Welcome LaShawn Barber readers! Thanks to LaShawn for the link. Go check out the post, and be sure to read the comments. I'm planning to post on anti-Semitism and the Left soon.

Tiger rocks. I am not an "early adopter" and I'm not prone to enthuse over every brand-new, bug-ridden gadget (or widget) that the software geeks think we can't live without. I'm not even a hardcore Mac fan, either - I think Apple makes a good product, but I'm not an Apple-kool-aid-drinking Microsoft-hater; I'm a dual user (Windows/Mac) and don't have a strong brand loyalty to either. So when I say I'm officially impressed with Mac OS 10.4 "Tiger", you can be sure I'm not just talking off the top of my head. I upgraded last weekend (late adopter, remember), and I'm really glad I did. The new OS is noticeably faster, both on internet browsing and on local applications - including, and perhaps most noticeably, Microsoft Word for Mac. Best of all, from a blogging standpoint, is the built-in RSS feature. This alone is worth the price of admission. One click and I can view all new posts from all the blogs I follow, and it's so easy to use, even a tech idiot like me can figure it out. And if you're worried about reliability, I would say it isn't perfect but it's pretty good - beachballs and unexpected quits are rare, and the number of oddball new-product glitches is small. So if you're a Mac user and you're holding off on upgrading to Tiger, this skeptic says: Go for it.

School's in - the blogging will go on. I'm finishing my first week of classes for the fall term. It's going to be fun. Physics, Women's Literature, and Calculus, all with great profs. I'm going to revise my topical posting schedule, with the new version hopefully going up this Sunday. I'm going to shoot for four or five Morning Reports a week; no MR today, next one Sunday morning.

Tammy Bruce. A couple of people have asked me whether I'm going to be linking to Tammy Bruce. Yes. She's joining Pajamas Media! Go to the link to read her interview.

Intelligent Design

I blame Michael in San Francisco for sending me this.
Day No. 1
And the Lord God said, “Let there be light,” and lo, there was light. But then the Lord God said, “Wait, what if I make it a sort of rosy, sunset-at-the-beach, filtered half-light, so that everything else I design will look younger?”
“I’m loving that,” said Buddha. “It’s new.”
“You should design a restaurant,” added Allah.

Day No. 2:
“Today,” the Lord God said, “let’s do land.” And lo, there was land.
“Well, it’s really not just land,” noted Vishnu. “You’ve got mountains and valleys and—is that lava?”
“It’s not a single statement,” said the Lord God. “I want it to say, ‘Yes, this is land, but it’s not afraid to ooze.’ ” ...

Paul Rudnick - Intelligent Design
Read it all at the link.


Morning Report: September 28, 2005

CTB: Terror threats in Italy, Muslim Brotherhood in France. The Counterterrorism Blog: 'Senior analysts at The Investigative Project on Terrorism have produced two new studies of importance. Lorenzo Vidino's "Is Italy Next In Line After London?," published by The Jamestown Foundation, discusses the potential targeting of Italy by al-Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups operating in Europe. As Lorenzo points out, the number of hardcore militants operating in Italy number in the hundreds; suicide bombers recruited in Italy have carried out attacks outside Italy; and Italy, like the UK, was unable until recently to pass effective anti-terrorism legislation or effectively enforce immigration and terrorism laws. ... Glen Feder's "The Muslim Brotherhood in France," published by "In the National Interest," discusses how the Muslim Brotherhood "has taken hold of the most powerful Muslim organization in France today, and is quickly penetrating into the political and social fabric of secular France." It is a detailed and excellent account of the history of the Brotherhood in France ...' Read Steven Emerson's full post at the link. (CTB)


Portland Coffee House, Trinity

Also known as One Way Coffee House, may be found at 1951 West Burnside. It's still the best coffee shop in the neighborhood. And now I can announce their CORRECT phone number: it's 503-248-2133.

Morning Report: September 27, 2005

Terrorist killed in Baghdad; identity in dispute. According to Debka, 'The Abu Azzam reported killed in Baghdad is not Zarqawi’s most notorious senior lieutenant. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources strongly doubt that the man reported dead is in fact the Abu Azzam believed in charge of financing and arranging the movement of foreign fighters into western Iraq from Syria and other countries. His death has in fact not been officially announced. On March 19, coalition forces announced his capture in Baghdad. it was reported in DEBKA-Net-Weekly in the same week. He was then commanding Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s forces in the capital. Since then, according to our information, he has been held and interrogated by US forces.' The Counterterrorism Blog warns: 'Abdullah Abu Azzam, the Al-Zarqawi lieutenant killed in Iraq on Sunday, is being labeled "the #2 Al Qaeda in Iraq" by the Pentagon and in media reports. Counterterrorism experts and students have learned, often the hard way, to never take claims of important tactical victories or defeats without skepticism and objective review.' CTB promises more analysis soon. (Debka, CTB)

Belmont Club: Tables turned in Fallujah. Wretchard writes: 'Analysts who talk about the 'unstoppable IED' should consider the problems posed to the enemy by the American precision strike, which is in its way the rival "weapon from hell". If a modified cell phone represents a detonator to a triggerman lying in wait for an American target, a regular cell phone in the hands of an Iraqi working for American intelligence is a means to rain down certain destruction on any safehouse, hideout or enemy installation.' Read the full post at the link. (Belmont Club)

Voice of Reason

A sapphic reconsideration. A few of the anti-war protesters actually seemed to respond reasonably when approached reasonably. Global Cop's photo roundup reports that this "Dykes for Peace" demonstrator thought better of her part in the protest when she was gently reminded that "she wouldn't be very welcome in most Islamic societies".

This is why I like to stress the importance of talking to people one-on-one. Blogs and internet activism are good; demonstrations are good; but there's no substitute for just having a friendly, civilized conversation with your left-leaning friends and neighbors.

Our protestor might also be interested to learn that some activists like Irshad Manji are taking on the challenge of reforming the Muslim world from within. And don't miss this:
Irshad - the definitive interview


Iran Report

Iranian Nuclear Chief Ali Larijani: The West Should Learn the Lesson of North Korea (MEMRI)
"In my opinion, any reasonable person will understand that although Iran proposes these peaceful conditions, if you want to use aggressive language, Iran will have no choice but to protect its technological accomplishments by withdrawing from the NPT and from the regulations of the [Additional] Protocol, and to begin enrichment."

Anne Bayefsky: Impotent IAEA (NRO)
Working against referral to the Security Council, and for giving this state sponsor of terrorism more time to develop weapons of mass destruction, was U.N. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei from Egypt. ElBaradei said, after the failed U.S. and EU attempt to send the issue immediately to the Security Council: “I am encouraged that the issue has not been referred to the Security Council, precisely to give time for diplomacy and negotiation…” He continued, “time is still available for diplomacy to resolve outstanding issues, for Iran to build confidence, and that the question of reporting to the Security Council could only be discussed at a later date.”

For years, “lack of consensus” was trotted out as the main stumbling block to Security Council involvement. When it finally became clear that a vote at the IAEA would be the only way to move the issue forward, the size of the margin became the new obstacle. In an effort to minimize the opposition, the final resolution stated that Iran had breached the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, its claim of merely peaceful purposes was not credible, but that “the timing and content of the report…and the notification required” to the Security Council would be discussed at an unspecified later date. ...

The IAEA statute actually makes referral to the Security Council after a clear finding against Iran mandatory ...

ADNKronos: US Financing Radar Station on Iran-Azerbaijan Border
Tehran, 26 Sept. (AKI) - The Iranian media has reported a decision by the United States to finance radar stations in the central Asian republic of Azerbaijan, that the government in Tehran says are part of a military strategy by Washington to encircle the Islamic Republic. One of the stations is reported to be 20 kilometres from the Iranian town of Astara, while another is situated in Khizi, 50 kilometres from the border with Russia.

The construction of the two stations is part of the Caspian Guard Initiative, an American project which aims to guarantee the security of the 3.6 billion dollar, 1,600 kilometre-long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that runs from Baku in Azerbaijan to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan. ...

Read full articles at the links. First and third items come by way of Regime Change Iran.

The Arabs are coming! The Arabs are coming!

Arab dissident bloggers make the LA Times! Discarded Lies links to a story on anti-regime bloggers in the Arab world. Evariste writes:
It's interesting to read about how dissident Arab bloggers are networking and making the promise of the world wide web-unstoppable freedom-come true. Their tenacity in overcoming heavy-handed state censorship is admirable and courageous.

From the LA Times article by Megan K. Stack:
"The government gives herself the right that she's more mature than you," an indignant Abdel Nour said on a recent morning as sunlight flooded his apartment in Damascus, the Syrian capital. "She will decide for you which site you can see and which is forbidden."

A 40-year-old gadfly and childhood friend of President Assad, Abdel Nour had been courting trouble for months. His writings call for the dismissal of officials, citing them by name and listing their shortcomings. He castigates Syrian intelligence and scoffs at the Baath Party, even though he is a member. By his count, his vitriol reaches 15,200 readers every day.

"They [government officials] are very much angry because they don't have any qualified people or intellectual people to respond or explain or defend," Abdel Nour said. "So they just stand there taking bullets, with nothing to respond. They've never had this situation before."

Abdel Nour fought the crackdown.

Nadz hands out the awards. Palestinian-American blogger Nadz passes out the Mad Mullah Awards:
I was going to do this at the end of the year, but we have witnessed so much stupidity, misogyny and religious fanaticism that I couldn't resist doing an early roast of the people I love to hate. So, without further ado, I bring you the Mad Mullah Awards!

Go to the link for the lucky winners in the Leftist-Nutcase, Leftist-Nutcase-Tools, Sexist-Blame-Rape-Victims, Cheerleader-for-Patriarchy, and other coveted awards.

Sandmonkey takes on stupidity. Egyptian Sandmonkey isn't impressed with the Christian values displayed by the Ontario Christian School, which expelled a 14-year-old student for having lesbian parents: 'What the girl had to do with her "parents" sinful lifestyle is beyond me. What was she supposed to do, force them to seperate? Preach every day to them? She is 14. Not to mention, Mr. Christian teacher, do you realize what opprutunity you lost yourself here? Here is someone who, according to you, lives in a sinful household. Do you reach out and try to "save her"? Nope, You kicked her out and sent her back in it. I am sure that's what Jesus would've done, no? All I see is stupidity around me!' There's some relief from the stupidity, though, when Sandmonkey posts his favorite hawk sighting.

What do Egyptians really think? Freedom for Egyptians has some answers:
But in fact, I do not think that the US is unpopular, it is extremely popular that if a traffic light in Egypt stops working, many would lay the blame on the US. As when any earthquake happens in Egypt, they believe that the US is supporting Israel to do the nuclear tests that would shake our Egypt. The earthquake is tailored in a very special way that does not shake Israel. And they do not ask why the US is not capable of stopping any California earthquakes? The answer is pretty simple; it is the earth not the US that takes the liberty in moving in some areas. There are hundreds if not thousands of situations when the US has to stand as the sole reason behind anything. If a woman cannot get pregnant it is because the US gave Israel a spray (could be a pesticide or even a perfume) to export to Egypt to prevent women from conceiving. Yes, it gets funnier by the minute.

But this does not mean that Egyptians do not like the US but actually they are obsessed by the US. It was so funny to see all those Egyptians that literally talk about the American elections more than about our referendums. They talk about President Bush more than about President Mubarak. The only thing they do not do is that they do not go to the polling stations with the Americans. ...

Ignatius said in his article “Indifference is not an American trait. Part of our Benjamin Franklin heritage of industry and self-improvement is that we want to be admired, applauded -- and, yes, loved.” And I would add something else that should make us believe in the US whic also intrigues me if does not leave me stunned is that the US is among very few countries if not the only one that succeeded in bringing hundreds of nationals from all over the world where everyone feels home. Arabs are very nationalistic people, hence they fail to see other peoples’ best. The US brought the best from all over the world to live under one flag.

The reason of the “unpopularity” of the US is that many Egyptians believe that their oppressors and US are one. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Miss Mabrouk: What's going on? Ritzy wants to know what's going on in those madrassas: 'Where is that hand going? I really don't know what is going on here or where Dangerous got the picture from. Just as worrying is this report ...' Go to the link for the disturbing photo, and the report on Islamic schools. Also, read Ritzy's post on Sharon.

Amsterdam nights. Mahmood has a video blog from Amsterdam.

The sweet taste of exile. Syrian heretic Amarji writes about Day 17 in Washington, DC: 'On the Seventeenth Day of Exile my True Love brought to me ingredients for a traditional Syrian dish. Oh I absolutely adore my One True Love. Indeed, this is our seventeenth day in Washington DC and exile couldn’t smell or taste any sweeter. But this is only “me” talking – I who logs my exile around like a cross, a simultaneously cherished and reviled possession. For Khawla, too, exile is a cross. To her, I am a cross, it seems. Years ago, when we first met, I doubt she knew that one day she would have to pay this price for our love. I hope it was worth it. I hope I was worth it. I know I have to spend the rest of my life showing her that it/I was worth it. But that is not too much of a cross really. It feels more like the natural commitment that comes with marriage ...'

Driver needed: The road of Good Intentions. The Religious Policeman posts excerpts from a would-be suicide bomber:
You remember Ahmad, our young failed suicide bomber , the one who was still waiting for his brain cells to be delivered? Well, the good news is that he's now appeared on Saudi TV, to tell us his heroic tale. (Thanks to "Ash" for this news and URL). If you go to the MEMRI site, you can see the full interview, with subtitles, and a transcript.

The interview is obviously intended to deter future wannabe Jihadis, by showing them the terrible fate that can befall them. After all, they might get a bit singed round the extremities, but they'll end up in this extremely nice hospital room, with their own telephone, and a big bunch of flowers. In fact I would hazard a guess that it's one of the really nice military hospitals, it's certainly better than my memories of the best civilian hospital in Riyadh, the Kingdom hospital. And the interviewer is very nice as well, doesn't ask him any nasty questions, even when Ahmad trots out what you can see on the screen, "my intentions were good". ...

As always, read the whole thing at the link.

Highlander is a woman blogger in Libya. In this post, she goes snooping around the Libyan blogs: 'Being the eternal sleuth as usual ;) I went on a search for some more Libyan blogs for my dear readers . Because you don't want to have only my opinion about all things Libyan don't you ? That won't be fair or balanced ... but also because I'm curious about my fellow Libyans. Well a fresh crop of blogs have turned up, I arbitrarily chose the most interesting among them to display here , the rest will be advertised when they start updating - not just having a "testing" sign on their website...' Go to the link for the rest, and don't forget to blogroll Highlander "From the Rock" - she's joining our blogroll now.

Morning Report: September 26, 2005

Al-Jazeera reporter convicted of terrorism. ITM: 'Al-Jazeera's reporter in Spain, Tayseer Alluni has just been sentenced to seven years in jail after a Madrid court found him guilty of joining a terror cell and facilitating money laundry. This is bad news for Al-jazeera who's been defending and campaigning to protect their reporter and they obviously failed in eluding justice but the question that we must think about is; was Alluni working on his own using his media credentials as a cover or could it be that Al-jazeera itself is involved?' The sentence came as part of Spain's largest terrorism trial, which featured the conviction of a cell leader. CNN: ' A suspected al Qaeda cell leader has been convicted in a Madrid court in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Two other suspected al Qaeda members were acquitted of charges they helped plot the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the accused cell leader, was sentenced to 15 years on charges of conspiracy in the attacks and 12 years for being a leader of a terrorist group. The court cleared him of being an accomplice to murder in connection with the attacks. Yarkas, 42, faced nearly 75,000 years in prison if convicted on those charges -- 25 years for each of the nearly 3,000 fatalities in the 9/11 attacks.' (ITM, CNN)

Canada: Iran regime violates human rights. Perhaps recalling the brutal murder of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi at the hands of IRI thugs, Canada's foreign minister said he had prepared a resolution to condemn Iran for human rights violations. Rooz: 'While the pro hardline government media in Iran called the meeting between the Iranian and Canadian foreign ministers successful, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, after meeting with his Iranian counterpart that his country had prepared a new resolution to condemn human rights violations in Iran and would propose it to the United Nations General Assembly. The new resolution condemning Iran's human rights record followed by IAEA resolution last week, which paves the way for referring Iran's nuclear file to the UN Security Council, has already created new challenges for Iran's foreign policy makers.' (Rooz)

IRA puts weapons "beyond use". Another brave Canadian official, retired general John de Chastelain, played a key role in the negotiations which have resulted in the Irish Republican Army's formal surrender of all its weapons. CBC: 'The Irish Republican Army has completely disposed of the weapons it used during its armed campaign against British Rule in Northern Ireland. According to international monitors, "We have now reported to the British and Irish governments that we have observed and verified events to put beyond use very large quantities of arms which we believe are all the arms in the IRA's possession." "We are satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA's arsenal," said John de Chastelain on Monday. De Chastelain is the retired Canadian general who since 1997 has led efforts to disarm the outlawed IRA on Monday.' (CBC)


Freedom's Warriors

Military roundup. Countercolumn on body counts: 'Maj D notices that coalition casualties this month are way down. In fact, the casualty rate for September is less than half of what it was in August and the lowest since March - "despite" a series of offensive operations in the north and west. I put "despite" in quotation marks because I would argue that the low casualty figures are BECAUSE of the offensive operations, not despite them. What explains the difference? I would venture that the increasing prominence of Iraqi forces is largely behind the lower casualty figures. As the Iraqi forces develop, they take on more of the burden of combat operations themselves, and so represent a lower portion of casualties.' We need to start paying attention to the sacrifices made by our Iraqi allies. Go to Mudville Gazette - Dawn Patrol for links to the latest on washroom facilities, a Lincolnesque eulogy for the fallen, and much more. And in a timeless photograph, a Marine pays a tribute across the battlefield: Gunny Burghardt says hi.

Hawk sightings. Refusing to let the peaceniks have all the fun, pro-military demonstrators managed to grab some headlines: Mudville Gazette on counter-protests links to GlobalCop's round-up of photos from "embedded" sources.Jonah's military guys link to "You don't speak for me, Cindy!" Don't let the title fool you at Blackfive: Media covers pro-military families - the MSM are "covering" the event in about the way you'd expect. But at lest they're covering it.

Corporal Tibor Rubin, Medal of Honor. Jason's post at Countercolumn - NYT on Rubin has a few words for the Times' perfunctory coverage of this event: 'Perversely, the allegations of anti-semitism in the Army receive more space in the article than Rubin's own heroism. These guys just HATE anything that has to do with the virtue of the America Fighting Man.' Alcibiades at Kesher Talk has more on this concentration camp survivor who became a hero to his fellow POWs in the Korean War. Rubin, now 76, is now entitled to receive salutes from even the highest-ranking military officers.

"The hills were covered with the sort of trees you buy at Christmas, but bigger."

Nancy Rommelmann, a New York native and recent immigrant from Los Angles, muses on the strange beauty that is Portland, Oregon. Read her post for some appalling stories of anglocentric chauvinism from well-off, "liberal" people in southern California. (I could tell you some stories too), and the contrasting experience of a wine dinner at a winery in the Willamette Valley. (Key concept: relaxed - not "mellow".) Hat tip: the invaluable Michael Totten.

Personal tidbit: When I first moved up to Portland from San Francisco in February 2000, one thing struck me: Portlanders always greet the bus driver when they board, and they say "Thank you" when they disembark. I really like that.

Morning Report: September 25, 2005

ITM: Constitution and elections. Omar at Iraq the Model discusses the gap between the delegates and their electorates in Iraq: 'What is noticeable now is that no clear majority can be said to be on either side and although the draft was written and agreed upon by the largest two blocs in the National Assembly, followers and supporters of these blocs do not seem equally willing to vote with 'yes'. And while no opposition to the constitution is coming from the Kurdish people, the division is more pronounced in the Sheat population as there's a sizeable percentage that opposed the federal state. The Sunni politicians and parties also are pushing towards rejecting the constitution. However these politicians and parties are not representative of the Sunni Arabs and what they say may not reflect what the people want but in general it seems that more Sunnis are going to vote with 'no' on the October referendum. The above distribution is supposed to cover roughly 90% of the population but in fact it does not as there are the secular trends, the communists and many independent people who do not follow this party or that faction. The secular trends themselves have different opinions; some believe that the constitution is a step back to the dark ages and allows religion to take a bigger role than it should, thus these seculars want to vote the constitution down ... The other secular trend has another point of view; they see ratifying the constitution as a step forward as to the democratic process in general, so they seem more inclined to support the constitution as a first step but only to amend it later. ... There are also other religious and ethnic minorities who don't seem happy with what's been stated in the draft and they think their rights will be severely eroded under this constitution. Here we have mainly the Christians, Turkmen and the Shabak (who complained about their ethnic rights being ignored). The Turkmen's opposition to the constitution comes from their age-old conflict over Kirkuk which is home town for people from both groups; still there are some Turkmen who sided with the Kurds and even others who sided with the Sheat alliance following their sectarian background. ... So all I can say now is that the results of the referendum can not be accurately predicted at the moment and the outcome will depend to a great extent on the geographic distribution of votes throughout the country.' Post continues with an analysis of the upcoming elections, in which the numerous small parties - including the Fadhils' IPDP (Iraqi Pro-Democracy Party) - are coalescing into larger ones. (ITM)

IAEA finds IRI non-compliant. And the Iran regime isn't happy about it. CNN reports: 'Iran has rejected as "political" and "unjust" a resolution passed by the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency calling for the country to be reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, state-run television reported. ... The resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors accuses Iran of failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it does not specify when Iran would be referred to the Security Council. The board will have to vote a second time to determine that. The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany and backed by the United States, passed with 22 votes in favor, 12 abstentions and one vote against by Venezuela.' Full article at the link. (CNN)

Taheri: IRI walking into a trap. Via Regime Change Iran, Amir Taheri at Arab News writes: 'Ahmadinejad’s speeches and interviews represented an improvement over his predecessor Muhammad Khatami, a mulla, who amused UN audiences by trying to show off his knowledge of Hobbes and Hegel. Unlike Khatami, Ahmadinejad did not pretend to be what he is not, that is to say a liberal democrat. Instead, he spoke as a radical Islamist revolutionary representing a radical Islamist revolutionary regime. ... Before Ahmadinejad arrived in New York many in the UN saw Iran as a poor developing nation being bullied by big powers on spurious grounds. Ahmadinejad replaced that image with one of a cocky midsized power trying to punch above its weight regardless of the consequences.' Full article at link. (Amir Taheri at Arab News, via RCI)

CTB: Daylight at last? The Counterterrorism Blog sees 'growing indications that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his Al-Qaida acolytes may be facing the most serious political and operational challenges they have encountered since they first joined the anti-coalition insurgency in mid-2003. The deadly glut of suicide bombings that began on September 8 has undoubtedly caused destruction and chaos--but militants were neither able to undermine the anti-insurgent operation in Tel Afar nor deter Iraqi government efforts to formulate a constitution.' The CTB cites a stinging rejection by the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) as a major setback for the terrorists of al-Qaeda. (CTB)

Britain's quiet war in southern Iraq. An article at the Sunday Times via Iran Focus sheds light on Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) and its "secret war" against the Iranian regime in Basra and southern Iraq. 'TWO SAS soldiers rescued last week after being arrested by Iraqi police and handed over to a militia were engaged in a “secret war” against insurgents bringing sophisticated bombs into the country from Iran. The men had left their base near the southern Iraqi city of Basra to carry out reconnaissance and supply a second patrol with “more tools and fire power”, said a source with knowledge of their activities. They had been in Basra for seven weeks on an operation prompted by intelligence that a new type of roadside bomb which has been used against British troops was among weapons being smuggled over the Iranian border. The bombs, designed to pierce the armour beneath coalition vehicles, are similar to ones supplied by Iran to Hezbollah, the Islamic militant group. “Since the increase in attacks against UK forces two months ago, a 24-strong SAS team has been working out of Basra to provide a safety net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran,” said one source. “The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them.” The forces have tried to seal the notoriously porous border using high-technology sensors that monitor movement by night. They report to a major based in Baghdad in an unmarked building known as the “station house”. ...' Meanwhile, The Belmont Club reports on some second thoughts in London: 'British Tory Michael Portillo has begun to express doubts about the British 'softly-softly' approach in Iraq in the London Times. ... Those who been closely following events in Iraq will immediately remember April 2004 in the US sector, when the hands-off approach and the reliance on poorly trained Iraq civil defense forces were shown to be inadequate by the simultaneous uprisings among the Sunnis and the Shi'a. As Yogi Berra said, "it's deja vu all over again". So it is no surprise that the British are reacting in much the same way as the US did in April 2004. In some respects, the British will be starting a year and half behind the United States. 'Softly, softly' as the history of the last days of the Clinton administration and recent events in Gaza show, often means 'ouchly, ouchly' in the end. But several things will make the British recovery easier. The first is establishment of the Iraqi government and the creation of its major combat units. Secondly, the British have probably built up intelligence on the opfor, which is something they do as a pastime whenever they are not otherwise occupied. Thirdly, they don't have to fight a two-front war since the US has taken charge of the Sunni front. Lastly, the US has made the major investments in robotics, electronic warfare and supporting fires that will provide the British Army with whatever precision firepower it needs to get out of a jam. GIs rarely shoot from the hip, whatever Portillo believes, and have invested billions investing in technologies that are wholly the opposite of this cinematic approach.' (Iran Focus, Belmont Club)

Answering ANSWER. Judith at Kesher Talk has some links to the pro-Iraq demonstrations, and Baldilocka observes leftists in their natural habitat. (Kesher Talk, Baldilocks)


Iran Regime Tortures Gay Youth

Gay Patriot:
Thank goodness that at least one gay organization in the world, OutRage!, actually cares about the real and physical (not imagined) war against our community by the Islamic Fascist governments and terror organizations.

Iran sanctions state violence against gay people
Gay Amir, aged 22, given 100 lashes
Apathy of gay, left and human rights groups condemned

London – 20 September 2005

The bruised and bloodied body of a 22 year old gay Iranian, Amir, bears witness to the brutality of the Ayatollah’s regime.

Amir escaped Iran after the authorities threatened him with execution for being gay – but not before he was subjected to the barbarism of 100 lashes ,,,

Read the rest at the link. Warning: graphic photos.

Links of interest:

Pajamas Media

The organization soon to be formerly known as Pajamas Media has an information site, for all those who are interested in the power of citizen journalism. With the moribund New York Times, Dan Rather's (C)BS News, and Newsweek "America Is Dead" magazine digging their own graves, this is a good time to get in tune with journalism's future.

Don't get stuck on stupid!

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Clashes rock Ahwaz, southwest Iran, early this week. SMCCDI reports:
Sep 19, 2005 - Fresh clashes rocked, yesterday night, the several areas of the southwestern and oil rich City of Ahwaz. The most violent actions took place in the Shelang-Abad and Malachieh areas. Angry crowd retaliated to militiamen's brutal attacks by throwing stones and incendiary devices resulting in several damages made to several public buildings and security patrol cars. Slogans against the Islamic regime and its leaders were shouted by Iranian-Arabs and Iranian-Persians living in the region. Tens of protesters have been injured or arrested. The residents intended to make a peaceful protest in order to request justice and better conditions. The situation is very tense in this city which was scene of deadly riots in August.

Mass crackdown in Tehran. Iran Focus (hat tip: "Kentucky Dan" Kauffman in Comments) reports:
Tehran, Iran, Sep. 18 – Close to 1,600 persons have been arrested in Tehran over the past 10 days as part of a nationwide crackdown, the state-owned hard-line daily Jomhouri Islami reported on Sunday. “Ten days after the plan to increase national security was put into effect, 829 criminal records have been created and 1,588 people have been arrested”, the office of the Tehran Prosecutor announced. The detainees are generally branded as “trouble-makers” or “miscreants”. The prosecutor’s office added that 170 “trouble-makers” had been sent to prison since the launch of the 20-day crackdown in the Iranian capital. Iranian officials have said that similar crackdowns will begin across other towns and cities after the initial 20-day phase.

RSF publishes cyber-activism handbook. Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) has published a downloadable manual for bloggers and internet dissidents.
Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression.
Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.
Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

Available in PDF at the link.

Afghan Report

MEMRI: Taliban messages to operatives. MEMRI presents the following excerpts from video messages at the Taliban website:
Speaker: "Oh, people of 'There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah's Prophet' – 'Rank hatred has already appeared from the mouths of your enemy, but what their hearts conceal is worse still.' You all heard what the American general Boykin said, when he was speaking at a certain church. He said: 'This war is a war of faith between Satan and Christianity.' Who is this Crusader describing as Satan? Is it not God Almighty who ordered His believers: 'Fight them until there is no more discord, and the religion is held wholly for the sake of Allah?'"

Go to the link for the full rant. (MEMRI)

Winds of Change: The torture place. Cicero at Winds of Change presents a five-year-old piece on Abhaseen Barikzy, an Afghan communist who was tortured at the hands of the Taliban. Go to the link to read Barikzy's harrowing story in his own words. Cicro says: 'I really don't have much to add to Barikzy's story. It speaks for itself. I was struck by the commander who said, "I want to kill a very bad pagan among the prisoners to receive more blessing from Allah." I think his reasoning is emblematic of what we're up against with respect to Islamic fascism. We in the West desperately want to believe that we can find common, rational ground and negotiate with Islamic fascists. The Commander exemplifies why negotiation, in the end, is folly.' (Winds of Change)

Afghan parliamentary elections. Afghan Lord posts some pictures from the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, including US Ambassador Ronald Neumann's visit to the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and several photographs of women voting - and a woman candidate's billboard ads. However, the elections - and the participation of women in them - were not an unqualified success. Sohrab Kabuli writes:
A large number of women in Zabul, Nangarhar, Khost and other provinces failed to vote in Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections in more than three decades. In remote villages of the southeastern Khost province, eligible female voters were avoided to go in polling station to vote for their destiny. Thus no women voted. Not even a single woman could exercise her begging rights. As women candidates was very less comparing to men but presence of women in polling stations were not much. Many of them has disappointed with the last presence in the presidential election last year. Afghan woman still suffer from injustice and pains from their men.
Nor is the presence of women candicates on the ballot necessarily reassuring to women voters: a woman interviewed by Sohrab Kabuli protested that she found no acceptable candidate - man or woman - on the ticket, and that women, too, are capable of injustice.
Meanwhile, Afghan Warrior has this report:
Afghanistan's first parliamentary election will be remembered as one of the most important days in the history of Afghanistan. Despite threats from the enemies for the last few months, millions of Afghans rushed towards polling stations to elect their representatives for the parliament. Women equally with men cast their vote. During the Election Day there were separate
polling stations for men and women in capital Kabul and other provinces. But unfortunately most women were not able to vote in Helmand and Zabul provinces even though they were registered, especially in Helmand province because the JEMB did not establish any separate polling stations for the women in 12 districts, but the JEMB officials in Helmand province claim there were no registered women voters so there was no need for establishing the separate polling stations.

Some people did not vote even though they were registered. On the election day I talked with a taxi driver and I asked him if he had voted. He said "not yet". I asked him if he was going to vote. He said "no, because during the presidential election I voted for president Karzai but he did not do anything for poor people we still suffer from the lack of power and drinking water". Some people that didn't vote said most candidates were former commanders and warlords so they don't want to elect them because of their bad past and they said we can not trust the new candidates because we don't know them very well. ...

Read the full posts at the links. (Afghan Warrior, Afghan Lord)

Morning Report: September 23, 2005

Debka: Sharon likely to step down. Citing "sources", Debka states that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is about to retire. 'DEBKAfile Reveals Exclusively: Ariel Sharon is on the point of stepping down. Barring a last-minute change of heart, the Israeli prime minister plans to retire to his Sycamore Ranch. DEBKAfile’s political sources report that private opinion polls conducted by his team indicated that all critical Likud votes would go against him. Monday, the central committee will decide to bring forward the leadership primary from April to December, as demanded by his rivals Netanyahu and Landau. He is not expected to fight this decision or respond by setting up a new party alliance. Our Washington sources add that President Bush has been informed of Sharon’s plan to retire.' (Debka)

Why Iraq? Taking stock of the political developments around the Iraqi constitution, The Belmont Club writes: 'But perhaps the strategic rationale for choosing Iraq versus Saudi Arabia consisted in that Iraq lay along a major fault line in the Muslim world, not simply with respect to religion, but in the case of the Kurds, ethnicity as well. It was the one place where America was guaranteed to find local allies whichever way it turned; it was the last place where the population could easily put aside their differences to oppose the United States. And if the objective were to set the region on its ears, here was the pillar in temple of Dagon around which everything could be sent crashing down.' Full analysis at link. (Belmont Club)

Treasury Department's FinCEN e-mail list hacked. The Counterterrorism Blog reports: 'The e-mail list used by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to send announcements was hacked and abused by an outsider this morning. The outsider sent the following message to the FinCEN e-mail list:
go away from iraq
takeback your monsters (army)
you killed my father and mother
what you want???
i know (oil)

and followed the text with two pictures supposedly from Iraq. FinCEN quickly sent a new message to its e-mail list to disregard the first message and that it is investigating the origin of the bad e-mail. As of this writing, the FinCEN site for subscribing to e-mail announcements is closed.' (CTB)

Iraqi security forces kill five terrorists in Baghdad. Al-Sabah reports: 'Baghdad, Sept. 22 p1 - Security forces managed in killing five terrorists holding Sudanese nationality when the forces stormed a house near the UAE embassy in Mansour district Wednesday.News reports described the raid as a battle thanks to fierce resistance of the terrorists who were keeping medium and heavy weapons and hand grenades.The battle started when a police patrol found a survivor hijacked as he fled the terrorists and led the police patrol to the position.The terrorists replied with grenades a matter needed to special forces interference, who have used heavy weapons before they lost three casualties between dead and injuries.' Sabah also notes that citizens have complained of increased terrorist activity in Samarra (about 125 km north of Baghdad), where the security situation is at its worst in several weeks. (Sabah)


Europe Backs Down

Reuters via Regime Change Iran:
The European Union's three main powers have dropped a demand that the U.N. nuclear watchdog report Iran to the Security Council over its atomic plans due to opposition from Russia and China, diplomats said on Thursday.

Moscow and Beijing have warned the United States, France, Britain and Germany against stepping up the nuclear standoff with Iran, potentially blocking their drive to haul Tehran before the U.N.'s highest body for possible sanctions. ...

AP via Free Iran:
Iran gained a reprieve in the standoff over its nuclear program Wednesday, with diplomats saying the
European Union had decided to postpone its push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

The decision to delay a vote until a later board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency instead of demanding one this week appeared driven by concerns about strong opposition. More than a dozen of the 35 IAEA board member nations meeting in Vienna — including Security Council members Russia and China — are against the idea.


The next step. For the first sixteen months, I didn't spend a dime on promoting Dreams Into Lightning, with the single exception of a few dollars I contributed to the (now defunct) Blog Machine. That changed this month, when I took advantage of SiteMeter's partner service, Site Toolbox, which offers site promotion packages in a variety of sizes and budgets. They offer search engine submissions, tips on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), a handy little doohickey that generates tags for you, and a banner ad service. (Possibly you've already seen some of my catchy slogans for this blog.) And I am definitely seeing an increase in traffic, so I know it's working.

Liveblogging from One Way Coffee House. Formerly "Portland Coffee House, Trinity" it's now known simply as Coffee House, or alternatively as One Way Coffee House because of the juxtaposition of the storefront with a "one way" traffic sign. It's still the best coffee shop in the neighborhood - I'm tempted to say the best in Portland. One Way Coffee House is still independently owned and boasts a dedicated, knowledgeable, and friendly crew - and it's still open into the wee hours for you late-nighters. That location again? It's at the corner of West Burnside and Trinity Place, right across Burnside from Blockbuster.

School's in. Yup, I'm starting classes on Monday. I don't intend to stop posting, or even slow down; it just means I'm going to have to manage my time. Morning Reports will probably be short and to-the-point. I am planning to return to the topical posting schedule I attempted earlier, and abandoned almost immediately; I'll probably cut out a few of the more ambitious features so I don't feel intimidated by the project. Thursday is "Arts and Letters" day; I'm putting together a few thoughts on a certain play (think Denmark) for next week.

Morning Report: September 22, 2005

Iraqi political scene. Iraq the Model carries a roundup of Iraqi politics. 'The political scene in Iraq these days is full of events with the parties feeling that time for starting campaigning is approaching. However these campaigns took the form of exchanged attacks and accusations without presenting programs or platforms for development and reform which are much needed. Perhaps the only player who preferred to act quietly is Allawi who stayed away from the lights while making continuous tours to gather support from as many parties and trends as possible to form a mid-liberal trend with no sectarian or ethnic identity. ... Maybe what's going to assist Allawi this time is that he didn't join the cabinet although encouraged to do so by the Sheat and the Kurdish blocs; this together with the poor performance of the current government when compared to Allawi's made Allawi seen as a better alternative by many Iraqis especially that a new alliance backed by the clergy is not likely to appear anymore after the intense differences that emerged between the major players in the present alliance namely the SCIRI, the Da'wa, Fadheela Party and the Sadrists and the differences reached the degree of armed clashes in some cases after which the Sadrists said they will be entering the next elections alone. Chalabi being the founding father of the alliance sensed the critical situation which made him make an announcement saying "I made the alliance and I can form a stronger one..." this announcement reflects the depth of the problems this alliance is going through, in the first time Chalabi remained silent while he built the alliance and he tried to stay away from the media but now I think he's facing a tough situation that pushed him to adopt this daring attitude and stop being silent. ... In such atmospheres critical of the governmental performance, the governing parties found themselves surrounded in a weak position and took a decision to respond by releasing a controversial report accusing Allawi's cabinet of massive corruption. This report which took a lot of attention and coverage in the past few days took the political battle to the lands of the opposition represented by the Iraqi bloc of Allawi and the former defense minister Hazim Sha'lan who's joining Allawi's alliance now after he formed his own movement. Everyone here know how dangerous corruption is and we said it more than once that it is just as dangerous as terrorism so attempts to fight corruption are welcome but the latest report was lacking a mechanism for a solution or even the precursors for a plan and was more like a shot taken to weaken the position of the political opponents.' Read the full report at the link. (ITM)

UK pulls forces from Basra streets. British forces are being removed from patrols in Basra, southern Iraq, in the wake of recent Iraqi/British clashes. Fox reports: 'British troops in the tense southern city of Basra greatly reduced their presence in the streets Thursday, apparently responding to a call from the provincial governor to sever cooperation until London apologized for storming a police station to free two of its soldiers. For the second day, no British forces were seen with accompanying Iraqi police on patrols of Basra, as they routinely had in the past. Elsewhere, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy in southern Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding six others Wednesday. Suspected insurgents gunned down at least eight Iraqis in four separate attacks Thursday, officials said. In an interview with Associated Press Television News in Baghdad Thursday, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called Monday's attack by British forces on a police station in Basra "a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty." At least five Iraqis were killed during a day of clashes between British forces and Iraqi police and demonstrators on Monday. British armor crashed into a jail to free the two soldiers who had been arrested by Iraqi police and militiamen. Earlier, a crowd attacked British troops with stones and Molotov cocktails.' (Fox)

Missing Iraqi defense funds. The Belmont Club offers a preliminary analysis of reports of massive embezzlement from the Iraqi defense budget. Wretchard notes that irrespective of whatever funds may have gone missing, the Iraqi army has successfully procured a formidable arsenal. '... in the light of the equipment that is physically in evidence, at least in training and operations, the Independent's depiction of the absence of Iraqi equipment seems something of a stretch.' Full post at link. (Belmont Club)

Manuscript fragment ends. Also from the indispensable Wretchard, a historian looks back at Tal Afar: 'Two groups of men fought in a place called Tal-Afar about 3,532 years ago. One group of men, called 'insurgents', soundly defeated another group called Americans, and their allies the Kurds, but for reasons unclear in the manuscript fragments, the insurgents evacuated the battlefield although they could hardly be pressed by the Americans, who were apparently a people who frequently cursed, yelled and ran from place to place in fear.' Such would be the account if based on Michael Ware's article at Time magazine, which is long on atmospherics and short on 'the who, what, where, when of the narrative.' Further complicating matters for this historian is the competing narrative offered by another fragment. Read the full post at the link. (Belmont Club)

Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005. Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Nazi Hunter has died in Vienna at the age of 96, the Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today (September 20th). "Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the International Human Rights NGO named in Mr. Wiesenthal’s honor, adding, "When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember. He did not forget. He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of the history’s greatest crime to justice. There was no press conference and no president or Prime Minister or world leader announced his appointment. He just took the job. It was a job no one else wanted. The task was overwhelming. The cause had few friends. The Allies were already focused on the Cold War, the survivors were rebuilding their shattered lives and Simon Wiesenthal was all alone, combining the role of both prosecutor and detective at the same time." Overcoming the world’s indifference and apathy, Simon Wiesenthal helped bring over 1,100 Nazi War Criminals before the Bar of Justice. There will be a news conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Tuesday, September 20th at 10 am.' (Simon Wiesenthal Center)


New from Winds

Judith of Kesher Talk is also posting at Winds of Change. She's welcoming the entry of a Texas Jewboy into Lone Star politics. She's also posted a round-up of Iranian activism - and was kind enough to link here. Thanks!

Also via Winds, Cicero has a magnificent meditation on his dreams for his daughter's future at Donklephant, where there's also news of a refreshing example of good sense from the other Portland.

Remembering Commodore Levy

Neo-Neocon has written a post on the life and times of Commodore Uriah Levy, occasioned by a reference to the inclusion of motifs from Monticello in the US Naval Academy's new Jewish chapel. To learn the connection between the Jefferson estate and this American Naval officer - and many other surprising facts about Levy's colorful career - go read Neo's post at the link.

Division by Zero

From Paula Gaon's blog:
When I look at pictures of Einstein, the depth that one sees in his eyes has always struck me. Always got the feeling that he wasn't looking at anything. Rather, he absorbed and processed--trying to understand of the mysteries, synthesis, and synergies of creation. He must have been a very spiritual and creative man. Hum, while I was typing this Blog, something my father (also an accomplished scientist), of blessed memory used to say popped into my head: "All of Nature is based on the mathematical number e, (i.e. growth curves, etc), except death itself. It must be division by 0 and undefined in this world as we know it."

Go read the whole post on time, relativity, art, and astrology at the link. Don't forget to hit Paula's homepage too.


Morning Report: September 18, 2005

Afghan elections undisrupted. Stratfor (subscription service) reports that 'Polls for Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections in over 30 years closed Sept. 18 with no significant attempt to disrupt the elections by the Taliban or al Qaeda', despite sporadic violence. Dean Esmay comments on some ironies, and links to Publius Pundit who's keeping a running update on the Afghan parliamentary elections. (Stratfor, Dean Esmay, Publius Pundit)

Iran bracing for confrontation? Amir Taheri writes: 'Incredible though it may sound there are signs that Tehran may be preparing for a military confrontation with the United States, and has convinced itself that it could win. The first sign came last June with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic, an event that completed the conquest of all levers of power by the most radical elements of the establishment. Since then, the revolutionary factions have conducted a little publicized purge of the military, the security, the civil service, and state-owned corporations and media. The most significant purges have affected the military high command. ...' Full post at the link. (Amir Taheri)


New Orleans Residents Blame Nagin, Praise Bush

NOLA evacuees from Hurricane Katrina refused to follow the script, much to the disappointment of ABC News. NewsBusters has the whole story; here's the transcript of the interviews:
Reynolds elicited reaction from the group sitting in chairs: “I'd like to get the reaction of Connie London who spent several horrible hours at the Superdome. You heard the President say retpeaedly that you are not alone, that the country stands beside you. Do you believe him?”

Connie London: “Yeah, I believe him, because here in Texas, they have truly been good to us. I mean-”

Reynolds: “Did you get a sense of hope that you could return to your home one day in New Orleans?”

London: “Yes, I did. I did.”

Reynolds: “Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?”

London: “No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in. They should have been on their jobs.”

Reynolds: “And they weren't?”

London: “No, no, no, no. Lord, they wasn't. I mean, they had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people.” ...

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, NewsMax reports that Governor Kathleen Blanco admitted she should have called the military:
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's abrupt decision Wednesday night to take responsibility for her state's inadequate response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster followed an inadvertent confession that was caught on camera where Blanco admitted she blew it.

"I really should have called for the military," Blanco said, while chatting with her press secretary in between TV interviews. "I really should have started that in the first call."

Unbeknownst to Blanco, her bombshell acknowledgment was recorded on a network satellite feed, and by Tuesday the clip was getting wide exposure in Louisiana news broadcasts.


Post - 9/11 Roundup

Nadz has an extraordinary post on September 11:
...It hit me then that this was no accident. Sure enough, the second plane hit, and we all knew. "Go, Osama!" someone said.

I was both shocked and not shocked. I knew that there were people who wanted to attack the States, having lived in the Middle East and seen how hated America was in some quarters. What shocked me was that al-Qaeda managed to do it, to get on the planes and strike so easily. I figured that the US government expected it and was prepared. But how do you prepare for something so big, so horrible?

The scale of the attack also surprised me. I had thought in my mind before, "what would happen if the white house and congress were hit in a war - would the government collapse? what would that mean? who would be the new superpower?" But when the news was reporting the attacks on the Pentagon, and reports of a bomb at the US capital, i thought this was it. It was the collapse of America. I felt sad and frightened, and more American than I had ever felt before.

At first, there was a brief, shameful second where I felt some satisfaction - I didn't think about the fact that there were people in the buildings. I saw this as the big guy getting hit by the little guy, and the government getting payback for supporting Israel's occupation. It was a second, but I still feel disgusted by it. But as I watched the smoke billow and thought about the pain this would cause, my anger immediately shifted to the murderers who killed so many. The projected death tolls were being read, the images of people jumping were being shown, the replays of the towers collapsing. It felt like the end of the world, and I knew who did it. I became angrier and angrier, not only for the evil of the attack, but also because I felt that, as an Arab and a Palestinian, this was being done in my name ....

Go read the whole thing - especially the end - to find out how far a little courage can go.

Worth a second link, Baldilocks has some thoughts on life, death, and a positive response to tragedy.

Three men went to work one Tuesday morning. Only one came back. Gay Patriot tells their moving stories ... and of how one man's life was saved in an unlikely way.

Jane at Armies of Liberation is at a loss for words.

Tal-Afar and Samarra

Omar at Iraq the Model follows up Mohammed's post with this analysis:
Yesterday, the minister of defense met delegates from Samarra in his office. The visit arranged for by the head of the Sunni mortmain department sheikh Ahmed Al-Samarrai came after the minister declared that that the government is going to send troops to other cities including Samarra.
The minister was straightforward in his speech and warned the delegates that if the city doesn't cooperate with the authorities in eliminating terror and criminal gangs, troops will have to enter the city and clean it up in a way similar to what happened in Talafar and the minister said that one month will be given to allow the city to take positive steps before power is used:

Let the decision be yours brothers because if you let others decide for the city, that decision would be tough on you and your people.
Bullets are blind and they can't distinguish between the good and the bad. We don't want to see innocent people get hurt.
You can not close your eyes and pretend it's not your responsibility when you see a terrorist or a suspect, you must cooperate with us if you want peace and stability in your city

The Iraqi Defense Minister would have none of the Samarra delegates' objections and denials, and told them:
Those cities [Najaf and other southern cities] are much more stable when compared with cities in the west or north west like Samarra and the young people in the south are joining the security forces in growing numbers, so why don't you and your people do the same? I hereby announce that our doors are open for recruits from Samarra, encourage your young men to join the army to keep your city safe and peaceful. The government is willing to hear your demands and discuss them to reach a solution for the situation in Samarra, so talk to your people, write down your demands and submit them to the government but keep them reasonable, we can't negotiate demands like those we heard from Ramadi, they wanted us to pull all Iraqi and American troops and let them rebuild units from the old army and that's not acceptable. There's one army in Iraq.

Omar adds:
Obviously the massive Iraqi-American operation in Talafar is encouraging other cities to seek peaceful solutions with the government and the first move came from Samarra because of the difference between Samara and other cities in the west; Samarra is a city that depends on trade, tourism and some industry for income unlike Haditha or Qaim which depend mainly on agriculture for economy and Samarra is a bigger city when compared with Qaim or Hadith and remaining under siege for a long time can be devastating for such a city and that'e what the delegate emphasized in their talks with the minister. Moreover, the type of Islam present in Samarra is relatively moderate and the clerics are not as extreme as those in Anbar and that is expected to give negotiations some flexibility.

Morning Report: September 15, 2005

Debka: Palestinians stockpiling weapons in Gaza. Debka reports: 'The Palestinians poured their entire Sinai arms dumps into Gaza, taking advantage of four days of unrestricted border transit. With them came a fresh influx of terrorists, including arrivals from Lebanon. According to DEBKAfile’s Exclusive’s military sources, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Jihad Islami and other Palestinian groups have poured many tons of explosives, rockets, RPGs and missiles into Gaza. An Israeli officer estimated the quantity would have kept three large Sinai-Rafah arms tunnels busy around the clock for a year. Thursday, September 15, thousands of Palestinians continued to flock unchecked by Egyptian or Palestinian police across the Gaza-Egyptian border through the Rafah Sultan refugee camp. All the Egyptians are doing is replacing the damaged patches of barbed wire along the Philadelphi route and resealing the holes in the border wall.' Amir Taheri is not upbeat about Gaza's future: 'Contrary to hyperbolic claims by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza is not liberated territory — all its points of contact with the outside world, including the West Bank, are still under Israeli control. Israel also retains effective control over a good chunk of Gaza's income both from customs' dues and foreign donations, as well as its trade. The most conservative estimates put the number of mini-armies in Gaza at 22. To these must be added the Palestinian Authority's security force and police, which also operate as rival factions. For a total population of perhaps 1.2 million, some 30 percent of all Palestinians in the "disputed territories," Gaza is believed to have over 100,000 armed men. It is also the single biggest producer of "volunteers for suicide-martyrdom" in the world. And yet Gaza accounts for only 1 percent of the Palestinian "disputed territories." The world's most densely populated piece of land, Gaza also suffers from unemployment rates not seen anywhere else. The territory's largest employers are, in fact, the 22 armed groups mentioned above plus the political, social, educational and health networks operated by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and smaller militants groups linked with the Iran-sponsored Hezbollah movement. ... The best-case scenario is that Mahmoud Abbas secures a deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad to allow the general elections, planned for next January, to take place. Hamas and Islamic Jihad may end up winning up to 40 percent of the seats in the future Palestinian parliament. That, in turn, may persuade them to switch to a political strategy. ... The worst-case scenario is a Palestinian civil war fought on various fronts and at multiple levels. That could make Gaza a magnet for Islamist jihadists, who appear determined to create "a crescent of fire" from Iraq to Egypt, passing by Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.' (Debka, Amir Taheri)

Zarqawi: War on Shi'a Muslims. Also from Debka: 'DEBKAfile Reports: Al Qaeda`s Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi released an audiotape Wednesday night declaring total war on the Shiites. The new declaration of war is of great significance for the state of the Iraq war and US relations with Muslim nations with substantial Shiite populations.' (Debka)

Belmont Club on Hitchens, Galloway. The deep, acromonious, and invective-laden vendetta between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens is iconic of the deep divisions within today's Left. The Belmont Club offers an analysis of last night's Hitchens/Galloway debate. Wretchard concludes: 'Hitchens, as will be evident to anyone who heard him address members of the audience as 'comrades' and invoke socialist solidarity is still a man of the Left who has merely remained true to the internal logic of his convictions. It puts him on the side of those fighting for republican forms against absolutist theocracies; and if that is the same camp as George Bush's then so be it. In that context, the contrast between Hitchens and Galloway is less of belief than of integrity: Hitchens opposes Al Qaeda because of his Leftist beliefs; Galloway supports Al Qaeda in despite of them; and to the traditional socialist this can only be explained by the inducement of cash. That was Hitchen's wider and subliminal reproach to the audience: what manner of men would pay to hear to George Galloway? Call yourselves anything, but don't call yourselves 'progressives'.' Read the full post at the link. (Belmont Club)


Morning Report: September 14, 2005

Rice promotes US policy on UN anniversary. Fox: 'The assembly of more than 170 world leaders to mark the United Nations' 60th birthday gives Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a unique opportunity to advance U.S. foreign policy goals on several difficult fronts. Success is by no means assured. While the United States is the largest contributor and the world's only real superpower, it cannot count on the United Nations for automatic support. ... Rice's drive to pressure Iran to resume negotiations on its nuclear program is a key test. Any U.S. resolution in the U.N. Security Council to censure Iran or to impose sanctions runs the risk of being vetoed. ... Russia remains dubious about having the council take up the issue. On Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko called it a hasty step.' (Fox)

Roger Simon: UN, RIP. Roger L. Simon thinks it's all over for the United Nations: by failing to adopt serious reforms in the wake of the oil-for-fraud scandal, the UN - once a symbol of idealism - has consigned itself to irrelevancy. 'Of course, it will still be there in name, serving discount lunches to diplomats in the cafeteria, and the Secretariat Building will not yet be turned over to The Donald to be retrofitted as a gold-plated hotel/casino in Turtle Bay, but it might as well be, considering the pallid reform package the General Assembly was able to muster today. The Washington Post sums up: *The negotiators were forced to put off action on some of the thorniest and most ambitious goals, including proposals to expand the U.N. Security Council, to create an independent auditing board to scrutinize U.N. spending, and to impose basic membership standards for a new Human Rights Council so that chronic rights abusers will not be able to join.* So, despite all, the Volcker Report on Oil-for-Food's call for independent auditing evidently had no impact (the endless corruption spigot's still on), ditto the Koizumi electoral smash. Despite its vastly stronger economy and healthier system, Japan stays off the Security Council for the benefit of trivial France and dysfunctional Russia. ...' Full post at the link. (Roger Simon)

Dozens die in Iraq in al-Qaeda reprisals; terrorist group calls it "final battle", analysts say death throes. Al-Qaeda in Iraq failed to deliver on its promised chemical attacks following the allied Tal Afar offensive, offering instead an orgy of car bombings that left dozens of innocent people dead but failed to produce any evident strategic benefit for the group. Current Debka homepage offers this analysis of the latest spate of terrorist attacks in Iraq: 'Al Qaeda has begun nationwide suicide campaign to avenge US-Iraqi offensive against rebel Tal Afar town in northern Iraq. Twelve car bombings in Baghdad killed at least 160, mostly Shiites, and injured scores, Wednesday. One failed to detonate against a US convoy and the driver was captured. The al Qaeda notice appeared on Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s Land of the Two Rivers website. Early Wednesday, a suicide bomber lured a crowd of Shiite laborers to his minivan in the Kadhimiya district and detonated 500lbs of explosives, killing 114, injuring 156. It was in the same district that nearly 1,000 Shiite pilgrims were slaughtered two weeks ago. Eleven died in a second suicide bombing at a fuel pump in the capital. Two hours earlier, gunmen dressed as soldiers shot dead 17 civilians before dawn Wednesday after dragging them out of their homes. The victims were blindfolded, cuffed and “executed” in the main square of Taji north of Baghdad.' Mohammed at Iraq the Model adds: 'Today Al-Qaeda carried out their threat and launched their "final battle" that has no apparent goal other than killing the largest possible number of Iraqis. Maybe Al-Qaeda wants to exterminate all Iraqis as a start for exterminating mankind! Eleven explosions till now in Baghdad alone and the news are coming while I type these words. I passed by two of the car-bombs on my way home, one of them-gladly-failed to detonate and the driver was arrested, he was apparently trying to attack the interior ministry, the crowd that gathered in the scene say the driver was Syrian. A few minutes later I saw a big explosion that was close to the green zone. The other passengers in the mini bus were discussing the explosion in Kadhimiya that killed more than a hundred construction workers who were waiting for employers to hire them. The Al-Qaeda called it the "battle for avenging Talafar" and this gives us a clue of the extent of the losses inflicted upon Al-Qaeda by Iraqi and American troops and the anger and frustration associated with these losses. The huge losses of Al-Qaeda in Talafar were in my opinion a result of the poor training of the new recruits as many of the old, well trained fighters were either killed or arrested over the past two years. The new Al-Qaeda recruits are even getting generous in giving information after being arrested as one advisor of the interior ministry said yesterday; these information and confessions are more and more revealing the ties of Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq with Syria and I guess that's why the American ambassador Khalilzad was so confident when he talked about Syria because the evidence now do not only indicate carelessness in monitoring the borders, they confirm the existence of cooperation in training and logistic support. Obviously the continuous American-Iraqi armies' operations in western Iraq have pushed Al-Qaeda to announce this "final battle" but actually this reminds me of Saddam when he felt that his end was nearing and called the battle "the hawasim" (the final or decisive) and it was indeed as it ended his reign. Al-Qaeda has never won a war before and I don't expect things to be different this time, except that this time they want the battle to be final which means the terrorists will pour all their resources and power into this battle so their defeat this time will hopefully pave the way for ending their presence in Iraq.' (Debka, ITM)

Two convicted of murdering transgender teen. The Washington Blade reports: 'Two men who had sex with a transgender teen and then discovered she was biologically male were convicted Monday of her murder, but cleared of hate crime charges. An autopsy found that Araujo died of asphyxiation associated with head injuries. Michael Magidson and Jose Merel, both 25, face mandatory sentences of 15 years-to-life in prison for second-degree murder in the killing of Gwen Araujo, who was beaten, tied up and strangled. The jury was deadlocked in the case of a third man, Jason Cazares, 25, marking the second time a jury was unable to reach a verdict in his case. Araujo, 17, was born a boy named Edward but grew up to believe her true identity was female. The defendants, who knew her as Lida, met her in the summer of 2002. Magidson and Merel had sexual encounters with her, experiences that fueled suspicions about Araujo's gender. ...' Fox News: 'In their verdict Monday, the jury rejected defense arguments that the killing of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo amounted to no more than manslaughter. "It's murder," said Gwen Smith, who maintains a Web site memorializing people believed to have been killed because they were transgender. "And a murder conviction shows that transgender lives are valuable." ... Outside the Alameda County courtroom, Araujo's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, said she was satisfied by the verdicts. "Nothing is going to bring Gwen back. I know that." Guerrero said. "But this is at least a step toward closure."' (Washington Blade, Fox)


Morning Report: September 13, 2005

Brown resigns as head of FEMA. CNN: 'Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown resigned Monday after coming under fire over his qualifications and for what critics call a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina's destruction. President Bush chose David Paulison, the director of FEMA's preparedness division, as interim director, the White House announced.' (CNN)

Rice: Legacy of racism. CNN: 'Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the people who were stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina are evidence that race and poverty can still come together "in a very ugly way" in parts of the "Old South." "The United States should want to do something about that," Rice said in an interview Monday with the editorial board of The New York Times. "There are still places that race and poverty are a huge problem in the United States, and we've got to deal with that." ' (CNN)

Batebi on Iranian regime. Free Iran posts an interview by The Scotsman with fugitive Iranian dissident Ahmed Batebi. The college student became an icon of the Iranian resistance when he was photographed holding a friend's bloodied T-shirt; he now lives on the run. Batebi is sharply critical of the European Union's accomodationist stance toward the IRI regime: '"Everyone knows how much the EU's wheelings and dealings with Iran have strengthened the lifeblood of the Mullahs," he says. "The majority of people see the EU as allied to the government of Iran and usually as contradicting in spirit what the US might do. They think that the EU is mainly looking after its short-term economic interests, rather than democracy." ' (The Scotsman via Free Iran)


A Finger Where It Belongs

Possibly the best death post ever. Baldilocks fights back at the forces of fear and destruction. Go read this post - whether baptism is part of your journey or not.

Random Katrina Blogging Gripe

Very white of you. I think I'm gonna puke if I see one more right-of-center blogger posting a bunch of pictures of Magnanimous White People Coming To The Aid Of Unfortunate Black People in order to prove the proposition "White People Aren't Prejudiced". (I'm not naming any names, you know who you are.) Geez, how condescending can you get? I've been the "token Jew" on a few occasions myself (smile for the camera!) and personally I really dislike being exploited this way.

If you want to show PEOPLE HELPING OTHER PEOPLE, or even AMERICANS HELPING OTHER AMERICANS, cool. Nothing wrong with that. But flashing a few photo-ops to sweep the race problem under the rug isn't cool.

Look, I said before that we've come a long way since the days of segregation and I meant it. I'm also going to tell you that I know America hasn't become the promised land of racial equality quite just yet. I was part of an all-white jury with an African American defendent just about three years ago. I'll post about that another time. But dammit, we - and by "we" I mean the pro-Bush people - need to get a clue and stop trivializing race issues.

This isn't about George W. Bush. Got that? This isn't about George Bush. Matter of fact, I've got my own criticisms of the Chief but I really don't think he'd stoop to this kind of posturing. This is about you and me.

The Gulf Coast and the Persian Gulf

From Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette, here's an e-mail from the wife of a National Guardsman in Iraq:
My husband is in Iraq, with a battalion composed mostly of soldiers from the Mississippi Army National Guard. (By the way, 79 are being sent home on emergency leave because they know their homes were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina or because they have been unable to contact their families since the storm. The media has done a wretched job, truly wretched, of reporting on the devastation for THOUSANDS of square miles in Mississippi, from Jackson south to the Coast.) When he arrived in January, 2005, my husband met with and worked with the State Department representative in the province, who mentioned to a local female Iraqi veterinarian that our children were both veterinarians, so the doctor asked to meet him. A great friendship resulted.

Paul Bremer had “gifted” women’s groups and other non-governmental agencies with buildings to have centers from which to operate. However, he apparently did not have the authority to do that. When a more fundamental Islamic government was elected in January, the provincial council proceeded to make plans to evict the doctor from her Women’s Center. ...

However, back in April, a small church (about 200 members) in Sturgis, Mississippi – the Friendship Baptist Church – sent the battalion a gift of $4000 to buy goods from Iraqi vendors to help Iraqi people. They purchased a wheel chair for a crippled twelve-year-old girl; they purchased beds, linens, and food for crippled, blind twin four-year-old girls; and provided food, beds, and linens for a new girls’ orphanage that they had built. The battalion is moving to a new FOB but they still had about half the church’s donation remaining. He asked the pastor if he could use the money to help the doctor, who had personally borrowed the money somehow to pay six months’ rent in advance on another building for the Women’s Center. The church readily agreed, and my husband presented the doctor with $2000 for her Women’s Center. She recently sent a very kind e-mail thank you to Pastor Davis.

I am attaching that letter, along with a letter that Pastor Davis sent to an imam with the original gift. I know that all Iraqis are not pleased that the US is in their country, but I think many are happy that we are there and that we relieved them of Saddam’s rule. Of course, the anti-Bush MSM doesn’t want Americans to know that....

By the way, the poor people of North Mississippi have done many projects to help Iraqis. We sent 73 boxes (many very large boxes) of medical supplies that we gathered in a campaign back in the spring. We also conducted Operation Backpack and sent hundreds of backpacks to Iraqi children. Individuals, churches, clubs, and communities have generously donated books, medical supplies, toys, and clothes. Wonderful stories of generosity and appreciation abound but not a word appears in the MSM about any of it! A pox upon censors of the news!

Dr. ___

My name is Junior Davis, and I am pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Mississippi, USA. We hear everyday how hard the struggle is for Iraqi families, especially women and children, and greatly admire your courage and persistence to help those who are oppressed. I personally know {the commander} and most of his soldiers that are there to help you. They are all good men that have families eagerly waiting on them back home. We miss them a lot and pray for their safety every day.

We were so very sorry to hear that you are struggling to keep the women’s clinic open. I know the work you have done to help children and women in your country has made a huge difference. _______ has made us aware of the situation you are in and with your permission; we would like to be a part of your efforts. Please, accept this small gift from your friends at Friendship Baptist as a gesture that we care about you and that we support your efforts. Accept this gift in honor of all the soldiers that have been helping you get your country back.

What you are doing is a noble thing. Don’t give up. ...
Thank you for all you do to keep our soldiers safe. We consider you our friend and pray for your country every day. If you are ever in Mississippi, we would be honored to meet you and welcome you into our home.

Dear Pastor Junior Davis
I am the director of women center. We do not know how we can thank you for your help, your help helps the center to continue, the center which many Americans and Iraqis people worked very hard to open it ,some of them sacrificed by their souls.

We knew that the Mississippi people are passing hard time we pray for them to pass this time safely , they are good people they did not help the center only but they tried to help all {the city} so we sure god will help them.

Please pray for us to pervade the peace in our country and the soldiers go back to their home safely.

Dr. __________
The director of women center.
I've edited slightly for brevity; please go read the whole thing (with photo) at the link.

Via Judith at Kesher Talk, PoliPundit has some predictions from National Guardsman "Oak Leaf""
Having just completed twelve days of active duty in support of “Joint Task Force Katrina”, six days on the ground in NOLA and six days in assisting with pre-positioning of Federal assets, I would like to offer the following predictions:

1. Mayor Ray Nagin (D) estimated that fatalities would be as high as 10,000. While it is conceivable that area wide fatalities could in theory approach 3,000, I strongly believe that fatalities in NOLA, directly attributed to Katrina will be less than one thousand, (1,000).

2. Pat O’Brien’s will be serving “Hurricanes” again before Thanksgiving of this year.

3. The Mardi Gras Carnival Parade will go on “as scheduled” for February 28, 2006.

4. Within thirty days, electricity will be restored to a majority of NOLA.

5. Within thirty days, 90% of the city will by dry enough to access by civilian SUV.

6. Dependent on the restoration of water/sewer service, of which I have no first hand knowledge to comment, large numbers of NOLA residents will be going home by Thanksgiving.

7. Ninety percent, or more, of the residents that were displaced in NOLA will eventually return to the city in search of the now greatly expanded employment prospects in construction. However, the small percentage that does not return will change Louisiana politics permanently. Louisiana will join the rest of the “South” as a solid Republican State.

8. The funds allocated by Congress will not be completely used.

While not of a predictive nature, I would like to offer a few more thoughts. The unofficial motto of the Infantry is “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.” The elected local politicians in Louisiana are not “leaders” and should have stepped aside. You do not elect a “leader”, a “leader” is developed over time and experience.

In spite of herself, Gov. Blanco had significant military assets available to her, of which she had little knowledge to effectively utilize. The people of Louisiana would have been better served had the Governor ceded control to one of the many Platoon Sergeants in the Louisiana Army National Guard that she commands.

In six days in NOLA I have seen ignorance, paralysis and blatant/shameless corruption, ALL at the “local” level of government. Should the Congress pursue an “investigation” or appoint a Commission, I would pray that the members are not current/former Louisiana politicians or family members. The military term FUBAR is an apt description of the “emergency management plan execution” by the NOLA Mayor, the NOLA Police Department, the LA Governor and all of their emergency management appointees.

I look forward to getting home this weekend.

– Oak Leaf

From Iraq the Model, Iraqi soldiers donate to Katrina victims:
Iraqi soldiers donate to Katrina victims:
(Hat tip:ITM reader).

“On behalf of myself and all the People of Tadji Military Base; I would like to console the American People and Government for getting this horrible disaster. So we would like to donate 1.000.000 Iraqi Dinars to help the government and the People also I would like to console all the ASTs who helped us rebuilding our country and our Army. We appreciate the American's help and support. Thank you".

These were the words of Colonel Abbas Fadhil, commander of the Taji military base.
The donated money is little, less than 700 $ and it can do practically nothing but the spirit and and words mean quite a lot.

Michelle Malkin has a letter from a Marine infantryman:
An infantry marine talks back to the NYTimes' Frank Rich (published in yesterday's NYTimes letters section):

To the Editor:

I am an infantry marine with 12 years of service, and I am presently stationed in Falluja, Iraq. I am also a New Orleans native and my parents live in Mandeville, which is on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. They have lost everything.

I take issue with "Falluja Floods the Superdome," by Frank Rich. Falluja is doing quite well. I know because my marines are out on the streets every day. We've been here for almost seven months, and the difference is night and day since we got here.

Secondly, I have 20 other marines in my battalion who are from Louisiana, and not one of us considers himself a "have-not." In fact, every marine in this battalion is proud of what we have accomplished, and we are proud to be marines. Military service was a choice, not a last resort for us.

(Staff Sgt.) Jeff Harilson
Falluja, Iraq, Sept. 5, 2005

Brown resigns ...

... as director of FEMA.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown resigned Monday after coming under fire over his qualifications and for what critics call a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.

"Today I resigned as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency," Brown said in a news release.

"As I told the president, it is important that I leave now to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA." ...