Zeyad Is Back!

Iraqi blog fans, rejoice! Zeyad of the Healing Iraq blog has returned, and he's brought his friends. Go check out the latest posts ... there's info on the newest, youngest crop of Iraqi bloggers yet.


Just a few quick thoughts ...

... before I go back to schlepping.

I believe President Bush spoke wisely when he said of the War on Terror, "This is not a war against a religion." In a December 3, 2003 post, Ali at Iraq the Model wrote: 'I think that the governments can not create criminals or saints, but a wise one makes it easier for the good ones to use their free will as it makes it harder for the bad ones to use theirs. And the opposite applies for the bad government; it just acts as a catalyst to the potentialities within each human soul.' I believe this applies to religions as well. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are what their adherents make of them. A religious teaching provides the framework to strengthen and ennoble the human soul, but it is up to people to use their free will to build on that framework in a positive way. There is, in Irshad Manji's words, a "trouble with Islam"; and as a Muslim acquaintance of mine recently said, "No religion today is more sick than Islam." But it doesn't have to be that way. This is why you'll never find sarcastic comments about "the religion of peace" or "72 virgins" on this site.

I really do believe in all that good liberal stuff about "understanding other people/cultures/religions". At the same time, everything in the world doesn't reduce to this. You need to "understand" bin Laden, Arafat, and Saddam only well enough to know that they are trying to destroy you. It's important to know how to "win friends and influence people", but there are some folks in the world who are immune to the Dale Carnegie treatment. They will continue killing innocent people, and they will not stop no matter how nicely you ask.

Understanding other people means relating to others as people, not as "strange objects on a laboratory slide". And it applies equally to everyone, regardless of religion, politics, ethnicity, or social class. It's a strange kind of "liberalism" that can be more "open-minded" about fascist terrorists than about conservative Americans. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'll post again when I get the chance. Meanwhile, as always, thanks for reading my blog - drop me a comment sometime.



Yesterday evening I visited with my Islamic teacher, Imam Toure, a sixth-generation Sufi Imam from Senegal. We spoke about Iraq for a while, as well as many other things, and he explained the concept of fikr.

Fikr, he said, is the innate drive for self-expression and justice. If you have two young children, and you give a toy to one of them, the other will ask "Why didn't you give me a toy?" Why? Because of fikr. Fikr is the reason human beings rebel against oppression and degradation. In my work as a chaplain - the Imam said - I often work with prostitutes. There is not one among them who does not experience shame and rage at the violations she is forced to endure. In the traditional culture of Senegal, he went on, there is only one crime punishable by death: it is not murder, but rape, because the woman is seen as a co-creator with G-d and a violation of her is a violation of the Divine process itself. Rape was virtually unknown in Senegal until modern times.

Islamic law (he continued) teaches that humankind has a positive duty to fight injustice and oppression. If a person sees evil being committed, they have an obligation to resist with their own hands if possible; if it is not possible, they must speak out against it; and if even this is not possible (as when a man's life and family are threatened), then at a minimum they have a duty to hate the oppression in their heart.

He cited the Israel Sura of the Koran, which states "We [G-d] have honored the sons of Adam ... and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of Our Creation" (Koran 17:70). As the commentary by 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali explains, "The distinction and honour conferred by Allah on man are recounted in order to enforce the corresponding duties and responsibilities of man."

It is neither a sin nor a merit to be born rich or poor, powerful or oppressed; our merit consists solely in how we choose to make use of the resources and power available to us. As Americans, we should not feel guilty for being a part of the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world; indeed, that is a gift that G-d can take away if we misuse it. Rather, we must remember our calling as human beings, to act in accord with our highest nature.


Let's blogroll!

Big Pharaoh: America is winning in Iraq. Thanks, GM, for that pick-me-up! Big Pharaoh says the US and its Iraqi allies are winning because the Iraqis feel invested in their own future. 'Before June 28th, many Iraqis felt that their country was owned by the US who literally took it from its previous owner Saddam Hussein. Today it seems that more and more Iraqis are beginning to feel that there is a political process currently underway which will put the average citizen behind the steering wheel.' Citing a recent post at ITM, he notes the growing number of Iraqis willing to pass information to the IP.

CaribPundit: thoughts on personal responsibility. Helen at Caribpundit speaks out on individual achievement, and why it's not a good idea to wait for the Feds to tell you how to get out of Brooklyn in a hurry. Voters seem afflicted by a mysterious deafness when asked about Whoopi Goldberg's vulgar remarks on the President, while Sean "P. Diddy" Combs takes a non-partisan approach to getting out the black vote.

LaShawn: new digs, and more on Berger. If you haven't yet, update your browser with LaShawn Barber's new homepage. As for us luddites still limping along with Blogger, we can only watch in admiration. She'd like to find a new home for Sandy Berger as well, but we all know that ain't gonna happen.

Smells like the BBC. The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler digs up some muck from al-Jazeera-on-the-Thames. For another reflection on the smell of war, see the quote at my recent post on The Iraqi Holocaust.

PS It would be unfair to the BBC to omit mention of this item, which I posted here.

Morning Report: July 25, 2004

Allied forces kill 13 insurgents in Iraq, take no casualties. Iraqi and American forces killed thirteeen insurgents in Buhriz, a former Ba'athist stronghold north of Baghdad, taking no casualties, in fighting on Sunday. However, an emergency worker at Baqouba General Hospital stated that an IP officer and a civilian had been killed. Iraqi and US forces destroyed an apparent staging ground for insurgent attacks in the operation. (Fox News)

IDF intel: Syria testing chemical missiles. According to recent reports on Debka, 'IDF intelligence chief Col. Zeevi warns Israeli cabinet Syria is testing chemical warheads for dozens of Hizballah 115-215 km range surface missiles.' The report also notes Arafat's optimism regarding a Kerry victory in November. (Debka)

Philippines, Indonesia: Allies or burden? The Belmont Club reflects on the South Pacific front, citing the difficulties of dealing with impotent states such as Indonesia and RP. In the wake of an Indonesian ruling that weakens the case against the Bali bombers (whose victims were largely Australian), 'the European branch of Al Qaeda threatened to turn Australia into a "pool of blood"'. This is not going down well in Canberra, where even leftist MPs are calling for decisive action against al-Qaeda. Comparing today's Philippines with Taliban-era Afghanistan, Wretchard questions the wisdom of 'working with the Indonesian and the Philippine governments which seem unwilling or unable to face the forces that are slowly tearing them apart'; but he also rejects the notion of waiting for 'the final collapse or breakup of these two countries before acting'. Rather, he recommends bypassing the official channels to forge alliances with useful elements within the power structures. The example for this has already been provided by Islamist rebels in the Philippines, who have co-opted elements of the Indonesian army as "facilitators" for their campaign against Manila.


Iraq Update: Barbershop Talk

Mohammed of ITM went to get his hair cut in the Ba'athist stronghold of Adhamiya (the neighborhood in northern Baghdad that juts out into the Tigris on the east bank). He reports that it is one of the few areas in Iraq where " no one dares to say that what happened was right" for fear of retribution from the Ba'athist gangs.

In Baghdad, as elsewhere, barbershops are a place to talk politics. Mohammed overheard the client ahead of him say to the barber that the list of "agents and spies" (meaning anti-Ba'athist informers) on 20th Street had grown to 250. Choosing his words carefully, Mohammed remarked that the "honest people" (Ba'athists) must be dwindling in numbers and losing support.

Mohammed goes on to say:

"I smiled inside as I remembered the days of Saddam when we couldn’t dare to speak fearing Saddam’s agents who seemed to be everywhere. I was living a somewhat reversed picture from the past and it was a bit amusing. I went adding, " I don’t think it’ll take a long time before things get better" This phrase could be interpreted in 2 different ways but still no one dared to approve of what I said. People here are still afraid of a very small criminal group that is capable of everything and believe they’re the only ones who are right and who have honor while all the rest are cowards spies who should be killed without hesitation.

This was the way Saddam and his assistants used to think. They thought that if they had to sacrifice 24 million Iraqis for the rest to live "honorably" then that was what they would do with clear conscience."

Read the whole post here:Land of Spies

This is good news indeed. As always, don't hold your breath for BBC and CNN to report it. They're still weeping over the downfall of their genocidal hero, Saddam Hussein.

Morning Report: July 23, 2004

Congress on Sudan: It is genocide. AFP article in the Sudan Tribune, without further comment: "The US Congress unanimously passed a resolution declaring the atrocities being committed in Darfur, Sudan, a genocide, and calling on the White House to intervene multilaterally or even unilaterally to stop the violence. By a vote of 422 to zero, the House of Representatives and "the Senate concurring" passed the resolution introduced a month ago by New Jersey Democrat Donald Payne stressing that in Darfur 30,000 people have been "brutally murdered", 130,000 have fled to neighboring Chad and more than one million have been internally displaced by the violence. Quoting the United Nations Resident Humanitarian Coordinator who said that the violence in the poverty-stricken region "appears to be particularly directed at a specific group based on their ethnic identity and appears to be systemized," the resolution "declares that the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide." It urges the US administration of President George W. Bush to "call the atrocities ... by its rightful name: 'genocide,' and calls on it to lead an international effort to prevent it. The resolution, adopted late on Thursday, further calls on the Bush administration "to seriously consider multilateral or even unilateral intervention to prevent genocide should the United Nations Security Council fail to act." It also demands "targeted sanctions, including visa bans and the freezing of assets of the National Congress and affiliated business and individuals directly responsible for the atrocities in Darfur," and urges USAID to help the refugees resettle and rebuild their communities." (Sudan Tribune / Agence France-Presse, via Google)

Israel dispatches Islamic Jihad head man. According to the latest Debka bulletin, "Israeli helicopter-borne rocket hits car in Zeitun district of Gaza City killing two Islamic Jihad terrorists, according to witnesses. One identified as Hatem Rachim who paraded head of Israeli soldier after IDF APC blown up three months ago." (Debka)

Wretchard on the ransom tax. Latest post at the Belmont Club discusses hostage negotiators' " habit of skimming stuff off the top when handling ransom money." Wretchard observes that of about one million offered by the Philippines government for the release of hostage Angelo de la Cruz, the hostage takers only saw about a quarter-million. (Belmont Club)

Danger present for Democrats, Republicans alike. Cliff May reports that Senators Joseph Lieberman (D - Connecticut) and Jon Kyl (R - Arizona) have moved to revive the bipartisan Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), originally a Cold War -era organization dedicated to educating Americans about the danger of Soviet Communism. According to Cliff May on CPD, the organization, founded in 1950, enjoyed a revival in the 1970s under Democratic Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a staunch anti-Communist. Today, "in its third incarnation, with Senators Lieberman and Kyl as honorary chairmen, the CPD is to focus on terrorism and the movements that are using terrorism to damage and, ultimately they pray, destroy America." (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)

Goli Ameri out-raises opponent Wu. The Republican challenger for Oregon's first congressional district, Goli Ameri, has outpaced the Democratic incumbent David Wu in fund-raising by more than $100,000, raising nearly $500,000 in the second quarter. Ms. Ameri, the first Iranian-American woman ever to run for US Congress, is running on a strong pro-business and pro-freedom platform. The Tehran-born business leader is the founder of eTinium, a consulting firm for high-tech corporations such as Lucent and Nortel. Oregon's First District includes parts of downtown Portland and extends through the Oregon coast, also including tech-oriented cities like Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Tigard. (Goli Ameri 2004)


Morning Report: July 21, 2004

One giant leap. Yesterday marks T + 35 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing. How long till we go back?

Berger quits Kerry campaign. Samuel Berger, the former National Security Adviser who was caught stuffing classified documents into his pants, has quit his role as informal adviser to John Kerry's presidential campaign. Berger's resignation comes amid reports that Berger is the subject of a criminal investigation in connection with the incident. (Fox)

Al-Qaeda's silent partners? According to this Debka report on Saudi/IRI/Syrian al-Qaeda connections, the triangular "axis" of regimes helping al-Qaeda is still active "when it suits the parties". The article states that the three regimes may now be working to repatriate all of the key players in the 9/11 attacks, including Muhammed Khaled al-Harby (Suleiman al-Makki) - Zuwahiri's son-in-law - and Ibrahim al-Sadiq al-Kaidi. Questioning the 9/11 commission's conclusion that "America had more reason to go to war against Iran than Iraq", Debka argues that it's a case of apples and oranges: al-Qaeda had actually struck separate deals with Ba'athist Iraq and SA/IRI/Syria. In any event, the article concludes: "The thousands of Saudi terrorists who wended their way to and from Afghanistan through Iran are now fighting American troops in Iraq."


Kurdistan Blog

Don't miss the chance to check out Kurdistan Bloggers Union (KBU). They're new, they're smart, they're Kurdish. They'll be on my sidebar, too.

Free Thoughts, Free Words, Free Deeds

There's a wonderful blog you should know about, called Free Thoughts. It's done by a young woman in Italy named Stafania, who is a strong supporter of the cause of Iranian freedom. Recent posts include an article on Zbigniew "Dr. Z" Brzezinski. Go check it out.

Notes from a Muslim Refusenik

Some recent comments from the homepage of Irshad Manji:

Reader comments and Irshad's replies
Posted July 15

"My name is Hamza and I am currently in high school. I was born to Pakistani parents. I want to congratulate you and encourage you on your initiative to help reform Islamic practices. We really need that. I also want to say that I hope you don't leave Islam, like you said you might. We really need people like you in Islam. I have some personal issues that I've been trying to sort out, and issues with my family, and you've kinda been a role model for me. But sometimes you criticize Islam too much. Perhaps you should endorse the true, open-minded, peaceful, forward-thinking Islam more than bashing the ill-practiced Islam in the world today. I wish you the best of luck." - Hamza

Irshad replies: Like you, I think it's vital to promote a positive vision rather than merely complain about what's wrong. Which is why, in The Trouble with Islam, I outline a global campaign to promote innovative approaches to Islam. It all begins with recognizing that Muslims are capable of being more thoughtful and humane than our clerics give us credit for. Your email is proof positive. So are the next two...

"As a young, open-minded Muslim, you can count on my unstinted and unreserved support. The work you have done and are doing is crucial. I am glad there is someone out there, like you, who has the guts to say it all. We Muslims no doubt have to reform ourselves. God bless you, Irshad."- Sheeraz

"I didn't read your book because I live in Jordon. They wouldn't allow it. Thinking is forbidden. But I read an article criticizing you in the local newspaper and I did my search on the web. I never thought someone else could see in a similar way as I do. Islam needs a reform movement. It's about time to re-think the whole thing.

I believe in mind, not myth. One of the greatest errors in the 'divine religions' is that the god who created them didn't install a protection mechanism for the future generations. The point is: working hard and learning to offer a better life for the next generation so they can live successful, healthy and happy is the best way to worship god... Social success requires a lot of work and knowledge. Many religious Muslims escape to religion to cover their failure.

I don't mind being part of a group, but the group that Islam represents is the furthest one from me. I prefer 'faith' much more than 'religion.'"
- Tareq

Morning Report: July 20, 2004

Former Clinton aide probed for classified mishandling. The national security advisor for the Clinton administration, Samuel "Sandy" Berger, is under federal criminal investigation for allegedly removing classified documents from a secure area. During his preparation for the 9/11 commission hearings, Berger is said to have taken documents and notes from the National Security Archives without proper authorization. Berger states that he took the documents "inadvertently". (CNN)

Taheri: Iran to be 2004 election issue. In a recent article, Amir Taheri notes the importance of Iran in the upcoming US presidential campaign. Taheri notes that the IRI's nuclar ambitions are causing growing concern "even in European circles" and that a UN resolution on Iran could be on the table as early as this fall. He faults the Bush administration for its lack of a clear Iran policy - partly due to internal divisions in Washington. (See my May 6 post "State vs. Defense".) Kerry, on the other hand, unequivocally espouses an appeasement policy. Tahei concludes that he hopes the upcoming election will force Bush to clarify his policy on Iran (perhaps taking a harder line to distinguish himself from Kerry) while persuading Kerry to take a more "realistic" approach. (Benador)


Farewell, cruel blogosphere ... oh, never mind.

Rachel Lucas has withdrawn her blogicide note and returned to blogging. It's great to have her back.

Rachel ... you go, girl!


Morning Report: July 14, 2004

Constitutional gay marriage ban likely to die. "The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans ... It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them." So said Senator John McCain (R - Arizona) of the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. McCain's words illustrate why many Republicans oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment. Further complicating matters is the wording of the proposed amendment's second clause, which states: "Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman." Some critics, including Andrew Sullivan and Oregon's Republican Senator Gordon Smith, charge that this could be interpreted to deny existing domestic-partner benefits to gay couples. In fact, the FMA seems unlikely to achieve even a simple majority in the Senate, much less the two-thirds vote it would need to clear this first hurdle (followed by a 2/3 majority in the House and ratification by 3/4 of state legislatures). All things considered, it seems unlikely that the FMA will pass. (CNN)

Bulgaria stands firm. According to latest reports, Bulgaria will stay on in Iraq despite the reported killing of one Bulgarian hostage and the threatened killing of another. (Channel News Asia)


Morning Report: July 13, 2004

RP surrenders to terrorists. The government of the
Phillipines announced it would pull out peacekeepers following the kidnapping of a Filipino in Iraq. In a refreshingly candid statement, RP foreign minister Rafael Segulis delcared on al-Jazeera that "following the demands of the hostage-takers, the Philippines will withdraw its humanitarian force from Iraq as soon as possible." (CNN)

OBL aide surrenders to Saudi authorities. A top aide to Osama bin Laden surrendered in Iran to Saudi Arabia under an offer of amnesty from the kingdom, according to recent reports. Abu Suleiman al-Makki (Khaled al-Harby) is reported to have given himself up at the Saudi embassy in Iran. (VOA)


A Few Thoughts About Blogging

They say blogging is the wave of the future, and I suppose it's true. It certainly can be addictive: after only about ten weeks, I find I'm compelled to blog. When I'm away from the keyboard, I can only think about what I want to write on my next post. And when I'm writing, I feel fulfilled and empowered - as if I'm finally able to communicate my ideas to the outside world, which had hitherto proved to be an indifferent and unsympathetic listener. And I know this is a good way for me to spend my time. But the question I have to ask myself is: how much of a good thing is too much?

So thank you all, for your support. I have really enjoyed writing Dreams Into Lightning. I feel I've made an important and meaningful contribution to political discourse. I've learned a lot, and met lots of wonderful people online. But now the time has come to take stock of my priorities and to make some hard choices about how I expend my precious personal energy. And so I am going to make this post on Dreams Into Lightning my

... had you going there, didn't I?

DiL resumes normal operations tomorrow morning. Morning Report to report for duty. Wonder what's going to come out about Cpl. Hassoun? Oh, and I can't wait to tell you about my new place.

See you soon.


Rachel Lucas calls it quits

Rachel, I'll miss your piquance, impudence, and especially ordnance. But you know what's best for you. Do what you gotta do.


Rebecca Walker Website Making Debut

Rebecca Walker, the daughter of writer Alice Walker and the author of "Black, White, and Jewish", has posted her photo on her website (ulp! I think I'm in love) and seems to be about ready to start putting up content.

I first discovered Alice Walker when I was a young adult (about 20 or 21) in the Air Force. I still remember picking up a copy of "You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down" in the base library at the Presidio of Monterey. I was totally blown away by her writing. I promptly bought that book and her earlier collection of short stories, "In Love and Trouble". I still think those two books hold some of the finest short fiction I've ever read.

Later on, Walker would become famous for her novels, including "The Third Life of Grange Copeland" and of course "The Color Purple". (Confession: I wasn't craze about TCP.) She's also got a new book out which is classed as a novel but appears to be in the form of a series of vignettes. Since I'm partial to her work in the short-story mode, I will probably succumb to temptation and buy it soon.

But like so many people, Alice Walker strode merrily off the deep end with the Iraq crisis. I remember reading in a magazine article published shortly before the war that she had gone to Iraq as part of some "human shield" program. All I could do was shake my head and say, "Alice, what were you thinking?" I don't know whether she ever bothered to talk with Iraqis who were actually free to speak their minds - either here in the US, or in Iraq after the liberation. I don't know what, if anything, she has to say about the torture chambers and mass graves.

I do know that Rebecca Walker embraces both her mother's African-American heritage and her father's Jewish identity. I've read in a couple of places that the mother and daughter are rather far apart politically; when asked about her daughter's politics in a recent interview (I think in Ms.), Alice replied tersely, "I don't talk about my daughter's politics."

Haven't got a copy of BW&J or the new Alice Walker yet, but I'll probably stop by Powell's tonight (writing this post has kind of committed me to do that, I guess), and I'll undoubtedly have more to say about the Walkers soon.

The Home Front: Goli Ameri Campaign

Spent some time last Friday volunteering for the Goli Ameri campaign. I got to meet Ms. Ameri, she's really fabulous in person. I was with about half a dozen other volunteers; we put together signs for the Independence Day parade.

More News from the Home Front

It's confirmed: I pick up the keys to my new place tomorrow morning!

FM and TNG are still away traveling - they get back to San Francisco on July 20. She's a major travel addict - used to wear me to a frazzle, but it'll be great for the kid.

I've started "Absolution Gap", the third volume of Alastair Reynolds' terrific trilogy. Reynolds is a Welsh-born astrophysicist who works for the European Space Agency. He is also one heck of a writer. He's not only helped to revive space-based science fiction as a genre - he is turning it into an art form. The character of Scorpio is one I won't soon forget. For those of you who will never read Reynolds because "I don't read sci-fi", all I can say is, you don't know what you're missing. Really and truly.

Also working my way through the complete DVD series of Babylon 5 (all five seasons). Just about to finish Season 1. It's such a pleasure to watch really great actors like Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik (as the mortal enemies G'kar and Londo), especially in a well-written show like this one. The creator, J. Michael Straczynski, writes most of the scripts himself; a few episodes are written by guest writers. (A couple of the guest-written episodes are a bit weak, I think; and there's one in particular I have some problems with. But I'll post on that later.)

I'm starting to take lessons in chanting the Torah from a friend at the synagogue. Her son Ari just joined the Army reserves. He's about to graduate boot camp - and he turns 18 today! Let's wish him all the best.


Our Enemies Are Scared.

The degenerate cowards that captured Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun are now realizing they made the mistake of their lives. Now they are frantically trying to deny their earlier boast that they killed him. "No, no, he's OK, we didn't mean that."

"On Sunday, another group, Ansar al-Sunna, denied reports that Hassoun had been beheaded.

"This statement quoting us is baseless, and it's not true at all," the militant group Ansar al-Sunna said in a statement posted on its Web site." - CNN report

So now they think capturing a fellow Arab, a fellow Muslim, and a US Marine wasn't the brightest thing in the world to do? Well, who would have thought that. Guess it kinda makes it a little harder for them to claim this is a "war on Islam", right? Guess it kinda makes them look bad to advertise to the world that there are brave and honorable Muslims in the world after all - and it sure ain't them.

Well, guys, you're a little late with those insights. 'Cuz you just dug your own graves.

So where is he?

The terrorist scum who kidnapped Cpl. Hassoun now claim he's alive and well.

I'd love to believe that. All right, assholes, where is my fellow Marine? You got some live pictures you'd like to show us? When do you plan to turn him over?

Our enemies are stupid. And now they're scared. They kidnapped a US Marine and bragged that they were going to kill him on television. Then, at some point, it began to dawn on them how badly they had f*cked up. So now they're frantically trying to claim it was all a big mistake.

Yeah, punks. Big mistake all right. Be ready to die like the diseased dogs you are.


Hassoun Killed, Terrorists Claim

Terrorists in Iraq say they have killed US Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun. I'll post more on this soon.


Morning Report: July 2, 2004

American volunteer owes life to Iraqi heroes. 22-year-old Scott Erwin, an American civilian volunteer in Iraq, credits a spare battery and Iraqi courage with saving his life. The battery, hanging in a pouch around Erwin's neck, stopped a bullet during an ambush. Also during the hail of bullets, the Iraqi translator, a friend of Erwin's, "was able to kind of pull me down and pull me from the car, until I was actually pulled to the opposite side outside of the car, so the car itself was almost blocking myself and him from the fire." The ambush killed an Iraqi officer and his driver.

Iraqi police put him and the others into the back of a pickup truck and sped off to the Green Zone. Erwin recalled that on the way to the hospital he tried to talk to his close friend, Col. Mohammed.

"I realized he wasn't answering, and then the translator, who saved my life, I believe, said that he had passed away."

Gunfire shattered some of the windows of the ambushed vehicle.

While in a state of shock, Erwin said he remembered feeling deep disappointment and sadness for the loss of Col. Mohammed's life, because he had a family -- a wife and two children.

He said he thought about how Col. Mohammed "would never get to see a prosperous Iraq, which he always talked about and he always dreamed about."

Read the whole story at the link.


The New Republican: TNR Discovers Sudan

"Do something," the editors implore in the July 8/12 issue, referring to the Sudan crisis.

Well, some of us have been. I've just gone through all my back copies of TNR since April, and it appears the Sudan crisis has only just popped up on the magazine's radar. The editorial criricizes the Bush administration's alleged passivity during the past year, but does not cite any instances of TNR's voice being raised in outrage during that period.

The piece admits that "in recent weeks, the Bush administration has taken modest steps in the right direction," which may account for the editorial's timing. TNR has to say something, fast, before Bush steals the show altogether.

The editorial offers a number of strategies that might help: "To make sanctions effective, the United States should coordinate with its European allies" - hope springs eternal - "the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank." And while our own combat strength is fully committed elsewhere, "logistical and airlift support" might encourage some of those other nations to come on board with peacekeeping troops. (Well, it can't hurt to ask.)

The magazine suggests that a transfer of "even a fraction of the 2,000 American troops currently stationed in nearby Djibouti" could have a "dramatic psychological impact". And shortly after a gratuitous suggestion that "few in the Bush administration have ever shown much enthusiasm for using the US military to save African lives," the editors remember that "some 200 American ground troops helped end the violence in Liberia last summer."

"If President Bush wants to show the world that his moral rhetoric was sincere in Iraq, he now has his chance, in Sudan." I couldn't agree more. It's nice to know that The New Republic is finally catching up with President Bush.

Anti-Gay Law Takes Effect in Virginia

An uncommonly hostile law aimed at stripping gay couples of their legal rights took effect in Virginia today, according to a CNN report. The legislation prohibits civil unions, partnership contracts or other arrangements "purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage." A rally in Richmond to protest the law drew over 400 people, and similar demonstrations were held in other cities statewide.

Saddam Transcript

The transcript of Saddam's arraignment is actually more interesting than you might expect. I'll post my thoughts on it later.

Let's Blogroll!

An uncanny resemblance. Jeffrey at Iraqi Bloggers Central notes the striking similarity between Saddam's courtroom rhetoric and the pronouncements of certain other individuals we've heard lately.

A close call, and some thoughts on security. Zeyad reports on a too-close-for-comfort car chase by some bandits, and stresses the need for increased Iraqi visibility in the security forces. He reports that "overall ... Baghdadis are cautiously optimistic about new developments."

Battle of wits. Ginmar gets to interrogate a new prisoner (not Zarqawi, unfortunately), and explains the different philosophies of interrogation. "One of them is the one that took the dark road to Abu Ghraib. The other is the one that it seems everyone in my company pretty much believes in: the battle of wits. This is where you plot and plan and study your opponent, eyeing body language, and weighing what facts you have, and how you can use them." She also talks about R&R, the mood in Qatar, and women's intimate apparel. (And no, I don't believe she plans to employ any of the latter with her next subject.)

US blunder. Big Pharaoh is appalled at an incident involving US forces and the Iraqi Police. Read the post, and don't miss the discussion in the comments corner.

Immigrant smuggling. CaribPundit has a
thought-provoking report on immigrant smuggling. Immigrants from Mexico and Central America are often subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment, while criminal gangs reap huge profits.

Morning Report: July 1, 2004

"Real criminal is Bush." - Saddam Saddam Hussein was belligerent and sullen by turns at his first court appearance in Baghdad, giving his title as "President of Iraq" and challenging the judge's authority, but quieting down when ordered to do so. CNN's Christiane Amanpour reported: "He said please a lot, which I'm sure is a change for him." He defended the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, referring to the Kuwaitis as "dogs". He declared that "the real criminal is Bush", and, according to Fox News, labeled the hearing as "theater".