Thursday, October 26, 2006

Invaluable Advice: If Only We Had Done This in 2003!

Here's Ralph Peters with some invaluable advice about Iraq:
The first thing we need to do is to kill Muqtada al-Sadr, who's now a greater threat to our strategic goals than Osama bin Laden.

We should've killed him in 2003, when he first embarked upon his murder campaign. But our leaders were afraid of provoking riots.

Back then, the tumult might've lasted a week. Now we'll face a serious uprising. So be it. When you put off paying war's price, you pay compound interest in blood.
We must kill - not capture - Muqtada, then kill every gunman who comes out in the streets to avenge him.
I've been saying exactly the same thing for years. They should have taken the bull by the horns and faced down the mob then. Since we have left him alone, the situation has deteriorated massively and he is at the heart of many of our problems, and Iraq's.

Peters also points out the obvious about the Maliki Government and its effect on Iraq.
I lost faith in our engagement in Iraq last week. I can pinpoint the moment. It came when I heard that Maliki had demanded - successfully - that our military release a just-captured deputy of Muqtada al-Sadr who was running death squads.

As a former intelligence officer, that told me two things: First, Iraq's prime minister is betting on Muqtada to prevail, not us. Second, Muqtada, not the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is now the most powerful man in Iraq...

Our soldiers and Marines are dying to protect a government whose members are scrambling to ally themselves with sectarian militias and insurgent factions. President Bush needs to face reality. The Maliki government is a failure.

There's still a chance, if a slight one, that we can achieve a few of our goals in Iraq - if we let our troops make war, not love. But if our own leaders are unwilling to fight, it's time to leave and let Iraqis fight each other.

Our president owes Iraq's treacherous prime minister nothing. Get tough, or get out.

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The Antidote to Democrat Political Stupidity

You have to read this interview with Camille Paglia at Salon. If all Democrats were this clear thinking, if the tenor of political discourse took pace at this level, the whole country would be in a much better place.

Reading the column is like taking the antidote to all the stupidity and shibboleths of the nutroots and leftist blogs and mainstream media crap. Refreshingly, she leaves you yearning for more.

It's just good, start to finish. I certainly don't agree with everything that she says - our starting points are on opposite sides of the fence - but because she is willing to criticize her own side so honestly, with such judiciousness, I feel far more willing to engage in a dialogue with her. Honest critique begets honest critique.

Here's just one example:
This overblown fear of Fox News is such a sentimentality on the part of too many Democrats. Talk radio is infinitely more powerful than Fox. Radio hosts are blanketing the country with round-the-clock conservative ideology -- not because they're dastardly conspirators manipulating the media but because they've achieved their success, market by market, in creating programs that millions of people want to listen to. The recent filing for bankruptcy by Air America dramatizes my party's abject failure to produce shows that are informative and entertaining and that systematically build an audience -- the way all the top radio hosts did who climbed the ladder from obscurity to their present prominence. Aren't we the party of Hollywood? The fact that we've failed so miserably at this central medium of communication shows how something has gone very wrong in Democratic sensibility.
Don't you wish all the Dems talked this way? If politics in America were always discussed this honestly and with this much clarity, the country would be in a better place.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

2nd Al Durah Trial Starts Today

Neo Neocon is in Paris to cover the second Al Durah Trial with an explanation of who France2 is suing for libel. And why it is bound to strike Americans, used to freedom of speech, as absurdist right off the bat.

And Richard Landes has a fascinating follow up analysis of the legal dynamics of the first trial.
[The verdict] shows a minimal grasp of what the evidence before them implies, and an extraordinary capacity to ignore inconvenient evidence. The judges work like journalists, bad journalists...

The tragedy here is that justice becomes the handmaiden of social order defined in terms of the “honor” of the elite. When faced with the classic dilemma of the Dreyfus affair, and here the Muhammad al Durah affair — honor or honesty — those in favor of “social order” choose honor.
Pretty much as I thought. France2 is too much of a state aligned company for France - in the person of the judge - to damage it, which would mean to damage herself, her own honor.

And merely for the denizens of that "shitty little country," as the French ambassador to England once called Israel at a dinner party of like minded souls and Barbara Amiel, who, unfortunately for the dear man, exposed him publicly for it.

Isn't it interesting these days that in both Britain and France, it is private individuals, in this case private, Jewish individuals, who are battling the state aligned major media corps in order to have them adhere to a standard of objective, unbiased information in their reporting. Or, at least, to admit their bias and expose it publicly.

And it is, of course, the media corporations that are resisting this, because they are too at home in their own culture.
Political pundit Andrew Marr said: 'The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.'

At least the BBC had their encounter session, however. Honestly, can you imagine France2 ever doing so?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bush: Just a Scary Fundamentalist

Or so asserts Gerhard Schrodiger, whom the Germans, thank God, replaced with Angela Merkel last spring.

The former Chancellor, an agnostic, seems to consider President Bush to be a Christian fundamentalist, and as such less likely to make the compromises needed to end the conflict in Iraq.

“We rightly criticise that in most Islamic states there is no clear separation between religion and the rule of law,” he says. “But we fail to recognise that, in the US, the Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the Bible have similar tendencies.

“If both sides claim to be in possession of the only valid truth, then there is no room for manoeuvre.”

Ah, yes. Relativism is all. America and the Islamic fundamentalists are precise moral equivalents relative to the false truths they believe in.

Unfortunately, I have a good friend in Germany - who happens to be a Green - and as she expressed this exact same sentiment to me about Bush's scary religious fundamentalism - I imagine this impression is rather endemic and, at the moment, ineradicable on the German left.

How awkward that it comes out at the same time that David Kuo latterly informed "the American Christianist movement" that Bushco. doesn't take the fundamentalists seriously at all and often makes fun of them.

Well which is it?

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Spooking the Spooks: More on the BBC

Anyone out there ever seen the BBC series Spooks? Also known, in the US, as MI5? I quite liked it in the first two seasons, although I had to spend an unreasonable amount of time filtering out its annoying BBC™ political slant.

You know, there was the time that the Neocon-Israeli News Magnate - I took it to be a swipe at Lord Conrad Black - arranged the assassination of the chief UN Peacekeeper, etc. And then there was the fact that, though there was the occasional chatter about Arab terrorism, as it turned out, anytime they had cause to suspect an arab of terrorism on the show, it was either because a white person had set him up to deflect suspicion from himself or because the agents had been tracking the usual suspects, but were plum wrong. And then there was the egregious anti-Americanism, anti-CIA attitude - which latter is funny, because I guess the rubes at the BBC have not yet figured out that in this war, the CIA is on their side and not on America's the Administration's. Haven't they heard of all the leaks? Or don't they actually follow American news?

Eventually, it became too aggravating to enjoy. So I simply stopped watching. Besides, after they got rid of Matthew Macfadyen, it was never the same.

It turns out, amazingly enough, that I'm not the only one irked by "Spooks" portrayal of Israel/Jews. Apparently, the season finale of Spooks this year in Britain was a real doozy:
The episode deals with a large-scale deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia wherein Britain is promised an unlimited supply of fuel for handing over plutonium to the Saudis. Mossad agents attempt to thwart the deal, and are seen shooting bound and blindfolded prisoners in the back.
In other words, they presented a typical views of the way in which BBC journalists - and series writers - view Israel. Even if this is not yet part of their private confessional.

And so who was irked?

The Mossad. Irked enough, if the story is true, for some of them to come to London and complain in person to the heads of both MI6 (external threats) and MI5 (internal threats).
The Mossad is furious at a popular British espionage drama series, or so says the 'Sunday Express. The British daily reported Sunday that senior Mossad agents were so angry with the way their organization was depicted in the BBC production 'Spooks' that they decided to take the matter to the British secret service.

High-ranking Mossad agents reportedly flew to London to see the last episode, which aired on BBC3 last week.
Though I do have a bit of an unbelievability gap here - did they really need to travel to London to see the show, or did they just want a fun jaunt? Because, hasn't the Mossad ever heard of bittorrent? They could have easily watched it in Israel.

Although, maybe they wanted to enjoy the show on a large screen TV? Who knows?

The Mossad is "officially denying" the story. But then, of course, they would either way. Because, if true, it reduces Israel to the level of Kazakhstan, re, um, Borat. Even though those of us who have watched Spooks - and, uh, are not acolytes of the BBC's political cult, understand implicitly how annoyed that show can make you.

To this "nonexistent" complaint, the BBC replied, that, like most of their journalism,
the series in question is fictional and that "we're sure the viewers understand that the episodes do not present actual events.
Yes, the viewers do understand that about BBC journalism. Though, we often wonder whether the writers and reporters understand it as well.
The series is about intelligence organizations all over the world and they've all had to deal with the imagination of our screenwriters."
Which makes it interesting to note that the imagination of these screen writers trends in precisely the same way as their journalists. In that case, is it simple imagination at work, or, rather, simply scripting one's cultural biases into a show that works very hard to present an aura of realism. Imagination seems to me quite different than scripting up one's raw political biases into a work of drama. But, seemingly, the difference, these days, is often lost on the Brits. As Terry Teachout notes about the Rachel Corrie play, Politics makes artists stupid.

What was that again, according to their own critique of themselves:
At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness...
News programs, TV shows, it all comes out the same on the BBC.

Given this self evaluation, this catalogue of errant biases, it is interesting to note that news outlets like the BBC are part of an ongoing effort to turn being a supporter of Israel into the new transgressive activity.

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Phosphorus Bombs

This new story, that Israel admits to using phosphorus bombs in Lebanon, is troubling, both for the morality of the situation and because it is going to end up producing a huge propaganda victory against it. As well as being very unpopular in Israel, itself, unless Israel can supply a good reason for it.

Phosphorus bombs are not considered to be chemical weapons and they are not illegal. But that is not going to be the standard applied to Israel.

UPDATE: The story is currently a top headline on the BBC website. Can more international opprobrium be far behind?

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The Journalistic Infection

Well they're finally out of the closet on this one. In a group encounter session, members of the BBC admitted to each other - though not to the public - that their reporting was biased. And then someone outed them anonymously to the UK Daily Mail, a newspaper that the majority of them would no doubt scorn to read.
A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.

At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness...
That last is quite an admission. Or perhaps more like stating the obvious.

In other news from the report, the anti-American bias of their reporting was acknowledged, though admitting the same about Israel was oviously a bridge too far. Or - who knows - a bridge too far to admit publicly for this particular leaker.
Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to 'correct', it in his reports. Webb added that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it 'no moral weight'.
Yes, that sums up their position very neatly. Though Byford doesn't seem to have done a very good job in helping to correct the bias. It makes you wonder how bad were the unredacted versions of the reports he received.

I wonder if they finished the encounter session with a round of whatever the British equivalent to kumbaya is.

And now that this out in the open, one wonders if it will have a bearing on whether the BBC is allowed to continue to suppress the Balen Report, reporting on its anti-semitic outlook.

Earlier this week I posted on the BBC's attempt to suppress a publicly funded report that criticized its objectvity and reporting methodology and its anti-Israel bias in the ME, called the Balen Report. Mr. Sugar, the man pursuing action against the BBC in order to get public access to the Balen Report, notes that he became concerned with BBC standards during the course of the 2nd intifada.
Mr Sugar said: "This is a serious report about a serious issue and has been compiled with public money. I lodged the request because I was concerned that the BBC's reporting of the second intifada was seriously unbalanced against Israel, but I think there are other issues at stake now in the light of the BBC's reaction."

I'm sceptical this new leaked report alone will change anything, but, perhaps, after a while, slowly, slowly, it will build into a big enough crescendo that change will arrive after all. I certainly don't see how the BBC can maintain its right to the license fee in Britain when they are not at all representative of the people they serve. But in order for that fight to be won, it might first be waged.

Awake, Britons, awake.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Eminent British Military Historian

John Keegan reminds us why Iraq is nothing like Vietnam, militrily speaking, and why the present situation is nothing like the Tet offensive. He thinks the President was unwise to be drawn into admitting that some people would see a comparison, since the media are going to play up this message and it was also the media that insisted that the Vietnam war was also lost by nightly pummeling home that message, despite the facts.
By January 1968, total American casualties in Vietnam — killed, wounded and missing — had reached 80,000 and climbing. Eventually deaths in combat and from other causes would exceed 50,000, of which 36,000 were killed in action. Casualties in Iraq are nowhere near those figures. In a bad week in Vietnam, the US could suffer 2,000 casualties. Since 2003, American forces in Iraq have never suffered as many as 500 casualties a month. The number of casualties inflicted in Iraq are not established, but are under 50,000. In any year of the Vietnam war, the communist party of North Vietnam sent 200,000 young men to the battlefields in the south, most of whom did not return. Vietnam was one of the largest and costliest wars in history. The insurgency in Iraq resembles one of the colonial disturbances of imperial history....

..The recent upsurge of violence in Iraq in no way resembles the Tet offensive. At Tet, the Vietnamese new year, the North Vietnamese People's Army simultaneously attacked 40 cities and towns in South Vietnam, using 84,000 troops. Of those, the communists lost 45,000 killed. No such losses have been recorded in Iraq at any place or any time. The Tet offensive proved to be a military disaster for the Vietnamese communists. It left them scarcely able to keep up their long-running, low-level war against the South Vietnamese government and the American army.

Indeed, insofar as Tet was a defeat for the United States and for the South Vietnamese government, it was because the American media decided to represent it as such. It has become a cliché to say that Vietnam was a media war, but so it was. Much of the world media were hostile to American involvement from the start, particularly in France, which had fought and lost its own Vietnam war in 1946-54. The defeat of Dien Bien Phu rankled with the French and there were few who wanted to see the Americans win where they had failed.

See John Keegan's many tomes on miltary history listed here.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fauxtography Rules!

[With UPDATES at the bottom]

Apparently it does in France where news suppression and journalism as propaganda has just won a victory.

In appalling news from unfree France, on the first of the Al Dura trials currently ongoing in France, Philippe Karsenty was found liable for insulting Charles Enderlin and France2 to the sum of 3000 Euros to Enderlin and 5 symbolic Euros to France2.

Mr. Karsenty comments: “It is a very somber day for France. The French justice system has validated a false report,” he told reporters after the decision. “We are going to appeal straight away. It is a very surprising judgment.”

Richard Landes, who was called as a witness, has this to say:
The implications of this reversal of Madame le Procureur’s clear recommendations, for what appears to be — we’ll have a translation and analysis of the judgment ASAP — a critique of Philippe that somehow absolves Enderlin of all of his journalistic failings, failings that came out abundantly in court, are deeply troubling.

Nidra Poller, commenting from Paris for Pajamas Media, writes:
This just in from Nidra Poller at the trial - “We were naïve. We are naïve. It was such a beautiful trial but how did we dream that the court would rule in favor of Philippe Karsenty and against state-owned France 2? The verdict was announced succintly, the judge was cold and impersonal. Karsenty is convicted of defamation and ordered to pay a penalty of 1000 euros; symbolic damages of 1 euro to each plaintiff, Charles Enderlin and France 2; and 3000 euros in court costs. Karsenty will appeal. As soon as I get a copy of the judgment I will explain the arguments on which this conviction was based. A video report is on its way.”

Here is Richard Landes' report on the Al Dura affair right before the first verdict in the New Republic.

And the same report on his own blog, with photos, hypertext and a few new lines added in.

All in all, this verdict is deeply troubling. More like the France of the Dreyfus affair, than the France that helped bequeath to the world the Enlightenment and the fight for freedom of information against entrenched state power.

UPDATED: Richard Landes continues his analysis of l'affaire Dreyfus Dura here.
This is a tragic day for French republican values and the resilience of European culture. Philippe’s personal travails aside, no one but those who long ago wrote France off as a third-world country with first world pretensions, the jihadis with designs on Europe, and their third-worldist allies, can be pleased at such a failure of judicial reasoning.
Let us remind oursevles that embarrassment to the state was one of the main reasons that the Dreyfus affair took so long to correct.

Is there no one today in France with the courage of an Émile Zola to use the media to shine truth, bravely? As with Zola, likely a non-Jew would have more credibility in the population at large. But how about The Bernard Henri Lévi™? Or did he lose all his credibility "among people who count," i.e. French leftist intellectuals, when he went on record to support Israel's war against Hezbollah. Although, as a philospher, one imagines he's interested in the framing of narrative truth by the media. And Zola was a socialist as well.

And here is Nidra Poller's first hand account of the atmosphere in which the verdict was delivered and her impressions of the entire affair.
Judge Joël Boyer who personified the search for the truth as he presided over the hearing one month ago pronounced the verdict in a weak, anonymous, impersonal voice...

Don’t they understand? It was not a trial to determine the authenticity of the al-Dura report. A French court won’t raise that question, won’t deliberate on that evidence, won’t even ask for the 27 minutes of outtakes. Where does it get you when you keep winning in a rigged game?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Inside the Janjaweed

A startling account from a refuge from the Janjaweed army in Sudan significantly alters our understanding of the dynamics of the Darfur genocide and the role of the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed.

Worth reading in full.

The Lancet Report

Just in case you want to know why the current Lancet Report is completely flawed in its methodology, read this. Steven Moore deconstructs the flawed statistical metholodogy employed by the researchers.

It comes down to two factors, far too few cluster points for its sample and no comparison of the statistical analysis from their report to a known demographic instrument, such as a census. And don't forget, that heirs to the British system, before the invasion, the Iraqis kept meticulous records.

In fact, they're indicted by their own appendix. Bear in mind, they used 48 cluster points for a population of 27 million:
Appendix A of the Johns Hopkins survey, for example, cites several other studies of mortality in war zones, and uses the citations to validate the group's use of cluster sampling. One study is by the International Rescue Committee in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which used 750 cluster points. Harvard's School of Public Health, in a 1992 survey of Iraq, used 271 cluster points. Another study in Kosovo cites the use of 50 cluster points, but this was for a population of just 1.6 million, compared to Iraq's 27 million.

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It's Hunting Season For Democrats

Who are they hunting? Gay Republicans.

Outing specialist Mike Rogers has “outed” Senator Larry Craig as a closet homosexual.

Senator Craig denies the charges. He's currently married, has three children and 9 grandchildren.

70% of Kossites believe that outing gay republicans is a fine and dandy sport. I suppose the number might budge over time, but it is holding consistent in the last few hours.

UPDATE: According to Red State this outing is payback for not voting against Alito at the confirmation hearings, before which time Mike Rogers threatened to out a closeted United States Senator at a politically opportune time tif he voted for Alito.

That charge, if true, is not just deplorable but moves it into the realm of bribing a public official, a far more serious charge.

Just yesterday morning, though, I was reading about a more traditional kind of hunting season, the kind that takes place on "woodlots and fields across America" - on Confederate Yankee. He was used the article largely to recommend weapons for homeowners, who were gun owning novices, who wished to purchase guns and ammunition appropriate for their protection.

Personally, I found this a more interesting read, particularly as Mary of Exit Zero and I went shooting again, and this time I used a 9mm instead of a 22, as I did last time. It's an altogether different experience - far more intense and a far heavier weapon, which really effects your aim. Moreover, I could still feel the kick from the rifle on my jaw and shoulder two days after the shooting. And his point about comfort with the gun being an entirely different thing for those with military or police training, for whom the gun becomes a daily part of life, made perfect sense. The magazines we were using contained 10 shots apiece and it took a lot more effect to squeeze off 10 with a 9mm than a 22, because of its greater recoil and report.

Though personally I want to master the martial arts roll with rifle, after which you leap up and start shooting. I can already do the roll and the leap into a kick, so I don't think adding the rifle as ballast for the roll should present a problem. And it just looks so neat.

My Burka Anecdote

Since Jack Straw finally spoke his mind on fully veiled Muslim women a few weeks back, he has now emerged as the most popular politician in the Labour party. And many other politicians in Britain are racing to follow suit. Even the despicable notorious Red Ken on Sunday spoke out against the full covering.

Earlier today Tony Blair joined the crowd of politicians, stating that the wearing in public of veils by Muslim women 'was a “mark of separation” that made other people feel uncomfortable.' This despite the fact that his wife Cherie was once a paid crusader, i.e., a lawyer, on the other side of the issue, fighting to permit schoolgirls to wear the hiljab to school, a garb far more restrictive than what has been up until now normative.

The latest politician to chime in is no other than leftist Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy, saying:
"You can't cover your face. If you have a veil, fine, but you must be seen," Prodi told Reuters, adding: "This is common sense I think, it is important for our society. It is not how you dress but if you are hidden or not."
Meanwhile, it is a good thing the leftists are all doing this. If the rightist parties in Europe and Britain were doing precisely the same thing, the leftists would be calling them fascists and against human rights, etc.

Anyway, Here's my burka anecdote. . . .

Years ago, during graduate school, after my sister had returned from a several month long trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan – while the mujahaddin were still busy fighting the communists and we were supplying them with cash and weapons and before the Taliban was created and Al Qaeda existed – I borrowed a mustard color burka she had purchased as a momento and wore it to synagogue on Purim while toting along a prayer rug I had purchased the previous spring in Turkey.

Purim, for those of you who don't know, is like the Halloween of the Jewish calendar. You go to synagogue in costume. And then for the part of in not like Halloween - you recite lengthy prayers and listen to the entire biblical text of the scroll of Esther. But then you party. And drink. And have fun.

Anyway, while dressed in the burka in synagogue, I got some priceless looks of curdling dislike until - duh! - those people realized I was wearing it in synagogue on that day because it was Purim and I was in costume. Not just a Moslem invader in full regalia in the synagogue, which is what several of those looks seemed to imply.

I have to say, it was my best costume ever on Purim. Though I sure made a number of people uncomfortable before they figured out who it was.

Years later, by some inner logic of her own, my sister did exactly the same thing - afterall, it was her burka - at a modern orthodox syngogue on the Upper East Side in NYC, on the very Purim following 9/11.

The women around her became so agitated they got the guard to come and remove her, which he did, even after she pointed out at length and vociferously that she was a member there. I guess they didn't appreciate that it was Purim either and she was in costume.

Afterwards, we all had a good laugh as to why she had done anything so ridiculous/uproarious post 9/11 - funnier because it was completely out of character for her to misjudge something so totally. She was mortified. But it still makes me laugh.

More Objective Reporting From Reuters

On Tuesday, a Reuters cameraman, working in the West Bank, was remanded into custody by the Judea-area military court.

What were the charges, you ask? Nothing special. Just the usual kind of objective methodology we've now grown accustomed to seeing from the Reuters' reporting staff in the Middle East:
The cameraman, Imad Muhammad Intisar Boghnat, was arrested and charged as a result of violent riots in the Arab village of Bil'in, in the Modi'in region, on October 6, 2006. A videotape that the prosecution presented to the judge shows Boghnat encouraging and directing rioters in Bil'in to throw large chunks of rock at Israeli vehicles in such a way as to cause maximum damage. The accused is heard shouting, "Throw, throw!" and later, "Throw towards the little window!"
But, of course, this is perfectly fine. He only wanted to get a pristine shot for Reuters demonstrating the deplorable conditions in the West Bank.

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BBC - The News Suppression Corporation

Not only is the BBC biased against Israel, which one can observe simply by watching it. But now it turns out, the BBC is going to court, using public funds supplied to them by the execrable license act (of which more anon), to suppress The Balen Report under the Freedom of Information Act, which is believed to contain evidence of the BBC's anti-Israeli bias in its news programming.

So what do we have here? A news corporation - whose job is to report the news - trying to suppress inflammatory and unbecoming news about itself - news that might embarrass the BBC publicly and make the public question its journalistic standards.

Is there any becoming reason the BBC would want to prevent the news from this report from becoming public? A becoming reason?

Norm Geras wonders: If the report does include such evidence, why isn't the BBC brave enough to release it anyway and answer whatever case it feels it may need to?

From their actions, they give the appearance that they consider the charges unanswerable.

*The license fee is a fee that all people resident in Britain must pay in order to view tv legally in their dwellings. The current cost for a colour television licence is £131.50 There are no exceptions, for people on welfare or low incomes, except for pensioners over the age of 75.

The licence fee goes directly to the BBC, and forms approximately 75% of its income...

Collection is enforced by criminal law.
However, since 1991, the revenue is collected privately by the BBC and does not pass through the state before reaching the BBC, and hence it is inaccurate to refer to the BBC as a "state broadcaster".

So, a broadcasting company that receives 75% of its information from the British residents who want to watch TV, on pain of threats of jail, is now trying to prevent those same people from gaining information about its journalistic standards and practices.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Labour Party Starts To Get A Clue!

This policy represents a major change in Britain! The Government there is finally getting a clue on dealing equitably and rationally with parts of its Muslim population - they are not going to support and pay lip service to the terrorist supporters - at least not as overtly and to the same extent that they were.
THE Government withdrew its support from Britain’s largest Muslim organisation yesterday after accusing it of failing to lead the fight against religious extremism.
Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, attacked the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) for boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day, criticising police anti-terrorist operations and “sitting on the sidelines” in the campaign against extremists.

Muhammad Abdul Bari, the secretary-general of the MCB, was invited to hear Ms Kelly’s speech, which was delivered to a Muslim audience, but refused to attend.

Ms Kelly said that she was embarking on “a fundamental rebalancing” of the Government’s relationship with Muslim organisations...
Not only that, the Anglican Church has changed its attitude to "multiculturalism" as well.

Privileging the Muslim Community
The Church of England has launched an astonishing attack on the Government's drive to turn Britain into a multi-faith society.

In a wide-ranging condemnation of policy, it says that the attempt to make minority "faith" communities more integrated has backfired, leaving society "more separated than ever before". The criticisms are made in a confidential Church document, leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, that challenges the "widespread description" of Britain as a multi-faith society and even calls for the term "multi-faith" to be reconsidered.

The Church says 'privileged attention' has been given to the Islamic faith.

It claims that divisions between communities have been deepened by the Government's "schizophrenic" approach to tackling multiculturalism. While trying to encourage interfaith relations, it has actually given "privileged attention" to the Islamic faith and Muslim communities.

See also this article that describes the horrible situation of some (mostly Muslim) girls in Britain who are at risk of forced marriages or honour killings, if they act in a way that displeases the male members of their family.

Earlier this year, before the Labour Party put this new approach into action, they had the opportunity, but did not pass a law banning forced marriages in Britain.

It was reported at the time that the rejection of this law - which had been sought for some time - would encourage communities, in which this behavior is prevalent, to believe that this practice, thereby, was not, strictly speaking, unacceptable. And that therefore, the practice of forced marriages would continue, and perhaps even be strengthened by this lack of will in tackling the problem by making it illegal.

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Avoiding Political Embarrassment the Columbia University Way

How do you avoid political embarrassment at Columbia University these days?

Disinvite invited guests to a talk sure to interest conservatives and other hawks in the larger NYC community. A talk, by the bye, well advertised in several major conservative blogs.

Why, we wonder, at 4:45 in the afternoon, a mere 3:15 hours before Walid Shoebat and his panel were to speak to an audience at Columbia University, all of whom had RSVP'd to the Columbia University College Republicans who were sponsoring the talk, and received invitations from them to the event, has Jewelnel Davis, the advising officer to Student Governing Board groups at Columbia decided to rescind all of the invitations?

Can it possibly be that, having been severely embarrassed by last week's events - when radical leftists at Columbia were left free to act as thugs and attack the Minutemen - and the blogstorm it precipitated, resulting in severe, public criticism of Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University, for his lack of initiative at solving the problem, this week they decided to solve the problem - at the last minute - by restricting their popular lecturer to Columbia students and 20 invited guests.

It is the decision of the advising office to Student Governing Board groups that at tonight’s event sponsored by the Columbia College Republicans, hosts to the Walid Shoebat Foundation, attendance will be limited to the invited speakers and their staff, CUID holders, and 20 invited guests. You are receiving this email to inform you that unfortunately, your RSVP to tonight’s event cannot be accepted.

Jewelnel Davis
University Chaplain
Associate Provost
Director of the Earl Hall Center

This method of dealing with the situation did not please the College Republicans:
From: Chris Kulawik (President of College Republicans)

This was a decision of the administration - the CRs wanted to allow
all individuals with RSVPs. Please join us in directing complaints
to Earl Hall and the Columbia Admin. This is not the first time
they have done something like this.

All my thanks,

The Welcome Wagon - Palestinian Style

Remember that dear old cultural institution that used to exist in the US, the welcome wagon. Whenever you moved into a new neighborhood, various delegations of people would arrive and welcome you to the neighborhood, with small gifts of food, information about schools and activities for the kids, churches, synagogues too in some neighborhoods, etc.

Well it seems they have something similar in Leeds University in Britain and it's run by the Palestinians. This is the email Melanie Phillipps received from one of her readers describing it:
I took my daughter to Leeds University: the first thing we found on entering her hall of residence was a welcome package in the form of an envelope filled with all kinds of ads and info for new students plus 2 bottles of bubbly! However when I turned the envelope over I discovered to my disbelief that this welcome package had not been sponsored by the university, as I had expected, but by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The back of the envelope included a paragraph urging ‘a cultural, academic and consumer boycott of Israel to change its policies of expansionism and occupation’. I was absolutely appalled that this would be the first thing every single fresher would read on arrival in halls of residence. I intend to complain to the university on the basis that it has allowed such an organisation to use this opportunity as a political platform.
Yep, let's ban Israel academicaaly and economically. And here's two bottles of bubbly a pop for a bribe as the initiation fee.

One only has to wonder which oil which Arab nation is sponsoring that.

Although the funny part is - it's clearly not a Wahhabist one, unless they don't know that their money has gone to be spent on buying alcohol for the infidels.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where is the Second Temple Treasure Hidden?

In Rome or in the West Bank? Or has it already been destroyed?
For centuries, Jews have believed that the ancient treasure of the Second Temple, taken to Rome in the first century CE, stayed in Rome, and that some of it was likely still to be found in Vatican treasuries.

However, according to new research, this assumption may be misplaced.
The trumpets, gold candelabra and the bejewelled Table of the Divine Presence were among pieces shipped to Rome after the looting in AD70 of the Temple, the most sacred building in the ancient Jewish faith.

After a decade of research into previously untapped ancient texts and archaeological sources, Dr Kingsley has reconstructed the treasure’s route for the first time in 2,000 years to provide evidence that it left Rome in the 5th century.

He has discovered that it was taken to Carthage, Constantinople and Algeria before being hidden in the Judaean wilderness, beneath the Monastery of Theodosius.
So, if the treasure is not in Rome as Jews have thought for so long, is it hidden in the West Bank, in Palestinian territory, as Dr. Kingsley believes?

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Die Hard With A Vengeance - Battlestar Galactica Version

There was some amount of perturbation among Battlestar Galactica fans of the pro-Iraq persuasion when it looked like the new season might possibly turn out to be no more than a negative commentary on the Iraq war, Hollywood style. This, despite the fact that in the NYTimes last year, the two executive producers of the show, Ronald Moore and David Eich promised never to hew to partylines, and in fact, to eschew any plotline which looked to be too transparently onesided, a decision that built them an audience of devoted fans on both sides of the political divide.

Still, the review in Zap2It for the two hour season opener looked like it was, indeed, going to move along these premises:
Occupation forces. Suicide bombers. An atmosphere thick with fear and distrust. These are just a few of the things that the third season of the Sci Fi Channel's Peabody-winning series "Battlestar Galactica" shares with the America's war in Iraq.
And it's true, that in watching the show, one could not but help think of Iraq often as several of the images on the show references themes that are often in our news, suicide bombers, police forces raiding civilian homes, hiding weapons on holy ground, prisoners in hoods and hands tied, references to torture and to Presidential refusal to acknowledge said torture, and many more.

However, to think that the show is portraying Iraq misses the larger point.

In fact, I don't believe the Iraq comparison holds past the surface look. Instead the show runners are using all too familiar images as shorthand to raise issues, anew, that all of us are familiar with recently from the news, in order to make us shake up assumptions, decrease our comfort zone and make the drama in the show feel more real. It's not about Iraq specifically, it's about situations and moral conditions and quandaries that arise in a struggle for existence - and not just any struggle. In this case, it is the absolute struggle for human survival - as only a small remnant of human beings are still alive to face the cylon (human looking robots) threat.

These are very real questions that arise in all war - and particularly a conflict with such stakes as what is being enacted on BSG. It's naive to think otherwise. Black and white is elided, the sides start mirroring each other, etc. Good and bad sides become complex. Boundaries slide away.

Using the paraphernalia of a familiar setting makes it feel more real and uncomfortable and more visceral to the viewer. And hence makes it more intensely felt drama.

The North Korean Nuclear Fizzle - I Question the Timing

The North Korean nuclear test looks to have been a dud.

Which makes it still very serious.

The best thing about it though was that it changed the conversation. All those stories of gay men having consensual sex suddenly seem even less relevant than before.

I remember visiting colleges when I was sixteen and seventeen. There was always the requisite male who hung around the visiting female students hoping to get laid. It was very little trouble to avoid these openly predatorial types if you wanted to do so. And it was also very little trouble to get laid, if that is what you wanted instead.

Young women go through these kinds of hassles regularly - as a rite of passage; they can be nuisances, but you deal with it.

So I assume, in a like situation, that young gay men are as well equipped to make up their own minds about whether or not they want to participate. And if someone is exhanging raunchy email exchanges, it is volitional on his part.

Rape and Repression as a Tactic in the Sectarian War in Iraq

A very disturbing look at the situation of women in Iraq who live around sectarian militia activity in the UK Guardian (a fact which may - or may not - effect the objectivity of the reporting.)
Strong anecdotal evidence gathered by organisations such as that of Yanar Mohammed and by the Iraqi Women's Network, run by Hanna Edwar, suggests rape is also being used as a weapon in the sectarian war to humiliate families from rival communities. 'So far what we have been seeing is what you might call "collateral rape",' says Besmia Khatib of the Iraqi Women's Network. 'Rape is being used in the settling of scores in the sectarian war.' Yanar Mohammed describes how a Shia girl was kidnapped, raped and dumped in the Husseiniya area of Baghdad. The retaliation, she says, was the kidnapping and rape of several Sunni girls in the Rashadiya area. Tit for tat.

Similar stories are emerging across Iraq. 'Of course rape is going on,' says Aida Ussayaran, former deputy Human Rights Minister and now one of the women on the Council of Representatives. 'We blame the militias. But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police. Any family now that has a good-looking young woman in it does not want to send her out to school or university, and does not send her out without a veil. This is the worst time ever in Iraqi women's lives. In the name of religion and sectarian conflict they are being kidnapped and killed and raped. And no one is mentioning it.'
And of course, we know what happens to rape victims in many repressive Islamic families: honor killings.

The depressing part is the extent to which, unwittingly and with no intent at all that way, we have aided this development of returning women to a repressive situation. Makes you contemplate the wisdom of a cynical real politik approach to politics - the efficacy in doing nothing while people suffer repression, death or genocide is at least you are not inadvertently making it worse.
The situation has been exacerbated by the undermining of Iraq's old Family Code, established in 1958, which guaranteed women a large measure of equality in key areas such as divorce and inheritance. The new constitution has allowed the Family Code to be superseded by the power of the clerics and new religious courts, with the result that it is largely discriminatory against women. The clerics have permitted the creeping re-emergence of men contracting multiple marriages, formerly discouraged by the old code. It is these clerics, too, who have permitted a sharp escalation in the 'pleasure marriages'. And it is the same clerics overseeing the rapid transformation of a once secular society - in which women held high office and worked as professors, doctors, engineers and economists - into one where women have been forced back under the veil and into the home. The result is mapped out every day on Iraq's streets and in its country lanes in individual acts of intimidation and physical brutality that build into an awful whole.
Is the Iraqi government doing anything to mitigate any of this? I doubt it. The Sadr militia men are their political allies so they are not going to do anything to undermine them.
'Since the beginning of August it has just been getting worse,' says Nagham Kathim Hamoody, an activist with the Iraqi Women's Network in Najaf . 'There are more women being killed and more bodies being found in the cemetery. I don't know why they are being killed, but I know the militias are behind the killing...

Hat tip: Normblog

Weird Things I heard on Real Time with Bill Maher:

Weird Things I Heard on Bill Maher's Real Time:

Bill Maher asking Chris Matthews, "Now do people think of you as a liberal or a conservative?"

Huh, I thought to myself. Is that a trick question for idiots? Chris Matthews? Like that's difficult?

Chris Matthews replies, "That's hard." He thought for a moment and said, words to the effect of, "I like to ask tough questions," forgetting to mention for the moment that he used to work for Tip O'Neill when he was speaker of the house, presenting himself to anyone in the audience who doesn't know him as though he were a centrist. Then Matthew launches into a ten minute sustained attack on George Allen and the whole macaca business, despite the fact that this week everyone is obsessed with Foley follies.

At which point, Richard Clark, another guest, happens to mention, in a joking tone of voice, in Virginia, these days, Allen's known as Senator Macacawitz.

Not surprising, from what I've heard about Clark. I guess he didn't get the memo that one of James Webb staff was fired for referring to Senator Allen in that language and the campaign distanced itself for that use of language.

Perhaps he didn't connect the fact that Chris was working on how problematic Allen's language was with himself calling Allen Senator Macacawitz as a big joke in the same segment. Or perhaps he did connect that fact.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Giant Camel Bones Discovered...

in the Syrian Desert, dating back 100,000 years, twice the size of today's camels.

Oh, so that is what was eating the giant grapes of biblical Israel.



You Know the World Has Changed Around You...

When Paris Bans Smoking in public places. Which it will, starting on 2/1/2007. And less than a year after that, the ban will be widened to include n bars, restaurants, hotels and discotheques.

I've never been a cigarette smoker, but when I lived in Paris, I certainly lit up on occasion with my European friends in cafes and bars, for the atmospherics.

I told my mom about that once. She and my dad had both been heavy smokers back in the day, and quitting caused each of them a lot of travail. So she overreacted when I mentioned it, assuming that the occasional cigarette in a cafe in Paris would turn me into a three pack a day smoker in no time flat. But smoking never held that kind of appeal for me. I was in no danger at all.

Pirates Oy Vey!

As a synthesis of two posts I've recently blogged, Scionology on Jewish ancestors, and The Knights of St. John, about Muslim pirates, Christian Knights and Jewish financiers in the sixteenth century Mediteranean, we now present you with this story, via YNET, about Jewish pirates in the Caribbean.
Jewish pirates were Sephardic. Once they were kicked out of Spain (in 1492), the more adventurous Jews went to the New World.

A ... famous Jewish pirate ... was Jean Lafitte, aka, the Corsair or the Buccaneer. His family fled from Spain for France in 1765 after his maternal grandfather was put to death for Judaism.

Along with his 'crew of a thousand men', Lafitte sometimes receives credit forhelping free Louisiana from the British in the war of 1812, with his nautical raids along the Gulf of Mexico.

In his journals, Lafitte describes childhood in the home of his Jewish grandmother, who was full of stories about the family's escape from the Inquisition. Raised in a kosher Jewish house, Lafitte later married Christiana Levine, from a Jewish family in Denmark

These facts were forgotten in Hollywood's 1958 film "The Buccaneer,"...

Kritzler's research proves that there were many more Jewish pirates than was previously believed. However, he told the Los Angeles-based 'Jewish Journal', determining the exact number of Jewish pirates is difficult because many of them traveled as Conversos (converts to Christianity) and practiced their Judaism in secret...

Although many pirates disguised their Judaism, many Jews did not disguise their piracy. In many Jewish graveyards in the Caribbean, graves are decorated with skull-and-crossbones engravings. Yaakov Mashiach, for example, buried in Barbados, left no mention of his history other than a testament to his audacious marine activities. His grave, as well as his wife's, bears a skull, crossbones, and an hourglass.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


There's going to be a meeting of descendents of King David on October 19th in NYC at the inaugural of the Davidic Dynasty organization. And, then, a mass meeting is planned for May 2007 in Jerusalem.

Speaking of which, about ten years ago, I learned from my father, who had been in touch with the association of extended cousins with the same last name (in variant spellings), that our family was - reputedly - descended from the Baal Shem Tov. I had no idea if this was correct, I hadn't researched it myself, but I thought it was exciting at the time. The Baal Shem Tov is, after all, the founder of Hasidism and a very important mystic in Jewish history. And at the time I was researching a Ph.D. in early Jewish mysticism.

And, gee, at least there was someone back there of whom I had heard. Before then, it had been a huge black hole of geneology that ceased a very few generations back.

Sometime later, I mentioned this to a friend.

"My family is reputed to be descended from the Ba'al Shem Tov, " I said.

"Who? That peasant," he replied, eyes twinkling. He was from a litvisch family himself - from an anti-mystical branch of Lithuanian Judaism and also - as it turns out - he had real ichus - his family was descended from the Davidic line.

"Better than no one," I muttered and promptly shut up about it.

But - heh! - now it turns out the Ba'al Shem Tov is descended from the Davidic line as well!

Other illustrious Jewish figures down the centuries who traced their ancestry back to David include Hillel, Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, Yochanan Hasandler and Yosef Karo. More contemporary leaders include the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the Lubavitcher Rebbe and former president Chaim Herzog.
Take that Phillip S!

Here is the site that is associated with the meetings, but it doesn't list information for the October meeting, just for May. Or if it does, I haven't found it yet. Or maybe all the invitations have already gone out and the meeting is closed now.

And it gives information about who to contact for blood tests, to see if your geneology matches.

Meanwhile, I haven't found my last name on the list - despite that family tradition. Grr Argh!

Of course - keep hope alive - it's an incomplete list!

I'll just have to make a male relative do the blood test thing!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

G'mar hatimah tovah

If Yom Kippur is relevant to you, may you be sealed for good and have an easy fast.

Kofi Annan: Human Natural Disaster

No time to comment as things are sort of rushed in the waning hours before Yom Kippur starts, but here is a link to an article about Kofi Annan's tenure at the UN:

Is there blood on his hands?


My own impression is that Kofi Annan has been worse for the UN than Jacques Chirac has been for France, which is saying something. I think of Jacques Chirac as the Louis the XVth of French Presidents. You know, in the old spirit of apres moi le deluge.

Ledeen on Woodward

Bob Woodward has cannily published his new book - State of Denial - just before the 2006 election to make it the must-read bible for the Democrats, thus to drive up his sales and to make his book itself into a talking point, a weapon of choice in Democrat hands. It's also a way for Woodward to position himself politically to redeem his reputation among democrats - his last two books were understood to be overly friendly to the Bush Administration.

Over at the Corner, Michael Ledeen tells us why he hasn't read Bob Woodward's books in years:
There doesn't seem to be much interest in Woodward's book [at the Corner], and for good reason. Anyone who thinks he knows what other people are thinking, especially in situations he didn't witness—which is after all what most all Woodward books are all about—is not to be taken seriously. I haven't read a Woodward book since I reviewed his thing on Casey, which famously contained an account of a sort of conversation he claimed he had with the stroke-stricken director of central intelligence in the hospital. Woodward was scheduled to go on Nightline, and earlier that day Ted Koppel called me and asked what I would ask Woodward.

"Ask him to describe the room," I said. "You know, what was Casey wearing? Were there lots of flowers? What color were his pajamas, that sort of thing..." And Koppel did. And Woodward froze, deer-in-the-headlights. Then he said he couldn't discuss it because it would "reveal sources."

He couldn't discuss it because he wasn't there. He was the source himself.

I'm not going to read this one either.

Two Ex-Terrorists and an Ex Nazi Speak Out

Walid Shoebat, Zak Annani and Hilmar von Campe speak out against radical Islam and its global implications.

Where: Columbia University -- Roone Hall

When: Wednesday, October 11th, at 7:30pm.

Walid Shoebat speaking on CNN