A Beautiful Day

Today, January 30, 2005, a new Iraq was born.

As fate would have it, today is also my birthday - so this comes as a very special "birthday present" for me. A little background: fourteen years ago, my unit was stationed on the Saudi/Kuwaiti border awaiting our orders to go into Kuwait. On the night of January 29, we got the word that a column of enemy armor had crossed into Saudi Arabia and attacked the town of Khafji. We engaged them, and lost two vehicles and several men that night - the first Allied casualties of the ground conflict. For me, the anniversary of our losses at Khafji cast a shadow over my birthday each year since then - as did our failure to finish the job back in 1991.

Today, I can celebrate my birthday with unmingled joy, because it is also the birthday of a free and democratic Iraq.

Morning Report: January 30, 2005

Iraqis vote in free elections. Iraq the Model declares, "The people have won." Free Iraqi writes, "It's like the Eid but only a thousand times better." Iraqi Bloggers Central has all the latest updates from the Iraqi blogosphere. Kat at The Middle Ground rates media coverage. (Can you say "big fat F"?) Roger L. Simon takes on the reactionaries.

"This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's."

A soldier gets a lesson in democracy in this election day post at Iraq the Model.

"I felt like a king walking in his own kingdom." Ali writes about his feelings on voting for the first time in a REAL election. I don't think any of us born and raised in the US can imagine what it's like to fear for one's life because of having voted "NO" to a dictator. Ali doesn't have to imagine.

Some hard questions. Reader warriorjason posts this comment:
Where are all the Human sheild that went to Iraq to protect the Ba'ath Party before the invasion? Why have they not come out to protect the Iraqi voter from the terrorists? Why aren't American feminist organizations holding a rally in support of their sisters in Iraq who voted for the first time? These are serious questions that need to be answered by the world and American left.


Above and Beyond

Voter turnout exceeded expectations in Iraq's first free election of the post-Saddam era, according to news reports.

A'ash al-Iraq!

"Brave Voters Defy Rebels" was the gratifying headline on my AOL news screen just now. Nice! I hope the MSM begins to (FINALLY!) catch on to the idea that this is a GOOD thing.


Boxer for President?

I'm going to puke.

Iraq to Become a Democracy

Today - at 7:00AM Baghdad time - the Iraqi people will begin voting.

I don't have anything insightful to say, and I don't have any inside information that you can't get from Friends of Democracy or Iraq the Model. But I do know that I'll be glued epoxied to the computer tonight and tomorrow, watching the big event.

To the Iraqi people: a big l'chaim. And, in honor of the occasion, a she'hechiyanu.

G-d bless America and a free Iraq!

BBC Apologizes for Iraq "Mistakes"

Al-Jazeera-on-the-Thames has offered an apology for misrepresenting the number of civilian deaths in Iraq:
The BBC's Panorama programme reported coalition and Iraqi security forces were responsible for most civilian conflict deaths in the past six months.

But the health ministry says that its figures were misinterpreted.

"The BBC regrets mistakes in its published and broadcast reports," said a BBC spokesman.

This BBC item goes on to explain:
"The BBC regrets mistakes in its published and broadcast reports," said a BBC spokesman.

The Iraqi figures said that 3,274 people died in conflict situations in the period July-December 2004.

Of these, 2,041 of those were categorised as the result of "military operations" while 1,233 were blamed on "terrorist operations".

But the health ministry says those recorded as dying in military action included people killed by insurgents, not just those killed by troops from the multinational force or Iraqi security bodies.

The deaths recorded included those of militants as well as civilians, officials said.



go read this post by Ocean Guy. In commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Chapter 3 of "Pacific Memories" is up ...

... in which our narrator misses a pig hunt, participates in a rat race, and encounters a fayuntile.

The Great Rotorua Pig Hunt


The Holocaust

This post is part of a Blogburst commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army in 1945.
The Holocaust, symbolized by Auschwitz, the worst of the death camps, occurred in the wake of consistent, systematic, unrelenting anti-Jewish propaganda campaigns. As a result, the elimination of the Jews from German society was accepted as axiomatic, leaving open only two questions: when and how.

As Germany expanded its domination and occupation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, the Low Countries, Yugoslavia, Poland, parts of the USSR, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Italy and others countries, the way was open for Hitler to realize his well-publicized plan of destroying the Jewish people.

After experimentation, the use of Zyklon B on unsuspecting victim was adopted by the Nazis as the means of choice, and Auschwitz was selected as the main factory of death (more accurately, one should refer to the “Auschwitz-Birkenau complex”). The green light for mass annihilation was given at the Wannsee Conference, January 20, 1942.

The Wannsee Conference formalized "the final solution" - the plan to transport Europe's Jews to eastern labour and death camps. Ever efficient and bureaucratic, the Nazi kept a record of the meeting, which were discovered in 1947 in the files of the German Foreign Office. The record represents a summary made by Adolf Eichmann at the time, even though they are sometime referred to as "minutes".

Several of the Conference participants survived the war to be convicted at Nuremberg. One notorious participant, Adolf Eichmann, was tried and convicted in Jerusalem, and executed in 1962 in Ramlah prison.

The mass gassings of Europe's took place in Auschwitz between 1942 and the end of 1944, when the Nazis retreated before the advancing Red Army. Jews were transported to Auschwitz from all over Nazi-occupied or Nazi-dominated Europe and most were slaughtered in Auschwitz upon arrival, sometimes as many as 12,000 in one day. Some victims were selected for slave labour or “medical” experimentation before they were murdered or allowed to die. All were subject to brutal treatment.

In all, between three and four million people, mostly Jews, but also Poles and Red Army POWs, were slaughtered in Auschwitz alone (though some authors put the number at 1.3 million). Other death camps were located at Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec (Belzek), Majdanek and Treblinka. Adding the toll of these and other camps, as well as the mass executions and the starvation im the Ghettos, six million Jews, men, women, the elderly and children lost their lives as a consequence of the Nazi atrocities.

Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on 27 January 1945, sixty years ago, after most of the prisoners were forced into a Death March westwards. The Red Army found in Auschwitz about 7,600 survivors, but not all could be saved.

For a long time, the Allies were well aware of the mass murder, but deliberately refused to bomb the camp or the railways leading to it. Ironically, during the Polish uprising, the Allies had no hesitation in flying aid to Warsaw, sometimes flying right over Auschwitz.

There are troubling parallels between the systematic vilification of Jews before the Holocaust and the current vilification of the Jewish people and Israel. Suffice it to note the annual flood of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN; or the public opinion polls taken in Europe, which single out Israel as a danger to world peace; or the divestment campaigns being waged in the US against Israel; or the attempts to delegitimize Israel’s very existence. The complicity of the Allies in WW II is mirrored by the support the PLO has been receiving from Europe, China and Russia to this very day.

If remembering Auschwitz should teach us anything, it is that we must all support Israel and the Jewish people against the vilification and the complicity we are witnessing, knowing where it inevitably leads.

For more information, see Israpundit blogburst info.

See also this special edition of Morning Report.


New York Times: No Religious Motive in Killings

According to the New York Times, this was not a hate crime.

Writing in the Sulzberger-owned Boston Globe, James Carroll tells us:
THIS WEEK marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. When news eventually came to America of what the Red Army found at that death camp in January 1945, the report was remarkably detailed.

The headline of a first New York Times story about Auschwitz, filed from Moscow on May 8, 1945, read, "Oswiecim Killings Placed at 4,000,000." This number overstated by a factor of two the total of those murdered at Auschwitz, yet the account seemed closely observed in most other respects. The remains of the victims were described -- the charnel pits and piles of ashes, the corpses. The mechanized death process was explained, with a careful description of the gas chambers, down, even, to the name of the manufacturer of the crematoria -- Topf and Son. The identities of the victims were given as "more than 4,000,000 citizens" of a list of European nations -- Poland, Hungary, Netherlands, France. But what is most remarkable about the Times story -- apart from the fact that it was buried on page 12 -- is that in defining the identities of those victims, the story never used the word "Jew."

Many non-Jewish Poles were murdered at Auschwitz, but the vast majority of the dead were Jews -- killed for being Jewish. Indeed, of all the death camps, Auschwitz was most expressly commissioned to murder of Jews. Yet the New York Times reporter apparently saw nothing untoward in passing along a Soviet report that made no mention of Jews at Auschwitz. The murdered were Dutch, or French. They were men, women and children. They were old. They were Italian. Nothing about their being Jewish, which for the Nazis was the only thing that counted. The Times reporter was C. L. Sulzberger.

(Hat tip: DFME.)

The editorial goes on to note: "The New York Times index did not cite stories about concentration camps under the category "Jews" until 1950. It was not until 1975 that the index category "Nazi Policies Toward Jews" appeared."

As we approach the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we must take a long, hard look at ourselves, and at the culture of denial that continues to enable religious hate crimes and other atrocities, even in our own day.


Go check out this new Volkswagen ad. It'll make your day.

Hat tip to Iraq the Model.


New Reports on Armanious - Garas Killings

The New York Post reports that a "bloody vendetta" pre-dating the family's immigration to the United States may have led to the murders of Hossam Armanious, Amal Garas, and their two daughters in New Jersey, in this article. "We're trying to develop their history right now," Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said yesterday of the brutal quadruple slaying. Read the whole article at the link.

"Nothing indicates" that religion was the prime motive, DeFazio says in this article at NorthJersey.com.
Shortly after the bound and gagged bodies were found on |Jan. 14, friends of the family circulated word that Armanious had angered Muslims with Internet postings in a religious chat room.

The claims resulted in widespread tension between Christians and Muslims in Jersey City, which led to numerous scuffles at the family's funeral. But authorities said nothing so far supports the theory.

"Is it possible? Yes," DeFazio said. "Do we have anything that gives us reason to believe this is what it was, factually? No. Nothing indicates that was the prime motivation for this. That we can clearly say."

This appears to be a significant development. DeFazio is now saying that "nothing indicates" a religious hate crime, which is different from the "no proof" line the big media have been giving us all along.
DeFazio said no motive has been established in the case.

In addition to the Internet theory, investigators continue to look at robbery as a possible motive, because the home was ransacked and money was taken from the victims. Detectives are reviewing the family's finances to see if there are any obvious motives.

Hudson authorities have enlisted the FBI to scrutinize the family's activities in Egypt before they came to this country in 1997.

"It could be that it's a vendetta that might go back to the old country," DeFazio said. "We're going to try to look into that."

Update: 1/26, 6AM Pacific:

Michaelangelo Conte of the Jersey Journal gives a good roundup of developments in this Wednesday article at NJ.com. DeFazio, quoted in the article:
"We have more work to do, including on the computer angle, the financial profile and history of the family, including any information on the family or associated people in Egypt. All of that is being done, but it's taking time."

Joseph Farah speaks out in a column carried by Assyrian International News Agency and WorldNetDaily:
Yet, the media's focus hasn't been the horror of this kind of centuries-old anti-Christian persecution apparently coming to America. Instead, there has been a concerted effort, it seems, to downplay this gruesome slaughter as some kind of anomaly, to search desperately for motives other than religious hatred -- in effect, to ignore the kind of oppression that Christians and Jews in the Middle East have been experiencing since Islam became dominant in that part of the world more than 1,300 years ago.

I don't like it.

As an Arab-American, Christian journalist, it reminds me of the way law enforcement officials and the news media discarded any evidence that the Washington-area "Beltway snipers" had an Islamic terrorist motive. This mindset almost certainly resulted in more deaths as vital information -- the kind of descriptions that ultimately led to the capture of John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo -- was withheld from the public to avoid "hysteria," "panic" and, worst of all, "racial or ethnic profiling."

Let me add a strong second to Farah's comments. I disagree with the headline "Jihad in Jersey City" simply because we do not yet know for a fact that "jihad" was involved - a point I have continually stressed here at Dreams Into Lightning. We do, however, have evidence that allows us to entertain that as a plausible theory - and we have a Big Media that wants to steer us away from that theory by withholding relevant facts (as CNN and NYT ignored reports of death threats against Armanious).

I don't like it either.

Note to readers. As promised, I will continue to follow this case. Some of you will recall that I'm in light-posting mode this week (due to an exam this Thursday), so coverage may not be as prompt or as thorough as I'd like, but I will post as much as I can. If you become aware of any new developments, please send a link. I'll post my own thoughts on this when time permits.


Quote of the Day

The Austrian Green Party's Peter Pilz on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for allowing the execution of a convicted killer in California:
"Schwarzenegger is possibly the most prominent Austrian abroad, and he shapes the picture of Austria," Mr Pilz said.

"I don't want that picture shaped by someone who commits state murder. That does not correspond to the political culture of this country."

BBC News


Islam and Islamophobia

Before I close up shop for Shabbat, I want to say a few words about Islam and religious prejudice.

Islamist violence is a reality; anti-Muslim prejudice is also a reality. Both exist; both are wrong. Neither one justifies the other. The existence of islamophobia is not a reason to excuse, avoid, minimize, or ignore the fact that a wealthy and well-organized mafia has used the Muslim faith as a garrison from which to commit unspeakable crimes against humanity. And recognizing this fact is not a justification to indulge one's own base prejudices against a billion human beings.

There are certain well-known websites that I won't link on my sidebar because they foster a climate of islamophobic religious hate. I will not assent to such speech in my social life, nor will I tolerate it in my comments section.

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with some acquaintances in the local community. In the course of conversation, I mentioned my studies with Imam Toure and my visits to the local mosques. I quickly found myself being shouted down by two of the other people present. I won't bore you with the details of that conversation - which eventually ended on a more civil, though still strained, note - but I do want to share a few thoughts that followed from it.

A religion is as good or as bad as its followers choose to make it. The Muslims I have met have been wonderful, warm, caring people. Imam Toure is one of the finest spiritual leaders I've ever met. People like him need to be supported and encouraged, not ignored and degraded.

I lived in a Muslim country - Turkey - for two years, around the mid-1980's when I was stationed in Izmir with the Air Force. We were living in the city itself, not on a separate base, and it was a great opportunity to meet people and learn a little about the culture and the language. (Evet, ben bir az tu"rkc,e konus,iyorum!) I was completely open about being Jewish, and never experienced hostility from the Muslim Turks. I'm not claiming anti-Semitism doesn't exist there, but I am saying I met a lot of great people. When the Neveh Shalom synagogue in Istanbul was attacked, my Turkish friends extended their sympathies and expressed what was clearly deeply felt outrage. A number of Turks also expressed disgust with their government's atrocities against the Kurdish people.

I'm not going to try to judge an entire religion by what is written in a single sacred text. The language of faith is not like ordinary language. You can find passages in any religious scripture which, when read alone, may seem shocking or horrifying, and you can find people who are only too happy to treat the most repugnant interpretation as a divine commandment. But there are also those who see another dimension in the traditional teachings, and to wrong these people is to wrong all religion, and human nature itself. Ali Fadhil 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 think this is also true of religion. There is no doubt that people who are raised in an environment calculated to foster hate will themselves be more predisposed to hateful attitudes and behavior. People who are systematically schooled in brutality often absorb the lesson. But this does not apply to the entire Muslim world. I don't want to get too deep into this, but I will say that cherry-picking another religion's scriptures to validate your own prejudices is a pointless, stupid exercise which proves nothing.

Who are the "real" Muslims? One of my interlocutors at the dinner gathering, when I mentioned my experience in Turkey, waved the point away saying, "Well, Turkey is more moderate." Well, yes - and isn't that exactly the point? But if they're "moderate" then, according to a certain mindset, they don't exist - or they're not "real Muslims". And so we come to the very kernel, the very core algorithm, of prejudice. Reader Mark of Conservapuppies had some very insightful comments on this in an earlier thread. If you're determined to stigmatize a group in a certain way, you can just exclude any people who don't fit your stereotype by saying they're not "real" whatever.

What about the Iraqis who are risking their lives to help the Coalition forces defeat fascism in their country? The Belmont Club says it well: 'Personally I find it difficult to conceive of an enmity with Muslims in general when it is Muslims doing the most dying on the side of freedom in Iraq. Surely that is proof that the basic faultline is nothing so slender as the boundary between Sunni and Shi'ite; Muslim and Jew; atheist or Christian, but something wider still.'

So who are the real Muslims? Ultimately that's for the Islamic world to decide. Some people raised in the Muslim tradition have already declared, like Ali Sina that they want no part of it; that is their choice and their right. But it is not the only choice: Muslim dissidents like Irshad Manji prefer to work within the context of the faith - and perhaps it is they who will inspire more people.

To have faith in the ability of human beings to be human is not - as some people would condescendingly suggest - "naive". As I left the dinner gathering, one of the other guests - who had been shouting at me across the table an hour earlier - wished me a good night, and admonished me to "be careful". (Thanks, pal. I'll be a little more careful who I eat dinner with from now on.)

No, it is simple realism to affirm that people everywhere are not too different from one another on a basic level; and that as individuals, we run the entire spectrum. It is not a question of the name of one's faith, but of the nature of one's character. All of us are created in the image of G-d; we honor our Creator when we live up to our highest nature.

Big Pharaoh on New Jersey Murders

Don't miss this post at Big Pharaoh on the murders of Hossam Armanious, Amal Garas, and their two daughters in Jersey City, New Jersey. At this moment I don't have anything further to add to what I've already said; you can scroll down in this month's posts to read my earlier comments.

On second thought, just one or two points. Everyone agrees that we shouldn't "jump to conclusions" about the murders; that's fine by me. What troubles me is the MSM's evasiveness on the question of a possible religious hate killing. Americans have a right to question whether a religiously motivated hate crime occurred, without being implicitly accused of "jumping to conclusions" for wondering about it. If the motive turns out to have been something else - robbery, a random act of a psycopath, or a personal vendetta having nothing to do with religion - then I will be personally relieved, and you can bet I'll be among the first to post on it.

Judging from recent comments on GM's post, it seems that heated rhetoric was not uncommon at PalTalk. (I'm not personally familiar with the site myself.) If this is the case, then that might help to place the reported death threat against Armanious in some context; perhaps a PalTalk death threat is less serious than one wrapped around a brick thrown through one's window, for instance. So, extending the benefit of the doubt, perhaps death threats on PalTalk were so commonplace that this one merited no special attention. But then why didn't NYT and CNN bring out that point?

Or perhaps there was no death threat after all, and those reports (like the stories of the defaced cross tattoos) were in error? Then we should expect the media to report on the story in order to refute it. But instead we have silence. Why?

The editors of CNN and NYT must know that there are many among us - particularly in the blogosphere - who have come to view their reporting with suspicion, and who specifically worry that they are taking a "see no evil, hear no evil" attitude toward islamist violence. They can dispel this perception by proving that they take this threat seriously. If instead they continue to discount it and minimize it, they make themselves appear defensive - and cause the rest of us to wonder what they are hiding.

A death threat is always serious; a death threat followed by an actual murder is exceptionally serious. Even if the killings prove to have been unconnected with the threat, or with religion, the "news" media who knowingly withheld this relevant fact from their audiences are guilty of obscenely irresponsible behavior. That is the real crime.

Feminism and Responsibility

Don't miss this great new post at Straight Up With Sherri. Sherri takes a long, hard look at the feminist movement and wonders where things went wrong:
What has happened to the feminist movement is flat out shameful. In their fight, they found inner strength and great comfort in their power to work together and cause great change that was needed and warranted. Then, somewhere along the line, comfort turned to lust, and things went VERY, VERY BADLY. Once you have organized a group to take on such a task and then that task is achieved, what next? How about scaling down and instead of remaining a full fledged fighting machine, you turn into a watchdog. You keep an eye on the system and assure that the things promised to you actually continue to take place.

Exactly! I cannot add anything to this, except to suggest that what applies to feminism also applies to liberalism in general. Sherri goes on to make a compelling pro-life argument based on the premises of women's empowerment and responsibility:
A woman that wants to convince the world that her becoming pregnant and carrying a life inside of her is some kind of curse and a violation of her rights if she can’t kill this life is just plain selfish, immature, and is actually denying that she has power. I thought feminists were about womanpower. Why all the effort to portray women as powerless victims? I thought feminism was about asserting that women are intelligent and can make good decisions. Why all the effort to deny logic and common sense while showing such a lack of ability to make wise decisions? This “reproductive rights” thing is a bunch of gobly gook. If you truly believe that women are powerful, well adjusted, smart, and strong, then start acting like it. Accept responsibility for your own actions.

Go read the whole thing at the link.



I've got a physics exam next Thursday, and I need to work out 30 charged-particle and dipole problems (and get them RIGHT!) in the intervening week so that I'll know what I'm doing by exam time.

I still aim to post a couple of pieces that I've had in mind, but posting will be light for the next week or so. Thanks to all new, regular, and returning visitors.

Morning Report: January 19, 2005

Debka: US, Israeli special ops teams active. 'DEBKAfile Reports: US and Israel beef up counter-terror warfare with crack intel-sniper units behind enemy lines. In Iraq, the 42nd Infantry Division’s 173rd Long Range Surveillance Detachment is deployed with dozens of snipers. In Gaza Strip, Shimshon Battalion 92 undertakes intel-targeting missions against small Palestinian terrorist units.' (Debka)

"Outposts of tyranny." 'In our world there remain outposts of tyranny and America stands with oppressed people on every continent... in Cuba, and Burma (Myanmar), and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe,' said Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice in her opening statement delivered at Senate confirmation hearings last week. (Free Iran)

Gillian "Scully" Anderson marries. 'Former "X-Files" star Gillian Anderson has married longtime boyfriend Julian Ozanne,' CNN reports. 'The couple exchanged vows December 29 at a friend's beach house on Lamu's Shella island, off Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, People magazine said Tuesday. The ceremony, which included hymns sung by a Kenyan choir in Swahili, was attended by immediate family and a handful of close friends.' (CNN)


Truth and Hate

A few remarks on media coverage of the Armanious / Garas family murder in New Jersey.

Welcome to readers looking for more information on the killings of Hossam Armanious, Amal Garas, and their two daughters in Jersey City last week. Before you scroll down to read my original post on the killings, I want to share a couple of thoughts on how the mainstream media like AP/CNN and the New York Times have whitewashed the hate-crime aspect of these killings.

First of all, notice that, most glaringly, neither account makes any mention of the fact that the victims had received death threats prior to the murders.

CNN, which finally deems the story newsworthy (now that there's some juicy stuff to report about a religious hostility at the funeral), daintily says that "a theory that a Muslim angry over Internet postings was responsible for the slaying of an Egyptian Christian family is just one of several under investigation." Their story goes on to say:
But the theory -- embraced as fact by some -- has touched off a new round of anti-Muslim sentiment in a city still stinging from a post-September 11 backlash.

So now we have one of those handy vague quantifiers - "some" - to suggest that "some" irresponsible people have "embraced as fact" the possibility that religious hate played a part in this brutal killing. The real problem, and the ONLY problem as CNN sees it, is the "anti-Muslim backlash".

If you read the reports carefully, the investigators are saying that the killings definitely occurred "in the course of a robbery" because a robbery did in fact occur - money and valuables were taken (although initial reports said otherwise). They are NOT saying that robbery was the motive. It is entirely plausible to suspect that the robbery was incidental to the killings - or even a deliberate "red herring" - especially in view of the death threats that Armanious had received, and especially in view of the fact that investigators were known to be examining the transcripts of his chatroom disputes with Muslims. But if you relied on NYT and CNN, you'd never know any of that.

The media are right to refrain from jumping to conclusions, they are right to reject anti-Muslim prejudice, and they are right to call attention to the brave, good-hearted Muslims and Christians who are refusing to listen to the message of religious hate. But they are profoundly, fatally wrong to whitewash the evidence for a religious hate crime in New Jersey.

By deliberately obscuring important evidence of religious hate, the media are not doing anyone any favors. Not the Muslim world, which must honestly confront this evil in its midst. And certainly not the American public, which deserves to be kept informed of the threat from islamist violence - which has not grown less real since September 11.

"Are non-Muslims censoring themselves?" asks Irshad Manji in The Trouble with Islam (p. 189). She goes on to recall a newspaper article about Islamic extremism in Denmark, which a well-meaning non-Muslim friend had at first criticized as "stereotyping all Muslims". Manji writes that she responded, "I think they're bringing really troubling stuff to light."
There's more than one way to exploit Islam. Some Muslims exploit it as a sword, and they're goons for doing so. But just as many - or more - Muslims exploit Islam as a shield, and that's destructive too. It protects Muslims from self-inquiry and non-Muslims from guilt. (The Trouble with Islam, p. 190)

This is exactly why the MSM is destroying its own credibility. By deliberately ignoring the reality of islamist violence, it is giving credence to the suspicion that it is at best tolerating, and at worst actively abetting, religious hate.


Let's blogroll!

Baldilocks recalls some words on immortality.

LaShawn Barber reflects on the entitlement mentality of the "liberal elites".

Roger L. Simon wonders why the "most important American political figure of the Twentieth Century" doesn't have a place on Mount Rushmore.

Armed Liberal at Winds of Change presents us with a certain letter. It is addressed to each one of us.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Violent clashes rock Pars Abad. From SMCCDI:

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jan 17, 2005

Violent clashes have rocked Pars Abad located near the western town of Ardabil.

Reports are stating about tens of injured and possible deaths as angry crowd retaliated to the brutal attack of Islamic regime's militiamen. Several public buildings and security patrol cars were damaged and burned by the residents.

Slogans against the regime's leaders were shouted by the residents.

More and more Iranians are rising up in front of Mullahcracy's injustices without fear for their lives. Groups of young are re-forming under various names with target of retaliating to the governmental policy of brutality.

Donna M. Hughes: Misogyny and the Mullahs

Donna M. Hughes tears into the Iranian misogynarchy in this piece in FrontPage:
The ruling clerics energize their followers by preaching hatred of their chosen enemies: the liberal west, women, moderate and liberal Muslims, and non-Muslim religious groups, particularly Jews. Their deepest prejudice is for women. Islamic fundamentalists loath women. They hate female shapes, which must be hidden under tent like garments. They hate their female voices, so women are banned from singing in public. They hate their female minds, so women are prohibited from holding decision making jobs. And most of all, they hate their female sexuality, which they claim is a corrupting force on earth.

They hate liberal culture and democracy because women are allowed to dress, travel, speak, think, and even sing, freely. They believe that women’s freedom and equality are what has corrupted western culture, and that is why they must purge it and its representatives from their land.

The Khomeini-crafted theocracy granted dictatorial rule to the supreme religious leader ‑ velayat-e-faqih – thereby creating an unreformable system because all significant powers of the state are held by the supreme religious leader and his appointees in the Council of Guardians. Khomeini crowned himself as the first supreme leader; after his death, the religious reign was passed to the present supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The clerics’ version of sharia law imposes a crushing system of gender apartheid on Iranians based on the premise that women are physically, psychologically, intellectually, and morally inferior to men. Men are legally granted all decision-making power within the family, including control of the movement and employment of women and the custody of children. A public dress code or hejab is mandatory and violations result in reprimands, arrests, whippings, imprisonment, and even summary executions have been documented. All public activities are segregated, and women are banned from attending sporting events in which men’s legs are uncovered. Women are banned from associating with men who are not their relatives. The age of marriage was lowered to nine years of age for girls. Polygamy was legalized. And stoning to death became a legal form of punishment for sexual misconduct.

The clerics made laws on how to control, punish, torture, and kill women and girls. Misogyny and violence against women were institutionalized.

Read the whole thing at the link.

And don't forget to visit the Free Iran homepage.

Morning Report: January 17, 2005

New Jersey family slain. A family of Coptic Christians - Hossam Armanious, his wife Amal Garas, and their two daughters - were murdered last week in their New Jersey home. The motive for the killings is still the subject of much speculation, but possible motives may include robbery, religious hate, or terrorism. Dreams Into Lightning is monitoring developments here.

Journalist says Iran attack planned. Seymour Hersh, a veteran journalist, has stated that the Bush administration is already planning attacks against the islamist regime in Iran. 'Hersh said Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld view Bush's re-election as "a mandate to continue the war on terrorism," ' according to the CNN report. The New York Post reports: 'U.S. commandos are hunting for secret nuclear and chemical weapons sites and other targets in Iran, and have a plan to turn the hard-line Islamic country into the next front in the war on terrorism. "It's not if we're going to do anything against Iran. They're doing it," an ex-intelligence official tells this week's issue of The New Yorker. Since at least last summer, the U.S. teams have penetrated eastern Iran, reportedly with Pakistan's help, the magazine said.' Hersh's article in the New Yorker reveals that 'The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his second term.' (various)

Zhao Ziyang dies. China's reformist leader Zhao Ziyang died on Monday at the age of 85, the BBC reports. Zhao was purged from the Chinese regime after opposing the use of force against pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989, and he remained under house arrest until his death. The nonviolent 1989 demonstrations ended with a bloody crackdown by the government in early June, which left hundreds and possibly thousands dead. (BBC)

India train fire was accidental, committee finds. A fire that claimed 59 lives on an Indian pilgrim train was accidental and not caused by a gasoline bomb, according to a committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice U. C. Banerjee. The Press Trust of India reports: 'Contrary to Sangh Parivar's contention that the Godhra train blaze that killed 59 Kar sevaks triggering wide-spread communal riots was a pre-planned conspiracy, a retired Supreme Court Judge has said it was "accidental" fire.
Heading a high-level committee appointed by the UPA Government, Justice U C Banerjee also ruled out the possibility of any inflammable liquid thrown from outside the coach.' The February, 2002 tragedy was believed by some to have been caused by a bomb thrown by Muslims targeting the Hindu pilgrims; the incident sparked widespread anti-Muslim riots that killed more than 1,000 Muslims. The Hindu nationalist party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was quick to object to the Banerjee committee's findings. The Times of India says: 'Disproving the claims of Gujarat Police and right-wing groups, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, Justice UC Banerjee committee said on Monday there is no evidence to prove that the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire from outside. ... Survivors of the accident told the commission that the kar sevak s, who had crowded into the compartments, were also cooking food within the train. Banerjee said most people died due to asphyxiation in the over-crowded train.' Dreams Into Lightning will continue to follow this story. (Press Trust of India, Times of India)

Debka: Al-Qaeda vs. Fatah. The March, 2003 liquidation of al-Qaeda cell leader Farouq (Abu Mohammed) al-Masri in southern Lebanon was rumored at the time to have been the work of Israeli agents. Fast-forward to January 15, 2005: a new Debka report claims that 'an unusual al Qaeda communiqué appeared on various jihadist websites asserting that an exhaustive probe conducted into the murder of “our brother Muhammed Al Masri” had elicited ironclad proof of an assassination conspiracy by Lebanese domestic security service and the Fatah’s Ein Hilweh command. The former was said to have provided the bomb vehicle, while Fatah smuggled it into the camp and parked it along al Masri’s route from mosque to store, detonating it by remote control. Having assigned guilt, the al Qaeda statement added, “We warn Fatah-Lebanon that we intend very soon to avenge the blood of our brother Al Masri. This warning is addressed to the entire Fatah command and leadership hierarchy in Lebanon - from the highest to the lowest commander.' Analyzing the communique, Debka concludes that 'The statement is therefore taken as a declaration of war by the global jihadist al Qaeda on the Palestinian Fatah for control of Ein Hilweh, a strategic location commanding South Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. It was issued the day that the new Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas was sworn in to take Arafat’s place in Ramallah.' (Debka)


The Real Peace Movement: One More Vote, One More Voice

Big Pharaoh reports on an online conversation he had with a Sunni Iraqi the other day:
GM [Big Pharaoh]: Hi, are you Iraqi?
AB: yes
GM: Great, whom will you vote for?
AB: I will not vote. They are all against my people.
GM: who are they?
AB: The people in this elections, they are agents of America and Israel.
GM: Well, I think that Israel is much better for Iraq than Syria and Iran!
AB: Where are you from?
GM: Egypt
AB: Egyptians are Sunnis, I am a Sunni too and all those people in this election are against Sunnis. See what they did to our people in Fallujah.
GM: Allow me to disagree with you. Those who are against Sunnis are those Baathist/Wahabi/Salafi terrorists who are killing their fellow Sunnis just because they want to vote. Many Sunnis want to vote but they are afraid lest those criminals kill them. As for Fallujah, I do not blame the Americans or the Iraqi government for what happened, but I blame the Baathist/Salafist/Wahabi terrorists who turned this city into a base to kill fellow Iraqi policemen and slaughter innocent people. Sunnis should not repeat the mistake that Shias did over 80 years ago.
AB: What did the Shias do 80 years ago?
GM: Right after the 1920 revolution, Shias decided to stay away from the political process, they boycotted the whole thing. As a result, they were kept from power until the day Iraq was liberated from Saddam. Do you want Sunnis to fall into this trap? Now the terrorists want you to stay at home on January 30, will you listen to them? The vast majority of Iraqis believe in this process and it is time for Sunnis to know that their total control over Iraq is over and they have no other option but to share Iraq with the Shias and Kurds.
AB: You know, you convinced me to vote. I live in a Shia dominated area and I will vote.
GM: Good. It is good that you live in a Shia area because it will be more secure.

Notice that the Iraqi is now beginning to realize that his voice matters, especially when he understands who his real enemies are. I am hoping that many conversations like this one are taking place in Iraq and beyond.

A new Old Europe?

Democracy for the Middle East hasn't been in a particularly Anglophilic mood lately. No doubt this hasn't helped any. But DFME did a double-take yesterday with The Times of London's harsh reaction to a recent terrorist attack on Israelis.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, Last of the Famous reports that French TV anchor David Pujadas launched an unprecedented, blistering attack on France's response to the tsunami disaster - while presenting the American efforts in a very favorable light. (Hat tip: LGF and Discarded Lies.)

Well, these may be steps in the right direction. But as Roger L. Simon discovers, we've still got quite a ways to go.

Modifiers and the MSM

Just a few thoughts to keep in mind when you're reading, or listening to, the legacy media.

Have you ever noticed how often they use vague quantifiers like "some" and "many", especially when they're talking about public opinion? But of course you have - Dreams Into Lightning readers are a smart bunch. So you've already figured out that that's an easy way for the "journalist" to introduce his or her own opinion into a story, without having to defend a more stringent assertion, e.g. the claim that said opinions represent a majority (which would require the word "most").

(You'll notice that I've just used a vague quantifier - "often" - but that's only because I'm inviting you to verify the phenomenon for yourself.)

How many is "many"? If "some" are saying A, how many others are saying B? Who decides what views are represented by the "numerous", the "several", the "number of"? What is that number, exactly?

Oh, but I'm wasting my virtual breath here, because you already know all this.

Just do me one favor, though - next time you get a chance, point it out to someone else who follows the mainstream media.

Morning Report: January 16, 2005

Graner gets 10 years. Army Specialist Charles Graner was sentenced to 10 years for his role in the Abu Ghraib torture/abuse scandal, Command Post reports. CNN reported that 'Many Iraqis reacted angrily on Sunday to news that U.S. soldier Charles Graner had been sentenced to 10 years in jail for his role in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib jail, saying he should have faced harsher punishment.' Similar sentiments were expressed by many Americans, such as Blackfive. (Command Post; AP via CNN; Blackfive)

Sharon: Gloves off for IDF in Gaza. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made it clear he expects more than words from newly-elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, freezing relations with the Palestinian National Authority until the PNA can see its way clear to get serious about stopping terrorism. In a recent bulletin from Debka, 'Sharon tells Israeli cabinet: Army ordered to step up military actions “without restrictions” after weekend surge of Palestinian terrorist attacks in and around Gaza Strip. He accused new Palestinian leadership of taking no action against terrorists. Friday, Israel broke off contact with Abbas after 6 Israeli deaths - 3 from Sderot - at hands of Palestinian suicide bombers at Karni goods crossing from Gaza to Israel.' (Debka)

DDT reconsidered? The recent tsunami tragedy in southern Asia has brought fears of a malaria outbreak - and renewed debate over the acceptability of the use of the now-banned pesticide DDT, as Winds of Change reports. (Winds of Change)

Iraqi government publishes names of terrorists. MEMRI reports (January 13): 'The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights published the names of 99 Arabs and Iranians who were arrested for planning or taking part in acts of terrorism. The list comprises 26 Syrians, 14 Saudis, 14 Iranians, 12 Egyptians. 4 Palestinians, 8 Jordanians and 5 Tunisians as well as individuals from numerous countries.' (Al-Mashriq, Baghdad, 1/15/05, via MEMRI)

Russia: Bushehr construction completed. Also from MEMRI: 'Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, in a recent meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, said the construction phase of the nuclear units of Bushehr atomic power plant had been completed: 'Russia's fundamental stance is that nuclear material will be delivered to Iran when Iran and Russia sign a contract for returning spent nuclear fuel to Russia.' (Iran Daily, 1/13/05, via MEMRI)

Jakarta: Benchmark, not deadline. Indonesia's government has back-pedaled from its earlier statement that foreign humanitarian troops must leave the country by March 26, the BBC is reporting: 'Indonesia has denied saying that foreign troops involved in the tsunami relief operation must leave the country within three months of the disaster. Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono said 26 March was not a deadline for foreign military personnel, but a benchmark. He said that by that date, Indonesian authorities aimed to be able to take over most of the relief effort. The minister was speaking after talks on Sunday with visiting US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.' (BBC)


Barnett: the Gap and the Map

Thomas P. M. Barnett sets forth his theory of global connectedness in his March, 2003 article The Pentagon's New Map:
Show me where globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security, and I will show you regions featuring stable governments, rising standards of living, and more deaths by suicide than murder.  These parts of the world I call the Functioning Core, or Core.  But show me where globalization is thinning or just plain absent, and I will show you regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and—most important—the chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists.  These parts of the world I call the Non-Integrating Gap, or Gap. 

Barnett points out that the "rule set" which defines thriving, free societies today is something that Americans often take for granted - forgetting the long, bitter, and ongoing struggle within our own nation for the ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality. He also reminds us that the line between Core and Gap is always shifting, and that "the direction of change is more critical than the degree." Joining the Core will not guarantee immediate peace and prosperity, but it can be counted on to make things gradually improve over time. Leaving the Core, on the other hand, will swiftly and surely make things worse.

For many years, US strategy focused on the model of fighting a large national army (say, the USSR or Red China) and wrote off threats from smaller nations and nonnational entities as "lesser includeds", meaning if we could counter the greater Soviet threat, we could certainly handle the lesser ones. The shortcomings of this model were illustrated on a certain Tuesday morning a few years ago.

Another fallacy, which still holds sway among many on the Left, is a notion of "benign neglect": as Barnett puts it,
The knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to September 11 is to say, “Let’s get off our dependency on foreign oil, and then we won’t have to deal with those people.” The most naïve assumption underlying that dream is that reducing what little connectivity the Gap has with the Core will render it less dangerous to us over the long haul. Turning the Middle East into Central Africa will not build a better world for my kids. We cannot simply will those people away.

But why the Mideast? Barnett argues that "the Middle East is the perfect place to start" because "what is most wrong about the Middle East is the lack of personal freedom and how that translates into dead-end lives for most of the population—especially for the young." Furthermore, the Middle East has evolved into a kind of bully culture in which only an external power can act as the catalyst for reform.

Barnett's prescription is three-fold: '1) Increase the Core’s immune system capabilities for responding to September 11-like system perturbations; 2) Work the seam states to firewall the Core from the Gap’s worst exports, such as terror, drugs, and pandemics; and, most important, 3) Shrink the Gap.' He contends that "shrinking the Gap" means exporting security, in the form of "the attention paid by our military forces to any region’s potential for mass violence." It also means robust private-sector investment, particularly in the poorest areas such as Africa; but "it all has to begin with security, because free markets and democracy cannot flourish amid chronic conflict."

I think one very important feature of Barnett's analysis is the theme of empowerment. Empowerment for the peoples of the Middle East, because it rejects the assumption (common among pampered liberals in the West) that Mideasterners are unable or unwilling to govern themselves in a democratic society. Empowerment for Americans, because it affirms that we can use our enormous economic and strategic power for good rather than for evil. And empowerment for all the nations of the world, because it affirms that we live - we must live - in an increasingly global society, one in which it is in our own best interests to look out for one another. Nowadays this is called "neo-conservatism"; the old-fashioned term for it is "enlightened self-interest". No matter what you call it, the time has come to live up to our responsibility as citizens and as human beings. We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.

The President's Words

Yesterday, I treated myself to the Presidential (Mis)Speak calendar. Now even President Bush's strongest supporters (and I count myself as one) know that the Chief has a certain, er, way with words. If you don't like the President, then his peculiar locutions won't make you like him any better. If you do, then such gems as "Is our children learning?" and "Families is where wings take dream" are just part of his appeal. In any case, it never hurts to keep a healthy sense of humor.

On a more serious note, though, my AOL News screen is carrying an AP story reporting that the President has expressed regret for his infamous comment of July 2, 2003, "Bring 'em on."

It's about time. This is probably the single worst thing President Bush ever said. Directed at the enemy militants killing American soldiers in Iraq, it sounded like an open invitation to attack Americans.

In typical MSM fashion, the article confuses the issue. First there's a gratuitous reference to the President's recent refusal "to identify any mistakes he'd made during his first term." I don't blame him for that; he wasn't claiming that he hadn't made any mistakes, but he was asserting his right to acknowledge his own shortcomings in his own way and in his own time. He was also declining to give the press a stick that he knew they would beat him with at the first opportunity. The AOL item also offers a sidebar poll on the merits of "Bush's style of tough talk". Good grief, aren't they tired of that phrase yet? I certainly am.

"Bush's style of tough talk" isn't the problem, and never was, except for the feckless copycrats who rule the press. The problem with "Bring 'em on!" was not one of style but of substance. The President simply had no right to say this. A defiant invitation to do battle - along the lines of "Do your worst!", or "Take your best shot!", or "Go ahead, make my day!" - is perfectly appropriate when one is risking only one's own safety, for example in a brawl or a gunfight. But for a President who lives in Washington and enjoys the full protection of the Secret Service, while young American men and women are daily sacrificing their lives in combat abroad, it is disgraceful. I have the highest respect for President Bush's service in the National Guard, and I believe he has every right to be proud of his performance as Commander-in-Chief. But he must never forget, not even for a moment, that it is other Americans who are being asked to risk their lives in this war. A common soldier, if he's feeling cocky, may be permitted to taunt the enemy to "bring it on"; but the President cannot do this.

I trust that President Bush will keep this lesson in mind as he prepares to begin his second term.

Morning Report: January 14, 2005

"Huygens has landed." The first human-made space probe to land on another planet's moon, Huygens has successfully touched down on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. This marks a milestone in the most ambitious phase of the Cassini/Huygens mission, a joint NASA/ESA/Italian venture. The European-built probe survived a descent through Titan's atmosphere, completing a 2.2-billion-mile journey. CNN reports: 'Grinning scientists watching from the ESA operations center in Germany said the first obstacle -- a tricky atmospheric entry -- had been a great engineering feat. Time will tell if all of Huygens' precious data will reach Earth. The probe will continue sending data until its batteries run out or Cassini, the satellite orbiting Saturn relaying Huygens' signal, passes over the moon's horizon in about two hours' time. "So far so good," said David Southwood, director of science for ESA. "The signal has been solid for a long time."' Earthlings on this side of the Atlantic have another reason to celebrate today: as Rand Simberg reminds us, 'it is also the first anniversary of the day that President Bush announced a new direction for our nation's space activities. I don't use the phrase "space program," because I hope that it will be much more than that. To paraphrase the Space Frontier Foundation's motto, it's a vision, not a program.' Simberg, an advocate of private space exploration and a frequent critic of NASA, believes that 'if we're going to be spending government funds on manned space, they're probably being spent more effectively now that they have been since the end of Apollo (and perhaps in the history of NASA).' Coming from him, this optimism about government space exploration carries a lot of weight. So as of today, humankind's future in space, and America's role in that future, seem very promising indeed. (CNN; Transterrestrial Musings)

Arrests in Baghdad governor assassination. Al-Sabah reports (January 13) that US forces have arrested several suspects in connection with the recent assassination of the governor of Baghdad province, Iraq, Ali al-Hadiri. 'The US forces announced on Jan 12 the arresting of six elements involved in assassination Baghdad's Governor Ali al-Hadiri. The Associated Press Agency said that 1st [Cavalry] Division has launched a raid against one houses in al-Huriya city and arrested the terrorist elements. The US Brigadier Jeffiri the Chief Assistant of Cavalry Division which in Baghdad said that he thinks that two terrorists had participated in the assassination. Notably, Al-Haidri is the most prominent Iraqi official had been assassinated after the assassination the former Governing Council Iz al-Dain Saliem (Abdul Zahra Othman) who had been assassinated on May, 2004. Al-Haidari was occupied the post of Education Undersecretary before assuming the responsibility of Baghdad's Governor in the beginning of the last year.' (al-Sabah English)

Soros backs Iran's islamist regime. WorldNetDaily reports that billionaire George Soros, fresh from losing millions in supporting John Kerry's failed presidential bid, has found a new sweetheart: the mullahs of Iran. 'On Jan. 13, 2005, the pro-mullah American-Iranian Council joined forces with George Soros's Open Society Institute to host Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, to give a talk titled, "The View from Tehran." ... Soros invited Zarif to explain why Kerry was still right to insist that Iran deserves full economic and diplomatic recognition, as well as nuclear fuel, all the while trusting that they would keep their word and not make bombs.' The article, written by Jerome Corsi, rejects the notion that any "negotiations" between the US and the islamist entity can produce positive results, and notes that 'What this event signaled was that George Soros and the American far left were ready to spend millions more supporting America's enemies, including radical Islamic extremists from a terror-supporting rogue state like Iran.' Read the full article at the link. (WorldNetDaily via SMCCDI)


Believe it or not,

no one pays me to write this stuff.

Just thought I ought to get that out of the way.


Best of Dreams Into Lightning

Pacific Memories (Ken McLintock - WWII memoir) *
Urban Renewal (Ken McLintock - poetry and other writings)
Wilderness Vision (Stephanie McLintock - poetry) *
Portfolio (undergraduate papers)
The Ocean Names of Night (mysticism and miscellany)
Dreams Into Lightning Amalgamated (includes The New Republican series and Morning Report archives)
The Iraqi Holocaust
Iraqi Holocaust Files
* new posts

Freedom and Responsibility (Thanksgiving Day post)

WOMEN AND POWER: Gender, politics, and the price of empowerment – responsibility.
Women and Power
But Can She Vote?
Iran in Transition?
Gender and Sexuality

Iran Regime Change Petition

State vs. Defense (May 2004)
Disengagement: The Messy Divorce (May 2004)

THE L WORD: Liberalism in crisis.
Response to Thomas Friedman: America's Addiction
Response to E.L. Doctorow: The Unfeeling Left
Berman: Another Peace Movement
An Infinite Supply of Arab Murderers
The Moral Struggle

The Zero Ring
The Rose of Paradise
The Death Wish

The World of Tomorrow
The Kabbalah: complete series
Like a Persian: Madonna and Esther
Vashti and Freedom
I Am a Jew and My Father Was a Jew
Creating the World You Love
The Names



Morning Report: January 7, 2005

Debka: Drone crashes over suspected Iranian nuclear site. A recent bulletin from Debka reports that: 'Unidentified drone crashes at Arak nuclear site in central Iran, according to sources close to Iranian Revolutionary Guards ex-commander Rezai. Evidence in wreckage of intelligence-gathering at presumed uranium enrichment site. Last week, Iranian air force commander said mystery aircraft reported by witnesses over sensitive sites would be shot down. UN watchdog inspectors expect early visit to secret Iranian military site at Parchin suspected of dual use of nuclear technology for weapons production. UAEA is coordinating visit with Iranian authorities.' (Debka)

FrontPage: Iran-China axis a growing threat. An article by Frederick W. Stakelbeck, Jr., in FrontPageMag points to increasing ties between Communist China and the Iranian regime as a cause for concern. 'China and Iran have been cultivating an increasingly close relationship in recent months, one borne from China’s need for energy to run its growing economy and Iran’s need for consumer goods to satisfy its young, West-leaning population. Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently confirmed this, saying, “We [Iran and China] complement each other. The Chinese have the industry and the Iranians have the energy resources.” ' Dreams Into Lightning has previously reported on these emerging economic and security ties. (FrontPage)

White supremacist charged in 1964 murders. "It is never too late to do what is right," said Lawrence Guyot, a spokesman for Veterans of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, of the arrest of 79-year-old Edgar Ray Killen in connection with the 1964 murders of three civil rights activists - Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman - in Mississippi. CNN reports that 'Schwerner, 24, and Goodman, 20, were volunteers sent to Mississippi as part of the "Freedom Summer" drive to register black voters in the state. Chaney, 21, was a black Meridian resident who participated in the drive.' Killen is scheduled for arraignment Friday in Neshoba County Court, and no bail amount has been set. (CNN)

Survey: Iraqi Women Want Rights

Women For Women International released a survey of Iraqi women indicating that securing their legal rights is a primary concern for them:
Washington, DC – The first survey of Iraqi women since the outbreak of the war was released today by Women for Women International, one of the few non-governmental organizations remaining in Baghdad. The groundbreaking survey paints a vivid and even surprising portrait of Iraqi women in transition and dispels the prevailing notion that women believe tradition, customs or religion should limit their participation in the formation of a new Iraqi government.

The results of the survey of 1,000 Iraqi women in Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra, major political and commercial centers in Iraq, was unveiled in a report entitled “Windows of Opportunity: The Pursuit of Gender Equality in Post-War Iraq.” Among the key results:

• 94% of women surveyed want to secure legal rights for women.
• 84% of women want the right to vote on the final constitution.
• Nearly 80% of women believe that their participation in local and national councils should not be limited.

“History has shown that when women play a role in the formation of new governments, those nations are more stable and more successful in the long run,” said Women for Women International’s founder and CEO Zainab Salbi. “Many Iraqi leaders have claimed that women do not want to be involved in the reconstruction process. This survey clearly shows that women overwhelmingly believe they should have a seat at the table.”

The most unexpected result of the survey is that despite increasing violence, particularly violence against women, 90.6% of Iraqi women reported that they are hopeful about their future. In recent months, many women who have been involved with the reconstruction efforts or women’s rights work have been kidnapped and murdered. Among those murdered included Zeena Al Qushtaini, an Iraqi businesswoman known for wearing western clothing, who was kidnapped and executed. Her body was found clad in a traditional headscarf, which she refused to wear when she was alive. In December, Wijdan al-Khuzai, a candidate in the Iraqi election, was also murdered near her house in Baghdad.

“Women make up more than half the population of Iraq. This makes them enormously influential, both for the election this month and for Iraq’s future,” said Manal Omar, who has been Women for Women International’s Country Director in Iraq, since the organization established offices there in July 2003. “The new Iraqi government must act quickly to ensure their rights today and secure their hope for the future. If women continue to be excluded from the new government and lose hope for the future, then the window of opportunity for women in Iraq – and hope for the country itself – closes.”

To date, women have not played an active role in the new Iraqi governing bodies. Only three women have been appointed to the 25-member Interim Iraqi Governing Council, and the three women on the Council did not have the right to serve on the Presidential Council. No women were appointed to be governors of 18 provinces in Iraq nor were any women appointed to a committee overseeing the drafting of the new Iraqi constitution.

Women for Women International warned, however, that the survey showed that more than twice as many women believed that religious institutions had done something to improve their lives in the past year (13%) than those who believed the government had done so (6%).

View the report at this URL:


Zaidoun's Accused Killers Face Trial

The BBC is now reporting that the American soldiers accused of drowning Zeyad's cousin Zaidoun in the Tigris River are being tried in Texas. Iraqi blog readers first learned of the killing a year ago through Healing Iraq. The BBC story adds that, according to the survivor of the drowning incident, the US soldiers laughed as Zaidoun drowned.
"He was calling my name, said: 'Help me! Help me!'" Marwan Fadel Hassoun told a military trial in Texas. Army Sgt Tracy Perkins, 33, is on trial for an array of charges including involuntary manslaughter. Three other soldiers have also been charged over the incident in the city of Samarra on 3 January 2004. Mr Fadel said he and his cousin were transporting plumbing supplies from Baghdad to the city when they were approached by US troops when their truck broke down a few minutes before a 2300 curfew. He said they were forced to the river at gunpoint. "We started to beg them not to throw us in the water," he said through a translator. "We said in English, 'Please, please', but it was in vain. "The soldiers had their rifles aimed at us. They were laughing." He said he tried to save his 19-year-old cousin by grabbing his hand, but to no avail.

Another entry in Healing Iraq (dated late January 2004) gives more of Zeyad's thoughts and a link to a Slate article on the killing.

We can't bring Zaidoun back to life, but we can honor him as a human being by making sure his killers receive their full measure of justice, and by ensuring that the soldiers of free nations are never allowed to disgrace their heritage in this way.

William Sampson: Canadian Hero

Many thanks to Diane (frequent poster at ITM comments) for this story.

In December 2000, Canadian citizen William Sampson was arrested in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on false charges connected with the al-Qaeda-backed November firebombing of an SUV in the Saudi city. In February 2001, Sampson and two other foreign nationals were tortured into "confessing" on Saudi television. Some time in 2001, Sampson was sentenced to death by beheading.

Sampson's father remembers him as a "stubborn bugger" since childhood. His defiance during his captivity under the Saudi regime was astonishing: 'He continually abused his guards verbally and threw things around his cell', according to this bio.

Human rights activists charged that the Canadian Government failed to aggressively press the Saudi regime for Sampson's release, which finally occurred on August 8, 2003. Shortly after the release, 'Documents obtained by the CBC reveal that William Sampson repeatedly told Canadian officials that he was being tortured. The documents, released to CBC's the fifth estate under the Access to Information Act suggest that the government dismissed his allegations of torture as speculative, right up to the time of his release on August 8,' according to this CBC chronology. Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham responded that if his department had publicly accused the Saudis of torture, Sampson might have been killed. In testimony before aHouse of Commons committee in November, Sampson blasted the Foreign Affairs department, while thanking the Canadian public for its support. He went on to take legal action against his Saudi tormentors, as well as demanding a full inquiry from the Canadian government.

Read more at these links:
William Sampson homepage
CBC: A State of Denial
CBC timeline

Egypt Elections

As promised earlier, here's more information on the upcoming "election" in Egypt. I'm putting "election" in quotes because, according to Big Pharaoh, the current Egyptian consitution permits challenger candidates to run only AFTER the incumbent fails a referendum; and in that scenario, the winner must then be confirmed by Parliament:
The constitution states that the candidates can run for office only after a sitting president fails in the national referendum. In addition, the candidate must receive two thirds of the votes in the Egyptian parliament. And since the NDP, Mubarak’s party, controls about 95% of the parliament, no one from Egypt’s 70 million population has a chance.

Go read GM's whole post at the link. And if you haven't already, remember to bookmark his blog on your browser favorites.

Let's blogroll!

Don't miss Iraqi Bloggers Central for the latest info from and about Iraq. Those new to Iraqi issues, those just tuning in, and those who need to learn more (and this specifically includes the person who forwarded to me that ignorant anti-Bush e-mail) should take the time to read this site for an ongoing analysis of Iraq as told by those who know. In today's post, Husayn and Sandmonkey sound off.

Alliance voices. Loyal members of the Alliance of Free Blogs are out in force. Emperor Darth Misha I of the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler offers the latest headlines (just in case Dreams Into Lightning's Morning Report wasn't enough for you). Serenity asks some tough questions about theodicy in the wake of the tsunami. Blackfive passes some good scoop about a Marine sniper you should know. Greatest Jen isn't holding her breath for Saudi suffrage under the current misogynarchy. Mamamontezz is currently experiencing some comm problems but don't waste a chance to peruse her Mental Rumpus Room at leisure.

The Portland Mukhabarat's agent in New York, Julianne Shepherd, is keeping up her fabonculous blog, Cowboyz 'n' Poodles, under the most challenging circumstances. She's also the Portland Mercury's music critic. Go read her blog. It's binoculars. Maybe even omarion.

Baldilocks is trusting the universe to unfold as it should, in this important post on being single. A lot of us single folks might learn from her. Also some good meditations on faith, and a quote from "The Shawshank Redemption." Worth reading.

Emily, another trusted agent of the Portland Mukhabarat, has returned from her undercover assignment in Iowa. She's working hard to keep up that 4.0 GPA - and putting together a mammoth research project on people's environmental priorities - but don't let that stop you from visiting Strangechord.

Morning Report: January 5, 2005

Indonesia begins building refugee camps. 'Indonesia’s government has started breaking ground on four camps around Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra, for the estimated 1 million people left homeless by the tsunami.' Go to Command Post / Global Recon for more updates. And consider making a donation to Mercy Corps. You might also take a moment to reflect on what Rabbi Oppenheimer had to say. (Command Post)

Debka: Palestinian terror factions intimidate Abbas. Despite outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent admonitions to Mahmoud Abbas, the aspiring President of Palestine will be under the watchful eye - and thumb - of at least seven Palestinian terrorist groups, according to this article from Debka: 'Seven Palestinian terrorist groups have formed an ad hoc coalition with a more far-sighted goal than drawing the Israeli army into an extreme reprisal so as to sabotage the vote and Mahmoud Abbas’s election. Their eye is on the election’s aftermath. Taking Abbas’s win for granted, they are playing on his weakness to keep him running scared and make him too dependent to raise a finger against them. These groups are Abbas’s own Fatah, its suicide arm, the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Abu Rish Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committee’s Battalions, Hamas’s Ezzadin al-Qassam, Jihad Islami and, a newcomer making its first appearance, the Abu Masoud Squads.' Referring to the recent scene that caused Powell such concern, Debka's analysis concludes: 'The terrorists carried him on their shoulders – not as a sign of affection and respect, but as a warning to keep his feet and hands off their territory if he wants to survive.' (Debka)

IRIN: Ivory Coast anarchy speeds deforestation. From the Head Heeb comes this disturbing IRIN report from the UN explaining how the breakdown of law and order in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has contributed to an epidemic of illegal logging in the shadow of that country's two-year-long civil war: 'Sources in the timber trade told IRIN that pro-government militia chiefs, rebel warlords, timber companies and ordinary villagers were indiscriminately felling the giant hardwood trees that dominate the equatorial forests of southern and western Cote d’Ivoire. "When war breaks out, forests are suddenly up for grabs. Long-term forest protection policies are abandoned for short-term financial gain," said Frans Bongers, a Dutch ecologist who has been carrying out research in West Africa's forests for the last decade, told IRIN.' The article also notes that rising fuel costs are forcing many poor Ivorians to switch to wood for fuel. (IRIN via The Head Heeb)

Helen on Trinidadian music. Helen of CaribPundit has a fascinating essay on Trini music and its cultural roots. 'So, we went online, since soca is not available in the stores out here, and managed to download Rudder, Onika Bostic, Denise Belfon, Iwer George, Bunji Garlin, and a host of others, including our particular favorite, Sparrow. There is a sense to which the Trini desire to be ‘the other’ is reflected in the country’s music. If you doubt this, try listening to i955 FM for a period of time. ... Soca began with Ras Shorty I and was a new beat that was not a significant departure from its roots in calypso. However, as we trace the development of soca, from the complex rhythms of Ras Shorty I to the present day, we realize that rather than remaining purely Trini, soca began to reflect the inherent Trini desire to be ‘the other’; we’re pirating the terminology from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skins, White Masks. In this case, the ‘other’ to which Trini musicians aspire is not a racial ‘other’ but a musical one that has stunted the musical complexity and full development of soca’s rhythmic form and set it adrift from its moorings in calypso. Thus, it is possible to hear soca music that sounds like reggae, dancehall, rap, pop, blues, and the whole plethora of other musical forms that are not calypso. ... ' (CaribPundit)

Ali Fadhil: Terrorists losing in Iraq. In this new post at Free Iraqi, Ali notes that the pre-election terror campaign against the Iraqi people is no surprise, but that the Iraqis' will remains firm. 'It's truly a critical time in the history of Iraq, the region and the whole world. The terrorists are attacking almost everyone who does not agree with them. Today they threatened to" transfer the battle to America's land". If this should tell us anything new then it should be that the masters of these monsters are terrified as hell. They see all their efforts as not leading to the desired result; the withdrawal of American troops or at least the delaying and then the canceling of the elections. This is an important point that most of us, Iraqis and the coalition, forget most of the time. Just as we despair sometimes we should remember that our enemies are in even a worse situation than ours. I'm not talking about the terrorists, as these idiots have set up their minds to ride the highway to "heaven" through ending their miserable lives as soon as possible taking as many as possible of innocents' lives with them. I'm talking about those who finance them. The daily attacks in Iraq cost a fortune that no one and no single organization can afford.' Observing the dramatic improvement in Iraq's economy and in living conditions for ordinary Iraqis, he concludes that 'spending millions of Dollars to ruin Iraq's economy is not a great investment. And as Iraq is not ruined economically and politically, it seems that the only thing that these rulers can hope to achieve their sick dreams is making the lives of Iraqis a daily suffer through maintaining the difficult security. But even this is not a real victory and has failed to attract more supporters to turn it into a wide spread chaos that involve the whole country when tried three times. ' Readers wishing to help lessen the suffering of the Iraqi people should donate through Spirit of America. You can also help promote democracy in Iraq by supporting the Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party.

Scottish MP says no to IRI appeasement. Scotland's Struan Stevenson of the EU Parliament speaks out against the EU's accommodationist stance towards the Iranian regime in this article from the Washington Times, posted on the Free Iran message board: 'The EU's lack of spine in dealing with Tehran has emboldened the mullahs to step up repression in Iran. A resolution just adopted by the U.N. General Assembly censured Tehran for "failure to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice, the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and right to counsel, the continuing executions, in particular the execution of persons below 18 years of age, the arbitrary arrest and detention without charge or trial, the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in particular the practice of amputation and flogging as well as the systemic discrimination against women and girls." The deterioration of human rights in Iran has revealed new depths of barbarity, where pregnant women and children are routinely executed and floggings and amputations are an almost daily public spectacle. ' (Washington Times via Free Iran)


Morning Report: January 4, 2005

Baghdad governor assassinated. Ali al-Haidri, the governor of Baghdad Province, was assassinated in a fierce gun battle that also claimed the life of one of his bodyguards, according to this CNN report. (CNN)

Terrorism discounted in laser incidents. Also from CNN, a government official has stated that Federal investigations have found no terrorist connection in recently reported cases of green lasers being trained on commercial aircraft: 'The FBI investigation into recent incidents involving laser beams aimed at aircraft has found no link to terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security's transportation security chief said Monday. "There's not any evidence that these lasers are being used by terrorists," said Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary of border and transportation security. "The FBI certainly continues to investigate and look at these fact scenarios. It's also a safety issue that the Department of Transportation would certainly want to look at." ' (CNN)

The Return of Ali Fadhil

Ali Fadhil is back. He is now blogging as Free Iraqi, formerly "Iraqi Liberal". Some astute readers of Iraq the Model had already guessed that the new Ali and the old Ali were the same person; I didn't believe so, maybe because I thought it was just too good to be true! Anyway, I stand corrected and I'm happy to have been wrong!

For new readers, ITM is a very fine, informative Iraqi blog. It was begun in November 2003 by three brothers in Baghdad - Omar, Ali, and Mohammed Fadhil - and has drawn an intensely loyal readership. Then a few weeks ago, while Omar and Mohammed were completing a tour of the US, Ali abruptly quit the blog, fueling all kinds of speculation.

So now we have the whole story. Ali hasn't been abducted by aliens, and you can read about his decision in his own words at this post.

Many thanks to Stefania of Free Thoughts for passing on this news. Be sure to check out Free Thoughts: a bilingual (Italian/English) neoconservative blog featuring the latest human rights news on the Middle East, Cuba, and elsewhere. Current posts include a link on Saad Ibrahim and an aritcle on Cuban prisons Stefania is amazingly prolific - Free Thoughts is a great resource.


The Names

Last Saturday, Rabbi Oppenheimer spoke on the devastation caused by the tsunami in South Asia. Working from memory, I will try to capture the essence of his very fine sermon, although I will be unable to truly do it justice.

Rabbi Oppenheimer began by urging everyone to do what they can to support humanitarian relief efforts; he suggested Portland-based Mercy Corps. He then emphasized that any attempt to "explain" the mysterious acts of G-d is doomed to failure, as Job discovered centuries ago. From the voice in the whirlwind, Job received the great smackdown of all time: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Speak, if you have knowledge of it...."

There is something about the sea, the rabbi noted, that draws us: its sameness, its oneness. Even though a complex ecosystem is concealed beneath the waves, to our eyes the sea appears pure and whole. It reminds us of the undifferentiated unity from which the universe was created; and this is why so many people live by the sea - not only sailors and fishermen who depend on it for their livelihood, but vacationers and retirees who fill the tourist hotels and build their summer homes there.

While it is natural that we are drawn to the sea, it is also an essential fact of our existence that we are not part of it. We live on dry land, and just as we no longer belong to the sea, neither do we belong to the realm of the undifferentiated. We are all unique individuals, each with a name, each with a life, each with a special place in creation.

Turning to the week's Torah portion - the beginning of Exodus - Rabbi Oppenheimer reflected on the opening passages of the book: a list of the names of the sons of Israel who migrated to Egypt (from which the book of Exodus takes its Hebrew name, Shemoth, or "names"). This is to stress the importance of the individual - even in a time when Pharaoh's regime would come to enslave the whole Jewish population.

Eventually Pharaoh commanded that all male Israelite children be killed at birth, by drowning in the Nile. And it was from that very Nile that Moses, the future leader of the Jewish people, would be rescued. Moses seemingly made a career of doing battle with water, too - turning it to blood, bringing frogs out of it, and finally splitting it for the escaping Jews.

No one knows how many lives were lost to the Nile by Pharaoh's command. What is recorded is the Egyptian regime's determination to dehumanize its slaves by turning them into mindless automata, mere working machines. The Nazis did the same thing with their concentration camps. What the Torah comes to tell us - Rabbi Oppenheimer explained - is that each human being is unique and precious. We must never allow our lives to be swallowed up by the demands of industrial society - that's why the Sabbath is so important, because it forces us to break away from the work week and reclaim our own sense of self.

Tragedies remind us of how fleeting, and how sacred, life is. Returning to the victims of the tsunami, the rabbi said: "Each of those hundred thousand people had a name. Each one had a family; each one was special to someone."


Google Hit of the Day

Fellow Mac OS X sufferer in Central Time Zone, who found this blog (and this post) with the search terms "spinning beachball of death" and "unexpectedly quit".

I feel your pain.

Morning Report: January 2, 2005

Tsunami update. Over 100,000 dead and some five million homeless - those are the latest grim statistics on the South Asian tsunami tragedy. See Command Post for how to help.

Laser prankster "meant no harm", lawyer says. A man in Parsippany, New Jersey, who was detained by law enforcement officials for pointing a green laser at a police helicopter, "meant no harm", according to his attorney. The article in the Star-Ledger says Gina Mendola Longarzo, attorney for David Banach, stated that her client uses lasers in his work. Morning Report notes that most other reported laser incidents involved airplanes, not helicopters, and suggests that this case is at most a "copycat" incident, and not a reason to dismiss a potentially serious phenomenon.