Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sudanese president unclear on the concept

The concept of the carrot and the stick, that is.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Saturday condemned the United States for pursuing sanctions against his country over Darfur, the BBC quoted Sudan TV as reporting.

"We are amazed why USA is continuing with sanctions after a time when we agreed with the U.N. on the heavy support package," he said.

Why? Because agreeing is not the same as following through.

Sudan agreed on June 12 to a combined United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops and police, but many diplomats doubt Khartoum will keep its word.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week accused the Khartoum government of repeatedly breaking its promises to end the violence in the remote western region of Darfur.

Rice also said Sudan must face "consequences" -- code for new U.N. sanctions -- if it failed to allow the force in.

"Will these sanctions return the displaced and refugees to their villages? Will these sanctions help in providing services to the people?" Bashir asked during a live media conference.

How about, you let the displaced and refugees return to their villages and stop slaughtering them, Mr. President, and then you won't have to worry about the sanctions?

What clues do you need?

The authorities in the UK don't seem to be very imaginative in predicting terror threats.

Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Willie Rae confirmed the attack was being linked to two car bombs found in London on Friday.

He also revealed a suspect taken to the city's Royal Alexandra Hospital was found to have a suspect device on him....

"There was no prior intelligence to suggest that Scotland was going to be the target of a terror attack," he added.

How about this: the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a Scotsman -- what additional clues would you need to know that Scotland would be a prime target for a terror attack?

As they will do with every change of government in the West, the Islamofascists will test the resolve of the new administration with terror attacks. Clinton was tested with the first World Trade Center bombing and the Mogadishu Black Hawk Down incident, and Clinton proved wholly spineless. Bush was tested with the 9/11 attack, and proved resolute. Spain was tested with the 3/11 attacks and proved spineless. Britain will be tested again and again, and one hopes that they will pass each test.

The beacon of hope for the Muslim masses: Israel

Israel has one more thing in common with the USA: illegal immigrants streaming across its southern border.

Egyptian border guards on Saturday arrested six Sudanese, one Somalian and one Eritrean as they were trying to illegally cross from Egypt into Israel, a police official said.

The Sudanese men, who were from the war-torn Darfur region, were attempting to enter Israel in an effort to seek political asylum there, the police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Somalian and Eritrean men wanted to cross the border for job opportunities in Israel, the official said.

The eight men, who were all in their 20s, paid thousands of dollars to human traffickers in the central Sinai Peninsula to help them cross, the official said. After their arrests, the eight were taken to Cairo in order to deport them to their home countries, according to the official.

This, more than anything else, is the shame of the Arab world. As wealthy as many Arab countries are, as much as they preach pan-Islamic brotherhood, the place that shines as a beacon of hope and freedom to the desperate Muslim masses is Israel.

A-bombing Nagasaki "couldn't be helped"

Japan's defense minister acknowledges the inevitability of the use of the A-bomb to end World War II.

Japan's defense minister said Saturday that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States during World War II was an inevitable way to end the war, drawing criticism from atomic bomb survivors.

"I understand that the bombing ended the war, and I think that it couldn't be helped," Kyuma said in a speech at a university in Chiba, just east of Tokyo.

The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II, in the world's only nuclear attacks.

Kyuma, who is from Nagasaki, said the bombing caused great suffering in the city. Part of his speech was aired by public broadcaster NHK.

He also said he did not resent the U.S. because the bombs prevented the Soviet Union from entering the war with Japan, according to Kyodo News agency.

In time of total war, a government that has a weapon that offers the hope of ending the conflict abruptly is irresponsible not to use it. The use of the A-bomb likely saved the lives of tens of thousands of Japanese civilians, compared to the campaigns of conventional and incendiary bombings that would have been necessary instead. The Japanese defense minister merely acknowledges this imperative, without

Basque terrorists desperate for the limelight

For people who hate and fear swine so deeply, the Islamofascist terrorists sure are attention hogs. Over in Spain, the Basque terrorist group ETA really hates to be ignored.

Police have used a controlled explosion to detonate a suspicious package at Spain's Ibiza airport shortly authorities evacuated the building.

Spain's airport authority closed the airport, on one of the country's most popular holiday islands, after a telephoned bomb warning in the name of the Basque separatist movement ETA.

Europa Press news agency, quoting witnesses, said that an explosion of "medium strength" rocked the airport following its evacuation.

A spokeswoman for the AENA airport authority, which controls Spain's airports, said the airport had been closed to outgoing and incoming flights due to a security alert but would not say if it was a bomb alert.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 people were evacuated from the building.

advertisementThe websites of Spanish dailies El Mundo and La Vanguardia said three warnings had been received by Basque newspaper Gara, which the separatist group often uses as a conduit for bomb warnings.

The irony of the Basque separatist terror is that it is aimed at liberating the Basque homeland from Spanish rule -- so that it can become a vassal state of the EU, ruled from Brussels. The Catalans have a much better plan, in that they are getting all of the benefits of home rule without the messy bloodshed and boring paperwork.

This is what we must expect

Eyewitnesses to the Glasgow Airport attack tell of the driver of the Jeep hitting the barrier posts outside the terminal, reversing and ramming the posts again -- all while he was on fire -- the passenger getting out with a lit Molotov cocktail, attempting to firebomb the interior of the terminal -- and the driver, his flaming clothing having just been extinguished by airport staff, attempting to retrieve more firebombs from the trunk of the car and requiring at least four police officers to restrain him. The eyewitness to the latter (who helped knock the driver to the ground) describes him as muttering 'gibberish' -- forgive me for leaping to a conclusion here, but I would bet pounds to pence that the 'gibberish' was Arabic prayer. The sheer fanaticism that enabled a severely burned man to ignore his pain and injuries and to focus on his mission of murder is truly awesome (in the sense of terror-inspiring).

Friday, June 29, 2007

UN Secretary-General shows a bit of backbone

Ban Ki-Moon has shown a willingness to do things Kofi Annan never could, like point out obvious facts of basic reality.

In a report to the Security Council on implementation of the resolution that ended last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, Ban said the reports "constitute a major impediment to the establishment of a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution" that would bring peace to Lebanon.

The report was issued three days after a U.N.-appointed team said security along the Lebanon-Syria border is insufficient to prevent arms smuggling and Lebanon should quickly establish a mobile force to intercept any flow of weapons.

In the latest report, Ban said Lebanon informed him that on June 6, four trucks were seen by the Lebanese armed forces traveling from Al-Kafeer in Syria to Lebanon, ultimately to an outpost of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian in Jabal al-Maaysara. Each truck carried two vehicles mounted with 40-barrel rocket launchers, he said.

At the same time, he said, Israel claims Syria and Iran are transferring "sophisticated weaponry" across the Lebanon-Syria border every week, including long-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense systems. Israel says this has enabled Hezbollah "to rearm to the same levels as before last year's war or beyond," but has not provided evidence, he said.

Syria "has denied any involvement in effecting breaches of the arms embargo," Ban said.

Nonetheless, the secretary-general said, Syria, Iran and other regional states "have a particular responsibility to ensure that the provisions related to the arms embargo" in the August 2006 resolution that ended the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict are fully respected.

"The Syrian Arab Republic, in particular, has a shared responsibility in controlling its borders with Lebanon ... including in safeguarding against breaches of the arms embargo," Ban said.

He'll need to go a bit farther than naming and shaming Syria and Iran, though -- everyone already knew they were up to no good, and neither of them is capable of shame. However, it's generally true that members of the Security Council don't like to see their resolutions baldly flouted. Ban may be able to get Ruaaia and China to see that Syria and Iran are making these would-be superpowers lose face.

In case you were worried about a world without Jimmy Carter

Former president Bill Clinton tends to forget what country he was president of. Speaking in the Ukraine, he gave another shining example.

Clinton said the defense system, parts of which are to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, had created unnecessary difficulties with Russia, which denounces the plan as an attempt to undermine its defense capabilities.

"My facts may be wrong, but my impression is that we are creating a crisis here when none is necessary," Clinton told a conference in the Ukrainian resort of Yalta on the ex-Soviet state's relationship with Europe.

"Because I don't think the missile defense system is reliable enough to create an impact."

He suggested it was more logical to return to the reasoning of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's long abandoned "star wars" projects of the 1980s intended to counter hostile missile systems.

"He wanted the Russians to have it, he wanted everyone to have it," he told the conference. "Unless they work better than I think they do, it's a colossal waste of money."

Given the cost to rebuild even one city devastated by a nuclear missile strike, it would be a colossal waste of money not to implement a defense against Iranian missiles. (And by the way, the missile defense systems continually improve, so Clinton's intel on their capabilities is way out of date.) But what do you expect from a man who couldn't see the cost-benefit of taking out Osama Bin Laden after the first of his many attacks on U.S. lives and assets, rather than waiting for an attack so big it couldn't be swept under the carpet?

Nice to know that when ol' Jimmah goes to his final reward, Slick Willie will still be around to sell out the United States to its enemies.

Bombers don't need Baghdad as a training ground

Right. The Muslim terrorists in Britain really needed to go to Baghdad to learn how to make the crudest of bombs.

This is what has been expected and feared for some months - that terror tactics honed on the streets of Baghdad would be visited on London and other Western targets.

The police and security services have been preparing for a vehicle-borne attack using either a car or, in the worst case scenario, a hijacked petrol or chemical tanker.

Earlier this year Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner warned that “vehicle borne weaponry is the greatest danger that we can face”.

Counter-terrorism Command confirmed recently that it has been conducting security spot checks on tanker vehicles entering London for more than a year.

British security agencies are well aware that many young British Muslims have travelled to Iraq and Afghanistan to join the mujahidin and some of those who survive will return here with terrorist expertise.

Anyone remember Alfred Herrhausen? In 1989, the head of Deutsche Bank was assassinated by the Red Army Faction using a roadside bomb with an explosively-formed projectile. So far as I am aware, the Iraq War started some 13-plus years after that event.

Not only that, but the tactics of suicide and roadside bombing were honed by Muslim terrorists on the streets of Jerusalem and other Israeli cities in the 1990s -- in the wake of the Oslo Peace Accords.

Ozzie! Ozzie! Ozzie! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Most Australians are into eco-tourism, extreme tourism, or plain old tourism. There is a distinct minority, however, who are into terro-tourism.

AUSTRALIANS are continuing to travel overseas to engage in terrorist activity or training, often encouraged by radical Islamic figures who preach to "vulnerable and susceptible people," according to Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.

Despite concerted efforts to fight local radicalism over the past few years, Mr Ruddock said evidence showed Australians were still going abroad to engage in extremist activity.

"I don't think there is any evidence to suggest that we have discouraged people from doing so," he told The Age.

"But in terms of the actual numbers and where they are going, for me to reveal that would be contrary to the interests of national security."

His comments come as Australian officials continue to press Lebanese authorities over the arrests last week of at least four Australian-Lebanese men by military forces targeting Islamic militants in the north of the country.

I imagine they have their own travel agency website -- I don't recall seeing terror vacations as a category on Expedia, or even Orbitz.

Boycott the 'Myanmar' junta - regime change in Burma

When the International Committee of the Red Cross makes public criticisms of a nation, you know things there are so bad, they're almost hopeless. They're speaking out now about Burma, the self-styled "Myanmar":

Thousands of prisoners are being forced to work as porters for the armed forces - depriving them of food, and in some cases, killing them - the agency said.

And communities living along Burma's border with Thailand - where the military is fighting ethnic rebels - are being deliberately targeted by troops, the statement said.

Soldiers are accused of destroying food stocks, making arbitrary arrests and, again, in some cases killing civilians, forcing thousands to flee their villages.

All of these things, the ICRC said, have been witnessed by its staff, or documented by them in private interviews with civilians.

"Despite repeated entreaties by the ICRC, the authorities have consistently refused to enter into a serious discussion of these abuses with a view to putting a stop to them," Mr Kellenberger said.

"The continuing deadlock... has led the ICRC to take the exceptional step of making its concerns public."

Last October several ICRC offices were closed by the Burmese authorities, and ICRC delegates were forbidden to make prison visits.

The last time the ICRC spoke out this forcefully was about the genocide in Rwanda. They must think the situation in Burma is dire.

Bio-fuel is an eco-disaster

How was this not completely predictable?

The charity Grain says there has been a stampede towards biofuels - an alcohol-based fuel made from crops and trees planted on a large scale - as a 'greener' alternative to fossil fuels.

But it claims that some biofuels are as damaging as traditional fuels and there is hardly any saving on carbon emissions.

For its hard-hitting report Grain claims it has gathered material from around the world and concluded that the rush to biofuels is causing enormous environmental and social damage, "The numbers involved are mind-boggling. The Indian government is talking of planting 14 million hectares of land with jatropha.

"The Inter-American Development Bank says that Brazil has 120 million hectares that could be cultivated with agrofuel crops; and an agrofuel lobby is speaking of 379 million hectares being available in 15 African countries. We are talking about expropriation on an unprecedented scale," the report states.

Grain claims even the term biofuel is wrong and misleading and should instead be called agrofuel in that it is being taken over by big business and exploited as another commodity.

In Latin America, Asia and Africa, the report claims, the push for agrofuels is leading to the reintroduction of the old colonial plantation system at the expense of indigenous farming systems and local communities.

When it becomes commercially viable to convert cellulose to ethanol (or other fuel chemicals) directly, or when such sustainable crops as peach palm become the basis for biofuels, then they'll make sense as a technology for converting sunlight into usable energy for transportation.

MSNBC Journalist Burns and Shreds Paris Hilton Story

One journalist with integrity still exists in America....

That dashed British foreign policy

It has become received wisdom that Arabs living in Britain believe that British foreign policy has made the UK a target for terrorism (the implication that British foreign policy is horribly unjust and murderous toward Arabs and Muslims). Here is a quote from an Arab resident of Britain who turns that argument on its ear.

London reacts to car bomb find
Police have disabled a car bomb containing gas cylinders in the heart of central London. The BBC News website asked people working and living in London about their safety concerns.

Rami Harb, 36, doctor, from Camden

Rami Harb
When you hear about something like this, you become more cautious about going out.

I escaped the car bombs in Lebanon to come to London but I still think this is a safe city.

We don't yet know who is behind this but the UK has become a target because of its efforts to promote democracy abroad.

It sounds to me like Dr. Harb believes that terrorists are evil people who resent the idea that Britain is trying to make life better for people around the world. (Of course, I could be wrong -- perhaps he feels democracy is a bad thing. But I doubt it.)

How to become an instant multi-millionaire

Just take fifty bucks to Zimbabwe.

Yes, Prime Minister... there really are terrorists in London

A gift for the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who's been in office for under 48 hours:

Police have defused a bomb found in a car parked in London's West End.

Explosives officers were called to The Haymarket, in the heart of theatreland and close to Regent Street's popular shopping area, following reports of a suspicious vehicle left there.

They discovered a "potentially viable explosive device" which they made safe.

The area, including Piccadilly Underground station, has been cordoned off and will remain closed for most of the morning, police said.

A terrorism investigation has been launched.

Contrary to rumor, the bomb in question was not the new stage production of The Lord of the Rings: The Musical.

The BBC has more:

One police source said the bomb was a "big device" and posed a real and substantial threat to the area around The Haymarket, which is in London's theatreland.

A witness reported seeing gas canisters being removed from the car, believed to be a silver Mercedes, at around 0400 BST (O300 GMT).

Bouncers from a nearby nightclub said they saw the car being driven erratically before it crashed into a bin. They said the driver then got out and ran off.

The authorities are taking this very seriously and it's disrupting life in London:

Police say The Haymarket is likely to remain closed for some time and severe travel disruption is predicted.

Piccadilly Circus Tube station is closed and trains are not stopping, while local bus services are being diverted.

The BBC's Daniela Relph, at the scene, said the heart of London was completely closed off and police officers were concentrating on keeping people away.

Thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Catch a falling Qassam and put it in your pocket...

Always thinking, that's me. It occurred to me that Israel could protect the towns near Gaza from Qassam fire with a high-tech net of high-tensile material, suspended from a series of barrage balloons, so that the missiles would hit the net and either detonate prematurely or be forced to fall short of the population centers.

While looking around for information to confirm or disprove the feasibility of my idea, I came across this really cool post on Ares, the defense tech blog of Aviation Week and Space Technology:

May 16, 2007

One of the biggest threats when fighting asymmetric wars against insurgents -- especially in urban environments -- is posed by the ubiquitous RPG-7 family of rocket-propelled anti-armor weapons. The Netherlands-based TNO Defense, Security and Safety research lab is developing a deceptively simple protection system against RPG-7 attacks: a net.

Specially-designed, specifically-dimensioned, X-knotted and manufactured from advanced superstrong fibers, sure. But still "just" a net.

Nevertheless, TNO claims it has the potential to provide armored vehicles with 90% protection against these deadly missiles, at little cost and almost no extra weight on the vehicle.

The net interacts with an incoming RPG-7 projectile in such a way that it "strangles" and damages the electrical circuit in the nose section. That prevents the electrical pulse sent by the piezo-electric impact fuze in the nose of the RPG-7 round from reaching the detonator, placed further aft.

And that, in turn, means that the shaped charge warhead, which has the capability to penetrate up to 40 cm of steel armor, does not fire.

By passing through the net, the projectile effectively becomes a dud that slams and disintegrates against the vehicle's armor. Any vehicle with an armor level sufficient to protect against small arms fire will be able to survive this impact.

Turns out the net is already in use on fixed installations -- observation posts, mainly -- in Afghanistan. TNO is developing a version to protect vehicles.

Well, if the nets work in protecting fixed targets from RPG fire, it should be possible to extend the principle and elevate it to an altitude band that effectively makes a Qassam hit on a given Israeli town impractical. It's worth a shot, anyway.

Since the TNO people seem to be pretty clever, here's a link to their 2006 Annual Review.

Egypt takes a big step out of the Dark Ages

Egypt permanently bans "female circumcision" (more accurately, female genital mutilation).

On Thursday, Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali decided to ban every doctor and member of the medical profession, in public or private establishments, from carrying out a clitoridectomy, a ministry press official told AFP.

Any circumcision "will be viewed as a violation of the law and all contraventions will be punished," said the official, adding that it was a "permanent ban".

A survey in 2000 said the practice was carried out on 97 percent of the country's women.

Will this change the mentality of Egyptian women who have millennia of cultural conditioning to believe that this practice is necessary for their daughters' upbringing?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Still no Palestinian partner

I was willing to suspend judgment about the rush by Israel, the US, the EU, Egypt and Jordan to support Abbas as a counterweight to Hamas's takeover of Gaza. But the latest news out of the area demonstrates that Abbas is either unwilling or incapable -- or both -- of ending the armed intifada and negotiating with Israel on the basis of mutually recognized rights and responsibilities.

Overnight Tuesday, troops from the Givati Brigade, backed by tanks and attack helicopters, entered the southern Gaza Strip near the Sufa Crossing and began searching homes on the outskirts of Khan Yunis for terror suspects. Simultaneously, ground forces swept into an area near the Karni Crossing and began searching for tunnels and explosive devices.

Clashes erupted immediately and, in what sources in the Southern Command said was "fierce resistance," the Palestinians, some affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, fired anti-tank missiles at the incoming troops.

Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded during the operation near Karni when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile.

"The troops only went two kilometers deep into Gaza," a source in the Southern Command said. "And, as can be seen from the resistance, the terrorists were heavily deployed near the border, waiting to attack."

In a report strongly denied by the IDF, the Palestinians claimed that an IAF aircraft bombed a car and killed Ra'ad Fanuna, a high-ranking Islamic Jihad operative implicated in manufacturing Kassam rockets and firing them at the western Negev.

The IDF said that it was not behind the attack. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) refused to comment.

Islamic Jihad vowed revenge for the death of Fanuna, who had been wanted by Israel.

Palestinians also claimed that four people were killed, including a child, by a tank shell which hit a home in the Gaza City neighborhood of Sajaya. The IDF denied the report. The army did confirm, however, that troops had killed a number of gunmen in the area.

Also Wednesday, six Kassam rockets fired from northern Gaza landed in and around Sderot, and eight mortars landed in open areas in the western Negev. No casualties were reported in the attacks.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's office released a statement condemning the IDF operations.

"The crimes that were committed in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli occupation must be strongly condemned," read the statement.

The statement continued: "This bloody escalation, which was initiated by the Israeli government, is a distinct violation of the cease-fire, and will lead to a chain of retaliations and the prolonging of violence."

The PA chairman's office went on to say that "this aggression comes only a single day after the Sharm e-Sheikh summit and calls into question whether Israel really intends to seal an agreement and negotiate to end the occupation."

Let's review: Abbas's Fatah forces in Gaza crumbled in the face of armed assault by Hamas. Abbas's Fatah forces are completely incapable militarily, and Abbas is impotent politically, to act to stop rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into Israel. But Abbas still finds it necessary to condemn Israel for taking the minumum steps necessary to establish security for its civilian populations on the Gaza border.

A better policy at this time would be for Israel to let Abbas and all of the Fatah Old Guard know that it is time for them to retire. Let them have a secure enclave in the West Bank where they will be able to live out their golden years safe from revenge attacks from Hamas and other wings of Fatah, and let new leaders step forward -- ones with the pragmatic vision to recognize Israel's right to exist and the backbone to take on the terrorist militias. (The biggest obstacle to this policy is that such new leaders may not exist -- the next generation of Fatah leadership may be just as corrupt, violent and intransigent as the Old Guard, and more energetic in their attacks on Israel to boot.)

"We deliver to self-contained, self-sufficient habitats anywhere"

Does anyone see a bit of a self-contradiction in this story?

Breathing air provided by algae soaked in his own urine, "aquanaut" Lloyd Godson spent 12 days living in a yellow steel capsule submerged in a flooded gravel pit.

The 29-year-old's claustrophobic ordeal was intended to shed light on the practical and psychological challenges of living in an alien environment.

The 'world's first self-sufficient, self-sustaining underwater habitat'

His temporary home, a 10ft long box, was billed as "the world's first self-sufficient, self-sustaining underwater habitat." Back on dry land, and toasting the success of the experiment with champagne, he admitted to suffering cabin fever.

"It starts to play on your mind a bit after 12 days obviously. You start to get a bit of cabin fever, but you know I handled it surprisingly well. I thought it was going to drive me a bit more nuts than it did."

"It's nice to feel the sunshine on the face and the breeze," Godson said after surfacing from the quarry near Albury, in New South Wales.

The marine biologist used a system of onshore solar panels and a pedal-powered generator to create electricity and recharge his water-proof laptop computer.

He kept an algae garden to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen for breathing.

A team of divers delivered food and drinking water to the sub through a manhole, including a homemade lasagna and freshly barbecued salmon.

Now, if we can just assure that Domino's is able to reach the Mars Mission spacecraft at every point along its journey to and from the Red Planet....

The Spirit of (19)76

Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post invokes the Spirit of Entebbe.

With Cpl. Gilad Schalit being held captive by Palestinians in Gaza for the past year, and the residents of Sderot and the Western Negev dodging Kassam rockets on a daily basis, it is easy to forget that words such as heroism, daring and bravery once exemplified our government's approach towards combating terror.

None of these qualities were on display the other day at Sharm e-Sheikh, of course, where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saw fit to heap concession after concession on the ineffectual and increasingly irrelevant Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

After agreeing to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to the Abbas-led regime, and to strengthen the armed Fatah gangs loyal to him, the premier presented his Palestinian counterpart with an unexpected parting gift.

"As a gesture of goodwill to the Palestinians," Olmert declared, "I decided today that I'll bring to the Israeli government at its next meeting a recommendation to release 250 prisoners from Fatah without blood on their hands."

Then, in what passes for Israeli resolve and determination these days, the premier insisted that the Fatah terrorists would be freed, but only if "they sign commitments not to become involved again in terrorism." Phew. And I thought they would be let go for nothing.

Apparently, it didn't dawn on the Prime Minister to link the release of Palestinian terrorists with freedom for Gilad Schalit, or to condition any further movement on the diplomatic front with progress towards his return home.

Instead, the fact that a young Israeli Jew serving his country was abducted 12 months ago by a group of thugs was treated as if it was a pesky and tiresome nuisance, rather than a substantive and fundamental matter of principle.

In light of the Prime Minister's sorry display, it is especially important that we recall the anniversary of an important event that took place just over three decades ago this week, one which offers us a potent and timely reminder of just how terrorism should truly be fought.

IT WAS 31 years ago today, on June 27, 1976, that armed gunmen from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, together with some German accomplices, hijacked Air France flight 139, diverting it to Libya and then on to the city of Entebbe, in Idi Amin's Uganda.

As the world looked on, the terrorists proceeded to separate out the Jewish and Israeli passengers, threatening to kill them if Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails were not set free.

Back then, however, Israel was not yet in the habit of yielding to terrorist demands. No international summits were convened at Sharm e-Sheikh, no "gestures" were made to the terrorists, nor were any tax receipts transferred into their coffers.

Instead, Israel reacted precisely as it should have, by launching a stunning military raid on July 4, 1976, freeing virtually all the captives and bringing the situation to a sudden and dramatic end.

In one fell swoop, Israel had underlined its role as the sovereign defender of Jews everywhere. An entire generation was inspired to believe that the Jewish people were determined to defend themselves whatever the consequences might be.

The aberration of the Oslo Accords should be left in the dustbin of history. Israel should begin anew to deal with the Palestinians on an equal footing, that is, expecting them to behave as human beings if they want Israel's assistance in creating a state of their own in which to live in peace, and treating them as criminals if they continue to persist in denying Israel the right to live in peace.

Warning: chewy candy may be chewy and require chewing

Poor, poor woman (see the video here).

Starburst Fruit Chews are exactly as their name would indicate: chewy. But one Michigan woman says the candies are so chewy, they should come with a warning label.

Victoria McArthur, of Romero, Mich., is suing Starbursts' parent company, Mars Inc., for more than $25,000 for "permanent personal injuries" she claims she sustained after biting into one of their yellow candy in 2005.

"I don't know, maybe about 3 chews and it literally locked my jaw … and it just literally pulled my jaw out of joint," she told

McArthur's lawyer, Brian Muawad, says the candies caused her to develop a condition known as temporal mandibular joint dysfunction. McArthur says she has had trouble chewing, talking and sleeping since the incident.

Muawad says McArthur offered to negotiate a settlement with Starburst's insurer to pay for her rehabilitation, but the company said no way. A spokesman for Mars refused to comment.

McArthur says she just wants to make sure nobody else meets the same end she did when she decided to indulge her sweetooth.

"I don't want to see anybody else have to go through what I have gone through from eating a piece of candy that was supposed to be soft chew," she said.

Warning label? Hell, Starbursts ought to come with an instruction manual for people like McArthur. Except that would require that she actually know how to read -- perhaps a tall order for someone for whom eating a piece of candy taxes her faculties.

"And what would YOU like?" "No #@$&# apple juice, THAT'S for sure!"

Hard to say whether this is a case of an unstable passenger or overly cautious (or officious) flight attendants.

A man allegedly upset over a long wait for apple juice caused a flight headed to North Carolina to be diverted to Philadelphia.

Officials say the man became irate and used profanity aboard a Delta flight from LaGuardia airport in New York to Greensboro, NC on Tuesday afternoon around 5pm.

The flight was diverted to Philadelphia, where it was determined that the man had become upset over a lengthy wait for some apple juice he had ordered.

Philadelphia police said they won't file any local charges. Later, the FBI said it wouldn't be filing any charges either.

After a thorough investigation, officials say, the incident was determined very minor in nature and no harm was intended.

Fifty-two passengers spent much of the night at the airport until they could be placed on other flights to North Carolina.

One last question: who do the other fifty-two passengers sue for their inconvenience and missed connections?

Reuters headline: Blair gets job, Israel kills Palestinians

Boy, those Israelis are really pissed about Tony Blair, huh? According to this Reuters headline, they're rampaging around like Muslims after a Rushdie knighting!

Blair named Mideast envoy, Israel kills 12 in Gaza
Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:41PM EDT

By Adam Entous

Well, let's see what about Blair's appointment caused Israelis to kill a dozen Palestinians in Gaza.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - World powers named Tony Blair as their Middle East peace envoy on Wednesday, handing the outgoing British prime minister a daunting new challenge on a day Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Quartet of international mediators -- the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia -- made the announcement shortly after Blair handed power to party colleague Gordon Brown. Last-minute Russian hesitation was overcome.

Blair, who led Britain for 10 years, has strong backing from U.S. President George W. Bush. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the appointment as an opportunity to revive stalled peace efforts.

But the Islamist Hamas movement that routed Abbas's secular forces in Gaza two weeks ago, complicating efforts to found a Palestinian state in both the coastal enclave and the inland West Bank, derided Blair as pro-Israeli....

Oh, wait... turns out the Israelis weren't rampaging against the Blair appointment, they were fighting terrorists.

Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians, mostly gunmen but also a 12-year-old boy and other civilians, on Wednesday in the deadliest raid in the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized the territory, medical workers said.

Israel's operation in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis appeared to signal it intended to keep strong military pressure on Hamas along with efforts to isolate the movement financially and politically.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Israeli incursion was part of a "conspiracy in which Abbas is a participant and which is aimed at pressuring Hamas and the people of Gaza".

Four of the nine militants killed in the Israeli operation belonged to Hamas. Gaza residents said gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades and detonated explosive devices in confrontations with Israeli infantry and armour.

Medical workers and residents said a shell fired by an Israeli tank exploded near a house in Gaza City, causing the deaths of the 12-year-old boy and two men. Their bodies were shredded by shrapnel. Residents said the men were civilians.

An Israeli military spokesman said a tank shell fired in Gaza City's Shejaia neighborhood was aimed at a gunman, and he had no information about a house being hit. Residents said tanks in the area later withdrew towards the Israeli frontier.

Two Israeli soldiers were wounded by an anti-tank missile.

Those crazy Reuters headline writers! They're almost as funny as the Reuters photo stringers, aren't they?

"Then I felt the bomb."

An account given by a six-year-old Afghan boy named Juma describes how he was forced to wear a bomb vest by the Taliban and told to blow up Americans.

Juma said that sometime last month Taliban fighters forced him to wear a vest they said would spray out flowers when he touched a button. He said they told him that when he saw American soldiers, "throw your body at them."

The militants cornered Juma in a Taliban-controlled district in southern Afghanistan's Ghazni province. Their target was an impoverished youngster being raised by an older sister - but also one who proved too street-smart for their plan.

"When they first put the vest on my body I didn't know what to think, but then I felt the bomb," Juma told The Associated Press as he ate lamb and rice after being introduced to the elders at this joint U.S.-Afghan base in Ghazni. "After I figured out it was a bomb, I went to the Afghan soldiers for help."

While Juma's story could not be independently verified, local government leaders backed his account and the U.S. and NATO military missions said they believed his story.

Abdul Rahim Deciwal, the chief administrator for Juma's village of Athul, brought the boy and an older brother, Dad Gul, to a weekend meeting between Afghan elders and U.S. Army Col. Martin P. Schweitzer.

Schweitzer called the Taliban's attempt "a cowardly act."

As Deciwal told Juma's story, 20 Afghan elders repeatedly clicked their tongues in sadness and disapproval. When the boy and his brother were brought in, several of the turban-wearing men welled up, wiping their eyes with handkerchiefs.

"If anybody has a heart, then how can you control yourself (before) these kids?" Deciwal said in broken English.

Wallets quickly opened, and the boys were handed $60 in American and Afghan currency - a good chunk of money in a country where teachers and police earn $70 a month.

But the Taliban is indignant that anyone would accuse them of such a thing.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, denied the militant group uses child fighters, saying it has hundreds of adults ready for suicide missions.

"We don't need to use a child," Ahmadi told the AP by satellite phone. "It's against Islamic law, it's against humanitarian law. This is just propaganda against the Taliban."

However, a gory Taliban video that surfaced in April showed militants instructing a boy of about 12 as he beheaded an alleged traitor with a large knife. U.N. officials condemned the act as a war crime.

How on Earth could reasonable people suspect the Taliban of violating either Islamic law or humanitarian law? Oh, I forgot -- it's because they're evil murderers.

Bad news for the mullah-ocracy

Iranians burn a gas station and nearby cars during a protest against gas-rationing, in northwest Tehran June 26, 2007. Angry Iranians set fire to a Tehran petrol station and chanted anti-government slogans in a northwest area of the capital on Tuesday in protest against fuel rationing introduced in OPEC's number two oil producer. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi (IRAN)

Here's an object lesson why socialist programs nominally for the benefit of the poor end up hurting the poor along with everyone else.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Angry Iranians attacked several gas stations in protest after the government suddenly began long-threatened fuel rationing, while many others rushed to fill their tanks....

The Oil Ministry announced the start of rationing Tuesday night, just three hours before it was due to begin at midnight. Some stations in Tehran had lines more than a half-mile long as drivers tried to get one last fill-up before the limitations kicked in....

"Is this good timing, to announce rationing only three hours before it starts?" complained Ahmad Safai, a 30-year-old shopkeeper who was in line. "I had no gas in my car's tank when I heard the report...."

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in the 2005 election based largely on his promises to improve the faltering economy. But his failure to do so has sparked widespread criticism.

"This man Ahmadinejad has damaged all things. The timing of the rationing is just one case," said Reza Khorrami, a 27-year-old teacher who was among those lined up at one Tehran gas station before midnight.

Iran is the second-biggest exporter in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. But because it has low refining capability, it has to import more than 50 percent of its gasoline needs. To keep prices low, the government subsidized gas sales, saddling it with enormous costs.

Under the rationing plan, owners of private cars can buy only 26 gallons of fuel per month at the subsidized price of 38 cents per gallon.

If Iranian drivers are like American drivers (and I bet they are), right about now they're feeling the same love for Ahmadinejad as we used to feel for Jimmy Carter during the 1979 oil crisis (coincidentally caused by another Iranian madman). This could be the beginning of the end for Ahmadinejad's regime.


It got a little ugly, and it may yet get worse:

Iranians smashed shop windows and set fire to a dozen gas stations in the capital Wednesday, angered by the sudden start of a fuel rationing system that threatens to further increase the unpopularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Police were sent to guard some stations after the violence, and there was calm during the day as motorists lined up to fill their tanks under the new restrictions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

UN, meet the UN

Gen. Graziano, commander of UNIFIL forces in Southern Lebanon, gave the Jerusalem Post a robust assessment of security in his sphere of operations -- just a few days before six of his troops were blown to smithereens by a roadside bomb.

'In my area of operations there is no open hostile activity, and we also do not see a rearmament happening,' he said. 'We are physically patrolling every corner of southern Lebanon, and if there were a bunker [system], we would have found it.'

Someone at the UN should talk to someone at the UN:

Security along the Lebanon-Syria border is insufficient to prevent arms smuggling and Lebanon should quickly establish a mobile force to intercept any flow of weapons, a UN-appointed team said in a report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The 46-page "Report of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team" said management of the border is currently shared by four different Lebanese security agencies that do not coordinate operations or planning, and do not share intelligence.

In addition, it said, most of Lebanon's border posts are far from the border, are not fenced or secured by gates, and operate with no obvious procedures to determine which goods to inspect - and which people to question.

"Therefore, the ingenious smuggler may find it quite easy to conceal not only explosives, light weapons and ammunition, but also assembled and unassembled heavy weaponry, such as missiles and rockets into the country concealed in compartments and panels of cargo trucks and passenger vehicles," the team said.

Unless and until Gen. Graziano fulfills his mandate to stop weapons from flowing into Southern Lebanon, he's going to preside over quite a few more funeral ceremonies for his men.

"We die again"

While the world's attention is diverted by Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza... the killing that has claimed as many as 4 million lives in Congo continues.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has seen more than its share of killing, but despite a new democratically elected government and a war that has been officially over for four years, the bloodshed and sexual violence continues. Yet news of the turmoil rarely seems to reach beyond Africa.

In the most recent incident, 18 civilians, including six children, were killed in a nighttime raid in three villages in the Walungu region of volatile eastern Congo on May 26.

Victims of the attack in Walungu
(Picture provided to Hot Zone by
photographer wishing to remain

Another 29 people were seriously wounded and 12 others kidnapped in the attack, according to a spokesman for United Nations peacekeeping forces there.

The UN blamed the massacre on a dozen men from the Rwandan Hutu rebel group known by its French acronym FDLR, or the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

The FDLR is made up of Hutu members of the former Rwanda Army (defeated by Tutsis now in charge in Rwanda) and the Interahamwe militia, a Hutu paramilitary organization which was largely responsible for planning and carrying out the 1994 Rwandan genocide and whose members fled into the jungles of Eastern Congo in the aftermath.

UN military officials believe there are at least 10,000 FDLR Hutu rebels in eastern Congo. The UN's largest peacekeeping force in the world, 17,000 troops, is based in the DRC with most in eastern Congo. Together with DRC government soldiers, they've conducted numerous offensives to root out the Rwandan Hutu rebels, but with marginal success so far.

Local news reports say the May 26 attackers in Walungu left notes on the bodies of those they killed, stating the massacre was in retaliation for a UN/DRC offensive against them that began in April. They also vowed to return.

Witnesses also say the attackers were wearing the uniforms of DRC government troops and killed many of their victims while they slept, using machetes, sticks, knives and guns. They fled when a UN patrol reportedly fired on them as they were entering the third village.

The FDLR's leader denies the rebels were responsible, saying the group has never attacked civilian populations. He's called for an investigation into the killings.

The United Nations is not capable of dealing with this type of evil. It lacks the political will and the military might. Those who think the new UN deployment to Darfur (assuming it actually happens) will solve the conflict there are sadly deluded.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I know the game can be brutal, but this is a bit extreme.

A dispute over a game of Yahtzee ended in a fatal stabbing, police said.

Mark Kelvin Allen, 49, was playing the dice game with 47-year-old Edith Elliot at her home in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood on Saturday night, an arrest report said. They began to argue and Elliott went into a bedroom with her 49-year-old boyfriend.

Allen kicked in the door, scuffled with the boyfriend and then stabbed him twice, police said. The man, whose name is not being released until his relatives can be notified, later died at a hospital.

Allen was charged with second-degree murder and was being held without bond Monday, according to jail records. Jail records did not list a lawyer for him.

No one ever takes Elton John's warning seriously.

Dear Suzuki, deer sushi?

It has finally come to pass.

Sushi chefs are considering using raw deer and even horse meat because of an international shortage of tuna.

Could a Bambi roll be in your future?

Spiralling demand for the fish coupled with shrinking supplies have prompted a culinary crisis in Japan, where tuna is regarded as the height of seafood perfection.

Sushi restaurateurs in Tokyo say they are now visiting restaurants in New York and Washington to hunt for solutions if and when Japan is no longer able to indulge its tuna craving.

Tadashi Yamagata, vice chairman of Japan’s national union of sushi chefs, told the New York Times: “It’s like America running out of steak.”

This was foretold. Here is rare footage of an early Japanese culinary experiment with raw deer.

This is socialized medicine

When the Government acts as the single payer for health care, it also acts as the sole decider of what health care it will pay for. If you find that it won't pay for a treatment that you believe is vital to your quality of life, what can you do? Sue.

In the first ever High Court challenge of its kind, a judge was urged to force the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), to reconsider its block on the drugs for those newly diagnosed with the disease.

If successful, the case, brought by the drug company Eisai and backed by the Alzheimer's Society, could precipitate a flood of legal actions from patients refused other drugs on the NHS by Nice.

Nice decided last year that Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon - three acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) - should no longer be made available on the NHS to patients in the early stages of the disease.

At a cost of £2.50 a day, the drugs were too expensive when weighed against the benefits to patients with mild Alzheimer's, it said.

But, as the case got underway, Alzheimer's sufferers and their carers protested outside the court claiming the drugs had given them "a stay of execution" and the effect of taking them was "like a fog being lifted."

Inside, Mrs Justice Dobbs heard that Keith Turner, 68, a former chiropodist from Hastings, East Sussex, who was diagnosed in April 2004 and prescribed Aricept, claimed: "It's given me back my life. It's given me back my independence."

"Life was slipping away so fast. But that has all now changed because of this drug", he said in a written statement.

His wife said: "Without a shadow of doubt this one-a-day drug has given us our lives back to the full."

It was "abhorrent and disgusting" that Nice was suggesting that carers like her would be better off in terms of health and quality of life the sooner their sick relative went into care, she said in a statement.

"Even when Keith deteriorates - as we accept he ultimately will - each day we live together at home will be a day we cherish and value," she added.

"Christianized medicine," my foot.

Fashion faux pas

Poor Cameron Diaz! You can't go anywhere these days without offending someone.

Cameron Diaz apologized Sunday for wearing a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated "Shrek" films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes on Friday wearing an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the People" printed in Chinese, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous political slogan.

The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some world capitals, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.

"I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it," Diaz said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

How could she have known? She lives in a world where Che Guevara is a brand, not a Communist mass murderer.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Does releasing terrorists make them nicer people?

No better time to consider the wisdom "look before you leap" than this:

SPECULATION is growing that Israel may stage a dramatic U-turn and release the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti as part of a move to stabilise the West Bank.

Barghouti, 48, is serving five life terms in an Israeli jail for killing five people and belonging to a militant organisation, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

Fluent in Hebrew and English, and viewed by many Israelis as a pragmatist who favours negotiations with the Jewish state, he has enormous popularity in the Palestinian street. Many international experts see him as the best hope for peace in the area.

Barghouti would be the odds-on favorite to become the next President of the Palestinian Authority.

Polls carried out last week by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research revealed that if new presidential elections were held today and the only two candidates were Abbas and deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, 40% would not participate. Among those who would take part, 49% would vote for Abbas and 42% for Haniyeh.

But if the competition was between Barghouti and Haniyeh, non-participation would drop to 31% and among those who would participate, 59% said they would vote for Barghouti and 35% for Haniyeh. In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti would win against Haniyeh by 55% to 41%.

Not that releasing Barghouti would be the magic key to peace.

Still, Israeli security sources say Barghouti's release would need to be well timed and could most likely occur if Palestinian elections were to be held. Professor Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Centre for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, said the problem for the Israelis in freeing Barghouti was that such a move could badly backfire and be depicted on the Palestinian streets "as an Israeli-American conspiracy".

"Certainly, elections would provide such a hook, but his release could boomerang badly for the Israelis," he said. "Keep in mind that while he is an intelligent street-fighter and shows much promise as a leader, Barghouti is still an unknown quantity."

Here's an idea: let Barghouti stand for election to the PA presidency from his jail cell, and then grant him a conditional release if and only if (a) he runs on a platform of real peace with Israel, disbanding the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and other terrorist organizations, and (b) wins. If he then takes office and follows through on his peace commitments, let him stay free -- but if he tolerates continuing terrorism, recapture him.

Hey, it might be worth a shot.


This story from South Africa illustrates how nations slide back from Second World to Third World status.

Cities are being brought "to their knees" by unprecedented pilfering of copper and aluminium cables, which has caused extensive blackouts and power cuts as organised gangs plunder miles of the country's electricity and telephone lines to sell abroad as scrap.

Officials believe that up to 100 miles of cables may be going missing every year, destined for markets such as China and India where booming economies have created insatiable demand for copper and aluminium.

The thieves generally work by night, armed with trucks, winches, industrial cutting machines and tractors to flatten the pylons and poles that carry their booty.

The result has been entire suburbs plunged into darkness, thousands of train passengers stranded, and frequent chaos on the roads as traffic lights fail.

advertisementBacked by a network of unscrupulous dealers who smelt their spoils down, many gangs are also stealing water meters, taps and even ladders, said Cape Town councillor Pieter van Dalen, a member of a 15-strong "cable theft task team" set up to fight the problem.

One would think that the example of Zimbabwe next door would be a warning to the people and government of South Africa. Apparently it's not.

Sadly, we'll now find out if the UNIFIL commander is right

The operating environment for UNIFIL in southern Lebanon has become dramatically "non-permissive."

At least five Spanish UN peacekeepers were killed and three others wounded in an attack on a UNIFIL patrol in southern Lebanon on Sunday afternoon.

The incident took place near Al-Hijam, south of Marj Ayoun, on the eastern part of the border with Israel. UNIFIL forces were on route to the site of the attack to investigate.

A senior Lebanese official in Beirut said a mine may have caused the explosion. But another security official based in southern Lebanon said the explosion was caused by a bomb that was placed on the side of the main road where the UNIFIL APC was travelling.

The attack late Sunday afternoon was the first ever against UNIFIL forces in the region.

No organization claimed responsibility for the attack, but forces affiliated with al-Qaida were cited as the possible initiators of the attack, an analyst speaking on Israel Radio said moments after the explosion.

Previously, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, the UNIFIL commander was quite confident about his command's effectiveness.

'In my area of operations there is no open hostile activity, and we also do not see a rearmament happening,' he said. 'We are physically patrolling every corner of southern Lebanon, and if there were a bunker [system], we would have found it'
- Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano

Forgive the pun in poor taste, but it looks like that assessment has been blown all to Hell. Forgive the silly pun, but Gen. Graziano has a rocky road ahead.

Gen. Graziano also told the Post that his soldiers are willing to put their lives on the line in the cause of peace.

As a testament to the way Graziano envisions his mission, perhaps, are his remarks that his men believe strongly enough in their mission of preventing hostilities in southern Lebanon that they are willing to sacrifice their lives on Israel's behalf.

"Our job is to defend peace, and it is a value-based job for soldiers," he explained. "There are people who will offer their lives for higher values like peace, security and stability."

Sadly, we will now find out whether his assessment of his troops' commitment is correct, or whether their home countries will pull them out to put their safety ahead of the peace, security and stability they are supposed to maintain.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another backwards news story

Non-news from Iran about their latest stalling tactic:

Iran is ready to provide answers on past suspicious nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency within the next few months, the agency's head said Friday after meeting with the country's top nuclear negotiator.

But the Iranian official suggested the offer was conditional to an end of U.N. Security Council involvement in Iran's nuclear program. The council has already imposed two sets of sanctions on the Islamic republic over the past half year for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment and is poised to impose new penalties.

Why can't we see a news story like this?

Coalition forces are ready to cease bombing sorties against Iranian military and nuclear development facilities within the next few months, the U.N. Secretary-General said Friday after meeting with the country's top nuclear negotiator.

But the U.N. official suggested the offer of a cease-fire was conditional to the end of the Iranian nuclear program. The Islamic Republic has already escalated its nuclear program many times in response to the U.N. Security Council's sanctions for that program and says it is ready to rebuild its program when the bombing stops.

It would be refreshing, to say the least.

Time to shatter the centrifuges

Iran says it has enough uranium in a form enriched enough to be within months of building a "Little Boy" bomb.

Iran claimed today to have stockpiled 100kg of enriched uranium, enough in theory to create two nuclear bombs of the kind that destroyed Hiroshima.

A war exhibition held in Iran in 2005

The news will once again stoke fears that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran would need 50kg of weapons-grade uranium in order to make one nuclear weapon equal in power to the one dropped by the Americans in 1945.

So far, the regime’s uranium has only been enriched to the level needed for generating electricity in civilian nuclear power stations.

But if Iran chooses to enrich it to 84 per cent purity, it would reach weapons-grade level and become the essential material for building a bomb.

The United States possesses conventional bombs, MOABs, that can cause massive concussion. By creating a large artificial earthquake in Natanz, it should be possible to vibrate the centrifuges there enough to send them off-balance and cause them to shatter from their own momentum. Israel might be able to do the job with more conventional bombs, but I would rather see 18,700 pounds of high explosive in one fell swoop rather than nine 2,000-pound explosions in series.


Hey! No take-backs!

Iran's Interior Ministry denied a report Friday quoting the minister as saying Iran has produced 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of enriched uranium. The ministry said he was misquoted.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported that the minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, also said Iran now has 3,000 hooked-up centrifuges actively enriching uranium.

The Interior Ministry later issued a statement denying Pourmohammadi made the comments reported by ISNA. The minister "only spoke about Iran's nuclear achievements and he did not mention amount of enriched uranium and the number of installed centrifuges," said the statement, carried on the Web site of the state broadcasting company. "The recently published report is denied."

Is this the old bluff-and-deny strategy? Probably not -- sounds more like the old I-showed-my-hand-too-soon blunder.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Isn't this why your Mom told you to always wear clean underwear?

So you wouldn't be found in an embarrassing situation after an accident?

Police on Wednesday were investigating how a naked couple fell 50 feet from the roof of a downtown office building to their deaths.

The bodies were found on the road by a passing cabdriver around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Clothing was discovered on the roof, leading authorities to suspect the man and woman, in their early 20s, may have been having sex. Their identities were not released.

"It's too early to rule out anything," Columbia police Sgt. Florence McCants said, but McCants said a preliminary investigation didn't show any sign of foul play.

Come to think of it, had these two stayed in their underwear, they might not have slid off the roof....

Sort of like if Katie Couric called for killing John Boehner

MSNBC recently did a story on the political contributions of journalists. Makes this story out of Lebanon seem pretty timely:

During the live coverage of Walid Eido's assassination, Nabih Berri's news channel anchors accidentally slipped on the air, as they proceeded to laugh at the murder of Eido, and imply there was more coming.

NBN's technical director forgot to kill the anchorwoman's microphone, allowing viewers to hear her say "it took them long enough", in reference to Eido's murder. In between rounds of laughing and gloating with her colleagues, they speculated that March 14 minister Ahmad Fatafat could be next, and tried to determine how many more March 14 members need to die to get rid of the parliament's majority.

Beyond the divisive and damaging insults being cast in the aftermath of one of the most violent and tragic political assassinations in Lebanon's history which claimed the lives of 10 citizens, the sick comments open a can of worms for Lebanon's delinquent speaker of the parliament, Nabih Berri and his closest ally, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

The NBN employees imply that there is in fact a plan to eliminate the anti-Syrian majority by killing off their members of parliament.

We expect to see gleeful gloating about the deaths of political opponents on looney-left blogs like DailyKos and the Huffington Post. In a country threatening to slide back into civil war, hearing those comments from a news anchor is more than disgusting, it's deadly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good thing Lebanon's version of OSHA doesn't inspect the refugee camps

Earlier I asked, "Who would bomb terrorists?" Turns out, it's themselves:

The real story, according to Lebanese security officials, is that the explosion occurred while the extremist militants of Jund al-Sham tried to prepare a bomb in the tire shop. The Lebanese security officials said that some of Jund al-Sham members were extracting TNT from a 107 mm shell, apparently to use it in making a bomb.

Among those lightly wounded was a leader of Jund al-Sham, Shehadeh Jawhar, also known as Abu Omar, according to residents and Abu Sharif, the officials said.

Residents said the two dead men were the shop owner ... Jawhar's uncle ... and his nephew.

Also wounded was a Lebanese man named Mohammed Ghuneim, whose brother, Shadi, has been held for months in Saudi Arabia for suspected links with al-Qaida, the security officials said.

Since the Lebanese army and security personnel cannot enter the Palestinian refugee camps, based on the absurd "Cairo agreement" that was agreed on in 1969, the camps have become breeding grounds for terrorism. A number of small, little known Islamic militant groups proclaiming a Jihadist (holy war) ideology have arisen in recent years in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, which have long been home to numerous Palestinian militias.

Jund al-Sham, which is Arabic means literally "Soldiers of Damascus", is a splinter group from another Palestinian militant group called Asbat al-Ansar based in Ein al-Helweh.

Gotta love those "work accidents."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jimmy Carter: evil incarnate

Back in 1979, Jimmy Carter was the most dangerous man in the West:

We just don't get it. The Left in America is screaming to high heaven that the mess we are in in Iraq and the war on terrorism has been caused by the right-wing and that George W. Bush, the so-called "dim-witted cowboy," has created the entire mess.

The truth is the entire nightmare can be traced back to the liberal democratic policies of the leftist Jimmy Carter, who created a firestorm that destabilized our greatest ally in the Muslim world, the shah of Iran, in favor of a religious fanatic, the ayatollah Khomeini.

Carter viewed Khomeini as more of a religious holy man in a grassroots revolution than a founding father of modern terrorism. Carter's ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, said "Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint." Carter's Iranian ambassador, William Sullivan, said, "Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure." Carter adviser James Bill proclaimed in a Newsweek interview on February 12, 1979 that Khomeini was not a mad mujahid, but a man of "impeccable integrity and honesty."

The shah was terrified of Carter. He told his personal confidant, "Who knows what sort of calamity he [Carter] may unleash on the world?"

Let's look at the results of Carter's misguided liberal policies: the Islamic Revolution in Iran; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (Carter's response was to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics); the birth of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization; the Iran-Iraq War, which cost the lives of millions dead and wounded; and yes, the present war on terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today he's just as evil and misguided, but thankfully less able to perpetrate his crimes upon the world.

During his speech to Ireland's eighth annual Forum on Human Rights, the 83-year-old former president said monitors from his Carter Center observed the 2006 election in which Hamas won 42 percent of the popular vote and a majority of parliamentary seats.

Carter said that election was "orderly and fair" and Hamas triumphed, in part, because it was "shrewd in selecting candidates," whereas a divided, corrupt Fatah ran multiple candidates for single seats.

Far from encouraging Hamas's move into parliamentary politics, Carter said the US and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, has sought to subvert the outcome by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military power.

"That action was criminal," he said in a news conference after his speech.

"The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah," he said.

Carter said the United States and others supplied the Fatah-controlled security forces in Gaza with vastly superior weaponry in hopes they would "conquer Hamas in Gaza" - but Hamas this month routed Fatah because of its "superior skills and discipline."

"Superior skills and discipline." That's exactly what "qualified" the Nazi war machine to rule over Europe.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Now who would bomb terrorists?

Those who kill by the bomb die by the bomb.

Breaking News: 2 killed and 1 wounded in explosion in Lebanon camp
Monday, 18 June, 2007 @ 5:18 PM

Sidon- An explosion in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el Helweh near the city of Sidon in south Lebanon killed 2 people and wounded one according to the Lebanese National News Agency .

The explosion was caused by a bomb.

Shehadah Jawhar , one of the leaders of Jund el-Sham is reportedly one of the victims . Jund el-Sham launched an attack against the Lebanese army about 2 weeks ago to weaken the army in its attack on the Fatah al islam terrorists holed in the Nahr el-Bared camp.

The blast was apparently caused by the explosion of an oxygen canister , security sources said and not by a bomb as reported earlier.

They said the explosion happened in a tire shop in the Taamir area at the entrance of Ein al-Helweh camp.

Taamir is the stronghold of a small Islamist militant group, Jund al-Sham ( which translates into 'Soldiers of Damascus')

Update :
The blast was not caused by was not caused by the explosion of an oxygen canister , as security sources have reported earlier.

The blast was caused by a bomb that was placed inside a tire in the tire shop.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How to make immigration reform really work

OK - as part of his immigration reform package, President Bush is willing to ask Congress to pony up $4.4 billion to implement border controls before the other provisions kick in.

President Bush sought to reassure conservatives this morning that a new immigration bill would provide for much more effective enforcement, as he endorsed a new plan to devote as much as $4.4 billion in annual fees raised by the legislation to bolster border security and prevent illegal immigrants from being hired in workplaces.

"We're going to show the American people that the promises in this bill will be kept," Bush told members of the Associated Builders and Contractors gathered for a conference downtown.

By endorsing the plan by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the president was sending another signal that conservatives should rethink their opposition to the comprehensive immigration bill, which remains stalemated in the Senate.

Bush's remarks also seemed to answer the call of some GOP senators for the White House to send up a bill providing for up to $10 billion to $15 billion in additional funding for border security before the Senate takes up the immigration bill again. It was not immediately clear whether the president's offer would satisfy conservatives.

$10 billion? I got your $10 billion right here. Simply revise the probationary Z-visa provision in the immigration bill thusly:

  • All illegal residents of the US (all individuals, not only heads of households) are required, within 90 days of the bill signing, to report to the US Customs and Immigration Service, register and obtain a biometric identification card, pay a fine of $1,000 and pay "bail" of $4,000. Upon registration and payment of the fine and bail, the illegal resident alien obtains a probationary Z-visa and is legally allowed to work as long as he or she continues to follow the processes to clear back tax debts and pass a background check. The bail may be refunded to the individual if he or she chooses to leave the US prior to applying for citizenship; if the individual does not apply for citizenship within five years, the bail will be forfeited and the individual may be subject to deportation.

  • Any illegal resident alien not wishing to register and pay up may avoid doing so by leaving the country, but must obtain an exit visa with biometric identification -- a record that will identify them as a former illegal resident alien if ever they attempt to re-enter the US.

  • Any illegal resident alien who neither registers and pays to stay nor registers and leaves will be presumed guilty (the same way a blood alcohol level of .08 is presumptive proof of guilt) of felony evasion of immigration controls and subject to a prison term and fines, similar to the penalties set forth in the bill for coyotes and document forgers.

  • These provisions force the illegal resident aliens out of the shadows and into the sunlight. Any who do not choose to get right with the immigration laws will be outlaws and subject to arrest, fines, imprisonment and deportation. Given the choice of getting a pass to stay in the US legally or going underground as a wanted felon, I think only the truly bad actors will choose the latter.

    You can expect easily 10 million illegal resident aliens to take the Z-visa offer: at $1,000 each, that's $10 billion in fines upfront, plus tens of billions more in "bail money" and back taxes over the transition from bill signing to full implementation. So my plan is not only fiscally sound, but it separates the "good" illegal resident aliens who are here for economic and political freedom from the "bad" ones who have other ideas.

    Key to making this plan work is eliminating "sanctuary laws" and requiring aggressive internal enforcement to find and round up those "bad" aliens. There should be no excuse not to do this, as any illegal resident aliens who didn't have bad intentions or a dodgy background would have ample incentive to register or leave.

    And if advocacy groups worry about the ability of illegal resident aliens to come up with the cash upfront to register, the bill can provide for sponsorships by US citizens who are willing to lend the money to an illegal resident alien and share in that alien's legal obligations to fulfill the rest of the normalization process. The sponsors would individually have to put more than just money where their mouth is: as persons vouching for the good character and intentions of their sponsorees, they would be legally liable if those sponsorees fell short of their legal obligations.

    Hey, at least they weren't sent to Gitmo to be tortured

    Although I bet they would have volunteered.

    Hamas fighters overran two of the rival Fatah movement's most important security command centers in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen into the street and shot them to death execution-style.

    After the rout at the security headquarters, some of the Hamas fighters knelt outside, touching their foreheads to the ground in prayer. Others led Fatah gunmen out of the building, some shirtless or in their underwear, holding their arms in the air. Several of the Fatah men flinched as the crack of gunfire split the air.

    A witness, who identified himself only as Amjad, said men were killed as their wives and children watched.

    "They are executing them one by one," Amjad, who lives in a building overlooking the Preventive Security complex, said by telephone. "They are carrying one of them on their shoulders, putting him on a sand dune, turning him around and shooting."

    The killers ignored appeals from residents to spare the men's lives, said Amjad, who declined to give his full name, fearing reprisal.

    Since Sarkozy's win, Frenchmen are much more macho

    Wow. "New balls, please" cries brave Gicquel

    Spare a thought for Frenchman Marc Gicquel who went on to win his second-round tie at the ATP Halle tournament despite receiving a serve - travelling at 208 kilometres per hour - in the testicles.

    The 30-year-old was in the second set of his match against German Benjamin Becker - no connection to compatriot and tennis legend Boris - when he was felled by the serve which scored a bulls-eye straight into his delicate area.

    With the speed-gun showing the serve was 208 km/h, the game was stopped for ten minutes while the Frenchman had ice applied, discreetly, to his wedding tackle - in front of a 8,000-strong crowd.

    In a show of brotherly solidarity, Becker went over to his pole-axed opponent to pass on his deepest - and heart-felt - sympathy.

    Having won the first set 6-2, Gicquel came off the turf - to earn the respect of each and every man watching - and won the second set on a tie-breaker in what can only be described as a truly ballsy performance, which handed him a spot in the quarter-finals for his efforts.

    Copyright AFP 2005

    When we say "you're out of minutes," we mean "YOU'RE out of minutes"

    Anyone who complains about overtime minutes on their cell phone plan ought to count himself lucky not to be in North Korea.

    North Korea has increased its public executions against cell phone users and those who circulate outside information in the communist country, a South Korean government think tank said Thursday.

    The phenomenon of executions of those who "circulate South Korean leaflets and sell videos and use cell phones are on the rise," the South's government-affiliated Korea Institute for National Unification think tank said in a white paper on the North's human rights conditions. No exact figures were given.

    North Koreans are officially banned from communicating with the outside world but some of them listen to foreign news and use cell phones through Chinese communication networks, according to North Korean defectors in South Korea. The use of cell phones in North Korea is banned though some are smuggled into the North by Chinese who have links with South Koreans.

    The North has been struggling to prevent outside information from seeping into the country and believes the influx of information could possibly lead to the overthrow of the reclusive regime.

    "The North carries out public executions regularly to maintain social order by creating an atmosphere of fear," said the institute.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Hail to the Iron Lady

    Twenty-five years on, the lady's still not for turning.

    Baroness Thatcher drew parallels between the Falklands conflict and British deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan today during an emotional broadcast to mark the 25th anniversary of the conflict. [Hear her broadcast here.]

    Baroness Thatcher in Portsmouth yesterday

    In the radio message recorded for the British Forces Broadcasting Service, she said the battle to reclaim the Falkland Islands was a "just" cause.

    She added that the struggle against "tyranny and violence" continued today, and that serving troops could draw "hope and strength" from previous victories.

    Lady Thatcher's message has been beamed to the islanders and British troops around the world.

    God bless you, Mrs. Thatcher.

    Fatah calls on its leader Abbas to resign

    Is this pose de rigeur for all presidents being forced to resign?

    Apparently the Fatah movement is discovering that looking debonair with a cigarette in one hand is not a sufficient indicator of leadership skill: Fatah officials call for Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

    Fatah officials and activists in the West Bank on Wednesday called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to resign, holding him responsible for the fact that Hamas was now in control of most parts of the Gaza Strip.

    Meanwhile, Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas talked by phone Wednesday night for the first time since the latest cycle of violence broke out. A source close to Abbas said the two agreed to issue a joint call for a cease-fire.

    The calls for Abbas's resignation came as Hamas militiamen scored more victories in their battle to take control over the Gaza Strip. More than 30 Palestinians were killed in Wednesday's fighting, which also spread to some parts of the West Bank.

    Fatah officials here confirmed that Hamas had seized large amounts of weapons and military equipment belonging to Abbas's security forces in the Gaza Strip. Some of the weapons were supplied to the PA in recent weeks by Egypt and Jordan as part of a US security plan to boost Fatah-controlled forces.

    Hamas said it had seized thousands of M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles and pistols, communication equipment, armored vehicles, trucks, binoculars, military outfits, tents, sleeping bags, hand grenades, mortars and documents.

    Hamas militiamen were seen driving some of the confiscated vehicles that have been decorated with Hamas flags and signs.

    Pictures of the weapons were posted on a number of Hamas-linked Web sites. "Most of the weapons came from Egypt and Jordan over the past few years," a senior Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post. "They did not come directly from the US, although the Americans had initiated the supply of weapons and ammunition."

    Hamas representative Sami Abu Zuhri announced that his movement was now in control of 90 percent of the PA security installations and bases in the Gaza Strip. "We are not fighting against the entire Fatah party, but certain murderous elements who have been collaborating with Israel and the Americans," he said.

    At a stormy meeting of Fatah leaders here, Abbas came under severe criticism for failing to issue clear orders to the PA security forces and Fatah militias in the Gaza Strip to launch counterattacks on Hamas.

    Furious Fatah leaders demanded that Abbas declare a state of emergency and call early elections. They also expressed dismay with the way Abbas was handling the current crisis.

    "Hamas is slaughtering our sons in the Gaza Strip and the only thing our president is doing is appealing for a cease-fire," said one Fatah leader. "We have at least 40,000 police officers and militiamen in the Gaza Strip. What's preventing them from launching a massive attack on Hamas? Does the president want to see the Gaza Strip fall into the hands of Hamas?"

    Another top Fatah official called on Abbas to step down. "The president must resign," he said. "Unless he takes real measures to halt the Hamas offensive, President Abbas will face a revolt by Fatah."

    Talk about unclear on the concept. The weapons now in the hands of Hamas were transferred to the Palestinian Authority's security services (which report to Fatah) precisely so that they could be used to quell any military uprising by Hamas. It's unclear what Abbas has in mind, other than personal survival.

    One interesting aspect is that Abbas's handpicked chief of security, Mohammed Dahlan, has been out of the fighting completely:

    For many years, Israeli and international media referred to Dahlan as the "strongman" of the Gaza Strip. Some even went so far as to argue that Dahlan was so popular among the Palestinians in Gaza he could take on Hamas whenever he wanted.

    But Dahlan's status has been severely undermined over the past few months, largely because many of his Fatah allies and colleagues have either been killed or wounded or driven out of the Gaza Strip.

    Last month, one of Dahlan's key allies, Gen. Rashid Abu Shabak, resigned as commander of the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip after Hamas militiamen stormed his villa and executed six of his bodyguards. Abu Shabak and his family have since moved to the West Bank. Another key Dahlan ally, Samir Masharawi, has also disappeared from the Gaza Strip and is believed to be hiding in Ramallah.

    Abu Shabak was Dahlan's deputy for nearly a decade when the latter served as head of the much-feared Preventative Security Service. Hamas recently accused Abu Shabak of thwarting its plan to impose security and order in the Gaza Strip. Hamas leaders claimed that Abu Shabak was working under the direct instructions of Dahlan, who did not want to see Hamas succeed in its efforts to end the anarchy and lawlessness on the Palestinian street.

    Some Americans, Israelis and Europeans have long regarded the "charismatic" and "pragmatic" Dahlan as the most suitable successor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Former US President Bill Clinton is said to have been one of his great admirers since the two met at the White House after the signing of the Oslo Accords more than a decade ago.

    Abbas's decision earlier this year to promote Dahlan to the post of PA National Security adviser was seen by many Palestinians as part of a US-backed effort to strengthen Dahlan ahead of a potential confrontation with Hamas.

    But Dahlan has since spent most of his time abroad. His aides say he lately underwent surgery on his ankles in a German hospital. Other reports have suggested that he is suffering from severe epilepsy and is on intensive medication.

    Dahlan has been in Cairo for the past month amid rumors that he has no intention to return to Gaza in the foreseeable future. Now that Hamas has killed many of his cohorts and friends and is threatening to eliminate him the moment he enters the Strip, Dahlan, who was one of the prominent symbols of the Oslo process, may have to seek refuge in the West Bank or one of the neighboring Arab countries.

    So the "strongman" went weak in the knees -- or, more literally, weak in the ankles -- and now is in Egypt, recuperating from his surgery. Still, one might have expected him to take command of his forces by telephone, but apparently either he couldn't be bothered, or his orders were for his buddies in the leadership of the security services to save their own skins by fleeing to Egypt.