Axis of Estrogen

Women on the Dreams Into Lightning blogroll. November 2005 update.

Atlas Shrugs
Jane Novak: Armies of Liberation
Nadz Online
Claudia Rosett
Cathy Seipp
The Muslim Woman
Helen: CaribPundit
Judith Weiss et al.: Kesher Talk
LaShawn Barber
I Am Dr. Laura's Worst Nightmare
Sherri Reese: Bring Your Brain
Razor Sharp Claws
Patti Niehoff: White Pebble
Fausta: The Bad Hair Blog
Ginmar: A View from a Broad
Chantel: The Life and Times of Chantel
Stefania: Free Thoughts
Kat: The Middle Ground
Michelle Malkin
Ambra Nykol: Nykola - Bothering People since 1981
Fausta: The Bad Hair Blog
Ann Althouse
Greatest Jeneration
Auntie Cracker
Emily: Strangechord
Pat in NC: Pawigoview
KitKat: Increasing the Circle of Impact
Little Miss Attila
Allison Kaplan Sommer: An Unsealed Room
Virginia Postrel: Dynamist
Fayrouz Hancock: Live from Dallas
Q80Girl: So I Want to Be an Astronaut
Irshad Manji: Muslim Refusenik
Sissy Willis: Sisu
Beth Mauldin: Beth's Contradictory Brain
Atypical Asian Syndrome
Stephanie McLintock: Wilderness Vision (posthumous)

One Marine's Words

Mona Charen, Townhall.com:
One Marine, Sgt. Todd Bowers, who did two tours in Iraq, described the attitude of many press types. "They didn't want to talk to us." Why? I asked. "Because we were gung-ho for the mission." Bowers, who was saved from grievous injury when a bullet lodged in the sight of his rifle (a sight his father had purchased for him), is chary about the press.

In his first tour, he noticed that members of the press were reluctant to photograph Iraqis laughing, giving the thumbs up sign, or cheering. ...

Go read the whole column at this link.


Morning Report: November 27, 2005

Belmont Club: Netwar and the anti-State. Wretchard posts an analysis of netwar, the conflict not between states but between "distributed networks of people." Among his conclusions: '... most States are an anti-network; in fact the ultimate hive, where drones swarm in vast pyramids around a Dear Leader, a Great Helmsman or a Driver of the Locomotive of History. And if the United States has one advantage over other states in an age of network warfare, it is because in some respects America is an anti-state; ideally, though not always in practice, a framework within which individuals can thrive. ... The key challenge is whether America, in the sense of a shared idea, can be expansive enough to permit subordinate threads which can truly "take on a life of their own", and so become agile enough to engage the Jihadis at the lowest level.' (Belmont Club)

US/Syrian confrontation: key updates. Sandmonkey has some thoughts on the curious death of a key witness in the Detlev Mehlis investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri: 'The Harriri assassination conspiracy gets even more complicated: A lebanese witness against Syria was killed in a mysterious road accident. A witness in the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has died in a mysterious road accident that raised suspicions of murder.Nowar Donna, owner of a mobile telephone trading business in Tripoli, was killed when his car plunged into a valley on the road to Bteghrine in Metn. An unidentified pillion also was killed, An Nahar reported Saturday. Internal Security Forces have launched an investigation into Friday's accident "amid suspicions it was a premeditated murder," according to the paper. Donna had been questioned by both Detlev Mehlis' International Independent Investigation Commission and the Lebanese judicial authorities after he was identified as the vendor of five mobile telephone sets out of eight that were used in the car bomb assassination of Hariri on Feb. 14. Huh. Must be the Jews. The same way they got this dude to "commit suicide". It's all to make Syria look guilty. Those Damn Mossad agents. But the Syrians are all about Pan-arabism even if it violates its interests, which is why they rejected Egypt and Saudi's mediation for Russia's. Ehh.wait a sec.. The Russian mediation spared Syria impending sanctions for its refusal to cooperate with the investigation into Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination. Syria preferred the Russian mediation over Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's because Moscow enjoys veto power at the U.N. Security Council which it could use in the event of a new confrontation between Damascus and the international community, An Nahar reported Sunday. And it has brought good results: neither Assad's little brother or his Brother in law were asked for questioning. Thank you Russia. ...' Meanshile, Ed at Captain's Quarters has some thoughts on Russian support for Syria's main ally: 'The Russians may soon rethink their defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran against the West if this report from the Sunday Telegraph gets confirmed, although it should surprise no one paying any attention to the global war on terror. According to Con Coughlin, the Iranian government has secretly trained Chechen rebels to conduct more effective terror strikes against Russian targets while Moscow continues to argue on Teheran's behalf ...'. Dreams Into Lightning has aggregated recent news items on Syria here: USMC-Syrian firefight (various)


Breaking: US Marines, Syrian Troops in Firefight on Iraq Border

... according to Debka. Awaiting independent confirmation.

[SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES. Bumped to top, originally posted Thursday.]

Debka is currently reporting (h/t: LGF):
November 25, 2005, 12:27 AM (GMT+02:00)
US Marines are locked in battle with Syrian troops after crossing the border from Iraq into Syria at a point west of al Qaim.
Both sides have suffered casualties. US soldiers crossed over after Damascus was given an ultimatum Thursday, Nov. 24, to hand over a group of senior commanders belonging to Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al Qaeda force. According to US intelligence, the group had fled to Syria to escape an American attack in Mosul. Syrian border guards opened fire on the American force.

More on this as it develops.

(CBS) QAIM, Iraq Huddling together in the cold, U.S. Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion spoke Thursday about missing family and friends back home for Thanksgiving while on patrol near the Syrian border.

[See here. - aa]

The Marines are scouting the remote, desert area along the border looking for smugglers and foreign fighters trying to slip into the country from Syria.

The area, one of the most dangerous in Iraq, was the scene of brisk fighting this month as Marines drove insurgents out of three towns near Qaim, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.

"Serving my country is important but losing friend makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted," said Cpl. Brian Zwart, 20, of Fruitport, Mich., who mans a 25mm canon atop an armored personnel carrier [a Light Armored Vehicle - aa]. ...

In related developments: the Syrian regime seems to show signs of backing down on the Hariri probe. The Independent:
By Albert Aji in Damascus
Published: 26 November 2005
Syria has agreed to allow United Nations investigators to question its officials in Vienna over Rafik Hariri's assassination, ending a deadlock with the UN that had brought mounting pressure on Damascus.

Syria's deputy foreign minister, Walid Moallem, said that the breakthrough came after Syria received "guarantees concerning the rights of the individuals" to be questioned and "reassurances" that its sovereignty would be respected. ...

From earlier today, here is Michael Totten's Analysis of the Syria situation:
The international community is gearing up to punish the Syrian regime for assassinating Rafik Hariri and exploding terrorist bombs in Beirut. Setting the southern border with Israel on fire could have been a terrific distraction from all that. Syria doesn’t exactly control Hezbollah. But Syria does help fund and arm Hezbollah, as does Iran. Syria naturally wants the heat and the spotlight somewhere else, and it makes sense that Hezbollah should be willing to go along. Hezbollah needs a strong Syria.

Syria – and Hezbollah – will be dealt with regardless. The U.N. Security Council, hardly a hotbed of sympathy for the “Zionist Entity,” explicitly blames Hezbollah for starting it.

Also from earlier today, here's Roger Simon:
What's going on now isn't all that amazing. What we're seeing is a gangster regime trying to prevent some "family" (figuratively and literally) members from going to jail for life (by assuring they are tried within Syria). What always surprised me about the Syrian regime, particularly under Bashar, is how dumb they are. The whole world knows they are mafiosi, but would have been prepared to ignore it as long they stayed within their own borders, ruining the lives only of their own people. But the Allawites insist on projecting their own dubious power. How self-destructive is that.

More interesting to me: Why is the UN Security Council suddenly developing some backbone? The other day they even condemned Hezbollah. This can't all be because of the presence of John Bolton. It's also rather unlikely to be due to a sudden "moral reawakening" from the likes of Russia and China. Could it be there is some extremely embarrassing Oil-for-Food information being held in abeyance?

Go to Roger's post for full comments, and watch for more updates.

Back to the reported clashes on the ground:

UPDATES from Debka:
DEBKAfile Exclusive: Syria claims US forces suffered 11 casualties in a Syrian-US clash Thursday night, Nov. 24 – without clarifying whether they meant dead or wounded
November 25, 2005, 5:14 PM (GMT+02:00)
Internal Syrian communications channels report Syrian “Desert Guards” border units fought US Marines who crossed into Syria at a point west of al Qaim. They also claimed 30 Syrian casualties. DEBKAfile’s military sources report the battle took place at the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kemal. DEBKAfile’s military sources report the battle took place at the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kemal. US forces were in hot pursuit of a group of al Qaeda operatives who fled across to Syria in escape an American attack pinning them down in Mosul. The US military delivered Syria an ultimatum to hand the terrorists over. The American pursuit continued Friday when Syria failed to respond.

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Damascus has bowed to a UN 24-ultimatum and agreed to let five Syrian officers undergo questioning at UN headquarters in Vienna

November 25, 2005, 2:42 PM (GMT+02:00)

UN investigator Detlev Mehlis warned President Bashar Assad Thursday night he would complain to the UN Security Council of Syrian non-cooperation if he continued to withhold the officers from interrogation outside the country. The UN team wants six Syrian intelligence officers handed over, whereas Syrian deputy foreign minister Walid Muallem spoke only of five.
The six suspects are: the president’s brother-in-law Gen. Assef Shawqat, head of Syrian military intelligence and strongman of the Baath regime, and Gen. Rustum Ghazaleh, Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon at the time of the murder and current overlord of all Syria’s intelligence agencies, his deputy Col. Jam’a Jam’a, Gen. Bajhat Suleiman, head of Syrian intelligence council, Brig-Gen Zaafar al Yusuf, head of Syrian intelligence signals department, and Brig. Abdel Karim Abbas, head of its Palestine Dept. It is not clear which of the six Damascus is withholding. DEBKAfile’s sources also report that two new witnesses, Syrian officers, have given the UN investigation further testimony on Syrian military intelligence involvement in the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister last February.


DEBKAfile reveals: A key witness in the Hariri murder case was found dead Saturday in a deep wadi near the village of Batrin on Mt. Lebanon
November 26, 2005, 1:02 PM (GMT+02:00)
In the interim report he filed in October, UN investigator Delev Mehlis placed high value on eight cell phone lines as evidence for solving the case of the murdered Lebanese leader Rafiq Hariri. The phones, used by the assassins and the Syrian intelligence officers directing them at the time of the crime, were purchased at a shop in Beirut port owned by Nawar Dora. It was his body that was discovered.

UPDATE: Debka feature article - Russia promises to veto any anti-Syria resolution.

DEBKAfile’s sources close to the investigation report that Syrian president Bashar Assad has managed to hold back his strongman brother-in-law Gen. Assef Shawqat from interrogation at UN headquarters in Vienna as a suspect in the Hariri assassination. By Friday night, Nov. 26, the Syrian ruler had bowed to the UN investigator Detlev Mehlis' ultimatum to let the suspects be quizzed outside Syria. But DEBKAfile discloses he did so on his own legal terms and without the senior suspect. He also obtained from Mehlis a pledge that no arrest warrants would be issued against the remaining five. But above all, we reveal, he persuaded Russian president Valdimir Putin to underwrite Mehlis’ pledge to comply with his terms and promise to veto any anti-Syrian resolution tabled by UN secretary Kofi Annan, the US or France condemning Syria’s failure to cooperate with the international probe.
The high-ranking Syrian officers the UN investigator demanded to question outside Syria are:
Gen. Assef Shawqat, head of Syrian military intelligence and strongman of the Baath regime, Gen. Rustum Ghazaleh, Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon at the time of the murder and current overlord of all Syria’s intelligence agencies, his deputy Col. Jam’a Jam’a, Gen. Bajhat Suleiman, head of Syrian intelligence council, Brig-Gen Zaafar al Yusuf, head of Syrian intelligence signals department, and Brig. Abdel Karim Abbas, head of its Palestine Dept. Gen. Shawqat has escaped the probe for the moment. ...

Read the full article.

Joshua Landis of Syria Comment has more: Asef isn't Going to Vienna: Asad Family Safe for Now
Ibrahim Hamidi of al-Hayat gets the scoop again. Asef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law and head of military intelligence, is not among the five security officers slated to go to Vienna for questioning about the murder of Hariri.

The house of Asad is not in the clear yet. We are only at the beginning of the second phase of the UN investigation, which has targeted the Syrian government as the guilty party. All the same, the Asad family does seem to have dodged a bullet in this round. ...

The full post, with Arabic extracts from al-Hayat, is very informative. I don't always share Joshua Landis' set of assumptions and priorities, but he's an articulate and extremely well-informed source on Syria.

Tangentially related, Regime Change Iran links to an article on Russia's latest venture with Syria's main ally.

Syrian heretic Amarji sees desperation in the regime's latest moves:
So the Syrian President is busy these days making all sorts of overture to the Muslim Brotherhood, a development that is currently being touted by some as a sign of openness on part of the ruling clique.

The President’s new strategy, it seems, aims at playing at the anti-American tendencies of both the Islamists and the nationalists in an attempt to build a broad coalition that can enable its regime to survive whatever sanctions and isolation that will be inevitably imposed on his regime, the recent decision to cooperate with the UN probe notwithstanding.

As shrewd as this strategy might seem at first, there is, in effect, one major problem with it, which probably more than enough to make it absolutely useless. For while anti-Americanism is alive and well in all the relevant quarters, mutual trust is sorely lacking. ...

Details at Amarji's post; Ammar concludes: "my advice will be to all those who care to listen is: don’t wait for the regime to survive much longer and start planning for the day after, it's not going to be too long now. And do plan openly and publicly, let the regime know how irrelevant it has become. This will only hasten it demise."

UPDATE: Via LGF (from Never Yet Melted), this post from Hammorabi:
There are news of at least 12 American soldiers have been killed and wounded near the Al-Bo-Kamal area when they followed insurgents escaped to Syria. Fighting then broke down with the Syrians who had at least 3 casualties.

A buffer zone as deep as 30-50 km is needed inside the Syrian border along the Iraqi borders to allow the Iraqi-American forces to penetrate to kill or arrest the insurgent terrorists. Syria has no choice but either to end fully its support for terrorists, that is not going to happen at all or to allow such buffer otherwise it will face serious consequences.

A UN resolution regarding the support of terrorists by the Syrian may now become essential due to their failure to end that support, however for the multinational and Iraqi troops they need the zone to protect themselves and the civilians.

More as it develops.

Zarqawi killed?

UPDATE: For real, this time.

Is Zarqawi dead?

Compiled by DiL staff in Portland, Oregon.

Scroll down for updates. (This post bumped to top. Originally posted November 20.)

Morning Report noted a news bulletin stating that eight al-Qaeda leaders had been killed in Mosul, Iraq. Now via Little Green Footballs (from LGF reader Carl) there's a report at the Jerusalem Post that the dead include Abu Musab al-Zarqawi himself - the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq:
At least one Arab television media outlet reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred after coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding. ...

Full article at the link. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE from Debka: 'DEBKAfile Exclusive: US forces and forensic experts are examining the bodies of eight high-ranking al Qaeda leaders in Mosul to find out if their chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is among them.

November 20, 2005, 8:28 PM (GMT+02:00)

A sample of his DNA is in American possession for a match-up.
The bodies they are trying to identify are of 7 men and one woman, who blew themselves up Sunday, Nov. 20, after their hideout in northern Iraq was under siege by a large US force, backed by tanks and helicopters. The bodies are burned black and unrecognizable. Four Iraqi security officers were killed and 10 injured in the operation.
DEBKAfile’s military sources add that also Sunday, US and Iraqi forces raided al Qaeda sanctuaries in Baghdad and captured several suspects. They followed an intelligence tip which confirmed DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s disclosure (Issue 227 Oct. 28) of the arrival of Zarqawi and his top team to Baghdad on Oct. 15.'

UPDATE: Iraq the Model weighs in, with information from al-Mada:

"Al-Mada paper said that terrorists hiding in a house fired back at American and Iraqi troops that were surrounding the house in a battle that lasted from dawn to noon on Saturday (Jerusalem Post said it was Sunday)`after receiving intelligence about a meeting for senior al-Qaeda members.

The terrorists blew up the house when an Iraqi assault team tried to break into the house, the blast killed four Iraqi soldiers and wounded ten policemen and also killed all of the hiding terrorists.
Eight charred bodies were found in the scene, one of them belongs to a woman.
An Iraqi security official in Mosul said that US forces will most likely conduct DNA tests on the found bodies to verify whether or not Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi was among the killed terrorists."

Go to ITM for the full post.

UPDATE: Now being reported by AP at Yahoo News by AP's Robert Reid (h/t: Original Jeff at ITM comments):

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgent attacks killed an American soldier near Baghdad and a British trooper in the south Sunday, as U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight — some by their hand to avoid capture.

In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official said the identities of the suspected al-Qaida members was unknown. Asked if they could include terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed.

The official said spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information..."

Same story being carried now at KBCI 2, Boise.

INDIRECTLY RELATED: Morocco is conducting a counter-terror sting at this moment.
AFP via Turkish Press:

"Moroccan security forces arrested 17 Islamic extremists with ties to the Al-Qaeda network as they were setting up a terrorist cell, officials in Rabat said.

"The Moroccan security services have just dismantled a terrorist structure as it was being formed," a statement said, adding that the suspects would be charged on Monday.

The network was "composed of 17 elements linked to the radical Islamic movement having connections with small groups emerging at the Iraqi border and maintaining close ties with senior members of the Al-Qaeda organization," it said.
The arrests were followed by a security alert at airports, harbours, train stations, shopping centres and embassies throughout the country.

Ten days previously, a group calling itself the Islamic Tawhid Wal Jihad Group of Morocco, a name formerly used by Al Qaeda's Iraq frontman Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, announced that it had declared war on the Moroccan state and King Mohammed VI.

Security officials dismissed the declaration as not credible."

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Earlier today, Stratfor (subscription) published this item:

1623 GMT - Coalition forces in Iraq captured a major al Qaeda in Iraq member in an Oct. 31 raid on a Baghdad safe-house, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Nov. 20. According to CENTCOM, Uthman Faruq Muhammad Abd-al-Hamid (aka Abu Ibrahim) was a technician, advisor and supplier of components for improvised explosive devices and other electronic and communication components. Abu Ibrahim also allegedly was part of the jihadist networkÕs propaganda unit in Iraq, supplying video equipment and computer programs.

UPDATE: AP's Chris Tomlinson via Baltimore Sun:

"BAGHDAD, Iraq // U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight -some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.

Insurgents, meanwhile, killed an American soldier and a Marine in separate attacks over the weekend, while a British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the south.

In Washington, a U.S. official said the identities of the terror suspects killed was unknown. Asked if they could include al-Zarqawi, the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

American soldiers maintained control of the site, imposing extraordinary security measures..."

Read the rest at the link.

UPDATE: Stratfor has this:

2128 GMT - Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been killed in Iraq, the Jerusalem Post reported Nov. 20, citing the Elaph Arabic language media Web site. According to Elaph, al-Zarqawi may have been among a group of eight insurgents killed after their safe-house was surrounded by coalition forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad. According to Iraqi officials, an intense gunbattle erupted after U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded the farmhouse at dawn on Nov. 19. Three insurgents reportedly blew themselves up and the others were killed by small-arms fire.

UPDATE: Dr. Sanity has more:

"FOXNEWS is now reporting all of the above!! Bret Beir has talking to U.S. officials at the Pentagon. A forensic team is onsight. (4:36 pm)
They are connecting the fact that Zarqawi's family is disowning him at exactly this same time. On the down side, the Pentagon is wondering why terrorist sites are acknowledging his death and whether it might be a ploy to make the US think he's dead when he isn't."

UPDATE: OSM is on it:

"The Jerusalem Post was the first to break -- off Elaph Arab media website - the possible death of al Qaeda terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Mosul yesterday. First US link: Little Green Footballs. Associated Press now chiming in. Blogger comment upcoming."

UPDATE: Atlas Shrugs says it all with this headline. Go read it all!

UPDATE: Razor Sharp Claws says: "If this is true it would be great to take his bank account so there is no more management to take over! All I can say is one down more to go! This isn’t the end of it you stupid Cindy socialist anti American crowd! Our troops are working hard in all areas! This has to be done so that we don’t have trouble on our own soil. But why am I wasting time telling you Cindy people you won’t get any of this anyway ‘too damn dense!" Read full post at link.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has some interesting observations: "JUST A THEORY: If Zarqawi has been killed... and the AP is correct that there was a tip on his whereabouts... that tip could have come from inside Al Qaeda itself or from people friendly to it. After the Amman hotel horrors, Zarqawi was the blodthirsty poster boy for the Al Qaeda Psychopath. If you believe the Zawahiri letter, they didn't need publicity like this. He had to go."

UPDATE: Tammy Bruce writes: "Let's pray this is true. Please, please, please. Let us all think happy thoughts that this freak is personally learning that it's not 72 virgins terrorist Islamists get when they die, it's 72 Virginians (perhaps Thomas Jefferson among them) who will not be kind to him." Go visit Tammy at her homepage, too - and don't forget to bookmark her on your browser!

UPDATE: Debka: "US forensic experts are examining the bodies of eight high-ranking al Qaeda leaders in Mosul to find out if their chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is among them. A White House official in Beijing called that prospect “highly unlikely and not credible.”"

UPDATE: Kilo Echo 4 has some interesting analysis (scroll down to get past the MSM news release):
It is interesting to note that nowhere in this statement is there an actual denial that Zarqawi was one of those terrorists killed in the house in Mosul! General Vines says we have the DNA to match, but does not say anything about the results of any tests, and since he says that "it is possible" he obviously is not yet in possession of the test results, or he is in possession of them and they don't want us to know what those results were!

Now they should have some test results by now, and the fact that an outright denial has not yet been issued is intriguing. With all the rampant speculation surrounding the events in Mosul, you would think that if they know for a fact that he is still alive, they would just go ahead and tell us outright instead of issuing all these "maybe yes, maybe no" statements. ...

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: US Forces are closing in on Zarqawi. 'BAGHDAD (AFP) - US forces are closing in on top Al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and expects to capture or kill him "in the not too distant future," a US general said. "We come close to Zarqawi continuously and at one point in time, in the not too distant future, we are going to get Zarqawi," Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for the US-led multinational force in Iraq told reporters. "As a result of the degradation of his leadership, he personally now has to be more active -- he has to move more," he said, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got him. Starting on 28 September, US and Iraqi forces targeted a number of towns and suspected militant strongholds in the Euphrates River valley, saying it killed 700 insurgents and captured 1,500 others.' (AFP via Yahoo News)

UPDATE: Bill Quick of Daily Pundit:
NEWS: I just got off the phone with a spokesman at the CPIC Press Desk for the Multi-National Force - Iraq, who told me that he had no information as to the results of DNA testing - or the current progress of that testing - designed to determine whether Musab Zarqawi was killed in the raid on a house in Mosul on November 19, 2005.
The official position I was given is that MNF-I does not believe that Zarqawi was killed ...

Read the rest, with Bill's analysis, at the link; and remember to bookmark Daily Pundit.


Pajamas Media Update

Some new posting from the bloggers of Pajamas Media:

Daily Pundit is rightfully proud of having broken the phone call to CNN about Dick Cheney's "X". Bill Quick analyzes the chain of events, with some ideas for Pajamas Media to improve its future operations, here. Also keep an eye on Daily Pundit for any new word about possible armed conflict with Syria.

Baldilocks is the point woman for PJM. She's also got a very informative post about developments in Kenya.

Iraq the Model is looking for a new look. Memo to Omar and Mohammed: Stay away from those PR firms.

If you want to catch up on the, er, event in New York last week, Cathy Seipp has the details.

Michael Totten has some thoughts on the latest excitement in Lebanon.

Michelle Malkin posts on another demonstration in Texas.

Roger Simon has some thoughts about a showdown in Syria.

And finally, not on the PJM blogroll but well worth being on yours, there's Alexandra von Maltzan's All Things Beautiful. The title says it all. Go and be amazed. Alexandra, thanks for a wonderful blog.

If you have ideas on how to improve PJM, stop by the discussion forum and share your thoughts!

Pajamas Media Discussion Forum

Laurence Simon has created this Pajamas Media Discussion Forum (hat tip: Pajamas honorary president Ann Althouse). I've registered and posted there, and I encourage you to do so as well, whether or not you're affiliated with Pajamas Media. Go check it out.


The Other World

I dreamed about Stephanie last night. It was dark, but I could see her outline in the room. I don't know how old she was in the dream; she was young, innocent, and ageless. I wanted to ask her something - about her life, about our parents, about what she was feeling now - but she slipped away into the shadows. It was then that I remembered that we no longer belong to the same world.

An Army of One vs. the Yemeni Regime

... and guess which one's winning? Jane at Armies of Liberation continues to attract attention - favorable and otherwise - for her one-woman campaign against repression in Yemen.
The Yemeni government wigged out after I was on al-Jazeera.

So this article is not an attack article but it discusses the pervasive Yemeni governmental media attacks on me. The title is A Front Called Novak:

After more than one week of the battle of the government and the govern party’s press that has launched a campaign against what they pretend is a foreign enemy who is going to root out the country; it is the American journalist Jane Novak.
It is normal that the speech of Jane Novak to Al-Jazeerah has cause all this outrage and reaction of the Yemeni regime, however the regime through it media was vulgar and not was aware of the fact that it gives more evidence and proofs to what was Jane saying .

They launched to attack Jane’s personal affairs and replaced the objectivism with swearing and cursing. ...

Read the rest. See Jane go!

More Thanksgiving Day Messages

Captain James S Eadie, USAF via Blackfive
A Time for Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I eagerly anticipate the plates of turkey and stuffing, the moments of camaraderie around the TV watching football and the sharing of stories amongst friends, but it is the soldiers’ stories of bravery and courage that should be shared on this day of Thanksgiving.

I had the rare chance to talk in depth with one of my CCATT patients on our last flight, a young 24 year old Marine from Camp Pendleton, California. It is Javier’s story hangs with me this day. Javier gave me permission to share his story with you, a true story of heroism, and sacrifice that deserves to be told on Thanksgiving.

On the morning of 16 November 2005, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were taking part in operations along the Iraq-Syrian board to clear the towns of insurgents.

Javier, a strong and sturdy looking square jawed Marine Corporal was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had seen heavy combat in his previous two deployments, and had been injured once before earning him a Purple Heart. On this day he was in command of a Squad of fourteen men. I knew just by talking to him that his men were fortunate to have him leading them into battle. He spoke with clarity and confidence of a man twice his age. In the truest essence, he was a Marine.

Taking point, Javier led his five man team towards the house. Shots rang out around them as they advanced. They could see the downed Marines ahead. A young Lieutenant lay face down outside the house. Javier did not know if he was still alive. They would have to act quickly if they were to save him and the others.

As they approached the house the enemy fire intensified and Javier felt a sudden sting and burning in his right leg. He looked down at his leg. Damn, he thought, “I’ve been shot.” He indeed had taken two bullets to his thigh, but he pushed on.

Undeterred, Javier continued to lead his men towards the house. With increasing fire, they took up a defensive posture against the house wall. Slightly protected there, he began tending his wounds with direct pressure as the others returned fire. He could see several downed Marines only arm lengths away, but they could not be reached safely. Gun fire continued to rain down on them. Another member of the squad was hit. They were in a bad position.

What happened next was recalled to me by the Medic that they called Doc. During the barrage of fire, with their backs literally up against a wall an enemy grenade was thrown out of a window landing in the middle of the five men. Doc told me “It was amazing. I was applying pressure to one of the injured soldiers when someone yelled out GRENADE. Javier just dove at the grenade. I have never seen anything like it.”

Javier grabbed the grenade with his right hand. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Jonah's military guys provide a photo-essay on Thanksgiving around the world.

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

President Bush's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation via the White House:
Thanksgiving Day, 2005
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Thanksgiving 2005

Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember our many blessings and to celebrate the opportunities that freedom affords. Explorers and settlers arriving in this land often gave thanks for the extraordinary plenty they found. And today, we remain grateful to live in a country of liberty and abundance. We give thanks for the love of family and friends, and we ask God to continue to watch over America.

This Thanksgiving, we pray and express thanks for the men and women who work to keep America safe and secure. Members of our Armed Forces, State and local law enforcement, and first responders embody our Nation's highest ideals of courage and devotion to duty. Our country is grateful for their service and for the support and sacrifice of their families. We ask God's special blessings on those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

We also remember those affected by the destruction of natural disasters. Their tremendous determination to recover their lives exemplifies the American spirit, and we are grateful for those across our Nation who answered the cries of their neighbors in need and provided them with food, shelter, and a helping hand. We ask for continued strength and perseverance as we work to rebuild these communities and return hope to our citizens.

We give thanks to live in a country where freedom reigns, justice prevails, and hope prospers. We recognize that America is a better place when we answer the universal call to love a neighbor and help those in need. May God bless and guide the United States of America as we move forward.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2005, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.


Andrea Elspeth: Parasite no more!

Alas, a Blog announces that Nick Kiddle's baby,
Andrea Elspeth was born at twenty to 1 yesterday (Wednesday) morning and weighed in at 7lbs 2 oz. They are both healthy and well although Nick is a little tired and battered by the experience.

Welcome to Andrea Elspeth! And congrats to Nick, and wishing him a speedy recovery from his delivery.

Okay, people, you just don't know what fun you're missing.

Dr. Laura's Worst Nightmare photoblogs her 88-year-old mother-in-law getting down to the Clash.

Let's all take a lesson from Mrs. Clara M.

"The Will to Power Surges"

Credit Sissy Willis with linking this wonderful poem by Jeffrey Hull:

In fang and claw, or pen and key
The will to power surges;
With biting prose or sophistry
We bare our baser urges.

Gotta go to the link to read it all. Thank you Jeffrey, and Sissy, for helping us keep some perspective.

And contemplating this poem, it occurs to me that some folks in blogland could use some surge protectors ...

Pajamas Media Roundup

Tammy hosts an open thread. Stop by and say hi to the turkey!

Charles has some sobering thoughts on the meaning of the poppy in Britain - yesterday and today.

Gateway Pundit sets the record straight on Iraqi troop readiness.

Austin Bay gets past the Michael Moores unburies some good news.

Dean Esmay can help you find an update from Kerry Dupont and some exciting geeky news about qbits. (Silly me. I never thought of embedding my Cooper-pair transistor in a resonant circuit.)

Gay Patriot has some thoughts about the greatest country on earth.

And finally, Ann Althouse, honorary president of Pajamas Media, has an in-depth analysis of media coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Don't miss it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali interview

Sappho has an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali (hat tip: Free Thoughts).
Disturbing questions about the massive muslim presence in Europe are becoming more urgent by the day: It it possible to integrate muslims to become part of Europe? Will we have a liberal version of islam? And if not, what is there to look forward to? Civil war? Dissolution? An islamic take-over?

If your head is full of such nagging thoughts, it is a solace to meet Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the liberal Dutch politician and originally muslim immigrant from Somalia. Since the murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, for whose strongly islam-critical film "Submission I" Ms. Ali wrote the script, she has been under constant police protection. That was also the case when Sappho.dk interviewed her during her recent visit to Copenhagen. ...

- Why does this thoroughly political person with her background as a political scientist express herself through an artistic medium?

"Because sometimes art is much more powerful than words. Art is accessible to many more more people than if you write a piece on an op-ed page. To understand art you don't have to know how to read and write," says Hirsi Ali, who then turns to the international furor caused by the twelve drawings of the prophet Muhammed recently published by the Danish national daily Jyllands-Posten.

"It is absolutely necessary for liberal European countries like Denmark to protect free speech. I've been in Holland for 13 years, and in a very short time I have learned how Europe came to be what it is today. And part of that was a huge conflict of religion. It started with the Reformation and reached its climax during the Enlightenment. If you refrain from making cartoons of Muhammed to accommodate Islamic intolerance, then you will go back to the time of Christian intolerance."

- Have you had any support among Dutch artists for your position?
"Yes, most of them do not agree with the style of what I have to say, but they find that I have the right to say it. I'm going to make a film called "Submission II", and the people who want to help me make it think that it is my decision what I want to say. I'm so happy about that. It's a big relief because at first I was afraid nobody was going to help me. The next challenge will be who is going to broadcast it. Which TV-channel, which cinema? But we will cross that bridge when we get to it."


Cheney's "X" No Accident - Daily Pundit

And as Dymphna says, isn't it interesting how these things never happen to left-of-center media darlings.

So, you've already heard about the big X that appeared over Vice President Dick Cheney's face during a CNN broadcast. Now, we all have our own ideas about media bias, so a lot of us were reluctant to jump to conclusions. (Yours truly has refrained from posting on this until now.) And even some cautious right-of-center bloggers were willing to accept the theory that the X was just an innocuous technical glitch of some sort. But Bill Quick of Daily Pundit has the exclusive scoop:
CNN Employee On Tape: Cheney "X" Is "Freedom of Speech" - "Tell Bush And Cheney To Stop Lying"

What call? Well, go to the link and get the full details - including audio of a viewer's phone call to CNN, and a (now ex-)employee's unhinged response. Seems that somebody at CNN decided it was a case of "freedom of speech." (Hmmm... does that sound like a "technical glitch" to you?)

Hats off to some very dedicated investigative bloggers.

Jordan's Former Ambassador to Israel is New Prime Minister

Reuters via Yahoo:
By Suleiman al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah appointed national security chief as prime minister on Thursday, two weeks after triple suicide bombings killed 60 people, a senior official said.

The official said the monarch asked acting national security head, Marouf Bakheet, who had also been serving as the king's office chief of staff, to form a new government following the resignation of Adnan Badran, 69, a U.S.-educated academic appointed last April, and his government.

The choice of Bakheet, 58, a former ambassador to Israel with a long career in military intelligence, underscores the king's desire to give security forces a bigger role in decision making, a senior official told Reuters. ...

Read the rest at the link.


Pajamas Media: A Guide for the Perplexed

This post will highlight some of the best blogs from the newly-formed Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media. The alternative media organization's website offers readers a preview of what's in store. Personally I'm enthralled with the look of the new logo: the "zen-meets-grafitti" look is very happening. Very LA, even.

The Pajamas sidebar is the key to its success. At least, I'm hoping so, because if we're counting on the main screen, we're all in trouble. The sidebar features (in order of importance), the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogroll, Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogs, Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Editorial Advisory Board, and the real big shots.

The most important people, of course, are the humble folks on the plain old blogroll. These include names like Cool Blue, Iraqi Bloggers Central, Dr. Sanity, Meryl Yourish, Winds of Change, and other tragically underappreciated blogs. Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings wasn't in New York for the launch party, but his voice could be heard shouting "Liftoff! We have liftoff!"

(Inexplicably overlooked was The Iraq War Was Wrong Blog.)

Now the inconspicuous, unstarred names on the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogroll are more important than you might realize. Because you see, we are actually undercover agents who are compelled to keep a low profile for security reasons. But I digress.

Branding is very important to Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media, which is why not just any blog can call itself one of the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogs. These are the big leaguers like Atlas Shrugs, Confederate Yankee, Dean's World, Gay Patriot, Kesher Talk, LaShawn Barber, Michael Totten, Michelle Malkin, the lady with the apple, and Sisu (prounounced "Sissy Willis").

Blogging from an undisclosed location, Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model are affiliated with Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media in ways that are as mysterious as their last name (shhhh! don't tell if you already know) and the mind of the elusive Third Brother Ali, who reportedly will return one day to establish the ... er, well, it's a long story.

Moving still further up the food chain, we come to the ranks of the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Editorial Advisory Board. It's not just an editorial board, and it's not just an advisory board. It's a board to advise the editors on how to give their editorial advice. The Editorial Advisory Board includes the woman for whom "fabulous" doesn't even come close, Cliff May of FDD, Claudia Rosett, and the man who owns the copyright on the phrase "Faster, please."

Last but by no means least, we have the staff of Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media. Australian editor Wretchard of The Belmont Club occasionally writes under the pseudonym "Richard Fernandez".

Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit is known as the "Paul Revere of the Internet". During one of our lengthy and profound conversations at the New York event, I asked Glenn how he had come by that nickname. "Well," he confided, "I think people have always seen me as a kind of a 'Paul Revere' figure. At least, I often hear folks saying something about 'the horse I rode in on ...'"

And finally, there are co-founders Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, Roger L. Simon whose blog is mysteriously called Roger L. Simon, and most important of all, honorary president Ann Althouse, who has written more about Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media than anyone else.

Let's blogroll!

An Exit Strategy on Iraq

Janet in Venice Beach is the author of the following letter to Congresswoman Jane Harmon; it is posted at Thomas R. McIntyre's site, Truth on Iraq:
All this recent uproar in congress about ' needing to define an exitstrategy' rubs me entirely the wrong way. it sounds and looks andsmells to me like pure posturing for the camera and microphones. it's disingenuous and it pisses me off.if any of these idiots were actually bothering to follow events in iraq,the real events,they would'nt be carrying on so ignorantly. turn offthe mainstream media and get your news from the people living it, overthere.if i can do it, you can do it.i have to conclude that i am better informed about iraq than they are.which is pretty damning, considering.we HAVE an exit strategy. we're already enacting it. . our guys on theground in country know what they're doing. the jerks on the news, backhere, don't know crap.don't you become one of them.

the iraqis know what needs to happen. thesoldiers know what needs to happen.the so called 'insurgents' [read, jihad criminals] are watchingeverything you do, the way vultures and wolves watch for the weakeningones in the herd.knock it off with this hue and cry for a pullout date. they'll set theirfilthy watches by that, and wait. how stupid could you possibly be? if that's how you think, then the next time you go on vacation, be sureto put up big signs all around your house, saying 'leaving as of the nth of ___' and tell everyone on the block you can't see what's wrong with that. OK?

you just had a tragic demonstration in New ORleans, of what happens whenthe Government comes along, telling everyone it's time to leave, period,get out right now, you can't take time and do it right.you have people in need, abandoned to die, in fear, helpless, left ontheir own in the face of criminals with guns and ammo, anarchy, chaos,starvation, death, and an immensity of injustice. you have animals leftto die slow, agonizing, waiting ends. you have lifetime businessesdestroyed, sacked, looted, unprotected. you have lifetime possessions,homes, works, forced to be left behind, unfinished, at the mercy offate.but it wasn't fate. it was due to the dictates of some idiot who wasn'tliving there, who opened their ignorant mouth to those who were.

obviously, you must not have learned anything, tho it was shown to youin excuciating detail, day after day.oh, and this time, there won't be any swarm of rescuers in helicopterscoming day after day to find the lost and take them to safety.no, why should we care what happens to them? they aren't 'like us',right? they're all just strange, swarthy 'little brown people', faraway, over there, 'sand niggers', who don't speak like us, who don'tmatter, no, what matters is 'our way of life, here at home, for ourkind'.how profoundly offensive. ...

Read the rest here.

Today Is Thanksgiving

... according to Apple Computer. My 17" PowerBook has been acting funny, and I called Apple's customer support line. I'm getting the following message:
Welcome to the AppleCare service and support line. For additional support options, please consider visiting our website. For technical support, press 1.... [two beeps] Please wait.

Thanks for calling Apple. In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the contact center will be closed Thanksgiving Day....

Well, happy Thanksgiving to you, too, guys. Nice that you got to close up shop early. Guess I'll have to call you back another time ... if that's not too inconvenient for you.


Sundries: Why are people conservative?

Commenter Victoria keeps a blog called Sundries, which I enthusiastically and unreservedly recommend to you. Here's the homepage link again, just in case you forgot to bookmark it on your browser the first time.

Here's a terrific post on conservatism:
One of the most important lessons from evolution, a theory held in much respect by certain people (including myself), is that nature will tend towards survival over death, and go about ways of preserving themselves. When change comes it is most often gradual, unless a cataclysmic event intervenes.

Upheaval, revolt, anarchy, all these states of change are considerably more risky than the certainty of stasis.

And yet, this response does a severe injustice to Conservatism, because it infers that all progress is by default, Liberal in nature.

The old, "Conservatism is stuck, whilst Liberalism marches forward" theory.

This is the idea that allows political progressives to debase any proposal that doesn't emanate from the well-spring of their philosophy.

It becomes a challenge, even an affront that positive change is happening without they leading the charge.

In short, for such people, progress is inconceivable without progressives.

And this is wrong. ...

Read it all at the link.

LPJ praises CNN feature ... and interviews ITM brothers!

Sami at Lebanese Political Journal has some kind words for CNN today, in particular the network's week-long feature Eye on the Middle East. LPJ writes:
CNN is running a week long series entitled "Eye on the Middle East." Hala Gorani is reporting from Amman, and Jim Clancy is reporting from Beirut. They are holding live events in both capitals, and they are doing a fantastic job.

Jim Clancy hosted a showcalled CNN Connects focusing on issues effecting Arab youth [the program aired in Beirut at 8pm Tuesday night]. He brought together a group politically active people in their late 20s - early 30s from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Some major trends became apparent:
1) For people actually working for democracy, like the Iraqi pollster and the Lebanese activist Asma Andreos, America was not the major issue. They focused on issues that affect our daily lives. However, the others blabbered on and on about the evils of America, which really didn't advance their arguments about how they would build what they wanted in their countries.

Even when asked specific questions about how to make their countries better, these individuals chose to speak about America. They all had advice for what America should do, but had none they could vocalize for how to achieve their own goals.

2) Arabs don't know anything about each other. ...

Go to the link to read the rest. Also, don't miss the e-mail interview with Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model, covering Lebanese/Iraqi relations.
Has what happened in Lebanon had any effect on the situation in Iraq? Do people ever talk about Lebanese affairs, politics, political figures? Do Iraqis, regardless of sect, think much of Hezbollah? Are Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Ayatollah Fadlallah even known by Shia in Iraq? Do you know what Iraqi Shia think of al Manar TV?

I personally think the situation in Iraq and Lebanon pretty much began to relate to each other since the assassination of Hariri. Many Iraqis think that the freedom of speech in Iraq had encouraged the Lebanese to start the Cedar revolution.

And, also many Iraqis are optimistic to see more pressure applied on Asad and his gang and they hope the international investigation will lead to ending the rule of Ba'ath in Syria or at least get the Syrians to leave Iraq alone ...

Read it all at the link. And be sure to check out that CNN feature.


1st LAR Finds Weapons Cache - October 9

Marine Corps News:
BARWANA, Iraq (Oct. 9, 2005) -- Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion uncovered a cache of weapons after receiving a tip on the site’s approximate location.

Marines, sailors and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team-2 and from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team received the tip while conducting Operation River Gate in the town of Barwana and surrounding areas. Their mission for the operation was to eliminate insurgents, disrupt lines of communication and prevent interference with the Constitutional Referendum.

At the suspected cache site, Marines from Weapons Company and combat engineers from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion attached to 1st LAR discovered man-made dirt mounds, heavy equipment tracks and an area which appeared to have something buried underneath it.

“The area was larger than we had anticipated and it was quickly getting dark out,” said 1st Lt. James P. Donovan, a 29-year-old combat engineer. “We decided to come back at first light with mine sweeping and metal detecting devices.”

Weapons Company Marines posted security to prevent anyone from tampering with the site that night and returned in the morning ready to begin searching.

Pfc. Michael D. O’Neill, 21, and Donovan were conducting sweeps of the area when O’Neill’s metal detector began to sound.

“I had been picking up signals before and they turned out to be trash, but the length of this detection made me think,” O’Neill, a combat engineer and Amissville, Va., native commented. "I outlined the area, which was about 10 feet long, and the Marines began to dig.”

After a few minutes of digging, they discovered the outside of a structure and soon after, they uncovered the roof and a door.

“We pried the door open and I looked inside,” Donovan, East Point, Ga., native said. “The first thing I saw was 120 mm mortars ...

Read the rest at the link.
Hat tip: 1 of the Few - 1st Light Armored Infantry Bn. veterans' site

Talabani to Visit Iran

From Marze Por Gohar:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is due to arrive in Iran today on a three-day visit.

Talabani is scheduled to have talks in Tehran with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, among other top officials.

Topics of discussion are expected to include border security and Iran's participation in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Talabani's visit comes after Iraq's national security chief, Muwaffaq Rubaie, visited Tehran last week.

Visit MPG homepage.

Mohammed on Cairo Conference

Mohammed at Iraq the Model weighs in on the Arab League conference in Cairo:
Some try to overlook regional and international balances and forget that Iraq is part of these balances and they even try to ignore the resolutions of the UN and Security Council forgetting that they also are part of this system which they’re going to rely on for one thing or another sooner or later.

What we actually need is to encourage the reasonable middle trend that weighs things by interests and logic, not emotions and mood and does not use a use that boring poetic language when discussing a technical task.

Anyway, I think this conference is going to change very little from the situation on the ground; those who endorse and practice violence do not really seek legitimacy from this or that conference.
But there are still a few good things that came out of this meeting as this is the first time since the fall of the past regime when the Arab League denounces Saddam’s regime opening the door for discrediting more dictatorships in the future.

Second there was a condemnation for media networks that were asked to lower their tone a bit and to stop saying things that might create hatred or encourage sectarian or ethnic differences and this call addressed both, Arabic and Iraqi media that is serving certain partisan interests. ...

Read the whole article at the link.

In other news, The Religious Policeman finds a mosque that won't sweep the vermin under the rug:
So I was therefore pleased to read this small piece of news from a small town in the North of England, and incidentally home to one of the 7/7 London bombers.

Jihad videos left in mosques in tube bomber's town

The headline, of course, is bad news. Some vermin had scuttled into a mosque and left its droppings, with Jihadi propaganda tapes and DVD's placed alongside the genuine religious material.

The tape is understood to show scenes of violence against Muslims, including footage of funeral processions and burials from Iraq overlaid by verses from the Qur'an. Along with others, it was left with genuine religious material at the mosque's reception area in sleeves allegedly disguised to suggest that the contents were celebratory sermons and texts

However, the good news is that worshippers at the mosque, instead of "keeping it to themselves" or "keeping it within the community", showed that they rejected its message, didn't want their young people polluted by it, felt themselves to be responsible members of the wider community, and handed the material into the police.


Arash Sigarchi

Rachel Hoff at Middle East Forum:
On January 17, 2005, Iranian security forces arrested 28-year-old Iranian journalist and weblogger Arash Sigarchi for espionage and insulting leaders of the Islamic Republic. Sigarchi, editor of the daily Gilan Emrooz (Gilan[1] Today), had antagonized regime officials with outspoken dissent on two blogs, Panjareh-yi Eltehab (Window of Anguish) to which he was a regular contributor, as well as his own blog, http://www.sigarchi.com/blog.

Sigarchi was aware of the dangers of his actions. His posts chronicled the arrests of fellow bloggers. He spoke out against the abuse of two fellow bloggers, Shahram Rafihzadeh and Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi. In 2004, Iranian authorities arrested and beat more than twenty other blogging dissidents. Sigarchi had himself been harassed by the police who detained him for several days in August 2004 after he posted online an article with photos of a dissident rally in Tehran.[2]

Nevertheless, Iranian dissidents are increasingly penning blogs to voice criticism of the Islamic Republic and to push for freedom and democracy. With an estimated 100,000 active Iranian blogs, Persian is now tied with French as the second most common blogging language after English.[3]

Sigarchi's most recent arrest coincided with an Iranian government crackdown on blogging. ...

Go to the link to read the rest of the article. See also: Arash Sigarchi blog (Persian). Hat tip: Ann, via e-mail.

Related: Iran Focus via Free Iran: Tehran top cop to crack down on dissent.
Wed. 9 Nov 2005


Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 09 – Iranian police are planning to boost a national security plan that will effectively increase a crackdown already in effect, the chief of police in Greater Tehran announced on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Morteza Talai told the Fars news agency, run by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that the plan which was scheduled to have ended on Friday would continue to be in effect and would be enhanced.

A “Plan to Combat Trouble-makers” was launched in Tehran in September and soon spread to cities and towns across the nation. Under the scheme, thousands have been arrested within a period of several months for various charges such as “racketeering” and “loansharking”. ...

Stay in touch with Iranian activism at Free Iran News and Regime Change Iran.


Taste of Freedom

Sgt Hook: Taste of Freedom

Be my voice. I want this message heard. It is mine and my platoon’s to the country. A man I know lost his legs the other night. He is in another company in our batallion. I can no longer be silent after watching the sacrifices made by Iraqis and Americans everyday.Send it to a congressman if you have to. Send it to FOX news if you have to. Let this message be heard please…

My fellow Americans, I have a task for those with the courage and fortitude to take it. I have a message that needs not fall on deaf ears. A vision the blind need to see. I am not a political man nor one with great wisdom. I am just a soldier who finds himself helping rebuild a country that he helped liberate a couple years ago.
I have watched on television how the American public questions why their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are fighting and dying in a country 9000 miles away from their own soil. Take the word of a soldier, for that is all I am, that our cause is a noble one. The reason we are here is one worth fighting for. A cause that has been the most costly and sought after cause in our small span of existence on our little planet. Bought in blood and paid for by those brave enough to give the ultimate sacrifice to obtain it. A right that is given to every man, woman, and child I believe by God. I am talking of freedom.

Freedom. One word but yet countless words could never capture it’s true meaning or power. “For those who have fought for it, freedom has a taste the protected will never know.” I read that once and it couldn’t be more true. It’s not the average American’s fault that he or she is “blind and deaf” to the taste of freedom. Most American’s are born into their God given right so it is all they ever know. I was once one of them. I would even dare to say that it isn’t surprising that they take for granted what they have had all their life. My experiences in the military however opened my eyes to the truth.

Ironically you will find the biggest outcries of opposition to our cause from those who have had no military experience and haven’t had to fight for freedom. I challenge all of those who are daring enough to question such a noble cause to come here for just a month and see it first hand. I have a feeling that many voices would be silenced.

I watched Cindy Sheehan sit on the President’s lawn and say that America isn’t worth dying for. Later she corrected herself and said Iraq isn’t worth dying for. She badmouthed all that her son had fought and died for. I bet he is rolling over in his grave.

Ladies and gentleman I ask you this. What if you lived in a country that wasn’t free? What if someone told you when you could have heat, electricity, and water? What if you had no sewage systems so human waste flowed into the streets? What if someone would kill you for bad-mouthing your government? What if you weren’t allowed to watch TV, connect to the internet, or have cell phones unless under extreme censorship? What if you couldn’t put shoes on your child’s feet?

You need not to have a great understanding of the world but rather common sense to realize that it is our duty as HUMAN BEINGS to free the oppressed. If you lived that way would you not want someone to help you????

The Iraqis pour into the streets to wave at us and when we liberated the cities during the war they gathered in the thousands to cheer, hug and kiss us. It was what the soldier’s in WW2 experienced, yet no one questioned their cause!! Saddam was no better than Hitler! He tortured and killed thousands of innocent people. We are heroes over here, yet American’s badmouth our President for having us here.

Every police station here has a dozen or more memorials for officers that were murdered trying to ensure that their people live free. These are husbands, fathers, and sons killed every day. What if it were your country? What would your choice be? Everything we fight for is worth the blood that may be shed. The media never reports the true HEROISM I witness everyday in the Iraqi’s. Yes there are bad one’s here, but I assure you they are a minuscule percent. Yet they are a number big enough to cause worry in this country’s future.

I have watched brave souls give their all and lose thier lives and limbs for this cause. I will no longer stand silent and let the “deaf and blind” be the only voice shouting. Stonewall Jackson once said, “All that I have, all that I am is at the service of the country.” For these brave souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice, including your son Cindy Sheehan, I will shout till I can no longer. These men and women are heroes. Their spirit lives on in their military and they will never be forgotten. They did not die in vain but rather for a cause that is larger than all of us.

My fellow countrymen and women, we are not overseas for our country alone but also another. We are here to spread democracy and freedom to those who KNOW the true taste of it because they fight for it everyday. You can see the desire in their eyes and I am honored to fight alongside them as an Infantryman in the 101st Airborne.

Freedom is not free, but yet it is everyone’s right to have. Ironic isn’t it? That is why we are here. Though you will always have the skeptics, I know that most of our military will agree with this message. Please, at the request of this soldier spread this message to all you know. We are in Operation Iraqi Freedom and that is our goal. It is a cause that I and thousands of others stand ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice for because, Cindy Sheehan, freedom is worth dying for, no matter what country it is! And after the world is free only then can we hope to have peace.

SGT XXX and 1st Platoon
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

Please also visit the homepage of my old unit:
1st Light Armored Infantry Battalion, USMC


Michael Totten: The Latest from Beirut

Who to talk to, who not to talk to:
If strangers talk to you at a bar, at a café, at a party, at a club, in a hotel lobby, in the countryside, or in a village, they almost certainly are normal people who are just being friendly. On the street in the city, though, chances are they want something from you. Maybe they just want directions. And that’s fine. Twice people have asked me for directions. I guess I look like I know where I’m going. But if someone doesn’t instantly tell you exactly, precisely, what they want, get away from them immediately.

“Americans have to learn this the hard way,” my friend told me. He’s right. I know he is. I had already half learned my lesson. I tried half measures yesterday and it wasn’t enough. ...

Flak jacket optional:
When I asked my brother if this place is what he expected he said “After listening to you talk about it and reading you write about it, it is exactly what I expected.”

My mom, though, is in a constant state of amazement.

Their first night out we went to Brooke’s restaurant in Gemmayze, a classy bohemian joint run by a British expat friend from the English countryside. The floor is wall-to-wall hardwood. Each chair is handsomely carved and stained dark like mahogany. A candle burns in a glass in the center of every table. I introduced mom and my brother to the bartender Elie and asked him to bring us a bottle of Bordeaux. The DJ played cool contemporary rock music over the sound system. The ambience, somehow, is pitch perfect. Brooke's, like so many haunts in Beirut, has an X Factor.

“This is surreal,” mom said. “What a great place!” We hadn’t even ordered yet. “I know you told me there are great restaurants in Beirut, but I never expected anything like this.”

Hardly anyone ever does. ...

Read it all at the links.

OSM Launch Impressions; or, It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To, and I Don't Want To

Now I know there are a bunch of naysayers out there, even in the blogosphere, doing what naysayers do best and saying nay. Well, suit yourselves. I just went to have a good time, and by golly I had a great time. So there.

Here are my scattered recollections from the event, with my memory bolstered by other bloggers who remember the Open Source Media launch much more clearly than I.

That fashion panel. Am I the only one who thought Elizabeth Hayt was simply divine? (I can hear you groaning. I'll take that as a yes.) No, really. Let me quote Eric at The Young Curmudgeon:
The only thing memorable about it was that Elizabeth Hayt, an NYT fashion journalist, bravely showed up. And I say bravely pointedly, to contrast her dignified bearing with the hooting and hollering that occurred both in the room and on-line for her daring to depart from the blog triumphalist mood of the day.

She stated at the outset that when she was booked she told the guy on the phone that she doesn't blog, she hates blogs, and thinks blogs are absurd so she didn't know why they were booking her. He said "That's why we want you." She was brought in as a sacrificial lamb, an example of evil MSM thinking for the assembled blog horde to devour with their teeth.

Now for my own take: Almost the first words out of Elizabeth's mouth were, "I don't read blogs. They're a waste of time. I think they're absurd. ... Bloggers are mostly rich people with too much time on their hands." This in front of a room full of bloggers. Think about it: How long did it take you to develop that kind of chutzpah? Well, there you go. You see what I mean, right? The woman's already halfway to being a blogger herself. She also admitted she doesn't read blogs. Now, when she goes the other half of the way, and decides she wants to know what she's talking about, we'll all have to watch out.

The Manolo he was there, sort of. This was the kind of gag that must have sounded like a great idea in the boardroom: Have The Manolo appear (so to speak) as a disembodied voice, with a sultry Latin accent. Well, fine. (BTW, I'm almost positive I met Manolo's "voice" after the event, but I digress.) But the ten-second (or however long it was) delay was ridiculous. I'm pretty sure they had somebody e-mailing the questions to Manolo and the "voice" reading his responses. Roger tried to tell us the delay was due to "long distance". Come on, Roger. We're bloggers, dammit, we're not that stupid.

Well, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain but do pay attention to the political panel. Richard Fernandez (Wretchard of The Belmont Club) is as articulate in person as he is on the screen. For the rest of the picture, I'll give you Judith at Kesher Talk:
The political panel was like every other political panel you have ever seen. Kudlow asked the three men most of the questions, Podhoretz and Corn bloviated, Wretchard tried to be thoughtful, and Rossett tried to get a word in edgewise. Since she is one of the few real investigative journalists working in the US today, this was a shame.

Podhoretz and Corn began their own "late twentieth-century history, as seen from the Right and the Left" debate, but Roger thankfully cut them off.

The first person I met at the reception was Robert of Publius Pundit - a very bright and dynamic young individual. He talked about life as an Air Force brat, the opportunities and pitfalls of the ongoing democratic revolutions, and what he hopes to do after college. Go read his blog.

Lisa Ramaci-Vincent was one of those I prevailed upon to sign my laptop during the reception. I had the pleasure of speaking with her for a few minutes, though not as long as Eric apparently did:
Lisa Ramaci is an incredible person, warm, open, unassuming and intellectual, a medieval history expert. She spoke of trips with her husband to Viet Nam before relations were normalized and even to Iran, where it turned out everyone was pro-American. She talked about her husband's memorial service, with representatives from the fetish scene, the downtown arts scene, conservative politics etc. and is going to send me a DVD of it to watch. Like Steven Vincent, she's a true American original and an utterly amazing person. Meeting her and actually getting to talk to her at length made my day and meant a hell of a lot more than meeting some blogger or journalist.

To that, I can only add that she is full of enthusiasm and idealism about Iraq, she is very warm and easy to be with, and an utterly amazing ... oh, wait, that's already been said. Well, consider it said again. FWIW, Lisa is also very big - stupefyingly tall, big-boned, and a very impressive woman physically as well as in every other way.

I blundered into this picture. Thanks, LaShawn - again! - for the link.

Wonderful people I met. I'm almost afraid to begin, because I know I'll leave somebody out. Well, okay. There was Pieter, with whom I had the pleasure of some conversation at the very beginning of the event. Pamela, Judith, Neo, LaShawn, and Fausta it was great meeting you in person!

I never thought I'd hear myself say the words "Excuse me, are you Cliff May?" It was, and I got to talk with him about the times and challenges of FDD.

Tammy, it was a special honor meeting you - and Bruce, good seeing you again!

Susan N., it was great meeting you! If you're reading this, drop me a line.

Okay, well that's enough of this. Here is what I really want to say about Open Source Media: Maybe you think it's a great idea, or maybe you think it's a dumb idea and we're all suckers. All I can say is this: Charles and Roger didn't ask me for a dime, they just asked if I wanted to sign on. I figured anything with all these folks - and Omar and Mohammed - couldn't be a bad thing. The trip to New York was worth it just to meet the people. I don't know where OSM is going, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

James Wolcott, please make an appointment with your therapist.

At the OSM launch I had the pleasure of meeting the charming Pamela of Atlas Shrugs (another political blog that ought to be on your browser).

This morning I read about this bizarre fantasy of James Wolcott. Apparently the man has terrible eyesight and an overactive imagination ... how can you confuse a hand with a breast? Maybe he's forgotten what breasts look like. (Perhaps the blog world ought to send him some pictures of breasts to refresh his memory?)

Really, can the MSM get any more pathetic? I mean, is it even possible?

Thoughts on the OSM Launch

It's 6:30am here in New York and only 3:30am back home in Portland. I'm still recovering from a terrific and overwhelming day yesterday.

A few random thoughts about the Open Source Media launch. Everybody I met was simply wonderful - right now I don't want to start trying to acknowledge people by name because I'm afraid I'll leave somebody out. (To all those whom I bothered to sign my laptop, many thanks for your patience and your signatures!) Every person I met - whether I thrust my PowerBook and my Sharpie under your nose or not - now holds a very special place in my life.

A fashion panel? To kick off the event? Well, it wasn't quite what I would have done, but it was entertaining in its own way. Really, how else would I have found out that bloggers are "mostly rich people with too much time on their hands"?

The only thing that bothered me about the fashion panel - and I'm going to be frank here - is that I think we could have done with more time for the political panel. Why a fashion panel, anyway? If fashion, then why not sports? Was the fashion group something thrown in "to appeal to the ladies"? I'd have liked to see women political bloggers better represented. For instance, I would have liked to see more of these women on the program.

That's all I have for now. More soon.


Liveblogging from OSM Launch

From the OSM (Open Source Media) launch in New York City:

Andrew Breitbart: In the old media, I never would have introduced competitors. But in the blogging world, we're all friends.

Roger Simon: We don't just want to criticize (a short-run thing); we want to do something constructive (a long-run thing). ... This is the first deliberate blend of these factions to create a new media paradigm. ... The internet ... is an ideal place to ensure accuracy of content. ... Our guiding principle will be this openness as practiced by citizen journalists.

John Podhoretz: "The authority inheres in the words themselves."

Richard Fernandez: Your primary capital is your "rep" ... and when you have a rep, suddenly everything you say matters.

Caudia Rosett: One of my favorite papers is the "Weekly World News", because I find stories about aliens entertaining. [But] when you set yourself up as a source of "truth", you have to be responsible.

David Corn: There's a transparency that's being imposed on all of us ... and that transparency brings accountability.

Glenn Reynolds, the George Washington of the Internet: Technology is empowering ordinary people in many ways. Blogs are only part of the story: We see amateur filmmakers ... The terms "correspondent" and "journalist" are going back to their original meanings.

Judith Miller: I rarely open by quoting Karl Marx, but I'll make an exception: "Changes in production create changes in consciousness." But changes in consciousness also produce changes in the modes of production; and I think we're seeing both phenomena simultaneously. We still don't know the political ramifications of this revolution, but the ramifications for journalism are already apparent: journalists in the MSM are under pressure as never before. ... I didn't have internet access during my 85 days in the Alexandria Detention Center, but I did have time to think about a lot of things. I think many bloggers will be needing - just as we in the MSM do - a "shield law" to protect the relationship between the journalist and the source. ... Some of the more irresponsible bloggers conjured up stories of million-dollar book contracts, or published hurtful stories about my husband and family. ... There have been precious few stories - either from bloggers or from the MSM - on the threats to our freedom of expression. I urge you to support the "Free Flow of Information Act", federal shield legislation that is working its way through Congress. It is the function that we play as informers of the public that requires this legislation. ... This legislation would not cover all bloggers, but it would cover many bloggers. Those who express unsupported opinions or vitriol would not be covered - nor, in my opinion, should they be. But those whose goal is educating or informing the public, would be. We don't have an "are you making money" standard. ... The "Five Commandments" of journalism and mainstream blogging: (1) Be honest about who you are, what your agenda is, and where your funding comes from. (2) Try to reach the subject of your story for comment before you publish information about them. (3) If the subject of your article denies what you are reporting, and if the subject has corroboration, say so. (4) If you are wrong, acknowledge it through more news stories. (5) If you are wrong, commit to getting it right.

Senator John Cornyn: We are still a nation whose laws are premised on the consent of the governed; and if the governed don't know, then they can hardly consent, to what the Government is doing on their behalf. We can and should reform the culture in Washington to one where, if a citizen asks for information, the presumption is that they're entitled to it.

[All quotes are paraphrases and may not be verbatim.]

Visit OSM - Open Source Media, and be sure to mark the site on your browser favorites and/or sidebar.

UPDATE: The launch event is over - I'll have more on it later. I'm blogging from CyberCafe. It's a great place, and well worth your visit if you're in the area.

Update - Live from OSM (Open Source Media)

This morning I've shaken hands with Charles, Roger, Judith, LaShawn, Cathy, Richard, Neo, and the anonymous author of this classic essay! And many others whom I haven't named. This is incredible.