Ayaan Hirsi Ali Coming to the US

Thanks to the invaluable Little Green Footballs for breaking the good news. LGF:
More than 20 people emailed this morning about the report that Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali is resigning from Parliament and moving to the United States, to work at the American Enterprise Institute. Liberty and Justice has translations of the Dutch report: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Heading To The US.

That report:
According to De Volkskrant she will she will leave to the US September 1, 2006.

Exactly what I was afraid of. She will be welcomed into the US and she will get the respect she deserves there, but it is a crying shame that we force people like her to leave our country.
Do we, finally, have someone who defends our freedom of speech, even putting her life on the line, we force her to leave our country and move to the US. It is making me all sick.

Well, that didn't take long. Ayaan Hirsi Ali will in September leave The Netherlands and join the AEI. This outcome was expected and in a way I think it is very good news for her, but it is not all that good for the Dutch. Not only will they lose a talented, vocal and original thinker, they allowed - quite probably deliberately - her to fall in a very public manner and I don't think she deserved that. ...

Volksrant (in Dutch).
Follow the links to the original posts for updates.


Iran Report

Taheri: Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush. Amir Taheri, after a brief history of the art of letter-writing in the Persian/Islamic world, concludes:
Ahmadinejad believes that the Hidden Imam is about to return and that it is the duty of the Islamic Republic to provoke a "clash of civilizations" to hasten that return. As he asserts in his letter, Ahmadinejad also believes that the liberal democratic model of market-based capitalist societies has failed and is rejected even in its traditional homeland. Ahmadinejad has been impressed by the extent of recent riots in France in which the extreme Left provided the leadership while the Muslim sub-proletariat offered much of the muscle in the streets.

Rather than ignoring Ahmadinejad's letter, President Bush should reply to him by inviting him to abandon Khomeinism and convert to liberal democracy. For, when all is said and done, the fight over Iran today is not about real or imagined nuclear weapons; it is about the kind of Iran with which the Middle East, indeed the whole world, can feel comfortable. Ahmadinejad's letter shows that a majority of Iranians, let alone the world as a whole, cannot feel comfortable with the kind of Iran he represents.

Khomeinist regime faces "challenges". Writing in the Arab News, Taheri has this to say:
Talk to any "Iran specialist" about opposition to the present regime and you are likely to hear that it is marginal, exists largely in exile, and affects segments of the urban middle classes, especially students, mainly in Tehran.

The conclusion, therefore, is that the system now headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is firmly entrenched with no credible challenge looming on the horizon.

However, that picture, largely accurate for much of the past two decades, may be about to change as the system created by the late Ayatollah Khomeini faces new challenges.

These new challenges come from several sources.

The first, and possibly the most important, is the urban working class that has just started to flex its muscles. ...

Workers' protests, unlike student protests, could have an impact on the economy. Ahmadinejad has responded with a "buy-in" program in which workers can buy stock in state-owned companies (most of which are operating at a loss); and by filling the workers' ranks with strikebreakers. Labor Minister Jaromi, believing the oil sector paramount to Iran's economy, goes the head chief one better and recruits only regime loyalists to the oil industry.

IRI: No talks with US over Iraq. The party's over. All hopes for a coridal dialog between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran over the fate of Iraq have been dashed. We are shocked. Iran Focus reports: ' Iran announced on Sunday that it will not hold direct talks with the United States on the issue of Iraq. “The issue of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. regarding Iraq is no longer on the table”, Iran’s newly-appointed ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi told the official new agency. Qomi said that the issue of Iran-U.S. talks over Iraq had been raised for close to a year but had been repeatedly rejected by Tehran until it was formally proposed by Iraqi officials. “Following the establishment of a permanent government in Iraq, we have no issue to negotiate about”, he said.' A terrible shame; those talks showed such promise.

German embassy next? A subscription article at Debka suggests a seizure of Germany's embassy in Iran may be in the works, a nostalgic recollection of the "444 days" of 1979. An alleged American spy ring operating out of the German embassy is said to be the pretext. They are hoping that the stunt would bring German pressure on the US in Iran's favor and distract attention from the nuclear crisis, perhaps yielding secret back-channel negotiations between Tehran and Washington. Good luck with that.

Hadley: No direct talks with Iran. From Stratfor (subscription): 'Direct engagement between Iran and several other countries within the framework of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) is the best way to resolve the current standoff regarding Iran's nuclear program, U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said May 14. Hadley dismissed suggestions that the United States should engage in direct talks with Iran, calling the UNSC the preferred forum for talks at this time.'

Iran: That goes for us, too. Iran Focus: ' Iran announced on Sunday that it will not hold direct talks with the United States on the issue of Iraq. “The issue of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. regarding Iraq is no longer on the table”, Iran’s newly-appointed ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi told the official new agency.'

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Lavender Alert

Climate of fear for Iraqi gays. An April 17 BBC report paints a stark picture of gay life in post-Saddam Iraq:
"I don't want to be gay anymore. When I go out to buy bread, I'm afraid. When the doorbell rings, I think that they have come for me."

That is the fear that haunts Hussein, and other gay men in Iraq.

They say that since the US-led invasion, gay people are being killed because of their sexual orientation.

They blame the increase in violence on the growing influence of religious figures and militia groups in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was ousted.

The report cites an anti-gay proclamation Ayatollah Sistani's website, and SCIRI control of the Interior Ministry, as factors contributing to the climate of violence.
Hussein is 32 and lives in Baghdad with his brother, sister-in-law and nieces.

He says his effeminate appearance and demeanour make him stand out and attract hostility.

"My brother's friends told him: 'In the current chaos you could get away with killing your brother without retribution and get rid of this shame,'" Hussein said, after agreeing to speak to the BBC only if his real name was not used.

A transsexual friend of his, who had changed names from Haydar to Dina, was killed on her way to a party in Baghdad about six months ago, Hussein said.

Meanwhile, the Washington Blade carries a report on the Iraqi teen recently murdered for homosexual activity:
Human rights groups are condemning as "barbaric" the shooting of a 14-year-old male who allegedly slept with men for money to support his poverty-stricken family, the Independent reported May 5. Witnesses said the youth was shot after men in police uniforms accosted him based on the allegations, the newspaper reported. The teen’s death came during a surge in homophobic killings by Iraqi state security services and religious militias following an anti-gay fatwa issued by Iraq’s most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Ali Hili, the coordinator of Abu Nawas, a group of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq, told the Independent that the fatwa had instigated a "witch-hunt for lesbian and gay Iraqis, including violent beatings, kidnappings and assassinations." The boy’s family fled the area fearing further reprisals, the newspaper reported. Hili said U.S. coalition forces are unwilling to address the issue. "They just don’t want to upset the Iraqi government by bringing up the taboo of homosexuality even though homophobic murders have intensified," he said. Darla Jordan, from the U.S. State Department said, "The U.S. government continues to work closely with our Iraqi partners to ensure the protection of human rights and the safety of all Iraqi citizens."

US gays: Advances and setbacks. A court upholds Salt Lake City's partner plan: 'A judge on Friday upheld a Salt Lake City ordinance that extends health insurance benefits to "adult designees" of employees who live together but are not married. In a five-page ruling, 3rd District Judge Stephen Roth said the plan does not violate state law, nor the Utah Constitution.' The US House voted to restrict demonstrations at military funerals, a move meant to keep Fred Phelps and his band of psychotic goons at bay. Meanwhile, Virginia came closer to a gay marriage ban, but it's not just a "gay marriage ban": 'The amendment, if approved statewide on the Nov. 7 ballot, would write existing statutory bans on same-sex marriage and civil unions into the state Constitution. It also would prohibit any contracts or legal arrangements intended to approximate marriage. Critics, including Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), say it could broadly threaten the validity of other personal contracts.' All articles from Edge New York.

Danforth takes stand against FMA. Via Log Cabin Republicans:
Former U.S. Senator and former UN Ambassador John Danforth (R-MO) made a strong case against the anti-family constitutional amendment during the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner on Saturday April 29th. Danforth, an ordained Episcopalian Priest, spoke to hundreds of Log Cabin members, allies, and supporters in Washington, DC at the organization's largest national convention in its history. "It is said that this [amendment] is necessary to protect marriage. Whose marriage is this going to protect?" asked Danforth. "How conceivably could it protect any marriage in the United States?"

"Some historian should really look at all of the proposals that have been put forth throughout the history of our country for possible Constitutional amendments," Danforth said. "Maybe at some point in time there was one that was sillier than this one, but I don't know of one."

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Daniel Wurtz dies.

An American teen wounded in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv last month died Sunday of organ failure, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Daniel Wultz, 16, of Weston, Florida, is to be flown home for burial on Monday, said Yael Tzuberi, a spokeswoman for Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where he was hospitalized.

Wultz and his father, Tuly, were having lunch at the Rosh Ha'ir falafel stand in Tel Aviv's old central bus station when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated 5 kilograms (approximately 10 pounds) of explosives. Eleven people, including Wultz, died as a result of the attack.

Ocean Guy links to One Family Fund.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Military Roundup

Meet Captain Furat. Tom the Redhunter:
After a few false starts, the new Iraqi Army is a force to be reconed with. While no doubt some units are still not up to speed or are not aggressive enough, many are doing their part and then some.

But armies consist of individuals, and as such there are many new heroes in this new Iraqi army, risking life and limb every day, whether they are on the job or at home visiting loved ones.

One of these new heroes is Captain Furat. ...

We would never have known about him had it not been for the brave reporting of Maya Alleruzzo of the Washington Times.

Last year, she went out with him on several very dangerous missions, one to act as a decoy in order to divert the terrorists attention from convoy that was transporting election materials. The decoy succeeded; Captain Furat's unit was attacked. He and his unit fought back bravely, fighting off the terrorists.

However, when visiting his family, he wasn't so lucky. The terrorists ambushed him, and although he fought back, one of their bullets severed his spine and paralyzed him below the waist. He was brought to the United States, and is now being treated pro bono at Atlanta's Shepherd Center.

Here's the update from the Washington Times. And here's Michael Yon. Go read it all.

Tarin Kot, Afghanistan. Now in Afghanistan, Michael Yon reports on the bumpy road ahead. Go to the link to see the photos, and read about what one Pakistani engineer did that surprised everyone. Yon observes that
There is deep distrust between Afghans and Pakistanis, yet the Afghans seem to hold Indians in high-regard, and when an Indian was murdered here recently, there was uproar in both India and Afghanistan. The Afghans who are not actively trying to kill Americans seem to hold us in high regard. Many Afghans – just like many Iraqis, especially the Kurds – asked me to tell the American people “thank you” and “please don’t leave yet.”

Why we fight. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette brings us a refreshingly truthful article from the Washington Post:
Civilians. After the war, they seemed so different, no matter how many war movies or how much CNN they had watched.
Sometimes, they'd ask something so crazy there just wasn't any way to respond, such as when a friend asked Monika Dyrcakz, "Did you go clubbing in Iraq?"

"Some people have no idea," she said.

Sometimes they said: I support the troops but not the war. Or: Do you think we should be over there?

Which is such a dumb question, Tanner, the Army captain, would think. Soldiers don't make those decisions. They do what they're told. They bitch and moan, sure. But when the call comes, they pack their bags and go, knowing they may not come back.

But Tanner doesn't say all that. Instead, he responds this way: "Oh, so you were over there? Because you said, ' We .' Because, I mean, I know I was over there."

Be sure to read Greyhawk's post for some final comments.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Mary Cheney on FMA

"...support for a constitutional amendment banning [same-sex marriage] will prove to have an even shorter half-life. If the Republican Party fails to come around on this issue, I believe it will find itself on the wrong side of history and on a sharp decline into irrelevance."—Mary Cheney in her new book, "Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life."

Hat tip: Log Cabin via e-mail bulletin


United 93: A Walk-On Part in the War

United 93 doesn't have a "plot" or "characters" in the conventional sense. Most of the characters are never named. Only one that I noticed - Ben Sliney - is ever identified by first and last name. Two we recognize - Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer - but most are simply there. They appear onscreen as people appear to us in life, without introduction or fanfare.

Many of the surviving characters are played by their real-life counterparts. Look at the cast list and the first thing you will notice, after the absence of "superstars", is the number of roles identified as "Himself/Herself". Many others are known only by their role titles, "Boston 5", "Herndon 1", "Cleveland Supervisor".

It is a cast of walk-ons - again, just as in life. And yet paradoxically, it's a movie about ordinary people who become actors: not "actors" in the sense of performers, but actors in the original sense - people who take action.

The movie does not try to "explain" United 93. It does not bother to fill you in on what everybody knows, because you already know it. It's very much like the classic horror device, where you (the viewer) know the danger awaiting the characters, but the characters themselves are blissfully ignorant. In other words, it is simply excruciating.

I like relationship films. I cry in movies. I cried in "United 93" because it is a movie full of ending relationships. To say that there is "no happy ending" doesn't begin to tell it. There is not one tragedy but many: the sundering of romances we have not seen develop, the bereavement of families we've never met, the goodbyes to people we will never know. There is no redeeming moment at the end; no "boy gets girl"; no tender embrace amid the smouldering rubble, pregnant with the hope of life renewed. No. There is only the spinning ground and the silent blackness.

Did I give away the ending? But you already knew how it would end.


Mary Cheney: Now It's My Turn

Tammy has some warm words for Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary Cheney:
I know Mary and while we don't agree on all issues (she's pro-life as an example), we both know that thoughtful people can and do come to seriously different conclusions about the issues. At the same time, we're on the same side disagreeing with President Bush's effort to change the U.S. Constitution regarding the gay marriage issue. She's a true American patriot, in the Classical Liberal style, an Authentic Conservative committed to true American freedom.

There's lots of behind the scenes stories in the book including what her father's debate prep was like, as well as her parents reaction to her revelation when she was a a teenager that she's gay.

Mary, like I , also knows what it's like to face the Gay Gestapo and how ugly and vile the "tolerant Left" can be when homosexuals don't conform to the Leftist worldview. Her stories are great, her courage inspiring, and her book worth supporting. I personally know about the compassion and generosity of American Conservatives, it's time to show the nation the value and importance of Mary's message by making her book a terrific success.

Book? Oh, yes, the book! It is Now It's My Turn, by Mary Cheney. I'm gonna get my copy tomorrow.

Oh, and here's a few choice words from Tammy Bruce in FrontPage Magazine (October 2004):
First, Mary Cheney is hated by the Gay Elite. There are discussions are direct efforts to make life uncomfortable for her. Why? Because she dares to be different. She has made the same mistake as I—she refuses to have her sexuality be the singular defining aspect of her identity, and she has had the gall to be her own person and not bow down to the leftist agenda. Yes, she commits the fatal mistake of not conforming to the conformist Gay agenda.

Cut to John Kerry on debate night. Here is a man who is trying to maintain the traditional base of Democratic party support. Women are abandoning him as they realize having a passive internationalist in the White House is not the best protection against a Beslan horror on American soil. President Bush had the support of nine percent of blacks in the 2000 race. At this writing it has doubled to eighteen percent. Not good signs for Kerry.

Now consider that supposed political monolith of homosexuals. Kerry says he’s opposed to gay marriage but supports civil unions, a position identical with the president’s. I contend Kerry was in part pandering to the Gay Elite to make up for his position on marriage. The targeting of Mary Cheney by the Gay Elite is a well known effort by liberals, and Kerry’s comment was his way of saying “I’m with you,” by attempting to further their punishment of her on international television.

Of course, pundits have argued that you can’t embarrass an openly gay person by referring to her as, well, gay. While Mary Cheney is out, she has made choices to lead a quiet private life, laden with that pesky dignity thing, and oh yeah, she’s a…a…Republican!! Neither one of those ideas can get out, oh no.

"Somebody give me a fucking weapon!" she screamed.

Kat at The Middle Ground has a terrific roundup on women in combat:
Every bit helps and this is just as dangerous as any "combat patrol" by the men. Last year around this time, three women marines were killed and 11 injured when their convoy was struck by a suicide bomber when returning from such a mission in Fallujah. Blackfive reminds us with a follow up report on these women and the complete story of that day as covered in Glamour magazine.

The convoy had been rolling down the highway for only a few minutes when Harding heard a fast exchange between her truck's driver and the gunner; it was something like "Are you going to shoot it or what?" An Iraqi car had pulled up alongside them. The marines in the lead Humvee had seen the car approaching and waved it off to the side of the road, but the car came barreling back toward the convoy.

Harding barely had time to process the driver's words when she heard the sound she'd feared since the moment she arrived in Iraq: the menacing hiss of a bomb about to go off.

The injuries some of these women suffered were terrible including second and third degree burns over 13% or more of the body. But, showing that these women are no wilting flowers, as soon as Cpl Salmaan got up she was yelling for a weapon:

Just as Padmore reached the scene, he saw Saalman staggering toward him, her charred, flayed hands held up before her, her eyes vacant in a blackened face. She'd lost her rifle during the explosion. "Sally, pull yourself together," he said. "You are not going to die. I promise: You are not going to die. But we need some leadership." He watched her expression change instantly from shock to rage. "Somebody give me a fucking weapon!" she screamed. "I need a fucking weapon!" The adrenaline pumping through her body obviously masked her pain. Padmore handed her his own M16 and headed off to find other wounded marines, with the sound of Saalman firing her gun toward the insurgents ringing in his ears.

Read the rest at the link.

Morning Report: May 10, 2006

Iranian opposition leader meets with Richard Perle. Via Free Iran News Forum: 'Less than 24 hours after one of Iran's leading dissidents and authors escaped to a neighboring state, the former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle, interrupted his trip to central Asia to meet with him in a cramped hotel room. The meeting between Mr. Perle and Amir Abbas Fakhravar on April 29, in a location both men have asked not appear in print, may end up being as important as the first contacts between Mr. Perle and the ex-Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky in the 1980s. Like Mr. Sharansky with the Soviet Union, Mr. Fakhravar is making an appeal to the world to support the cause of Iranian freedom. Mr. Perle first made contact with Mr. Fakhravar while he was first in prison and the two have kept in touch since the Iranian student leader went into hiding. They have spoken regularly for three years and Mr. Fakhravar is hoping to use Mr. Perle's contacts in America to build solidarity for his country's democratic movement. (Free Iran)

Islamist militia commander killed in Iran. SMCCDI: 'A senior Islamist militia commander was killed, on Saturday, by 'unknown assailants' according to the Islamic republic's official sources. The victim, named Hassan Mohammad-Poor, was killed while driving in the Tapeh Zibashahr road of the Golestan province located in northeast Iran.' (SMCCDI)

Iranian ambassador to meet Talabani. Debka: 'Hasan Hazemi Qomi, Iran’s first ambassador to Baghdad in two decades, meets Iraqi president Jalal Talabani Wednesday. The two countries withdrew their ambassadors before the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and kept their relations at charge d’affaires level. Iraq and the US accuse Iran of meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs. Talabani said the upgraded relations should open a new page in the two countries’ history.' (Debka)

Uncle Jimbo: Our Iranian allies need a visit from Ed McMahon. Uncle Jimbo:
The same clowns who yowled about warrantless searches and waterboarding and Gitmo and Gulfstreams, are the first to complain that we don't know enough about Iran's nuke program to justify Tomahawking their facilities. I agree that we don't have enough intel, and I propose that we detail just exactly what steps we are willing to take in order to find out. Let's see if they really want an option to direct military action. Obviously no classified info or techniques and the Iranians already know what we can do, this is for our leaders in DC. I'll start, but please chime in with more suggestions:

Recruitment of Iranian Scientists and others as agents- I assume we are actively engaged in this but I would hope we are spending money over there like they won the lottery. Free gifts for all my Uranium-enriching friends. I would also target family, government opposition (HA!), and would be recruiting every Iranian studying in the US. Oh boy would I be working on them, hookers, booze whatever they want. Then we send them back home to see how much it sucks, and wait for the coordinates of the nuke facilities to arrive via email. I would also tap any and all electronic communications by Iranian students and run it through the same computers the NSA uses, oh and don't feel like I'm picking on the Iranians there are plenty of other countries students we should be eyeballing also.

Kidnapping of Iranian Scientists- Preferably while they were traveling, but since many of those we really need to talk to are sequestered it may involve a raid into Iran.

Industrial Sabotage of Equipment used in Nuke Program- We know who is supplying them, mostly the French and Russians, we can infiltrate their operations or intercept in transit equipment and material destined for use in these programs. Or we can include surveillance and other electronic goodies along with the gear.

Hack Attack- I hope we have a room somewhere where we keep the best hackers and that they are actively involved in violating every crevice of the Iranian computer network, government and private. I hope they have them chained to the highest speed machines, feeding 'em Mountain dew and Cheetos while they digitally assault every electronic action any Iranian does anywhere on the planet.

Funding of any and all Iranian Resistance Groups- Start with the Shah's kid Reza Pahlavi to remind the Iranians that back in the day, Iran was a cool place to be, not a theocratic nightmare. We should be helping the internal student and other groups to organize electronically and how to avoid the religious Thought police. This is where we plug in all those co-opted students who lived the good life and let them tell their countrymen about the land of booze and hookers.

Information Warfare- I am perpetually amazed that a country with the greatest story ever to tell the world is chronically unable to tell it. maybe we should chain a few Hollywood types up with our hackers and have them churning out revolutionary propaganda to embolden the Iranian people. Beam them Tehran Housewives, Iranian Idol and give them a reason to resist and hopefully revolt.


Morning Report: May 9, 2006

Blair rejects Iran strike, dismisses speculation on Straw's sacking. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected the idea that the replacement of former Foreign Minister Jack Straw was connected with a difference of views on Iran. The Scotsman: 'There has been widespread media speculation that differences over how to deal with Iran's nuclear programme were behind Blair's decision to axe Foreign Minister Jack Straw last week in a major government reshuffle. Blair replaced Straw with former Environment Minister Margaret Beckett. "The idea I moved Jack because of Iran ... because the Americans objected to him ... (is) rubbish," Blair said. "Any notion that it is linked to a decision about invading Iran -- which incidentally we are not going to do -- any notion that it is linked to such a decision is utterly absurd."' Via Regime Change Iran. (Scotsman via RCI)

Rice on Ahmadinejad letter: Ho-hum. Voice of America: 'U.S. officials say an unusual letter to President Bush from his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not present any breakthrough in the current dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The response came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepared to discuss the nuclear issue in New York with her counterparts from the other permanent U.N. Security Council member countries. ... However administration officials are dismissing comments from Tehran that the message is a significant overture in the frozen relationship, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying there is nothing in the letter to suggest the parties are on any different course than they were before it arrived. Secretary Rice made the comments in a session with the Associated Press in New York as she prepared to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue over dinner with her colleagues from the other veto-wielding Security Council member countries. She told the AP the Ahmadinejad letter was 17 or 18 pages long and covered history, philosophy and religion, but was not a diplomatic opening or anything of the sort, and did not address the nuclear issue in a concrete way.' Debka: 'DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources are first to reveal contents of - not one but two - letters Iran’s Ahmadinejad has sent to President Bush. Neither of the letters Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mailed Sunday, May 7, to George W. Bush represents an olive branch – just the reverse: Their writer takes a high moral tone and emphasizes the importance of Islam to mankind and the world. Neither does the Iranian president deign to offer concessions to ease international concerns and the standoff on Iran’s nuclear program. DEBKAfile’s sources in Tehran obtained access to the first drafts of two separate communications – only one of which Iranian proposes to release to the media. The private Note trots out the Islamic Republic’s reiteration of its right to develop nuclear energy for purely peaceful purposes and Iran’s greatness as the cradle of human civilization. The Note intended for release is longer and couched in phrases designed for propaganda effect. Ahmadinejad complains that Iran is anxious for progress in the sciences but is constantly persecuted by the forces of “world arrogance” ' and blah blah blah. The Israeli analysis adds that the stunt is meant to recall Ayatolla Khomeini's 1979 letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, urging him to adopt Islamic principles for his country. (VOA, Debka)

China says it won't veto UNSC action on Iran. Jerusalem Post: 'The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations announced late Monday night that Beijing would not veto a UN Security Council decision to impose punitive measures against Iran, Army Radio reported. The announcement may represent some progress in the attempt made by the Western permanent UNSC member states - the United States, Great Britain and France - in trying to adopt a resolution that would force Iran, under the threat of sanctions, to comply with international demands to halt its nuclear development program and permit supervision of its nuclear sites. (JPost)


"The victim is not Atwar Bahjat."

Bulletin via LGF:
The gruesome video reported by the Sunday Times to show the beheading of Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat is a hoax; the video does depict an Islamic torture killing, but the victim is not Atwar Bahjat.

Rusty at the Jawa Report has the scoop.


So, I'm going to try to curb the binge-purge syndrome in my blogging life by setting some goals/limits for myself. The goal is at least one news roundup (Morning Report, Afternoon Roundup, or Night Flashes) and one topical post per day. The limit is not more than two of each per day. Hopefully this will (a) help me avoid getting into these cycles where I blog obsessively for hours on end and then get burned out; and (b) allow me to meet my self-imposed blogging goals while enjoying a life outside of blogging.

(Yes, I do have a life outside of blogging.)

Free Alaa!

Alaa, blogger, co-founder of the egyptian blog aggregator Manalaa and democracy activist, got arrested today during a protest to support the Judiciary's branch fight for independence. He, and about 10 others, were rounded up in the street, beaten up and thrown in a police car. Amongst those who got arrested were at least 3 girls, and the police beat up at least another 2 girls as well.

The way it worked, the police made sure to press the demonstartors close to the egyptian musem, where they cordoned them and wouldn't let them leave, while continiously hurling insults at them. The demonstartors tried to get the police to let them go for half an hour, but no avail. The Police cordon then opend where a group of plainly dressed police officers and thugs rushed in and started beating up the demonstartors and dragging them on the asphalt till they threw them in the police vehicles. The Police also made sure that none of the satalite news channels would be able to get video footage of what they did by not allowing the press to come close and keeping them away the entire time.

Go to the link for the rest, and updates.


Morning Report: May 7, 2005

Israel appoints Iran expert as security council chief. Debka: 'New focus on Iran prompts appointment of deputy Mossad chief Ilan Mizrahi, 56, as Israel’s next National Security Council chief. He replaces Gen. Giora Eiland who asked to be relieved of the post last year. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report the new appointee, an experienced field operative, is a world class authority on Iran and expert on Muslim and Arab affairs, although less conversant with Palestinian issues. Selecting Mizrahi for the job signposts PM Olmert’s order of strategic priorities. The NSC’s relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem places a security-clandestine branch directly alongside the incoming prime minister. He acquires an ace in secret diplomacy should he wish to bypass defense minister Amir Peretz, foreign minister Tzipi Livni or his inner security cabinet, for discreet exchanges with Washington, foreign intelligence chiefs, or key Arab officials. Mizrahi knows how to reach the right person without go-betweens. He also prefers to keep a low personal profile, a rare attribute in Israeli officialdom. Father of three, the prime minister’s new national security adviser spent four years as deputy Mossad chief. He has a master’s degree in Oriental Studies.' (Debka)

Changes in the CIA. In from the Cold reports: 'Indeed, the CIA of the future will be a shadow of its former self (no pun intended). Much of its analytical function will eventually move to other organizations, such as the National Intelligence Council--which works directly for the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte--or the recently-established National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC). Both are seen as more logical homes for much of the analytical capabilities that once resided at Langley, when the CIA chief also led the nation's intelligence community.' Spook86 predicts resistance to incoming Director George Hayden's reforms, but expresses confidence that Hayden is the man for the job. Full analysis at the link. (In from the Cold)

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.


Euston Manifesto Makes the BBC

Dreams Into Lightning congratulates Norm Geras and the writers of the Euston Manifesto for upholding the highest values of the British and European liberal tradition - and getting a spot in the BBC News:
A pub on the Euston Road in London was the venue for a document that has caused quite a stir in political circles in Britain and the United States.

The document, called the Euston Manifesto, was drawn up in a series of meetings at O'Neill's, opposite the British Library and not far from Euston station.

It is set for a public launch on 25 May (not at the pub), but it has already been published and extensively discussed on the internet, where it had its origins.

It was drafted by a veteran left-wing academic, Norman Geras, professor emeritus in politics at Manchester University. Geras runs his own blogsite called normblog.

"We wanted to declare support for values that are being compromised," he told me.

"We did not want a socialist document but one which would appeal to others who are liberal and democrats.

"For example, it is quite regular to read about terrorism that 'Yes, putting bombs on buses is bad, but you need to understand it'.

"The word 'understand' has two meanings. It means to explain and to condone - and that 'but' often tends to condone the act."

And then there's a lot of blah-blah about whether the Euston group should be ashamed of the support of neo-cons like Bill Kristol, and predictable rejoinders from the New Statesman and the Guardian. Never mind, go read the article anyway.

Here's why the Euston Manifesto matters. There are many matters of governance on which reasonable people can reasonably disagree - Great Society vs. Small Government, and so on. But these conversations can only take place when there is common ground and a set of shared values and interests. By isolating itself in a shrill, nihilistic orgy of radicalism, the Left not only sabotages itself; it also deprives the greater society of the benefit of a constructive critique.

Whether or not you agree with the social/economic program of the Euston Manifesto, remember that it is an important step toward the renewal of true debate in the Western world - an all-important, intellectual "commons" that seems very much in danger these days.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Jack Straw Is Out

Free Iran News reports, with no great sorrow, that Jack Straw has been dismissed as the Blair government's foreign secretary:

Our most dangerous enemy His Excellency! Jack (Without) Straw got the boot that he deserved.
Please read the following.


From: Ramin EtebarSent: Friday, May 05, 2006 4:44 PM
To: Subject: Tony Blair Fires Foreign Secretary-Jack Straw
Importance: High

Jack Mo-Straw is fired

Ex-Marxist and one of the Leftover Neo-Liberal Old Europe anti-US diplomat who provided direct and indirect support to Islamists terrorists occupied Iran and other anti-American radicals, is now down to toilet of the history. During his time in the office, most of the terrorist groups and groups responsible for 9/11 disaster, were flourished in England.

The UK - and the left faction of the Labour party in particular - are seen by many Iranian activists as collaborators with the islamist regime in Tehran.

AP via Yahoo:
Stung by an election defeat, Tony Blair shuffled his Cabinet on Friday and replaced Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in an attempt to save his own political future and shore up support to tackle crises in Iran and Iraq.

Straw had privately expressed doubts about the Iraq war to his boss and publicly took a different stance on Iran. He described military action against Tehran as "inconceivable," something neither Blair nor President Bush would say, and called reports that the Bush administration has contingency plans for a tactical nuclear strike "nuts."

Margaret Beckett, a Blair loyalist who has been serving as environment secretary, takes over the Foreign Office, becoming Britain's first female foreign secretary.

Charles Clarke has been sacked as home secretary in the biggest Cabinet reshuffle of Tony Blair's career. The prime minister is trying to regain momentum after one of the worst local election results in Labour's history.

Mr Clarke will be replaced by Defence Secretary John Reid. Margaret Beckett is the new foreign secretary, with Jack Straw becoming Commons leader.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Morning Report: May 5, 2006

Iran regime thugs continue misogynist brutality. Iran Focus: 'Iranian authorities have launched a crackdown on “mal-veiling” in society and have stepped up arrests of women caught breaching the Islamic dress code. The new crackdown, which began in mid-April, coincided with a call by Majlis (Parliament) deputies for the adoption of a bill to regulate women’s attire during the hot summer months. ... Penalties for disobeying the dress code are severe. Women caught flouting the code can receive lashes, jail sentences, and large fines.' Photos at the link. Also from Iran Focus: ' Iranian authorities flogged 54 people for attending a mixed-sex party in the northern province of Mazandaran, a state-run daily reported. The men and women were arrested by the “anti-vice police” in a park in the suburbs of the town of Babol as they were partying during the night, the daily Iran wrote on Thursday.' (Iran Focus)

IRI continues anti-spritual, anti-intellectual persecutions. The Iranian regime continued its war against religion by arresting 52 Sufis and their lawyers, Iran Focus reports: 'Dozens of Islamic mystics and their lawyers have been sentenced to jail and flogging, a state-run daily reported on Thursday. Altogether, 52 Islamic mystics, or Sufis, were sentenced to jail time and flogging and received a fine, the daily Kargozaran wrote. They were charged with “disrupting public order”. They were from among 1,000 Sufis who were arrested in February for taking part in anti-government riots in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran. Their two lawyers, Farshid Yadollahi and Omid Behrouzi, were also sentenced to one year behind bars and 74 lashes and fined 10 million Rials ($1,000). Both of the men were also barred from working as lawyers for five years.' Meanwhile, a leading Iranian-Canadian intellectual has been jailed in Iran. The Scotsman reports: 'A prominent Iranian philosopher and writer has been arrested on suspicion of espionage, it was reported yesterday. Iran's judiciary confirmed the arrest, without specifying the charges brought against Ramin Jahanbegloo, who also holds Canadian citizenship. The first high-profile intellectual arrested since the election of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, Jahanbegloo is being held at Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where most of Iran's jailed political dissidents are kept.' BBC: 'A leading Canadian-Iranian intellectual, Ramin Jahanbegloo, has been arrested at the airport in Tehran.
A prominent dissident cleric described Mr Jahanbegloo's arrest as "the height of lawlessness and insecurity". At a gathering to celebrate International Press Freedom Day, Mohsen Kadivar said Mr Jahanbegloo was one of Iran's philosophical journalists. ... Mr Jahanbegloo is a well-known Canadian-Iranian professor with doctorates from the Sorbonne and Harvard University. He has written and edited more than a dozen books on philosophy and political science.' The CBC has this update: 'A friend says former University of Toronto professor Ramin Jahanbegloo, an Iranian-Canadian detained in a prison in Tehran since last week, has been transferred to a hospital. Shahram Kholdi told CBC News on Thursday his contacts in Iran alerted him that Jahanbegloo is in hospital. He is not sure whether the hospital is within the Evin prison, where the writer and philosopher was being held, or is a separate institution. ... Jahanbegloo's family and friends fear he has been tortured. Evin is the prison that Montrealer Zahra Kazemi was trying to photograph when she was arrested on June 23, 2003. Kazemi was beaten so badly by interrogators that she died.' Some sources via Regime Change Iran and Free Iran News Forum. (various)

VDH: The calm before the storm. Victor Davis Hanson at RealClear Politics: 'In the brief present window between Iran's enrichment and its final step to weapons-grade production, we must keep calm and give Ahmadinejad even more rope to hang himself. As his present hysteria grows, exasperated Europeans or jittery neighbors in the region may even prod the U.S. to take action - indeed, to be a little more unilateral and preemptive in letting the Iranians know that their acquisition of a nuclear weapon will never happen.'

Is hanging too good for him? "You're slowly hung," in the words of a former Supermax inmate quoted at AmbivaBlog. For more on Moussaui's new home, go to the link. (AmbivaBlog)

Debka: US says it's on Zarqawi's trail. A current bulletin at Debka reports: 'The US military in Iraq says it is hot on the heels of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Documents and an unedited video of him were found in a rural hideout near Baghdad. Spokesman Maj.-Gen Rick Lynch said Thursday that al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq was throwing all his resources into attacks in Baghdad and was probably somewhere south of the capital where US forces this week launched a series of raids. “We believe it is only a matter of time until Zarqawi is taken down.” He told reporters. “It’s not if, but when.” ' (Debka)

COMMENTARY: The fraying fabric (and nerves) of Middle Eastern islamo-fascism can be clearly seen in today's items. Moussaoui won't get his virgins; he will be left to literally rot in a Rocky Mountain panopticon. He will be sealed away like the toxic waste that he is. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran's one-trick pony, can only re-hash the same song and dance routine for so long. Terrorizing women and torturing Canadian writers are old acts, and they'll provide scant security for the IRI regime in the months to come.

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.


Night Flashes

Contemplating Israeli recognition of Palestinian statehood, The Belmont Club argues that 'Israel is paying its neighbors back in their own coin. By shutting itself in it is radiating the Dream of Palestine out. And whether or not Israel can rest securely behind its fortifications, Glick is probably correct in saying that the Olmert withdrawal will threaten both Egypt and Jordan; as well as create (in my view) an immense financial burden for the UN and the European Union' ... Mudville Gazette has the latest on Zarqawi's cinematic advnetures ... Tammy Bruce wonders "Did Moussaoui win?" and reflects on the death penalty ... and Marian at Eight Drunken Immortals is not keen on giving a certain someone a French vacation ... DCat sounds off ...

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.

Morning Report: May 4, 2006

Moussaoui to die with a whimper. AP via Yahoo: 'U.S. Judge Leonie Brinkema sent Zacarias Moussaoui to prison for life Thursday, to "die with a whimper," for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. ... A day earlier, a jury rejected the government's case to have Moussaoui executed, deciding instead to should spend life in prison with no chance of parole. Not all jurors were convinced that Moussaoui, who was in jail on immigration charges Sept. 11, had a significant part in the attacks, despite his boastful claims that he did. ... Brinkema firmly refused to be interrupted by the 37-year-old defendant as she disputed his declaration from a day earlier: "America, you lost. ... I won." "Mr. Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun ... hear the birds ... and they can associate with whomever they want," she said. She went on: "You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It's absolutely clear who won." And she said it was proper he will be kept away from outsiders, unable to speak publicly again. "Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory," she said, "but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper." ' Full article at the link. (AP via Yahoo)

Of cats, dogs, and bloggers. The blogger formerly known as Wretchard the Cat discusses the pros and cons of pseudonymous blogging: 'There's now a movement in the blogosphere to discourage pseudonymous blogging; the argument being that people will write more responsibly when signing under their own names. Let me play Devil's Advocate and assert that bylined blogging may in fact lead to the very opposite: a condition of shrill, polemical writing where the ad hominem attacks will become commonplace. When I used to write anonymously only my arguments mattered. If they were persuasive they persuaded; if they were ridiculous they were held up to contempt. But there were no hard feelings because it was the arguments themselves that bore the weight of both praise and opprobrium. There was no ego to puff up or to be bruised. ...' (Belmont Club)

UN drafts resolution on Iranian nuclear program. Iran Focus: 'Despite the objections of Russia and China, the U.S., Britain and France introduced a draft Security Council resolution Wednesday that would legally compel Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment activities. The resolution does not call for specific consequences if Iran does not comply, but makes clear that sanctions will be the next step. It demands that Iran "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development" and calls on nations to prevent the transfer of materials for Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The draft cites Chapter VII of the U.N. charter, which authorizes punitive action for matters designated to be threats to international security. "This resolution does not deal with sanctions," said U.S. Ambassador John Bolton. But he said if Iran did not "back away," the council stood ready to impose targeted sanctions banning Iranian leaders' international travel, freezing their assets and restricting some imports.' (LA Times via Iran Focus)

Sudan-Iran nuke deal? A current headline at Debka asserts: 'Sudan’s Bashir agrees to store sensitive Iranian nuclear equipment - including P-2 centrifuges - against potential military strikes.' (Debka)

Cross-posted at Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.


Days Go By

Yesterday, another picture-perfect day in Portland. Today, cloudy, but that's cool too. Spent last night and this morning clearing trash and junk out of the apartment. Today's goal: spend some quality time on creative writing (after I finish procrastinating and doodling around on LJ!).

Found a few of Stephanie's old books: 'The Western Wind', a book about writing poetry; a biography of Ken Kesey by Barry Leeds, autographed by the author; and 'The Recognitions' by William Gaddis. 'The Recognitions' and John Gardner's 'The Sunlight Dialogues' were two of Stephanie's favorite novels, along with several classics of the Beat movement such as Kerouac's 'On the Road'. I never shared Stephanie's appreciation for the Beats, but I did enjoy Gardner's short stories; I especially remember one (based on an event in Gardner's own life) about a boy who accidentally kills his brother with a piece of farm machinery.

Somehow, I was spared the passion for "intensity at any price" that so consumed Stephanie. What I'm left with instead is this obsessive sense of mission, or simply of duty, to try to put it all together, to make sense of the puzzle. All I'm left with is the pieces.


New URL: Official Rollout

I posted on this earlier, but now I'm making it official ... the new home for Dreams Into Lightning is here:
Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad

Posting here at Blogger will continue but the TypePad site is now the primary one. All new material will be posted there first. I'm keeping this Blogger account active as a backup, but I encourage you to bookmark the new site. That URL is:

See you there!

Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad.