Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bin Laden tried to assassinate Clinton - why didn't Bill return the favor?

We know learn that in 1996, Osama bin Laden came within minutes of killing Bill Clinton.
Former President Bill Clinton came within minutes of being assassinated in the Philippines by terrorists controlled by Osama bin Laden, a new book has revealed.

The US leader was saved shortly before his car was due to drive over a bridge in Manila where a bomb had been planted.

The foiled attack came during Mr Clinton's visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the city in 1996.

You'd think a guy might hold a grudge for something like that.

But throughout the rest of his term, President Clinton seemed unable to muster the necessary will and military resources to take out Bin Laden.
In the fall of 2000, in Afghanistan, unmanned, unarmed spy planes called Predators flew over known al-Qaida training camps. The pictures that were transmitted live to CIA headquarters show al-Qaida terrorists firing at targets, conducting military drills and then scattering on cue through the desert.

Also, that fall, the Predator captured even more extraordinary pictures — a tall figure in flowing white robes. Many intelligence analysts believed then and now it is bin Laden.

Why does U.S. intelligence believe it was bin Laden? NBC showed the video to William Arkin, a former intelligence officer and now military analyst for NBC. “You see a tall man…. You see him surrounded by or at least protected by a group of guards.”

Bin Laden is 6 foot 5. The man in the video clearly towers over those around him and seems to be treated with great deference.

Another clue: The video was shot at Tarnak Farm, the walled compound where bin Laden is known to live. The layout of the buildings in the Predator video perfectly matches secret U.S. intelligence photos and diagrams of Tarnak Farm obtained by NBC.

“It’s dynamite. It’s putting together all of the pieces, and that doesn’t happen every day.… I guess you could say we’ve done it once, and this is it,” Arkin added.

The tape proves the Clinton administration was aggressively tracking al-Qaida a year before 9/11. But that also raises one enormous question: If the U.S. government had bin Laden and the camps in its sights in real time, why was no action taken against them?

“We were not prepared to take the military action necessary,” said retired Gen. Wayne Downing, who ran counter-terror efforts for the current Bush administration and is now an NBC analyst.

“We should have had strike forces prepared to go in and react to this intelligence, certainly cruise missiles — either air- or sea-launched — very, very accurate, could have gone in and hit those targets,” Downing added.

Gary Schroen, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, says the White House required the CIA to attempt to capture bin Laden alive, rather than kill him.

Can anyone explain why Clinton didn't think Bin Laden deserved exactly what Bin Laden had planned to do to Clinton?

Failing to take out Bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of the 1996 assassination attempt left him free to plot the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa and the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Either of those should have been a casus belli for killing Bin Laden on sight. Clinton seems to have been more interested in sexual stimulation than in national defense, or indeed even basic self-preservation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gotta love that L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Times published a transcript of President Obama's speech at West Point laying out his Afghanistan strategy v3.0. Here are the photos that the Times chose to illustrate the article.

Hmm... I wonder if they're trying to say something with those choices.

As opposed to, say:


But of course, there's no such thing as a liberal bias in the antique media. Whatever would give you such an idea?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Eid al-Adha

I wonder, now that Obama has pardoned our national Thanksgiving turkey, will he personally slaughter our national Eid al-Adha sacrifice?

Eid al-Adha: Muslims around the world choose animals for the Festival of Sacrifice

Note the caption at image #2 in the series: “Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismael.” Observant readers of the Judaeo-Christian tradition may scratch their heads — surely they must mean “his son Isaac”?

No – the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saw fit to rewrite the Old Testament to fit his propaganda purpose of making the Ishmaelites, not the Israelites, God’s chosen people. Is it any wonder that there is so little room for understanding between Islam and the Judaeo-Christian West? Anyone casting a critical eye over the text of the Koran is accused of the capital crime of insulting Islam; yet the Koran outright contradicts and rewrites the Old and New Testament. (And that’s nothing compared to Islam’s attitude toward people who are not “of the Book.”)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Telefon Rings

In his Best of the Web blog at OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto comments that the decision to try KSM and other enemy combatants in New York returns 9/11 to the forefront of America's consciousness.
In addition, the more dramatically the Obama administration departs from past antiterror policies, the more the public will be inclined to blame it should there be another terrorist attack--especially if, God forbid, terrorists use the trial as an occasion to hit New York.

“…should there be another terrorist attack…” With respect to the massacre at Ft. Hood, allow me to direct you to a movie from the Cold War era: the Charles Bronson spy actioner Telefon.
During the Cold War of the 1950s, the Soviet Union planted a number of long-term, deep-cover sleeper agents all over the United States, spies so thoroughly brainwashed that even they didn't know they were agents; they could only be activated by a special code phrase (a line from Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" followed by their real given names). Their mission was to sabotage crucial parts of the civil and military infrastructure in the event of nuclear war.
Over twenty years pass, and the Cold War gradually gives way to d├ętente. Nikolai Dalchimsky (Donald Pleasence), a rogue KGB officer, defects to America, taking with him the Telefon Book, which contains the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the agents. He starts activating them one by one. American counterintelligence is thrown into confusion when seemingly-ordinary citizens (even a clergyman) start blowing up what are, in some cases, long-abandoned facilities and commit suicide right afterwards.

Seems that the actions of Maj. Hasan conform to the outlines of the Telefon plot: he was essentially programmed to commit traitorous mass murder, triggered by key verses fed to him by an enemy agent. It’s pretty clear that Maj. Hasan’s massacre was a terrorist attack, as well as an act of sabotage by a traitor.

President Obama has exhausted any benefit of the doubt on this issue. The next mass-casualty attack by an extremist Muslim on American soil, whether it kills 10 or 10,000, will demonstrate that he's unable to match the Bush Administration's record of preventing another terrorist attack on the American homeland from 9/11 on.

And those in the media and in official government positions who are desperately trying to deny that the Ft. Hood massacre was a terrorist act committed to support the extremist Islamic jihad against America are only making that next attack more likely. They're making it more difficult for law enforcement and counter-terrorism agents to identify who's the next sleeper likely to get a call on the telefon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What worries me is that I don't know which he'll choose

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a message for Barack Obama: "It's us or Israel."
Ahmadinejad said that for a real change in relations to take place, a choice must be made.

Speaking in Istanbul at the 25th Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Iranian president said that it was up to US President Barack Obmaa to illustrate his motto of "Change."

"The support of both Israel and Iran can't go hand in hand," he was quoted as saying by IRNA. "No change is made unless great choices are made."

Does anyone else think that President Obama will have as much trouble coming to a decision on this question as he's had in coming to a decision on Gen. McChrystal's troop request for Afghanistan?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The terrorist nexus

Meet Anwar al-Awlaki:

Within an hour of the shootings at Ft. Hood on Nov. 5, the FBI announced that there was "no known nexus to terrorism" behind Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan's murderous rampage. Guess they never heard of al-Awlaki.
Hasan, the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas, attended the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. His mother's funeral was held there in May that year.

The preacher at the time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organisations.

Hasan's eyes "lit up" when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki's teachings, according to a fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday's horrific shooting spree.

As investigators look at Hasan's motives and mindset, his attendance at the mosque could be an important piece of the jigsaw. Al-Awlaki moved to Dar al-Hijrah as imam in January, 2001, from the west coast, and three months later the September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour began attending his services. A third hijacker attended his services in California.

Hasan was praying at Dar al-Hijrah at about the same time, and the FBI will now want to investigate whether he met the two terrorists.

Gee, ya think?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

No doubt he is now saying, "See what I mean?"

News from Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi woman is seeking a divorce after she found out that her husband had nicknamed her 'Guantanamo' on his mobile phone.

The woman made the discovery while examining the list of contacts in her husband's phone when he left it at home one day, the Al-Watan newspaper reported.

The Riyadh newspaper did not name the woman or her husband, whose comparison between life with his wife and life within the detention centre at the US naval base in Cuba may have proved ill judged.

His wife has since decided to end their 17-year marriage and is seeking a divorce.

But the newspaper suggested she might settle for "substantial" financial compensation from her husband and stay married to him.

I am sure that if he pays her off and stays married to her, he will have to change her cell phone nickname to Evin.

Why losing in Afghanistan is not an option

For those who think that the most important consideration for President Obama in deciding on Afghanistan war policy is its domestic political implications or simple containment, Wazhma Frogh has a reminder of what is really at stake for Afghanistan and the world:
As an Afghan woman who for many years lived a life deprived of the most basic human rights, I find unbearable the thought of what will happen to the women of my country if it once again falls under the control of the insurgents and militants who now threaten it.

In 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, the liberation of Afghan women was one of the most important justifications for military intervention. Has the world now changed its mind about Afghan women? Is it ready to let them once again be killed and tortured by militants? Does the world no longer believe in the principles it supported in 2001?

Handing over Afghanistan to those who intend to keep the country centuries behind most of the world -- to men who do not view women as human beings -- would not only call into doubt the global commitment to human rights, it would also raise questions about the commitment of Western democracies to such rights and to democratic values. Bearing in mind how fragile the Afghan government is at this moment, it will not take long for the country's women to come under attack again. The consequences will be even more bitter this time because no matter how limited our success, we have at least managed to act in the forefront of public life in Afghanistan. We have had a taste of what it's like to have rights.

Vice President Joe Biden is not only wrong on this, he's reaffirmed his status as a dolt and an inhuman ignorer of basic human rights and dignity.

(Hat tip: Hot Air.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poetry Corner

Over at the zombietime zomblog, commenter buzzsawmonkey has outdone himself with this ode to a LunGFish.

Your Last Posting
(Los Angeles)

–apologies to Robert Browning and “My Last Duchess”

That’s your last posting ever on this blog,

And henceforth your account is blocked. You’ll dog

My site no further with your words; your nic

Is banished, and I gave your posts the stick.

You know I’ll call your banning here a “flounce”
Though I’ve been waiting for some time to pounce
On your account, and with prevarications
Distort and demonize your observations.
The Toad Hall where you reveled, if you please’ll
Be given entire to the stoats and weasels,

My countenance beaming on each one that
Comes to me bearing tales of Mole or Rat,

Or Badger, or…sockpuppet. No, ‘t was not

This writing only, placed you on the spot

And caused me to invoke the ban: perhaps

You chanced to differ with my own claptrap
And stick to your position, or dispute
Conventional wisdoms to which repute

I’ve lately granted. Don’t you dare to say

That I or my site might have lost their way
Obsessing on my personal vendettas;

I am neither forgiving nor forgetter,

And will not brook a failure of obesiance

By anyone I feel owes me allegiance.
Yes, I took Rather down, on grounds that he
Could not support what he claimed factually;
But now I set my sights at lower bar
(On personalities, not things that are)
While I squat ‘midst the wreckage I have made
Like mad Kurtz ruling from his bush stockade,
Ringed ’round with skulls. For I no longer deign
To weigh a fact itself; instead, maintain

That source determines truth, and to that end
The nature of veracity I bend,
Citing to midden-heaps of rankness such

That I would not long since have scorned to touch.

A turtle is a lizard in a shell,
And I, lord of my self-created hell

Remain King Yertle of the Turtle Stack

Exalted on my Posting Turtles’ backs–
Yet conscious, as I proclaim my renown

It’s just posting turtles, all the way down,

Which is why I respond with rage and fear

Should anyone mouth what I deem a sneer

Or contradiction. So I flip a switch,
And all posts stop together, with a bitch

Given reign of my elegant designs.

Yet, if I still retained but half a spine

I would despise appearing to be led

As I now seem to, by the lesser head.

Hark! Look you! See how Glenn Beck weeps!

Do you not loathe the company he keeps
Regardless of whatever he might say?
Here is the global warming word today; 

Do not dissent, the banning stick is toward
I care for no voice save that of accord!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Obama's adviser on Muslim affairs: Women love Sharia law

I wonder what Obama's Women's Issues Czar will have to say about this? Daily Telegraph: Barack Obama adviser says Sharia Law is misunderstood.
President Barack Obama's adviser on Muslim affairs, Dalia Mogahed, has provoked controversy by appearing on a British television show hosted by a member of an extremist group to talk about Sharia Law.

Miss Mogahed, appointed to the President's Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was "oversimplified" and the majority of women around the world associate it with "gender justice".

The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party.

The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world.

Miss Mogahed appeared alongside Hizb ut Tahrir's national women's officer, Nazreen Nawaz.

During the 45-minute discussion, on the Islam Channel programme Muslimah Dilemma earlier this week, the two members of the group made repeated attacks on secular "man-made law" and the West's "lethal cocktail of liberty and capitalism".

They called for Sharia Law to be "the source of legislation" and said that women should not be "permitted to hold a position of leadership in government".

Miss Mogahed made no challenge to these demands and said that "promiscuity" and the "breakdown of traditional values" were what Muslims admired least about the West.

Nice litotes there: "what Muslims admired least about the West." Doesn't she mean, what Muslim extremists despise most, and what motivates them most to destroy the West?

Friday, October 2, 2009

What an unexpected honor!

Protein Wisdom has made its selections for an impromptu caption contest.
screenshot from Drudge

Horizontal stripes. Dude.
In no particular order, here are my very subjective five favorites:

stuiec “If I’d grown up in Cuba, I’d be thin and good-looking! Thanks for NOTHING, Capitalism!”

maggie katzen “YOU CALL THIS A #$(t%*#@ MENU!?”

BJTexs “Planet of the Plates!!”

JD “Don’t knock deep-fried bacon.”

Blake “Michael Moore making his case that he deserves both latitude and longitude lines.”

Thanks, guys and gals, you make this fun!

I'm humbled. (And I'm totally down with the "no particular order" *wink* thing.)

The Day Chicago Lost

With Apologies to Paper Lace

On a Scandinavian day
In the land of the fairy tale
When the town of Chicago lost
And it was an epic fail

When a hero named Barack
Tried to make that meeting rock
And he called upon his wife
For the struggle of her life

What did Obama cost
To join the bid the day Chicago lost?
Wonder who the blame will hit because
What a stupid shame it really was
Glory be

Chicago's bid got tossed
Michelle was pissed the day Chicago lost
Brother what a waste of time and bucks
Obama got a taste of how he sucks
Yes indeed

And Michelle brought up the kids
In the slums of the old South Side
But the first vote on the bids
Meant Chicago's hopes had died

There was silence in the street
The crowd shuffling its feet
And I asked someone who said
The Obama magic's dead

What did Obama cost
To join the bid the day Chicago lost?
Wonder who the blame will hit because
What a stupid shame it really was
Glory be

Chicago's bid got tossed
Michelle was pissed the day Chicago lost
Brother what a waste of time and bucks
Obama got a taste of how he sucks
Yes indeed

All was still on Air Force One
But the spinning had begun
David Axelrod told lies
The defeat to minimize
And that moron Robert Gibbs
Gave the talking points to libs

What did Obama cost
To join the bid the day Chicago lost?
Wonder who the blame will hit because
What a stupid shame it really was
Glory be

Chicago's bid got tossed
Michelle was pissed the day Chicago lost
Brother what a waste of time and bucks
Obama got a taste of how he sucks
Yes indeed

Chicago's bid got tossed
Michelle was pissed the day Chicago lost
Brother what a waste of time and bucks
Obama got a taste of how he sucks
Yes indeed

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And to think he even pronounces "Pakistan" correctly

President Barack "Pah-kee-stan" Obama seems to be having trouble convincing the leaders and people of Pakistan that he knows what's best for them.

Three stories:
NY Times: Pakistanis Continue to Reject U.S. Partnership

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Even with the arrival of the Obama administration and the prospect of substantially increased aid, more Pakistanis — an overwhelming majority — continued to reject the United States as a partner to fight militancy in their country, a new poll finds.

NY Times: Militant Group Is Intact After Mumbai Siege

KARACHI, Pakistan — Ten months after the devastating attacks in Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants, the group behind the assault remains largely intact and determined to strike India again, according to current and former members of the group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and intelligence officials.

Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant groups operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, Lashkar has persisted, even flourished, since 10 recruits killed 163 people in a rampage through Mumbai, India’s financial capital, last November.

Daily Telegraph (UK): Pakistan warns United States against drone attacks

Pakistan has warned the United States that it will not allow drone attacks on suspected Taliban bases in its troubled Balochistan province, military sources have said.

The army chief's warning was disclosed amid growing tension over American claims that Islamabad was refusing to target the Taliban's 'Quetta Shura' – the leadership council of former Afghan ruler Mullah Omar.

Washington believes the 'shura' is plotting attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan from 'safe havens' in South-West Pakistan.

American State Department and intelligence officials are believed to have warned Pakistan President Asif Zardari that they will launch their own drone attacks on the shura if the Pakistan Army fails to target its bases.

Gosh, you'd think it was like Pakistan was an independent country or something.

The inevitable evolution of suicide bombing

There's been much mirth and merriment over the "butt bomb" used by a terrorist in an assassination (ass-ass-ination?) attempt on a Saudi prince.

However, as some have observed, this guy got past the checkpoints and security inspections meant to keep the prince safe.

And we have to recall the scene in The Dark Knight, in which the screenwriter suggested an even more nefarious hidden bomb.

So here is the question: how long before a woman undergoes a Caesarean section and has the baby and her uterus replaced with a fairly sizeable bomb, with a mechanical trigger (the kind she can set off by punching herself in the stomach)? With no electrical or electronic components and little or no metal in its construction, it would be undetectable, assuming that any airport screener would even think to check a pregnant woman that closely.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

400 Miles

With apologies to West, Bare and Wiliams.

If you miss the bus I'm under
It keeps rolling like the thunder
You can see my bloody trail
A hundred miles.
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
Oh, my blood and guts are smeared
A hundred miles.

Who knew such a silly dork
Could be Gov'nor of New York?
At least I was, 'til I was dragged
Four hundred miles.
Four hundred miles, five hundred miles,
Four hundred miles, five hundred miles,
To D.C. from Albany is
Four hundred miles.

Lord, I'm Black, Lord, I'm blind
And Barack left me behind
Lord, I can't get re-elected
This a-way.
This a-way, this a-way,
This a-way, this a-way,
Lord, I can't get re-elected
This a-way.

If you miss the bus I'm under
It keeps rolling like the thunder
You can see my bloody trail
A hundred miles.
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
Oh, my blood and guts are smeared
A hundred miles.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Really? This is the most urgent item of the people's business?

Unemployment still pushing 10 percent? Check.

Iran still developing nuclear weapons, and North Korea restarting its own nuclear program? Check.

Major terror plot uncovered in New York and Denver? Check.

How does a President choose which competing priority to tackle next?

Maybe he just punts.

Barack Obama has been pictured playing with a lightsaber on the lawn of the White House.

Watched by his wife, Michelle, Mr Obama used a Star Wars lightsaber to "attack" Tim Morehouse, the American Olympic fencer who won a silver medal in men's sabre fencing in Beijing.

Mr Obama's "lunge" took place on the South Lawn during an event supporting Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

The President said that the whole of America was rooting for his hometown of Chicago in its efforts to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Well, at least he's doing something good: he's sending Michelle Obama away for a little while.
The International Olympic Committee will choose a host city during an Oct 2 meeting in Copenhagen. Mr Obama will not attend the meetings, instead sending first Lady Michelle Obama to lead the US delegation.

Chicago is in a tough competition with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. In recent years, national leaders have travelled to the IOC meetings to help seal the deal – such as Tony Blair for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and Vladimir Putin for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

"I would make the case in Copenhagen personally," Mr Obama said, noting he's busy seeking a health care overhaul. "But the good news is I'm sending a more compelling superstar to represent the city and country we love, and that is our first lady, Michelle Obama."

Mrs Obama joked: "You should have seen the President in there fencing," she said to laughter as Mr Obama stuck out his arm in a mock fencing move. "It was pathetic. But he passed the baton really well."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pakistan foils cross-dressing terrorists

Western societies are fussing over the wearing of burqas and "burqinis" - here, here and here. But it seems like the burqa is a bad idea in Islamic societies, too: Pakistan Police Thwart Attack on Karachi Oil Facility.

ISLAMABAD -- Islamic militants clad head-to-toe in women's burqas attempted to attack an oil storage facility in Karachi, raising fears that insurgents are fleeing northwestern Pakistan and infiltrating the nation's main business hub.

Three gunmen, disguised as women, tried to enter the high security facility used by oil companies, late Monday night, Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, told Pakistani television on Tuesday. When stopped by security guards, militants opened fire, killing one of the guards. The assailants fled during a gun battle, leaving behind their burqas, purses and hand grenades.

"We suspect they wanted to carry out a big terrorist attack which our prompt police action thwarted," said Mr. Ahmed, the police chief, in an interview with the Geo TV Pakistan.

Pakistan imports foreign oil through the Karachi port, and stores it there before transporting it throughout the country. An attack on the port facility could have threatened fuel supply for the country's industry and transport, just as Pakistan's economy is struggling to recover from a global downturn and security woes at home.

Later Tuesday, police arrested four men suspected to have been involved in the attack. During a house raid in Karachi, Mr. Ahmed said in the television interview that police found additional burqas, women's handbags and weapons. Police suspected the assailants disguised themselves as women to try to slip past security check points.

The arrested men were suspected to have been linked to the militant group led by Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader who was killed last month in a U.S. missile attack in South Waziristan. A large number of militants from Waziristan and other areas fleeing army attacks have been taking sanctuary in Karachi, according to Zulfikar Mirza, the Sindh provincial home minister.

Here's an idea: these terrorists wanted to be women so badly, let them have their wish. A few quick strokes with a (perhaps not-so-sharp) knife, and they'll be fully burqa-worthy... if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

While British ministers were worrying about protestors on the Right...

While the British government and the Left side of the British media have been focused on the perceived threat posed by the English Defence League, something else has been going on: Rashid Rauf 'training dozens of British terrorist recruits in Pakistan.'

Pakistani officials have warned that Rashid Rauf, the terrorist linked to the trans-Atlantic airline bomb plot, bas been involved in grooming two dozen British recruits to carry out new attacks.

Pakistan intelligence said that Rauf, who mysteriously escaped from police custody and was then reported killed by a missile fired by US drone last November, used the name Khalid to recruit fellow Britons for training at a camp in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

One official said that Rauf was involved with a group of Arab and Uzbek terrorists in a camp in Matta Cheena village in south Waziristan.

Rauf is said to be a key lieutenant of the group's leader, explosives expert, Abu Nasir. "He is an explosive expert who has effectively devised methods of explosives using easy-to-get ingredients that are virtually undetectable or can raise no alarms for authorities," said the intelligence source.

"We know that they are planning a very serious attack and it is very important for us to arrest all of them.

"If they are able to strike it is going to give a bad name to Pakistan once again for no reason."

Intercepted emails and text messages between Pakistan and the UK had indicated Rauf's involvement under the name Khalid after the authorities decrypted the communications.

British security and intelligence officials have said they believe Rauf may have survived the missile strike and could be planning further attacks.

A US informant called Bryant Neal Vinas, who has admitted planning a suicide attack, was arrested by the Pakistanis last November and said he had met Rauf shortly before the missile strike.

He gave information that has led to the arrest of two cells allegedly planning attacks during a European summit in Brussels and last Easter in Manchester.

Yep, sure sounds like those folks protesting Islamofascist extremism in Britain are the real problem, all right.

I just hope that security on the planes, trains and buses in Britain is as tight as the security forces say it is. Oh, and that they've managed to out-think Al-Qaeda with respect to what other targets terrorists might choose that haven't been given such tight security up until now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The UK, a haven for (some) terrorists

Some people want you to believe that the worst threat facing Britain are the people pointing out the Islamofascists in their midst: Communities Secretary John Denham has likened far right groups mounting street protests against Islam to Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts.
The minister's comments came as he announced a drive to prevent white working class people being "exploited" by extremists.

But he later backtracked by stressing that today's situation was "nothing like the 1930s". He said:"All we are facing at the moment is small.

"But I think we need to take it seriously enough to say that there are obviously people who would like to be provocative, hope that there is not just a reaction but there is an overreaction, then people blame the people who overreact and the situation gets out of control."

Mr Denham singled out protests being organised by the English Defence League, some of which have turned violent over recent months.

Except perhaps it wasn't that the English Defence League wanted an overreaction, but that any expression of displeasure with Islamofascists in Britain faces an organized overreaction: Violent race riot flared after mosque chief urged Muslims to confront right-wing 'English Defence League' protesters.
The most influential Muslim leader in the West Midlands urged his followers to 'vent their feelings' against Right-wing protesters during a Birmingham rally that ended in violent clashes and 90 arrests.

Birmingham Central Mosque chairman Dr Mohammad Naseem encouraged Muslims to counter-demonstrate during Saturday's anti-Islamic protest by the English Defence League (EDL).

The police had advised community leaders to stop people from attending, reported The Times.

Last month there were also clashes when the English Defence League - formed after British soldiers were abused by Islamic radicals at a homecoming parade in Luton - held a rally on the same day as the Unite Against Fascism group.

The latest disorder involved around 200 people and spilled on to Bennetts Hill, a street popular with shoppers and lined with a number of pubs.

English Defence League marchers were involved in running disturbances which lasted all afternoon before the Right-wing protesters were taken to another part of the city by bus.

Witnesses claimed the English Defence League marchers, many of whom had been drinking since the morning, ripped up seats on the journey away from the city centre.

But some members slipped away from the police, clashing with more than 30 socialist protesters amid cries of 'Racist scum, out of Brum'. After an hour of angry skirmishes in the city centre, the situation deteriorated further after a group of Asian men also joined in.

Sarah Edwards had to duck into a cafe to avoid being caught in the violence.

She said: 'We suddenly saw what seemed to be about 200 Asian men running down the street, throwing bricks.

'They had bandanas over their faces and were shouting and screaming. We were so scared, we feared for our lives and had to run into the cafe so we wouldn't get hurt. It is so shocking to see this on our streets'

The English Defence League has claimed it is not racist, even saying it did not want any violence to happen at the pre-planned protest.

This picture is a bit inconsistent with the accusation of neo-Fascist skinhead racism: the haircuts look right, but what's up with that flag?

English Defence League supporters hold aloft the flag of Israel and gesture to police as they are corralled into a subway following the demonstration

However, it seems that there really are Islamofascists, known terror suspects, roaming free in the UK. In fact, some of them are even living on the public dole, courtesy of the British taxpayer: Suspects named on United Nations terror list living free in Britain.
The revelation that the men are being allowed to live in Britain without the prospect of being arrested or deported has prompted calls for an urgent change in the law.

Among the 12 suspects named on the UN list are a number of men accused of raising funds for a violent jihadist group with alleged links to Osama bin Laden....

One of the men named on the UN Consolidated List is Mohammed al Ghabra, a 29-year-old British citizen suspected of being a key figure in the plot to blow up passenger airliners over the Atlantic.

Also on the list is Khalid Abd Al-Rahman Hamd Al-Fawaz, 44, a Kuwaiti living in London, who has been accused by the FBI of involvement in bombing American embassies, and Hani al Sayyid al Sebai, a 46-year-old Egyptian also living in London.

Other individuals on the UN list include Ghuma Abd'rabbah, 52, a Libyan-born British citizen who is suspected of raising funds for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a jihadist organisation opposed to the Gadaffi regime, and accused of having links with al Qaeda. He is understood to be living in the Birmingham area, along with Libyan-born Abd Al-Rahman Al Faqih, 50, who is also on the UN list....

Individuals are placed on the list on the basis of evidence about their links with al Qaeda or the Taliban submitted by members states of the United Nations. Once their inclusion has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, banking and treasury officials in the individual's country of residence are instructed to freeze their financial assets.

David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth and a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "It's quite outrageous for these people to carry on living here, many of them on benefits. The Home Secretary should have the right to either lock them up or throw them out of the country, but for that to happen requires a change in the Human Rights Act."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "These individuals are here legally. If they breach any laws they will be prosecuted. We cannot comment on any security operations regarding individuals."

One would think that if the Communities Secretary really wants to damp down fear and resentment toward Islamic extremism in Britain, a good place to start would be to arrest or expel the most extreme of the Islamic extremists.

Joe Biden wants to keep his boss firmly in the quagmire

After the November election, Vice-President Elect Joe Biden told ABC's George Stephanopolous that Obama would do nothing until he heard from Joe:
"I think we should restore the balance here. The role of the Vice President of the United States as I see it is to give the President of the United States the best, sagest, most accurate, most insightful advice and recommendations he or she can make to a President to help them make some of the very, very important decisions that have to be made.

"When Barack Obama, Senator Barack Obama then talked to me about being his Vice President I said we have to – let’s talk and we spent three and a half hours talking and one of the things I asked was, I said I don’t want to be picked unless you’re picking me for my judgment. I don’t want to be the guy that goes out and has a specific assignment – an important assignment to reinvent government, which Al Gore did a great job of. Dealing with some specific discrete item. I said I want a commitment from you that in every important decision you’ll make, every critical decision, economic and political as well as foreign policy, I’ll get to be in the room."

Well, now we get a specific example of how that's working out for the two of them.
President Barack Obama's administration is sharply divided over whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan, with Vice-President Joe Biden and other senior figures arguing that it would be folly to escalate the fighting.

On this vital question, Mr Biden is sharply at odds with Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state.. He strongly opposes any large increase in US combat forces in Afghanistan, while Mrs Clinton has called for reinforcements, with the support of the Pentagon.

Mr Biden argues that escalating the fight against the Taliban using US troops would play into al-Qaeda's hands by stirring popular resentment and destabilising neighbouring Pakistan. It would also be politically damaging at home, where the American public is increasingly unwilling to tolerate high casualties....

Mr Biden, whose long experience of foreign policy is one of his key qualifications for the post, has long been critical of President Hamid Karzai's leadership in Afghanistan. His position has been boosted by the mounting evidence of widespread fraud in the recent presidential election.

So "the best, sagest, most accurate, most insightful advice and recommendation" foreign policy expert Joe Biden can offer his President is to let the NATO mission in Afghanistan die a slow death from neglect?
General Stanley McChrystal, the new American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, has submitted his classified assessment of the war to the White House. This is understood to lay out future options, ranging from sending 10,000 to 40,000 additional soldiers.

Gen McChrystal has privately made clear that he believes the greatest risk attaches to holding back on the reinforcements. What he considers the minimal option of sending between 10,000 and 15,000 more troops is also the riskiest choice, he argues.

Maybe Biden is thinking that he can work with the French to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan the way he and they drove Hizbollah out of Lebanon.

I feel sooooo much better about America's security knowing that Hole-in-the-Head Joe is giving our Commander-in-Chief his wise counsel.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ode to Barry O

It was 09 September in the House of Representatives
They had invited the Senate and everybody said, "What gives?
Barack Obama's coming and I want to know what he will say,
And will his hundredth speech on health care matter anyway?"
I was about to go and grab a cold one from out the fridge
When I heard Obama talk about the man from Chappaquiddick Bridge.

Barry said to the Congress, "You know, it don't seem right;
Ted was working four decades and he never once gave up the fight.
He could get McCain and Hatch and Grassley lined up on his side,
But he couldn't get health care reform through Congress before he died.
None of his passion and conviction made the cause advance a single smidge,
Not since the day that Teddy Kennedy drove off the Chappaquiddick Bridge."

Now the hours have come and gone since Obama made that fateful speech:
The Congress members from the GOP made fun of him for overreach,
While Democrats cheered on his call to get his healthcare plan passed right now --
Though none of them could even tell you what was in it anyhow.
The hopes for Barry-pleasin' health reform from Hawaii to the Blue Ridge
Have fallen in to the muddy water off the Chappaquiddick Bridge.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The rare but (not endangered) Alaskan Black Swan

Great book: The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Among other things, he mentions that no one builds monuments to the leaders who prevent terror attacks, because we forget that those attacks were probable in the absence of that leadership.

The title of the book comes from the syllogism, "All swans are white. This bird is a swan. Therefore, this bird is white." That was irrefutably true for Europeans... right up until the time of Captain Cook's voyage to Australia. Australia has a native species of swan that is jet black. Taleb's point is that, just because you've never seen something, you can't assume it doesn't exist.

While Taleb is concerned mostly with rare economic events and rare political events, his admonition applies to Sarah Palin. No one had ever seen a strong, common-sense, good-looking female politician who rose from the middle middle class before. Many people who were locked into the "all swans are white" old reality therefore tried to dismiss black swan Sarah Palin as not real, not genuine, an impostor, a white swan painted black.

That explains why in the run-up to his health care address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama released talking points that mentioned Sarah Palin (and no other Republican) by name. Palin had pre-empted Obama's speech with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal addressing the foreseeable failures of government bureaucratic control of America's health care.
On Gov. Palin's Attacks

Every non-partisan organization that has looked at her claims say they are false. And the ideas in her op-ed are both scary and risky. Eliminating Medicare and giving our seniors vouchers instead is a bad idea that we shouldn't adopt.
The wonderful thing is that Liberals (up to and including Obama) and faux Conservatives are locked in a futile effort to find the white down under Sarah's black feathers, and as a consequence their attention is drawn away from the efforts of others to expose the Red underbelly of the Liberal/Progressive/Democrat enterprise.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teach the Controversy!

Funny, isn't it, how the Left had been developing all throughout 2008 the meme that Creationists were turning the GOP into the Anti-Science Party. Typical is this attack by Chris Matthews on Rep. Mike Pence:

The cry of Creationists who want to get Biblical Creation or at least Intelligent Design into school curricula has been, "Teach the Controversy!" They claim they don't want their beliefs taught as settled fact, but they say that they want them taught alongside evolutionary science, the notion being that evolutionary science has gaps and leaps that allow for alternative explanations.

In my view, evolutionary science is what belongs in public school curricula because it can be tested by experiment and observation. Parents who want to teach Biblical Creation and Intelligent Design as plausible alternatives have the right to do so in the home or the house of worship.

But now the cry of "Teach the Controversy" is being taken up by the very people who try to use Creationism as a blunt instrument to bludgeon the Republican Party. Progressives, Liberals and Democrats on the Left of their party now want Americans to consider alternative explanations and theories... for the events of 9/11.

In their frenzy to characterize the expose of Van Jones's views as a "Right-wing smear," a number of folks on the Left defended outright his signing a 9/11 Truth petition that called for investigating the charge that the Bush Administration orchestrated the 9/11 attacks as a "false-flag operation" in order to create a pre-text for war.

John McWhorter writes in The New Republic:
Jones was wrong, actually, in disavowing his support for 9/11 conspiracy theory. He signed the document, which can only mean that he supports the idea that 9/11 was planned, or that the Bushies knew something more than they have said, or at least that the charge is plausible enough to require investigation.

But support for that idea is hardly unknown among people of the left – and often gestural in its own way; look one of these types in the eye and ask “Do you really think George Bush and his cabinet engineered the murder of thousands and have kept the secret for eight years?” and watch the nervous pause and the look off into the distance. Speculations in this vein hardly meant that Jones was not sincerely committed to working within the government to do good. (Hat tip: Hot Air.)

Jane Hamsher writes on the FireDogLake blog:
I first met Van Jones when he was honored last year by the Campaign for America's Future at their gala dinner. He was being swarmed by all of the liberal institutional elite, who just could not be more full of praise for the impressive environmental leader and prison reform organizer. Everybody wanted Van Jones on their board. Everyone wanted him at their fundraisers. Everyone wanted a piece of his formidable limelight.

Now he's been thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35% of all Democrats believed as of 2007 -- that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11. Well, that and calling Republicans "assholes." I'm pretty sure that if you search through the histories of every single liberal leader at the CAF dinner that night, they have publicly said that and worse.

So where are all the statements defending Van Jones by those who were willing to exploit him when it served their purpose? Why aren't they standing up and defending one of their own, who has done nothing that probably the majority of people in the Democratic party haven't done at one time or another? Is he no longer "one of their own?" (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.

And blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs joins the chorus, in this exchange with the investigative blogger "zombie":
zombie: But what about this document released by the Ella Baker Center when Jones was the head honcho there and giving quotes from Jones' group STORM, calling 9/11 a "bombing" with the statement

"No matter who ultimately is to blame for these bombings..."

...right below a quote from Jones.

It certainly pouts his in the Truther-Zone -- flirting with Truthism.

(And the was released nearly two months after 9/11, when it was well-known who did it - -at the very beginning of the truther movement.)

Johnson: That statement from STORM was released weeks after 9/11, when no one knew the full story. Lots of people were talking about the "bombing" of the World Trade Center then. That is not any kind of support for the contention that Van Jones is a Truther -- in fact, if that's all you can come up with, it reinforces my point that there is no evidence.

As someone who was in New York City on 9/11 and the days following, I know that there was no doubt about what happened to the Twin Towers that day: they were felled by the impact and fire damage from two jet airliners carrying full fuel loads. No one in New York that night or the next day had questions about bombs in the buildings -- no rational person, anyway. But hey, Johnson is all for the spirit of investigation when it's a Van Jones asking the questions.

In other words, "Teach The Controversy!"

These Left-Democrats aren't saying Bush did order the attacks, or that he did wilfully ignore warnings of the attacks to allow them to happen. They just want the questions put up for debate.

I know from experience that it is too much to ask Progressives and Leftists to be intellectually honest or even logically consistent with their own stated beliefs. But with the speed at which information flows today, and with the access to extensive archives of statements and pronouncements and news reports, you'd think they'd realize just how easy it is to juxtapose their conflicting words and actions.

"Teach the Controversy" isn't good policy regarding Creationism in public schools. It's far worse policy and politics in running one of America's two major political parties.

Barack Obama to America's schoolchildren: "Stop being bad kids"

Nice of the President to tell America's schoolchildren to stop cutting class, bullying their peers, intimidating their teachers and dropping out to lead a life of crime.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.

Great message - for kids in trouble. There are more than a few, no doubt:
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.

Know what, Mr. President? It might have been a better plan to target your speech to kids in those circumstances. On the other hand, did kids who are failing in school and at risk of gang activity and dropout even stay awake through the speech? Wouldn't they be more likely to be daydreaming about other things?
I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.

Sure sounds better than doing what the vast majority of American school kids are already doing:
That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Here's a thought: if the first person to tell a child to do these things is President Obama, that's really far too little, far too late. Fortunately, most kids have parents who actually have bothered to instill these values in them.

Of course, there are rotten little buggers in almost every school, even if gangs and poverty and crime and drugs aren't lapping at the schoolhouse door. President Obama's speech could be part of the disciplinary process for them: get sent to the Principal's office and you get strapped to a chair with the full-on Clockwork Orange cranial fixator and eyelid clamps, and then have the privilege of watching the President of the United States tell you to take responsibility. I bet after two sessions, three tops, the little miscreant would straighten up and fly right, if only to avoid having to sit through Obama's presentation ever again.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jacob Weisberg calls for abolition of inheritance tax in Slate

Wow. Jacob Weisberg of Slate now comes down hard in favor of permanent repeal of the inheritance tax.
The Republican Death Machine
Who's really pulling the plug on Grandma?

By Jacob Weisberg

Posted Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009, at 7:11 AM ET

Republicans charge that Democratic health care reform would, in Sen. Charles Grassley's words, "pull the plug on Grandma." According to Sen. Jon Kyl, the bills before Congress would ration medical treatment by age. Rep. John Boehner says they promote euthanasia. Alaskan abdicate Sarah Palin has raised the specter of "death panels." Such fears are understandable. It's not preposterous to imagine laws that would try to save money by encouraging the inconvenient elderly to make a timely exit. After all, that's been Republican policy for years.

It was Sen. Grassley himself who rammed the GOP's most astonishing pro-death policy through the Senate in 2001. The estate-tax revision he championed reduces the estate tax to zero next year. But when the law expires at year's end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley's exploding offer has an entirely foreseen if unintended consequence: It's going to encourage those whose parents and grandparents are worth anything more than a million bucks to get them dead by midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. This would be a great plot for a P.D. James novel if it weren't an actual piece of legislation.

As economists will tell you, when you don't tax something, you get more of it. Various studies have shown that this logic applies to life and death, as well as to more modest behavioral choices. In a 2001 paper titled "Dying To Save Taxes," Wojciech Kopczuk and Joel Slemrod examined 13 tax changes since 1917 and concluded that "for individuals dying within two weeks of a tax reform, a $10,000 potential tax savings … increases the probability of dying in the lower-tax regime by 1.6 percent." A 2006 study done in Australia, which abolished its inheritance tax in 1979, reached the same conclusion: "a statistically significant effect of the abolition of inheritance taxes on the number of deaths." More than half the people who, according to statistics, ordinarily would have paid the Aussie inheritance tax in its final week managed to evade it by living a bit longer. Here, Congress has created an incentive for Grandma to stick around through Jan. 1, 2010, then snuff it before the end of next year.

Obviously, if Mr. Weisberg believes what he wrote here, then he must regard it as a moral imperative that this death incentive be removed from tax policy once and for all.

But I bet what he means by this argument is that Republicans are just as bad as Obama Democrats in wanting Grandma to die. That in itself is an admission that Obama Democrats do, in fact, want Grandma to die.

The rest of the Weisberg piece is standard liberal Democrat tripe. For example, he says that wanting to privatize Social Security means wanting Gramps and Nana to kick it, since they’d obviously have lost their Social Security nest eggs in the recent stock market collapse. Of course, the privatization plan would have had no impact on anyone nearing retirement, applying only to younger workers. But if Mr. Weisberg wants to look retroactively, he might ask how much a current retiree might be getting today had his Social Security taxes paid over the last 40 years (age 25 to 65) had been invested in the S&P 500 over that span.

It’s wonderful that liberals believe they are so much smarter than the rest of the populace that they don’t think twice about blurting out the very arguments that completely undermine their own stated positions.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Profiling Prof, the Pandering President, and the Poisonous Precedent

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal writes in his Best of the Web blog of the kerfuffle between Prof. Gates and the Cambridge Police:
We still think, as we wrote yesterday, that in the incident itself, Crowley was more in the wrong than Gates. In a confrontation between a policeman and a private citizen, the former has far more power, and concomitantly more responsibility. But in a public debate over race, the black Harvard professor is the one with authority. Neither Gates’s social status nor his race absolves him from the responsibility of acknowledging and working to overcome his own prejudices.

I disagree with Mr. Taranto and I believe his criticism of Prof. Gates seriously underestimates the harm the professor's behavior has done.

About 15 years ago, Animal Control officers in Oakland, California, called on the home of a young Black man who owned a pit bull accused of biting a neighbor, and when the owner could not produce a current certificate of rabies vaccination, the Animal Control officers were obliged to take the dog in for quarantine. When the owner resisted, the officers called for backup. The responding officers were unable to get the young man to calm down once his dog was in custody, and so had to arrest him for disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.

But as OPD Officer William Grijalva attempted to handcuff the owner, he became violent. Though the officers used pepper spray, they were unable to subdue him, and he ran into his home, where his father kept a loaded shotgun behind the front door. When Officer Grijalva saw the shotgun leveled at him, he turned to find cover, and the shotgun pellets hit him in the side, where his bulletproof vest didn't provide protection. Despite his mortal wound, Officer Grijalva returned fire through the front door, as did his partner: the dog's owner was killed, but so was his disabled father, who was in a wheelchair behind the door.

As a leading scholar in African-American studies, Prof. Gates serves as a role model for Black American men. His behavior toward the police who responded to a call to protect his property appears from all accounts -- including the professor's -- to have been driven by his resentment of how police in the United States have treated Black men in the past. He chose to behave in a provocative and belligerent fashion toward the police officers in order to make them fully aware that he put his pride as an African-American man above his obligation as a citizen to allow the police to carry out their legitimate and necessary duties.

Prof. Gates's behavior, especially with President Obama's implicit endorsement, is likely to encourage young Black men to emulate him and "stand up to police racism" with belligerence and defiance. As Officer Grijalva's family can attest, that can easily lead to an escalation with consequences far more dire than mere charges of disorderly conduct. Prof. Gates and President Obama should both consider how their high dudgeon may well lead to unnecessary deaths of young Black men and police officers who encounter them in situations that otherwise could easily be defused.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

UNIFIL (allegedly) demonstrates grasp of the obvious

A house full of short-range rockets and small arms blew up in southern Lebanon and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon apparently noticed the fireworks.
A day after Israel cried foul over an explosion that uncovered a hidden Hizbullah arms cache in southern Lebanon, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon said Wednesday that storing the ammunition was a "serious violation" of the UN-brokered ceasefire that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

According to estimates in the IDF's Northern Command, Hizbullah has turned hundreds of homes in southern Lebanese villages into warehouses to store short- and medium-range Katyusha rockets.

The IDF released video footage taken from an Israeli aircraft, showing a home that had exploded on Tuesday in the village of Hirbet Selm - located some 20 kilometers north of the Lebanese border. The roof is seen in the footage with dozens of holes, which IDF ballistic experts said were the size of 122-mm. Katyusha rockets.

Given that a house blowing up is pretty obvious (especially since Israeli surveillance aircraft were watching the area), it would have been difficult for UNIFIL to deny that the incident took place. And since they had to admit that it took place, they also had to admit that it was a blatant violation of Security Council Resolution 1701.

UNIFIL seems to find a lot of blatant violations of UNSC Res. 1701, like the 20 Katyusha rockets set up and ready to fire it discovered last month:
In an effort to prevent a flare-up along the northern border, UNIFIL has increased its operations in southern Lebanon and has begun entering villages in search of Hizbullah weapons caches, according to information obtained recently by Israel.

In one recent successful operation in the eastern sector of southern Lebanon, UNIFIL peacekeepers uncovered close to 20 Katyusha rockets that were ready for launch.

UNIFIL operates under Security Council Resolution 1701, passed following the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Operations in villages have been a point of contention between UNIFIL and Israel, which said over the past three years that the peacekeeping force was failing to prevent Hizbullah's military buildup in southern Lebanon since it refrained from entering villages.

Hizbullah, the IDF believes, has deployed most of its forces and weaponry - including Katyusha rockets - inside homes in the villages. Until now, UNIFIL and the Lebanese army have mostly operated in open areas.

According to information obtained by Israel, UNIFIL has also succeeded recently in thwarting attacks that were planned against its own personnel.

Is UNIFIL actually taking on Hizbullah's arms caches south of the Litani River, or is it only reacting to each individual "serious breach" as if it were an isolated incident?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ken Loach: anti-Semite or Left looney?

Five hundred bucks is apparently the going rate to perpetuate the blood libel. At least, that amount of money -- donated to the Edinburgh International Film Festival by the Israeli Embassy to the UK -- that film director Ken Loach believes makes the EIFF complicit in Israeli "massacres and state terrorism in Gaza."
A donation – believed to be in the region of £300 – was to have been used to pay travel costs to the capital for Tali Shalom Ezer, a graduate of the film and television department at Tel Aviv University, who directed a short feature film, Surrogate.

SPSC, which campaigns in Scotland against Israel's attacks on Gaza, orchestrated a torrent of e-mail protests from people opposed to the move. But festival organisers refused to budge. EIFF managing director Ginnie Atkinson said not accepting support from one particular country "would set a dangerous precedent by politicising a cultural and artistic mission".

The SPSC then enlisted the support of Mr Loach, well known for his support of Palestinian human rights.

Mr Loach released a statement through the SPSC which read: "I'm sure many film-makers will be as horrified as I am to learn the Edinburgh International Film Festival is accepting money from Israel. The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable. With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away."

The following day the EIFF – which has since been in talks with Mr Loach – did a U-turn. It said: "The EIFF are firm believers in free cultural exchange and do not wish to restrict film-makers' abilities to communicate artistically with international audiences on the basis that they come from a troubled regime.

"Although the festival is considered wholly cultural and apolitical, we consider the opinions of the film industry as a whole and, as such, accept that one film-maker's recent statement speaks on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli embassy."

One hopes that Tali Shalom Ezer will get the money directly for travel expenses, and will show up at the EIFF to spit in Ken Loach's eye (figuratively, of course).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Assumptions, linkage, priority

From their meeting at the White House, it's clear that Barack Obama has one set, Binyamin Netanyahu has another.

Iran is Netanyahu's priority, on the assumption that it is determined to develop nuclear weapons with which to annihilate Israel. The Palestinian state is Obama's priority, on the assumption that the Muslim world will become pacific once there is peace between Israel and the Palestinians (and that a Palestinian state would necessarily be at peace with Israel).

On Iran:
Following four hours of talks with Obama, Netanyahu told Israeli reporters gathered across from the White House that there are no green, red or yellow lights from the US but rather a shared sense that Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.

Speaking side by side at the Oval Office earlier in the day, Obama stressed the importance the US places on Israeli security and its recognition of how the Jewish state perceives the threat from Teheran, even as he defended his policy of engagement.

Obama rejected the notion of "artificial timelines" in negotiations with Iran, which he indicated he expected would begin in earnest after the Iranian election on June 12 and could subsequently expand to include direct talks between Washington and the Islamic republic.

At the same time, he stressed that "we're not going to have talk forever" and allow Teheran to develop a nuclear weapon while negotiations go on, offering that "we'll probably be able to gauge and do a reassessment by the end of the year."

He also noted that "we are not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions, in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious."

Israel has been pushing for a timeline on the United States's diplomatic efforts out of concern that Iran could use the talks to run out the clock. The notion of a timeline was just one subject where differences were expected to emerge between the two leaders as they sat down for their first meeting as respective heads of government in a visit deemed crucial for determining the contours of their relationship and personal rapport.

On a Palestinian state:
Asked about reports in the media that Israel felt progress on Iran needed to be linked to progress with the Palestinians, Obama explicitly rejected the formulation, saying, "If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way: To the extent that we can make peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat."

But he added that both issues needed to be addressed independently on their own merits.

And Netanyahu, with Obama nodding along, said each issue could be helpful in reaching a positive conclusion on the other, but that there was no "policy linkage." Netanyahu also thanked Obama for his willingness to keep all options on the table when it comes to Iran.

And following the meeting with Obama, he told the Israeli media that he sensed a seriousness in the new American administration to push the Arab states to take meaningful steps toward peace with Israel that he had not seen before.

In his remarks to the press, Obama said "there is a recognition that the Palestinians are going to have to do a better job providing the kinds of security assurances that Israelis would need to achieve a two-state solution, [and] gain additional legitimacy and credibility with their own people, and delivering services."

He also said, "The other Arab states have to be more supportive and be bolder in seeking potential normalization with Israel."

But he cautioned Israel that it would have to make difficult steps, too, including improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and stressed that "there is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward."

Each regards the other as basing policy on flawed assumptions: Obama regards Iran as a problem but not an immediate existential threat to Israel, and Netanyahu regards a prematurely-born Palestinian state as a breeding and staging ground for war against Israel. It seems that Netanyahu's assumptions are more grounded in real-life experience and knowledge of the Middle East.

Although the meeting seemed friendly and fruitful, the deep differences in how they see the exigencies of the situation are likely to lead to severe tensions between Israel and the United States. Where Israel sees immediate action against Iran as vital to its own survival, the United States will put pressure on Israel to make immediate concessions to the Palestinians. The inevitable clash of assumptions, priorities and linkage will sorely test the US-Israeli relationship.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I blame science shows on TV

For the first time since the Gallup Poll began asking the question in 1995, more Americans identify themselves as pro-life than pro-choice.
A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.

The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.

You know, with all of those shows on TLC and the Discovery Channel showing how fetal viability is being pushed earlier and earlier, not to mention showing the simple images of fetal development, it's not surprising that more and more Americans are thinking of unborn children as people with rights, rather than clumps of cells akin to tumors or parasites.

It seems that the people who think that the GOP is swinging too far right for the American people on social issues are the ones who are out of touch with the pulse of the people. They seem to be bitter and clinging to their 1970s attitudes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is Paris burning? Not yet, but...

Two men in an Italian prison were overheard plotting to blow up Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Oh, and British targets, too.
Italian police on Tuesday arrested two alleged al-Qaeda terrorists suspected of planning attacks on Britain and France from inside prison as part of a Europe-wide network.

During wiretapped conversations the men discussed an attack on Charles De Gaulle airport outside Paris and spoke of the need to "strike at the British", Italian police said.

Bassam Ayachi, 62, a Syrian imam with French citizenship, and Raphael Frederic Gendron, 33, a Frenchman who converted to Islam, were allegedly part of an al-Qaeda cell operating in Europe.

They have been in prison in Bari, a port town in southern Italy, since November, when they were arrested on suspicion of smuggling five illegal immigrants into Italy aboard a camping trailer.

Ayachi is a well-known extremist preacher based in Belgium and mentor to Malika el-Aroud, a leading female figure in al-Qaeda whose first husband was killed in an attack against Ahmed Shah Massoud, then leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.

El-Aroud was arrested in Belgium a month after Ayachi and accused of planning a suicide attack while Prime Minister Gordon Brown was attending a meeting of European leaders in Brussels.

Italian officers placed a listening device in the cell shared by Ayachi and Gendron.

In one bugged conversation, the pair discussed "striking the British" and launching a Sept 11-style attack using an aircraft, although the target was not specified.

"They are key figures in al-Qaeda's European organisation," said Giorgio Manari, the chief of police in Bari. The wiretap evidence had enabled investigators to "nip the plot in the bud", he said.

The men were served warrants charging them with criminal association linked to international terrorism and will remain in custody.

They were also suspected of recruiting militants for suicide attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Police said the pair had for years lived in Belgium, where Bassam was an imam at an extremist Islamic centre and one of al-Qaeda's "spiritual guides", while Gendron, a computer expert, was the "media propaganda point man, via the internet, for the French-speaking community."

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that these aren't the only two Islamic terror plotters in Europe. What with the totally botched raid on the Easter bombing plotters in Manchester, UK,, it seems that it's only a matter of time before the luck of European law enforcement runs out. It makes one wonder how much luck is left in the reservoir of American law enforcement....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

All's well that ends well, right?

Except the ending of Roxana Saberi's story hasn't yet been written, and there is no assurance whatsoever that it will end well: Iran hears appeal of jailed American journalist.

Iranian judges yesterday heard the appeal of the American-Iranian journalist whose eight-year jail sentence for spying has threatened to derail attempts to improve relations between the two countries.

Roxana Saberi was taken to court from Tehran's Evin prison early on Sunday morning wearing blue chador and looking pale and gaunt, according to witnesses.

But her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, said the case was heard in a "good atmosphere" and that he was hopeful that the sentence would be changed. He also said the verdict would probably be handed down later this week.

"They gave us enough time... to present our defence," he said. "They also gave enough time to my client to defend herself."

The court is expected to deliver its verdict this week.

Miss Saberi was born to an Iranian father and Japanese mother and grew up in the United States with dual nationality. She was at first charged with buying alcohol and with continuing to report from Iran after her press accreditation expired, but at the trial she was accused of espionage.

She was sentenced not long after President Barack Obama had made an online video address to the Iranian people arguing for a new start in relations between the two long-standing diplomatic adversaries.

While President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton wait for Iran to unclench its fist, they might reflect on the fact that said fist is clenched around Roxana Saberi's throat. It's unclear why her safety and freedom are any less of a concern than that of Capt. Phillips: the only difference in the cases is the nature of the pirates who seized the captives.

UPDATE: Roxana Saberi has been released from Evin Prison, her 8-year sentence commuted to 2 years, suspended. She has yet to leave Iran, however, and is likely not safe until she does. Interestingly, President Obama made more note of her release than he did of her captivity.
The release of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi from Tehran's infamous Evin prison has been welcomed by rights groups and Western governments, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who called it a "humanitarian gesture."

Yet many questions remain about how Saberi's initial detention on a relatively minor charge evolved into a conviction for espionage and an eight-year prison sentence.

While analysts might not agree on the reasons behind Iran's decision to free Saberi, there is broad agreement that the case was politically motivated.

The rapid escalation of the charges against the 32-year-old journalist, followed by a fast-track appeals process that resulted in a lesser sentence, hint at the political nature behind the case.

The initial charges leveled against Saberi in late January related to the purchase of a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran. Those charges quickly widened into charges of spying for the United States, which in turn resulted in a guilty verdict and an eight-year prison sentence handed down by a revolutionary court.

Finally, amid international outcry over Saberi's imprisonment, an appeals court ruled on the case within 24 hours of hearing it, resulting in a two-year suspended sentence that leaves Saberi free to leave the country.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The revolutionary side of Pete Seeger

Mark Newgent in The Examiner (Baltimore edition) comments on the 90th birthday celebration for Pete Seeger.
Iconic folk singer Pete Seeger turned 90 last week and the occasion was marked by a concert at Madison Square Garden featuring musical luminaries Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Joan Baez and Ani DiFranco, and even a letter from President Barack Obama delivered to thousands of adoring fans.

Newgent points out that Seeger has been a lifelong Communist, as in member of the Communist Party USA. Like all CPUSA members, in the late 1930s, Seeger vehemently opposed U.S. involvement in Europe's mounting preparations for war against Hitler - because of the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop pact that made Hitler and Stalin formal allies in the partition of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union. However, when Hitler turned on Stalin, Seeger became a gung ho proponent of the U.S. joining the war against Nazi Germany.

It wasn't until many years later than Seeger realized that Stalin was a monster who destroyed many of his people. But it's hard to admit that you've been that wrong for that long, as evidenced in Seeger's apology:
I'll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was simply a 'hard driver' and not a supremely cruel misleader. I guess anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Moslems by Crusaders. White people in the U.S.A. could consider apologizing for stealing land from Native Americans and enslaving blacks. Europeans could apologize for worldwide conquests, Mongolians for Genghis Khan. And supporters of Roosevelt could apologize for his support of Somoza, of Southern white Democrats, of Franco Spain, for putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps.

Pete Seeger was and is a great admirer of Mao Zhedong. He has for many, many years performed a bit called "The Three Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points of Attention," in which he recites the rules for revolution postulated by Mao in 1928 and used as Red Army doctrine in the overthrow of China's government. Seeger recites the Three Rules and Eight Points, then whistles a happy tune. Seeger recites the People's Daily translation:
The Three Main Rules of Discipline:

* Obey orders in all your actions.
* Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses.
* Turn in everything captured.

The Eight Points for Attention:

* Speak politely.
* Pay fairly for what you buy.
* Return everything you borrow.
* Pay for anything you damage.
* Do not hit or swear at people.
* Do not damage crops.
* Do not take liberties with women.
* Do not ill-treat captives.

Certainly the respect Mao's army showed to the peasantry helped him gain popular support over the Kuomintang and eventually victory in his revolution. However, as ruler, Mao presided over the mass famines of the Great Leaps Forward and the mass murders and brutal oppression of the Cultural Revolution.

Seeger recorded The Three Rules on one of his hit albums of a live concert with Arlo Guthrie - in 1975, when the horrors of the Cultural Revolution and the various Great Leaps Forward were well known. As opposed to his regret for Stalin's excesses, Seeger has no apologies for his love of Mao, one of the greatest mass murderers of all time.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

They know how it plays in Madrid, London and DC - if not Peoria

The Taliban in Afghanistan are accused of using hand grenades to ensure that there were civilian casualties to show to the media in the wake of an American air strike: Taliban blamed for 'air strike' deaths.
The claim, based on the account of US special forces involved in the fighting, comes the day after the Red Cross and Afghan officials blamed American warplanes for killing more than 100 people in Bala Balak, a Taliban-held district in Farah province.

The top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, expressed doubt about whether the civilians were killed by American air strikes.

"We have some other information that leads us to distinctly different conclusions about the cause of the civilian casualties," McKiernan said.

US Marine special operations forces, embedded with Afghan soldiers when the fighting erupted, claim the Taliban lobbed hand grenades into civilian houses before pretending the dead were victims of an American air strike, a United Nations official said.

One can hardly blame the Taliban for murdering civilians in this way (if it proves that the allegations are true). After all, they know how willing the press and European public opinion (as well as American public opinion on the two coasts) are to believe that American forces wantonly target civilians. From the Taliban's perspective, it would be a waste not to exploit that propaganda tool.

Another slice of life from southern Africa

Quite literally, a slice that offers hope of life: Botswana to circumcise half a million men in Aids fight.
The southern African country, which has one of the world's highest HIV infection rates, plans to circumcise 460,000 men over the next five years, after a series of studies found that circumcised men were two to three times less likely to contract HIV than uncircumcised men.

"For the public health benefits of the preventive effect of circumcision to be realised, the Ministry of Health is supposed to cover 80 per cent of eligible males in Botswana," said Janet Mwambona, a public health specialist in charge of the project.

Botswana has already benefited from the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs. Botswana's HIV prevalence among pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 24 has stayed between 35 and 37 per cent since 2001. The rate among older pregnant women was 43 per cent in 2003.

Through this latest campaign, Botswana expects to cut that rate further.