sanctions, from the UN Security Council for it to stop enrichment, due to fears it is secretly developing nuclear weapons. The UN watchdog International Atomic is to file a report by May 23 on Teheran’s nuclear work, and this could lead to further UN sanctions against Iran. “They are speeding up some centrifuges (the machines which enrich uranium) and beginning to enrich towards an industrial level” at a plant in Natanz, one diplomat said.'

Terrorists threaten safety of 3 missing soldiers. CNN: 'The Islamic State of Iraq -- a Sunni insurgent coalition that includes al Qaeda in Iraq -- issued a statement Monday saying it is holding three American soldiers and warning the U.S. military to call off its search. "Your soldiers are in our hands. If you want your soldiers' safety, do not search for them," the Internet posting said. The soldiers went missing after an ambush Saturday on their military convoy in a volatile region south of Baghdad. Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were killed in the attack outside Mahmoudiya. ... While the insurgent group offered no proof that it is holding the soldiers, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said Monday that the military believes al Qaeda in Iraq or an affiliated group is responsible for their abduction.'

CENTCOM on search and rescue efforts. CENTCOM:
The U.S. military, coalition partners and Iraqi security forces are making a “massive effort” to find three American soldiers missing in Iraq since May 12, a senior U.S. military officer said today.
“We are using every asset and resource available to the United States and our Iraqi allies in these efforts,” Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said during a videotaped release broadcast on the Pentagon Channel today.

A convoy carrying seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter was ambushed by enemy forces as it traveled west of Mahmudiyah, Iraq, during a search for roadside bombs, U.S. officials reported. The attack site is located about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Positive identification has been made of three U.S. soldiers killed in the attack, Caldwell said, and of the Iraqi interpreter. Identification of the fourth U.S. soldier killed in the ambush is pending, he said.

However, “we still have three missing American soldiers,” Caldwell said, noting their current duty status is classified as “whereabouts unknown.”


Dead Taliban leader was training US recruits. Counterterrorism Blog: 'On May 10, 2007, the Nine Eleven Finding Answers (NEFA) Foundation was able to secure access to an exclusive interview with Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah--only 24 hours before Dadullah was killed by Afghan and NATO military forces. During what would become his final interview, Dadullah stated that American and British Al-Qaida recruits are in the midst of planning and training for new terrorist strikes in their home countries: "We will be executing attacks in Britain and the U.S. to demonstrate our sincerity," he explained in Pashto, "to destroy their cities as they have destroyed our cities." A senior U.S. official told the Blotter on ABCNews.com that recent intelligence reports confirmed Dadullah's claim that U.S. citizens were being trained in Taliban and al Qaeda camps. "The number is small, not large, but even once is dangerous," the official said.'

More terrorists busted in Iraq. MNF-Iraq:
Soldiers of the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, detained a suspected insurgent wanted in connection with a recent rocket attack on a Coalition forces' base near Baghdad Monday. After receiving small-arms fire, troops moved to the suspect’s house and quickly secured the area. The suspect had an AK-47 assault rifle, two ammunition magazines and a cell phone.

In the Iraqi capital Monday, Coalition forces detained a man suspected of conspiring directly with al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders. Inside the targeted building troops found a cache containing weapons and explosives, including bomb-making chemicals. An explosives disposal team safely destroyed the materials off-site.

Coalition forces detained four suspected terrorists in Ramadi Monday for having alleged ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders. This raid was part of ongoing operations targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq's command structure, officials said. ...


Defeating CAIR. Via Israpundit, Muslim convert Stephen Schwartz at Family Security Matters has an excellent piece on the role of anti-terrorist Muslims: 'In my view, CAIR is best understood by comparison with its predecessor in the history of totalitarian penetration of this country: the Soviet-controlled Communist party. I believe that like the Stalinists of the 1930s and 1940s, CAIR represents an alien ideology without roots in our society. But also like the Communists, I see in CAIR an organization adept at confusing and otherwise dealing with most of its opponents.' In my view, this is an extremely important article, not only because of the message for Muslims, but also because of the implicit message for today's liberals - which I'll discuss below in the Commentary section.

The Joooooz. The Spirit of Man: 'When I got into a fruitless political debate with a leftist German individual regarding the war on terrorism, radical Islam, Israeli-Palestinian conflict and president Bush's policies in Iraq, I was shocked to hear this question at the end of the argument: Are you Jewish? Well, if being against the assholes and idiots of this world means to be a Jew, then I am very well proud to be one.' And he probably has too much influence in US policy.

Fouad Ajami on the Middle East. Fouad Ajami at US News:
This region has been stubborn in its refusal to accept the stark verdicts of history. The State of Israel is a year away from its 60th anniversary, and still the Arab imagination denies Israel's legitimacy. Iraq is different, but a state that gives pride of place to the Shiites (and the Kurds) is still an oddity in the Arab landscape. For well over a millennium, the Shiite Arabs have not governed; they have been the stepchildren of the Arab world. But in their long years of defeat and subservience, the Shiites remained righteous in their claim to the Prophet Muhammad's mantle, in their stubborn hope that the day would come when the order of things would be righted.

True to those Shiite hopes, American power, in a moment of perfect innocence, struck into Baghdad and upended an entrenched order of power, granted the dispossessed a chance at a new history, delivered them a big country loaded with oil and possibilities.

The Sunni Arab rulers, and the angry men and women on the airwaves and in the "chat rooms" of the Arab world, insist that their animus toward this new Iraq derives from their opposition to the American presence. ...

To find out what this means for Iraq, read the whole article at the link.

Khaled Abu Toameh on Jerusalem. Via IRIS, Khaled Abu Toameh writes: 'The security fence has virtually cut off the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem from the West Bank, making the Arab residents fully dependent on Israel's economy. Dozens of merchants who owned businesses in Ramallah and Bethlehem have moved back to the city in the past few years. "People see the anarchy and instability in the Palestinian Authority areas and prefer to leave to a safer place," explained Ibrahim Barakat, a businessman from Beit Hanina, a large Arab neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. "Also, people are afraid of losing their status as permanent residents of Israel and that's why they are moving back into Jerusalem. After all, life inside Israel is much better than the West Bank." But perhaps the most significant change that took place over the past few years has been Israel's success in eliminating the presence of a Palestinian political address in east Jerusalem. ...' Go read it all.

Commentary. Today's Belmont Club has an excellent analysis of the paradoxical relationship between islamism, liberalism, and conservatism:
As a concept it was devilishly clever. Perhaps because freedom was achieved through choice it became possible for sophists to substitute the notion of indeterminacy for liberty. Freedom was redefined as a process of never arriving anywhere. History became a endless Road trip. So the argument went, one with a kind of mystical appeal. The swindle was to make all journeys on all roads one and the same. ...

The most disturbing consequence of accepting the analysis that multiculturalism is abetting the advance of a hostile non-Western culture is that it makes one hope, almost perversely, for the whole ludicrous enterprise to come a-cropper. A kind of wishing for the worst in order to better the situation. Conservatism acquires a mirror image of the bizarre relationship between multiculturalism and Islamism, only flipped. Conservatism is Islamism's main foe at the same that it is Islamism's greatest beneficiary. An almost absurd tableau has been set up where the more the Left pushes multiculturalism, the greater the benefit to radical Islam, while simultaneously the more the Left benefits radical Islam, the greater the benefit to conservatism.

Now back to Stephen Schwartz:
* The Communists sought to identify all progressive, labor, and social movements with themselves. They even seized upon the once-honorable term “progressive” as their own. Authentic progressive reform – originally identified with the Republican party – as well as labor unions and social protest, did not threaten the foundations of the U.S. Rather, they strengthened the integrity of our democracy and the sovereignty of our people.
* Similarly, CAIR appears to seek subordination of the whole of Sunni Islam in the U.S. to its control. The organization’s outsized ambitions are reflected in its very name – as if it has authority for all relations between the U.S. as a society and the entirety of Islam. Moderate Islam, organized and functioning as a normal religion not very different from Catholicism and Judaism, represents no menace to America. ...

Schwartz goes on to say:
If the agenda of the Stalinists and Wahhabis in America seems identical, so has the camouflage. For decades the American Communists claimed to be the only consistent defenders of civil rights for Blacks and other minorities. However, when support for African Americans conflicted with Soviet orders, the Communists denounced civil rights advocates – as late as the 1960s they tried to turn Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. against the long-serving but anti-Communist Black leaders and intellectuals, A Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and James Baldwin. Today, I believe, CAIR poses as a civil-liberties agency when its real task is to exclude and suppress moderate Sunni and other non-Wahhabi Muslims, keeping them out of mosques, academia, and other public institutions.

So, how can we win?
American Communism was defeated when outstanding liberals, progressives, labor organizers, sincere pacifists, and legitimate social protest leaders turned against it. CAIR will be defeated as outstanding Muslim representatives, including imams, teachers, and community activists repudiate it.

Schwartz's message is directed at moderate (or reformist) Muslims and their non-Muslim allies. But as I said above, it should also be read and heeded by today's "liberals, progressives ... and legitimate social protest leaders". The involvement of a new generation of Western liberals on the side of true liberty could be the next important phase for the counter-jihad.

2007-05-13

Morning Report: May 13, 2007

SCIRI dumps Iran for Sistani? Allahpundit at Hot Air: 'Huge news. To refresh: SCIRI is the name of one of Iraq’s biggest Shiite parties, short for the “Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.” It was formed in Iran in the early 1980s by Iraqi Khomeinists with the goal of replacing Saddam with Iranian-style clerical rule. Since the invasion, it’s presented itself as a peaceful, mainstream political party (successfully enough to earn its party leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, a trip to the White House in December) while maintaining a militia — the Badr Organization, a.k.a. Badr Brigades — that functions as Sadr’s only serious rival for Shiite paramilitary dominance. Having kept counsel with the mullahs through the years, they’re widely suspected of being Iran’s chief proxy in Iraq.' The news? There are signs that maybe - just maybe - SCIRI is distancing itself from Iran and casting its lot with Ayatollah Sistani. Now this may not be as big as Allahpundit thinks; it looks like the wording of the news item quoted at Hot Air has changed since Allahpundit's posting. But here's what we've got now: the AP item says that
The leader of Iraq's largest Shiite political party on Saturday called for a "security agreement" to be negotiated between Iraq and U.S.-led forces to outline the authorities of each side in a further indication of growing frustration over America's role in Iraq.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim did not give more details of the proposed pact. In the past he has repeatedly complained that the U.S. military's lead in the fight against Sunni insurgents hampered the work of Iraq's Shiite-dominated security forces, which he contended were better qualified to fight the insurgents given their knowledge of the terrain and language.

"We are working toward reaching a security agreement to define the authority of each side," al-Hakim told a news conference after a two-day meeting of his party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Al-Hakim also announced the party's name will be changed to the "Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq" — dropping the word "revolution" to reflect the new political realities in the country.

IraqSlogger:
The media bureau of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, formerly SCIRI, issued a statement late Saturday correcting what it described as “dubious remarks attributed to senior SCIRI officials” and “inaccurate analysis” made by media outlets, referring to reports that the party would distance itself from neighboring Iran. The statement said that SIIC wished to stress the independence of its political decision and that its new platform is not directed “against” anyone. SIIC would continue to reject the presence of any foreign terrorist groups in Iraq – a reference to the Iranian Mujahideen e-Khalq opposition group – and to respect the independence and sovereignty of neighboring countries. “The Iraqi people will never forget the noble positions of certain countries around the world on Iraqi issues, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran, which supported and provided refuge for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis during the tyrannical rule of the Saddamist regime,” the statement said. Several Western media organizations had reported Saturday that the changes in the powerful Shi’ite party’s platform would distance it from Iran and give it a more Iraqi “flavor,” a position that SIIC denied in this recent statement. SIIC’s statement had also made no mention that it would cease following the religious guidance of Iran’s Supreme Jurisprudent Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as its “source of emulation,” or replace it with that of Iraq’s top Sh’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, as several media outlets had reported.

Al-Sumaria: 'Seniors of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said the Council will introduce major changes to its program in a bid to consolidate ties with the Supreme Shiite Authority in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani. According to the new program, the Council will follow orientation from the Shiite Religious Institution in Iraq and mainly from Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani.'
Gulf Times:
One of Iraq’s most powerful Shia political parties dropped the word “revolution” from its name yesterday in an apparent attempt to distance itself from close ties with Iran. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) will henceforth be known as the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq.
Party leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, a top Shia cleric, announced the name change at a news conference called to confirm his re-election at the head of the party, which is part of Iraq’s ruling coalition. "Revolution means change. This is what we sought from the creation of the Council,” Hakim told reporters, explaining that the fall of former dictator Saddam Hussain had made the revolutionary tag obsolete. The Council participated in realising political changes in Iraq, the most important of which was regime change. So this word became unnecessary,” he said, flanked by Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi, a SCIRI member.

More on this as it develops. Go down to the Commentary section of this post for a related, must-read article.

Belmont Club: Facts on the ground. The Belmont Club: 'Iraqis on the ground are increasingly doing well but Iraqis at the top are screwing up. One reason why diplomatic solutions sometimes fail is that higher levels of abstraction are achieved at the price of losing information in detail. This problem is solved in data-mining situations by allowing the user to "drill down" and rediscover the detail. But that presumes you have a drill. This loss of information is especially acute in countries where national systems do not have an adequate correspondence with actors on the ground. ...'

ODIE: Article 38 vs. politics. Or Does It Explode: 'Article 38 of Syria’s Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to “freely and openly express his views in words, in writing, and through all other means of expression.” But try telling that to the Syrian judge who just sentenced human rights activist Dr. Kamal al-Labwani to 12 years in prison with hard labor.'

New Jersey imam: "Extremism has no place in Islam." Just in case you thought Little Green Footballs never posted stories like this one:
The suspects in an alleged plot to attack Fort Dix have been described by federal authorities as "radical Islamists," but the leader of the mosque where four of the men worshipped said yesterday Islam has no room for violent extremists.

During his Friday prayer service sermon, which he entitled "Islam: The Middle and Moderate Path," Islamic Center of South Jersey trustee Ismail Badat told about 150 worshippers that their religion "denounces terrorism."

"Islam teaches gentleness and softness in everything," Badat said from the lectern next to a large white-and-blue tile mosaic and between two minarets. "There are some Muslims who do not know Islam."

With reporters in the back of the room and police cars outside in case of reprisal, Badat acknowledged brothers Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka as well as Serdar Tatar worshipped at the center but said their alleged actions do not represent the mosque or its worshippers.

"We are all American -- Muslims are Americans," he said.


Suspected terrorist cell leader detained. MNF-Iraq: 'Coalition Forces detained three suspected secret cell terrorists Sunday morning, including an alleged senior leader in the organization, during operations in southeastern Baghdad. Coalition Forces raided several buildings and captured three suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for its use of explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, as well as facilitating the transport of weapons and EFPs from Iran to Iraq, and bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training. One of the detainees is an alleged senior leader within the secret cell group known for personally coordinating and implementing the use of EFPs.'

SGIME on the Saudi family card. Sand Gets In My Eyes: 'Male guardians – dads, brothers, uncles, or husbands – usually carry so-called “Family cards” which allow them and anyone on the card to travel within Saudi Arabia and even outside the Kingdom/s borders. These cards are only carried by men. The rare woman who travels without a male guardian, is required to have various signed documents – perhaps even from her guardian’s employer! – attesting to the fact that they do, indeed, have the permission of their male guardian to be out and about. The family card probably seemed like a great idea when some guy – it obviously was a guy – came up with it. After all, it prevented a woman from traveling freely, thus assuring the male total control of her whereabouts. Not only could he force her to travel, he could prevent her from traveling, thus cutting off opportunities and experiences that might make her less submissive to him. (ok so I’m sure there will be those who say it was and is a “protective” device, but I’m not sure what it was supposedly protecting against – women contributing equally to society?)' Read the whole thing, and also see her previous post on the mercy of strangers.

Yes, you can get fired for being gay. Unless you live in a state with a nondiscrimination law, that is. GayPatriot: 'The fact of the matter is, unless your company has specific policies against discrimination due to sexual orientation, or you live in a state with a non-discrimination law, you can be legally fired for being gay at any company — religious or not. They might not tell you it is for being gay, but it can be done.'

Commentary. There couldn't be a better time to take another look at this excellent article on Iraqi militant groups by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. Here's an excerpt:
IN 2004 AND 2005, BAATHIST AND SUNNI nationalist insurgent groups comprised the bulk of the resistance movement in Iraq. These groups weren't necessarily waging a sectarian war, nor did they espouse a particularly radical religious creed. By late 2005, a number of secular and nationalist groups had decided to join the political process--which is traditionally how insurgencies are ended. Some Sunni insurgent groups even provided voters with protection against AQI during the December 2005 constitutional referendum. Alarmed, Zarqawi ordered the February 22, 2006, bombing of the Askariya mosque in Samarra. Askariya's importance to the Shia community was underscored by Iraqi vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi, who likened the mosque attack to 9/11.

This single bombing dramatically reshaped the entire insurgency. Shia reprisals were swift, devastating, and largely indiscriminate. These mass sectarian killings shattered the Baathist and nationalist insurgent factions. For rank-and-file Sunni insurgents, witnessing bloody attacks orchestrated by Shias made al Qaeda's sectarian arguments seem sensible for the first time. Today, the violence caused by the remaining nationalist groups is negligible compared to that caused by AQI: intelligence sources confirm that AQI and its ideological compatriot Ansar al-Sunnah are responsible for the vast majority of violence on the Sunni side. The most significant nationalist faction is the Islamic Army of Iraq--although even that ex-Baathist group now purports to have embraced a radical Islamic ideology.

Now here's a look at the Shi'a side of the house:
ANOTHER IMPORTANT SHIA MILITANT FACTION is the Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development, originally known as the Badr Brigade. The Badr Organization was initially formed in 1983 as the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an Iranian-backed group that opposed Saddam Hussein's government. The Badr Organization fought as a conventional light infantry unit against Iraq in the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s.

Shortly after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled, SCIRI chairman Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim was killed in a bombing in Najaf. This was devastating to SCIRI's leadership, and precipitated the split between SCIRI and the Badr Organization: today the two are entirely separate entities. Both SCIRI and the Badr Organization participate in Iraq's parliament, and the Badr Organization is part of the United Iraqi Alliance faction.

Today the Badr Organization is believed to have between 10,000 and 20,000 members. At times it was a force for stability, fighting against some Sunni insurgent factions and also the Mahdi Army. The problem is that the Badr Organization augmented sectarian violence. It was accused of brutality against Sunnis even prior to the Askariya bombing. For example, a secret prison uncovered at Badr's headquarters in 2005 reportedly housed over 150 inmates, "many of them malnourished and showing signs of torture; most of them were Sunni Arabs." But the Askariya bombing was the real catalyst for the Badr Organization's increased violence; thereafter the group took part in organized campaigns targeting Sunnis.

Today, Badr is having an identity crisis: according to a senior U.S. military intelligence officer, it is trying to determine whether to align with the Iranian regime or to be accountable to nobody.

Go to the link to read the rest; better yet, for an article this important, I recomment printing it, because you can sometimes get more out of an article when it's printed on paper.

Meanwhile, here's what Omar at Iraq the Model wrote last Friday:
The efforts to reach a final agreement will be faced by many obstacles. Some of those are coming or will come from parties that simply want to get a better deal for themselves and their public bases while other obstacles will come from parties that simply do not want to see any compromise take place even if that meant the disintegration of the country and the failure of the democratic project.

As an example of the first category we have influential people like Ayatollah Sistani who told the delegates sent by Maliki two days ago that he was against making hasty legislations. Sistani isn't against stability or peaceful coexistence with Sunni Arabs or Kurds but emotions and history make him and others around him wary from rushing toward accepting former Baathists among them.

Sadr and his movement are the biggest example of the second category; they are not interested in nation-building and will keep opposing every sincere effort in this direction, thus their attempt to undermine Maliki's efforts and Bush's new strategy.


Also related: Counterterrorism Blog has an interview with bu Adam al-Maqdisi, a Palestinian national fighting with Al-Qaida’s “Islamic State of Iraq.”