John Milton turns 400 today.


Happy birthday John!


Update: Posting Break and Career Move

I will be taking a break from regular posting, probably through the end of this calendar year (although I may post occasionally if something big comes up).

I'm in the process of gearing up for a career move into IT in 2009. I've been working in the clerical field - mostly Office Services and Litigation Copy - for most of my time in the private sector; that's the last 15 years. And the truth is, I enjoy clerical work ... but it's a job, not a career.

I've been interested in computers since I was a little kid. I attended the Talcott Mountain Science Center in my grade-school years (around 1974, age 11) and studied BASIC programming. I didn't study programming again until this past year when I began learning C and C++. ("What do you mean, there's no GOTO statment? How can you write a program without GOTO?!?")

I also enrolled in LearnIT! for the CompTIA A+ course - that's the entry-level certification for Windows-based computer techs. After I take (and pass) the certification exam, I'll be able to list myself as A+ certified.

Meanwhile, I'm watching the job postings for openings in the computer, technical, and IT fields that match my current skill set. I've got lots of end-user experience on both Windows and Macintosh. I have good customer service and people skills, and I'm comfortable with technology and problem-solving environments; so I am excited about this decision. If you're curious, here's my LinkedIn public profile: Asher Abrams.

I'll continue to post updates to DiL as time permits.


Mumbai, India Terrorist Attacks

A roundup of articles on the terrorist attacks at Mumbai, India.

Victims remembered. Neocon Express: 'Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holtzberg headed up the Chabad Jewish center in Mumbai. The gunmen walked in and murdered them in front of their child who survived, rescued by an Indian employee. Americans Alan Scherr and his 13 year old daughter, Naomi Scherr, were murdered while eating dinner at the Taj Hotel. A gunman simply walked in and shot them in cold blood in the name of "Islam" for no reason other than their mere existence which was offensive to them. ...'

CNN: Witnesses describe horror. CNN:

Anthony Rose, an Australian visiting Mumbai to produce a travel show, told CNN Thursday that he checked into the Taj hotel just a minute before attackers stormed into the lobby Wednesday night.

"They came in with all guns blazing," Rose said. "It was just chaos." Video Watch Rose's comments on terror attacks »

Rose and others found refuge in a hotel ballroom, where they waited for six hours hoping to be rescued.

Although they could hear explosions and gunfire nearby, there were no sirens or police evident, he said.Video Watch how terror attacks have shaken India. »

Help never arrived and the group were forced to smash a thick glass window and climbed down to the street on curtains.

"As soon as the hotel was on fire, we knew we had to go," Rose said.

Meanwhile Manuela Testolini, founder of the In A Perfect World children's foundation and ex-wife of music icon Prince, described how she saw someone shot in front of her at the Taj before sheltering with 250 other terrified people in the darkened ballroom.

Full article at the link.

Footage of capture. Gateway Pundit: 'Caught in a car with its tires blown out the Mumbai terrorist was told by the police to come out with his hands up. Instead, the terrorist pulled out a pistol and shot 3 policemen dead. That's when the Indian crowd decided to do the job the police were meant to do. They beat his a$$ on the street.' From the video:

The footage, which was captured on a mobile phone, shows a furious crowd beating the alleged terrorist, Ajmal Qasab (Azam Amir Kasav), before he is taken away.

It allegedly shows him with other gunmen on Marine Drive, a few streets away from the train station where the group had just carried out a killing spree.

Fleeing the scene of the carnage, the gunmen were forced to stop because the tyres of their getaway car had blown out.

Hostages were tortured. Even hardened doctors used to violent deaths were shocked at what they saw. Rediff:

"Bombay has a long history of terror. I have seen bodies of riot victims, gang war and previous terror attacks like bomb blasts. But this was entirely different. It was shocking and disturbing," a doctor said.

Asked what was different about the victims of the incident, another doctor said: "It was very strange. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatised. A bomb blast victim's body might have been torn apart and could be a very disturbing sight. But the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words," he said.

Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: "It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood," one doctor said.

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.

How an ISI Kashmir operation turned into a massacre at Mumbai. Steve Schippert at The Tank recommends this article in Asia Times Online:

A plan by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that had been in the pipelines for several months - even though official policy was to ditch it - saw what was to be a low-profile attack in Kashmir turn into the massive attacks on Mumbai last week.

The original plan was highjacked by the Laskar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistani militant group that generally focussed on the Kashmir struggle, and al-Qaeda, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 people in Mumbai as groups of militants sprayed bullets and hand grenades at hotels, restaurants and train stations, as well as a Jewish community center.

The attack has sent shock waves across India and threatens to revive the intense periods of hostility the two countries have endured since their independence from British India in 1947.

There is now the possibility that Pakistan will undergo another about-turn and rethink its support of the "war in terror"; until the end of 2001, it supported the Taliban administration in Afghanistan. It could now back off from its restive tribal areas, leaving the Taliban a free hand to consolidate their Afghan insurgency.

The details of what happened:

Under directives from Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kiani, who was then director general (DG) of the ISI, a low-profile plan was prepared to support Kashmiri militancy. That was normal, even in light of the peace process with India. Although Pakistan had closed down its major operations, it still provided some support to the militants so that the Kashmiri movement would not die down completely.

After Kiani was promoted to chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj was placed as DG of the ISI. The external section under him routinely executed the plan of Kiani and trained a few dozen LET militants near Mangla Dam (near the capital Islamabad). They were sent by sea to Gujrat, from where they had to travel to Kashmir to carry out operations.

Meanwhile, a major reshuffle in the ISI two months ago officially shelved this low-key plan as the country’s whole focus had shifted towards Pakistan’s tribal areas. The director of the external wing was also changed, placing the “game” in the hands of a low-level ISI forward section head (a major) and the LET’s commander-in-chief, Zakiur Rahman.

Zakiur was in Karachi for two months to personally oversee the plan. However, the militant networks in India and Bangladesh comprising the Harkat, which were now in al-Qaeda’s hands, tailored some changes. Instead of Kashmir, they planned to attack Mumbai, using their existent local networks, with Westerners and the Jewish community center as targets.

Read the rest at the link. Schippert adds: 'And keep in mind that the LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) was an original signatory to bin Laden's International Islamic Front in 1998, which formally created al-Qaeda as "the base" organization for international Islamic terror groups.' Here, according to Schippert, is the take-away analysis:

1. ISI fingerprints are on the genesis of the attack plan.

2. Upper echelons of ISI delegated seemingly unsupervised to a junior officer, who signed off on the LeT/al-Qaeda alterations from small Kashmir assault to large scale Mumbai killing spree.

3. Upper echelons of ISI & military perhaps unaware of alterations, but not with clean hands. Kashmir or Mumbai, they planned terror attacks.

4. That “major reshuffle in the ISI two months ago,” recall, was when Lt. General Nadeem Taj, a relative of Musharraf, was forced out as Director General of the ISI. It was a Pakistani intelligence shake-up largely by American insistence.
5. While the US had hoped the ‘double dealing’ of Taj would have left with him, it has to be understood that General Kiyani - head of Pakistan’s military and thus effectively its military intelligence (ISI) - while admirably stalwart against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the North West and tribal areas, has always been equally stalwart regarding the Pakistani conflict with India over disputed Kashmir.

General Kiyani may have intended a minor operation for Kashmir and was almost certainly in the dark about the metamorphosis of the operation into a Mumbai massacre, but the law of unintended consequences holds little acquittal when leaders play with the fire of terrorism.

Commentary. I'm absolutely at a loss to write anything fit to read about this atrocity. A small gang of sadistic psychopaths terrorize a city while the police cower and do nothing. A two-year-old boy is beaten while his parents are murdered. The only real heroes, apparently, were the hotel workers:

They were heroes in cummerbunds and overalls. The staff of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel saved hundreds of wealthy guests as heavily armed gunmen roamed the building, firing indiscriminately, leaving a trail of corpses behind them.

Among the workers there were some whose bravery and sense of duty led them to sacrifice their own lives, witnesses said.

Prashant Mangeshikar, a guest, said that a hotel worker, identified only as Mr Rajan, had put himself between one of the gunmen and Mr Mangeshikar, his wife and two daughters.

“The man in front of my wife shielded us,” Mr Mangeshikar said. “He was a maintenance section staff member. He took the bullets.” For the next 12 hours, before Mr Rajan was finally taken out of the hotel, guests battled to stop the bleeding from a gaping bullet wound in his abdomen. It is not known if he lived. ...

The Belmont Club has more.

It's late, and I don't have time to write any more now. I have a fourteen-month old girl who started walking last week, and who's up past her bedtime; elsewhere in this city, my twelve-year-old son is three weeks away from his thirteenth birthday and his bar mitzvah. I don't know what to say about all of this, or even how to think about it.