Saturday, November 26, 2005

Saddam hangman still loyal to toppled leader

Reuters reported Saddam Hussein may be fighting for his life in court but he still mesmerises Abu Hussein, a former torturer and hangman for the toppled leader who executed hundreds of Iraqis with the noose or the bullet.

I suspect the Iraqi government will be able to find a new hangman when Saddam's trial is over.
"I cry every time I think that he is on trial. I pray for his strength and freedom. Saddam must come back to rule Iraq," he told Reuters in an interview on Friday. "I am ready to return to my job if Saddam comes back."
Don't hold your breath.
Saddam will face prosecutors again on Monday in a trial that Iraqi officials hope will help bury Iraq's violent past and demoralise his supporters waging a Sunni Arab insurgency. He could face the death sentence for crimes against humanity. But one of the men who carried out his summary executions still believes in Saddam's form of justice imposed in a country where he was a cult figure. Recalling his time as a hangman at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in the 1980s, Abu Hussein said a new batch of political prisoners was brought in without charge every week.
It must have been more efficient to hang them without bothering about a charge or a trial.
Deserters from Iraq's war with Iran faced the firing squad. Prisoners who had insulted Saddam were hanged because it was crueller, said Abu Hussein, who declined to give his full name.
Was Saddam not insulted by deserters?
"A firing squad is more compassionate because people usually died immediately. But hanging is cruel because it can take time to die. If they don't die, we started over again," he said.
It sounds like you were not a very good hangman.
.... "One of the worst things was putting 10 people in a one-square-metre room for weeks. They had a brief break every day and were allowed the toilet every three days," he said.
It must have been a messy room.
.... Abu Hussein, a father of three, said watching men writhe in agony as they died sometimes made him cry. But he said nobody could afford to defy orders in Saddam's Iraq. "We would have been killed on the spot. One time this executioner was one hour late in hanging someone and he was himself hanged. What could we do? All of this had a toll on us," he said.


Open Letter to George Bush

Cindy Sheehan posted an open letter to George Bush on Daily Kos My family is spending our 2nd Thanksgiving without Casey thanks to you and your lies.

When did Bush lie? Was Bush telling a lie when he said "He'll (Saddam Hussein) use those weapons of mass destruction again as he has 10 times since 1983"? Oh wait, that was said by Sandy Berger (Feb 18, 1998). Was Bush telling a lie when he said "Saddam has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."? Oh wait, that was said by Madeleine Albright (Nov 10, 1999). Was Bush telling a lie when he said "Iraq's search for WMDs has proven impossible to deter... it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power"? Oh wait, that was said by Al Gore (Sept 23, 2002). Was Bush telling a lie when he said "We know that he (Saddam) has stored nuclear supplies, secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons"? Oh wait, that was said by Al Gore (Sept 23, 2002). Was Bush telling a lie when he said "Saddam Hussein has engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mo ckery of the weapons inspection process"? Oh wait, that was said by Nancy Pelosi (Dec 16, 1998). Was Bush telling a lie when he said "If Saddam rejects peace, and we have to use force, or purpose is clear: We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program"? Oh wait, that was said by Bill Clinton (Feb 17, 1998). Was Bush telling a lie when he said "We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with WMDs"? Oh wait, that was said by Madeleine Albright (Feb 1, 1998). (Thanks to Joe Baumgartner, Broken Arrow, for the above quotes, printed in the Tulsa World Nov 23, 2005.)
I am spending the day crying on a plane on my way to come to Crawford to again ask you for a meeting
You have already had a meeting with the President. Are you so brain damaged that you don't remember it, or do you think that you are entitled to a second one, when many of the other families have not yet had a first meeting with the President.
..... I don't know why you like Crawford so much,
Maybe it is because it is HOME.
but I love it because of the Camp Casey Peace Community that arose during August this year when you wouldn't meet with me..... Since August, when I wanted to ask you the question: For what noble cause did you kill Casey and the others, over 200 more of our brave young men and women have been killed in the charade of Iraq
I believe the number is over 2000, but President Bush did not kill any of them. There were 405399 American casualties in World War II. Did people blame President Roosevelt for killing them? People compare Iraq with Vietnam. 58,226 were killed in action or classified as missing in action in Vietnam; that is a LOT more than 2,000, and we abandoned the South Vietnamese to domination by the North. They did not have an election to elect an interim government, have another vote to approve a constitution, and they are not about to have another election to elect a government with 4 year terms.
.... Also, since August we have discovered that American forces are using chemical weapons in Iraq. The Army admitted that white phosphorous was used as an offensive weapon against "enemy combatants."
According to this news item in a Pakastan newspaper "White phosphorus is a conventional munition. It is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal,” Lt-Col Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, told the BBC in an interview. “We use them primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases. However, it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants."... Robert Tuttle, US ambassador to Britain, wrote in a letter published by The Independent newspaper on Tuesday that “US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons”. But Venable said white phosphorous was useful to shift insurgents from positions that could not be targeted by normal artillery. “It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants,” he told the BBC. “When you have enemy forces that are in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on one technique is to fire a white phosphorus round into the position,” he said. “The combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives.”
Oh really, George, since when did a weapon fired from a distance distinguish between enemies and innocents?.... By the way, George, isn't the use of chemical weapons prohibited? Don't you always say that "Saddam is a bad man" for using chemical weapons on his own people? So is it okay for you to use chemical weapons in Iraq because the citizens of Iraq are not "your people?"
Saddam used them on Iran as well, but in both cases to kill people, not to make smoke to drive people out of holes.
.... George, for the sake of the Iraqi people, don't you think it is time to bring our military forces home from Iraq?
And abandon them to a Taliban style government the insurgents want? We are staying for the sake of the Iraqi people who are on the verge of democracy, where they will select their own government.
.... George, also for the sake of our wonderful, brave, and very young people who proudly wear the uniform of the USA: it is time to bring them home. They have done everything you have asked of them. They have also done things that make at least one quarter of them very sick in their hearts and souls....
All I have heard the soldiers say is that they believe they are doing very good things for the Iraqi people. If they felt as you say, then why are reinlistment numbers so high?


Michael Jackson going Muslim?

Ynetnews reported American pop icon announces intention to convert to Islam, according to sources in Bahrain. Does this explain the anti-Semitic comments?

It may explain his anti-Jewish statements, but a semite is "someone whose ancestry can be traced back to Shem, Noah's eldest son. the group includes Arabs, Aramaeans, Jews, and many Ethiopians." So both Jews and Arabs are semites, so if someone makes an anti-semitic comment they are blasting both Jews AND arabs.
American pop star Michael Jackson has officially announced that he has been following the five tenets of Islam and intends to convert to Islam, according to a report on the website of Arab-Israeli newspaper Panorama. The report is based on information elicited from sources in Bahrain. According to the report, Jackson’s announcement noted he is moving to Bahrain and has purchased some real-estate on an artificial island there. The singer said he decided to convert to Islam because he is convinced it is the closest religion to his personal beliefs.
Which of the Five Pillars of Islam says a grown man should sleep with children?
Jackson also noted he intends to soon move all his assets and his studio from the U.S. to Bahrain, and expressed his hope to be rid of various legal troubles and enjoy the kind of freedom he says he does not have in America.
Is he really certain that the people in Bahrain will let him sleep with their children? Muslims hate homosexuality and other perversions even more than most Christians, and they deal with perverts much more harshly.
Marc blogged Now, tell me again, how old was Muhammad's wife, Aisha?
Muhammad was 52 and Aisha was 9 when they married and sexually consummated their marriage. Muhammad followed an Arab custom in marrying a child who had her first menstrual cycle.
You can see why Waco Jaco finds this appealing.
But I thought Wacco Jaco preferred little boys to little girls. Did Muhammad have a little boy as a "wife"


Holographic-memory discs may put DVDs to shame

New Scientist reported A computer disc about the size of a DVD that can hold 60 times more data is set to go on sale in 2006. The disc stores information through the interference of light – a technique known as holographic memory.

Wow!. And I thought DVDs were a big improvement on CDs.
The discs, developed by InPhase Technologies, based in Colorado, US, hold 300 gigabytes of data and can be used to read and write data 10 times faster than a normal DVD. The company, along with Japanese partner Hitachi Maxell announced earlier in November that they would start selling the discs and compatible drives from the end of 2006.
I wonder how many years it will take before reasonably priced recorders are available. DVD recorder prices only dropped recently.
"Unlike other technologies, that record one data bit at a time, holography allows a million bits of data to be written and read in parallel with a single flash of light," says Liz Murphy, of InPhase Technologies. "This enables transfer rates significantly higher than current optical storage devices."


Israel's story is the story of the West?

Charles Moore wrote in Telegraph .... As a boy, I loved this narrative. I cheered as Israeli courage swept away the outnumbering Arabs who tried to destroy it again and again. I bought books about the Six-Day War, many of which carried pictures of glamorous female Israeli soldiers.

But then a different narrative supervened. People called "the Palestinians" began to be mentioned. Once upon a time, the word "Palestinian" had no national meaning; it was simply the description on any passport of a person living in British-mandated Palestine. During the 19 years to 1967 when Jordan governed the West Bank, the people there had no self-rule, and no real name.

And although they had no self rule, there were no demands for a separate Palestinian state. The people were ruled by Jordan, and they had no problem being Jordanians (although Jordan really did not want them). Jordan and other Arab countries attacked Israel(unprevoked_, and Israel fought back and took all of their land, plus the Suez Canal and some of Egyptian land. Israel traded the Suez and the Egyptian land back to Egypt for a peace treaty. Egypt could have had the Gaza Strip, which it owned before the war, but it did not want it. And Jordan was willing to make peace with Israel, but they did not want the land west of the Jordan river. Both Egypt and Jordan recognized that the people there were trouble, and they did not want them in their countries. Now these unwanted Arab troublemakers want a country of their own. They don't know what a country is. Those in Gaza should become part of Egypt, those in the West Bank should become part of Jordan, and if there are any that cant live with that, Egypt and Jordan should deal with them.
UN Resolution 242, which calls for Israel to leave territories it occupied in 1967, does not mention Palestinians; it speaks only of "Arab refugees". Palestinian nationality came along, as it were, after the fact, a nationality largely based on grievance.

Since then, the story has grown and grown. Israel, which was attacked, has come to be seen as the aggressor. Israel, which has elections that throw governments out and independent commissions that investigate people like Sharon and condemn him, became regarded as the oppressive monster. In a rhetoric that tried to play back upon Jews their own experience of suffering, supporters of the Palestinian cause began to call Israelis Nazis. Holocaust Memorial Day is disapproved of by many Muslims because it ignores the supposedly comparable "genocide" of the Palestinians.
There is no comparable "genocide" of the "Palestinians". Genocide is not a solution, but if there had been a genocide, then Israel's problems would have been solved, because it would have cleaned out the Arabs from Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel could have all of that land, which is very defensable.
Western children of the Sixties like this sort of talk. They look for a narrative based on the American civil rights movement or the struggle against apartheid. They care little for economic achievement or political pluralism. They are suspicious of any society with a Western appearance, and in any contest between people with differing skin colours, they prefer the darker. They buy into the idea, now promoted by all Arab regimes and by Muslim firebrands with a permanent interest in deflecting attention from their own societies' problems, that Israel is the greatest problem of all. Well, some will say, that is the way it is: Israel has abused power, and is reaping the whirlwind. I don't want to argue today about the rights and wrongs of Israel's actions, though I think, given its difficulties, it stands up better than most before the bar of history.
I believe the worst thing Israell has done is probably better than just about anything the Arabs have done.
All I want to ask my fellow Europeans is this: are you happy to help direct the world's fury at the only country in the Middle East whose civilisation even remotely resembles yours? And are you sure that the fate of Israel has no bearing on your own? In Iran, the new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes the link. The battle over Palestine, he says, is "the prelude of the battle of Islam with the world of arrogance", the world of the West. He is busy building his country's nuclear bomb.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Muslims Ransack Oakland Stores

Bareknucklepolitics blogged Abdul Saleh has just one question for the men — suspected by authorities to be Black Muslims — who trashed his corner store late Wednesday, terrorizing his 17-year-old son and another clerk and causing thousands of dollars in damage. Why?

Because Muslims dont like alcohol. And whether we are talking about Islamofascists or The Nation of Islam, they see no problem with using violence to get their point across.
“I don’t know why they tried to destroy my life,” said Saleh, who has owned San Pablo Market and Liquor in West Oakland since 1986. “We came here for a better living, not to make war with anybody.”
Muslims are willing to make war with anyone, not just people seeking to make war with them.
About a dozen African-American men wearing suits, white-collared shirts and bow ties — a trademark of the Nation of Islam — entered the store on San Pablo Avenue and West Street about 11:30 p.m. One went behind the counter and swept dozens of shelved liquor bottles to the floor. Others smashed glass refrigerator doors with long, slim metal pipes, breaking beer and wine bottles inside the cases. The whole incident from start to finish was caught on surveillance tape.
Hopefully there will be many arrests as a result.
The men warned the store clerks to stop selling alcohol to African Americans, but they also knocked over display racks containing bread and other food items. Then, almost as quickly as they arrived, they all filed out and headed to another West Oakland liquor store, New York Market at Market and 35th streets, where they did the same thing.


The rise of the bland old party

Jonah Goldberg wrote in the Los Angeles Times All the noise out of Washington covers up the fact that the GOP and the Democrats are galloping toward the center. BEHOLD: We have entered the Age When Dinos and Rinos Rule the Earth. See them battle each other for absolute dominion! Though this might sound like a cool monster mash of the "Mechagodzilla versus Godzilla" variety, it's a good deal less exciting and more depressing, like a taste test between 2% milk and soy milk. What we are witnessing is the dawn of the boring phase of the Great Republican Realignment, and it promises to have liberals and conservatives alike going bonkers.

It certainly has that effect on me.
I should back up. Dinos, of course, are "Democrats in Name Only." Rinos are their GOP counterparts. Nobody actually ever admits to being a Republican in name only. Rather, these are epithets used to describe politicians of insufficient ideological purity or partisan backbone. Think David Gergen without the smoldering sexual intensity. Or, if you can't, think moderates, squishes, apostates, New York Times-pleasing "mavericks," centrists and all the others who want to "get beyond labels" or get a standing ovation from the Brookings Institution. Galloping toward the center is nothing new in American politics. The parties have always regressed to the mean. The center of gravity is in the, uh, center. What's changed is that the center has — finally — been moving an eensy bit to the right.
Well that is at least better than moving to the left.
But not too much. People forget now, but President Bush's compassionate conservatism was never intended to be radical, it was meant to be the Republican version of feel-your-pain Clintonism. If Bush's domestic spending were a Broadway musical, reviewers would call it "Lavish!" and "Spectacular!" His big first-term domestic initiatives — aside from tax cuts — were an education bill cosponsored by Ted Kennedy, campaign finance "reform" favored by the sensible-shoes types and the biggest expansion in entitlements (prescription drug benefits) since the Great Society.
That is true.
Now, you wouldn't know any of this from listening to Democrats and vast swaths of the mainstream media. If you went by this crowd, you might imagine George W. Bush and Dick Cheney swaddled in ermine robes, drinking blood-red wine from golden goblets as they pored over maps of the world plotting new conquests and singling out whistle-blowing CIA agents for the lash and the gibbet. And the congressional GOP, we've been told, is little better than a horde of Cotton Mathers determined to burn down the nation under the twin banners of Terri Schiavo and creationism. This anti-Bush huffing and puffing has been caused in part by an overreaction to the Iraq war and liberal terror over losing the courts.
Combined with extreme anger about not controlling the White House OR the Senate OR the House
But much of the rage can also be traced to an overcompensating bitterness over small differences. In much the same way the Marxist English professor is suddenly deeply troubled by the slightly less Marxist ideology of the colleague who unfairly got a better office, many liberals are more angered by the fact Republicans are running the government than they are about Republican policy. It just seems wrong! Republicans don't even like government!
This isn't to say there haven't been some big victories for the conservative wing of the GOP over the last five years. Tax cuts, judges, John Bolton, the blocking of the Kyoto Protocol and watching Dan Rather dismantle himself like a robot ordered to put himself back in the box: good times, good times. But you know, when tectonic plates smash into each other, there are earthquakes and, after that, it's slow inexorable grinding, with little chunks breaking off of one side and then the other now and then. That's where conservatives are now: the slow, grinding phase.


Growth of Islam in Russia Brings Soviet Response

NYT reported Security officials here in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, a restive republic on Russia's mountainous southern border, have a secret list of people who are kept under scrutiny. Those on it have committed no crimes, but are considered suspect because they are Muslims who practice Islam outside of the state's sanctioned mosques.

Russia may be going a bit far by having state sanctioning of mosques, but I support their need to keep an eye on mosques to make sure they are not places to spread terrorism.
Ovod Golayev is on that list. He lives in Karachayevsk, a city nestled in the foothills of the Caucasus, where he works for a tourism company that organizes skiing and hiking excursions. He wears his hair and beard long. He prays five times a day. He fasts during Ramadan, which is unusual here. In recent weeks, he said, the police have detained him four times, twice in one day.

Mr. Golayev, 36, said the Islam he observes is opposed to violence, but he warned that the mistreatment of believers was driving men like him to desperation. "They will pressure me enough," he said, "and then I will blow somebody's head off."
That does not exactly sound like someone opposed to violence.
Here in the northern Caucasus, and across all of Russia, Islamic faith is on the rise. So is Islamic militancy, and fear of such militancy, leading to tensions like those felt in Europe, where a flow of immigrants from the Muslim world is straining relations with liberal, secular societies.
Russia is probably holding the reins too tight, but they should certainly keep an eye on radical Islam.


Europeans Rebuke Israeli Jerusalem Policy

NYT reports The European Union's diplomatic representatives in East Jerusalem and Ramallah have sharply criticized Israel's policies in East Jerusalem, saying they "are reducing the possibility of reaching a final-status agreement on Jerusalem that any Palestinian could accept."

The Palestinians were offerred East Jerusalem, and they responded with the Intifada and many Israelis were killed in bombing attacks. There must be some payment for that, and that payment is now they don't get any of Jerusalem in their Palestinian state.
In an unpublished report presented to European Union foreign ministers, the representatives recommend a more aggressive European stance toward Israeli policies in East Jerusalem, whose annexation by Israel has not been recognized by the European Union or the United States.
Maybe the United States should recognize it.
The report, a copy of which was sought by The New York Times and obtained from someone who wanted to publicize it, accuses Israel of increasing illegal settlement activity in and around East Jerusalem and of using the route of its separation barrier "to seal off most of East Jerusalem, with its 230,000 Palestinian residents, from the West Bank" and to create a "de facto annexation of Palestinian land."


Arabs Ask Jews For Help

Arutz Sheva reports Arab leaders in Hevron have contacted the city’s Jewish leaders for help in getting rid of self-proclaimed anarchist volunteers who, they complain, are destroying their traditional way of life.

This is good news. It shows how Arabs and Jews can work together to the benefit of both.
The anarchists, many of whom are members of the International Solidarity Movement, flock to flashpoints throughout Judea and Samaria, ostensibly to help PA Arabs contend with IDF closures and protect them from harassment. In actuality, many of the volunteers seek confrontations with IDF soldiers and local Jewish residents, taking advantage of their Western passports to cause havoc – knowing that, at worst, they will be deported, not jailed.
Maybe a few of them should be thrown in jail fo r a few years, and then deported. It would not take too many before the news spread.
The local Arabs in the Hevron region whom the activists claim to be helping are now complaining that the American and European students behave in a provocative and offensive manner in Hevron’s public areas. The Arabs say the activists disrespect the moral norms and standards of the local population. Several local Arab residents told the Kol Ha’Ir newspaper that the activists have been exposing the local youths to drug use and sexual promiscuity.
Both the Arabs and the Jews have been living a certain way for a long time, and they resent these outsiders bring in too many of the vices of the west and exposing their people to them.
One interviewee told Kol Ha’Ir that the volunteers show a disregard for the religious norms of the local villages and teach the local youth to reject and disrespect the traditions of their forefathers. "These anarchists come here and undermine the education we give our children. At first we took them in with hospitality - after all, they claimed they wanted to help us, so why kick them out? But very quickly they infuriated me with their lewd behavior."
The Islamofascists make the same claims, that they don't like the lewd nature of western ways, and yet they fly planes into buildings in New York and Washington, and leave Hollywood untouched.
In a bid to rid the region of the anarchists, local Arab leaders approached representatives of the Jewish community in Hevron – a rare, but not unheard of occurrence – in order to find a solution. The two sides agreed to have Arabic-speaking Jewish observers along Hevron’s main thoroughfares to replace the anarchists in ensuring calm between the city’s Jewish and Arab populations. The left-wing activists would then be informed by the local Arab population that they appreciate their offer to help, but that they are no longer needed.


Disaster Planning Firm

Yahoo! News reports Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

Good luck. But he should consider that New Orleans had a plan here, and the State of Louisiana had plans here and here. They just ignored them, and sat back expecting the Feds to provide everything, but let them control everything. He should show his clients what Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama did that Louisiana did not do, and how that meant that they did not have near as many problems as Louisiana,
"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses — because that goes straight to the bottom line — then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bacterial photographs

Science Daily reports Using harmless genetically engineered E. coli bacteria instead of photo paper, students at UCSF and the University of Texas at Austin have created the first-ever living bacterial photographs. The photos were created by projecting light on "biological film" -- billions of genetically engineered E. coli growing in dishes of agar, a standard jello-like growth medium for bacteria.

This is interesting.
The work is published in this week’s issue of Nature (Nov. 24, 2005), devoted entirely to the emerging field of synthetic biology. The new field focuses on identifying genes that control key traits and then engineering microbes to activate the genes in novel combinations to create useful tools for medicine and technology. The students produced the innovative bacterial images and a bacterial camera as part of MIT's intercollegiate Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. The project won "best part" for the genetically engineered light receptor developed by UCSF graduate students working with Chris Voigt, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF and a leader in synthetic biology.


FBI warns of fake e-mail worm

Techworld reports The FBI has put out an official warning about a new variant of the Sober worm spreading through e-mails that purport to come from the US investigation agency.

The FBI never sends unsolicited emails to people
The FBI advised computer users that the agency never sends unsolicited e-mails and that they should not open the attachments, which contains Sober.x - a variant that has now be given a "high risk" rating by security experts Secunia. The scam e-mail tells recipients that their Internet use has been monitored by the FBI and that they have accessed illegal Web sites, according to the FBI.
The FBI may be monitoring people that access some terrorist websites, but they don't contact people about it.
The e-mails appear to come from e-mail addresses including, and, then direct recipients to open an attachment and answer questions. The text of the fake e-mail says: "We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.
Most ISPs dynamically change your IP either each time you call (for dial up access) or once a day (for broadband access) so you can't run a server on your connection, so it takes a lot of work in their logs (it is possible, but difficult) to associate an IP address with a customer.
Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached." The messages then include a fake name of an FBI official and the real address and phone number of the agency. Catherine Milhoan, an FBI spokeswoman, said that recipients of the hoax e-mails began calling the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center yesterday to ask if they were legitimate. About 4,000 calls were received by last night, with some callers saying they had already clicked on the attachment. Others were cautious and wanted to check with the FBI before opening the attachment. An investigation into the incident is continuing.


Priests Citing New Problem in Gay Policy

NYT reported A day after the disclosure of a new Vatican directive that deters most gay men from joining the priesthood, some priests say they are shocked by one easily overlooked clause. It says that spiritual directors and confessors in seminaries "have the duty to dissuade" any candidates "who show deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from joining the priesthood. These priests said this would turn the confessional and spiritual counseling sessions, which seminarians previously regarded as private and supportive meetings, into a tool for weeding gay men out of seminaries.

Perhaps, but it would help them weed out priests that might abuse young alterboys. And if it did that, it would be a good thing.
"The relationship between a seminarian and his confessor or his spiritual director should not be about enforcing church documents, but to serve as spiritual guides,"
It would still serve that purpose. It would help them guide these gay men to the door, and keep them from raping young boys in their role as priests.
said the Rev. Michael Herman, a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago who has recently publicly identified himself as gay in order to speak out against the Vatican's action.
Then he should be defrocked.
"They've gone so far as to say your confessor's and spiritual adviser's role is to talk you out of" becoming a priest, Father Herman said.
If you are a gay, engaged in homosexual sex, that is right.
His reaction to the document was echoed by other priests and Roman Catholic organizations, who said that the church's decree was discriminatory and hurtful to faithful chaste gay priests and would only exacerbate an already dire shortage of Catholic clergymen.


Jose Padilla

NYT reported The Bush administration decided to charge Jose Padilla with less serious crimes because it was unwilling to allow testimony from two senior members of Al Qaeda who had been subjected to harsh questioning, current and former government officials said Wednesday.

I suspect it was really more a matter of not wanting to expose top secret information, including sources and methods, in open court, than the fact that senior members of Al Qaeda had been subjected to "harsh questioning". Were they placed in a burning building and given the choice of burning to death, or leaping out of the building, to die when they hit the concrete below? That was the choice given to the innocent workers in the Twin Towers on 9/11.
The two senior members were the main sources linking Mr. Padilla to a plot to bomb targets in the United States, the officials said. The Qaeda members were Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, believed to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and Abu Zubaydah, a top recruiter, who gave their accounts to American questioners in 2002 and 2003. The two continue to be held in secret prisons by the Central Intelligence Agency, whose internal reviews have raised questions about their treatment and credibility, the officials said. One review, completed in spring 2004 by the C.I.A. inspector general, found that Mr. Mohammed had been subjected to excessive use of a technique involving near drowning in the first months after his capture
After seeing the picture of him, I suspect they were just giving him a very needed bath.
, American intelligence officials said. Another review, completed in April 2003 by American intelligence agencies shortly after Mr. Mohammed's capture, assessed the quality of his information from initial questioning as "Precious Truths, Surrounded by a Bodyguard of Lies."
I hope they gave him a few more baths to determine the difference.
Accusations about plots to set off a "dirty bomb" and use natural gas lines to bomb American apartment buildings had featured prominently in past administration statements about Mr. Padilla, an American who had been held in military custody for more than three years after his arrest in May 2002. But they were not mentioned in his criminal indictment on lesser charges of support to terrorism that were made public on Tuesday. The decision not to charge him criminally in connection with the more far-ranging bomb plots was prompted by the conclusion that Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Zubaydah could almost certainly not be used as witnesses, because that could expose classified information and could open up charges from defense lawyers that their earlier statements were a result of torture,
To heck with whether some bleeding heart lawyer could claim they were tortured; we did not want to expose classified information, and allow them to tell the world everything they told their interrogaters.
officials said.


How a Town Became a Terror Hub

WaPo reported Maaseik, Belgium -- The phones at city hall began ringing nonstop one morning last year when several masked figures were spotted walking through the cobbled streets of this pastoral town. A small panic erupted when one of the figures, covered head to ankle in black fabric, appeared at a school and scared children to tears. It turned out the people were not hooded criminals, but six female residents of Maaseik who were displaying their Muslim piety by wearing burqas, garments that veiled their faces, including their eyes. After calm was restored, a displeased Mayor Jan Creemers summoned the women to his office. "I said, 'Ladies, you can be dressed all in Armani black for all I care, but please do not cover your faces,' " Creemers recalled. "I tried to talk to them about it, but it was impossible. They said, 'We are the only true believers of the Koran.' "

Then you should move to one of the many Arab countries where your dress is acceptable.
What the city elders did not know at the time was that the women came from households in which several men had embraced radical Islam and joined a terrorist network that was setting up sleeper cells across Europe, according to Belgian federal prosecutors and court documents from Italy, Spain and France.
These sleeper cells need to be uncovered and removed, unless Belgium wants to see attacks like Britain saw on 7/7.
Over the next nine months, Belgian federal police arrested five men in Maaseik, a town of 24,000 people tucked in the northeast corner of Belgium. Each was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, a fast-growing network known by its French initials, GICM.

With each arrest, investigators uncovered fresh evidence that placed small-town Maaseik at the center of a terrorist network stretching across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The town had served as a haven for suspects in the Madrid train explosions that killed 191 people in March 2004, for instance, as well as an important meeting place for the GICM's European leadership. The Belgian investigation underscores the challenges that authorities in Europe face in tracking down sleeper cells and in sorting vaguely suspicious behavior from imminent danger. Police have made scores of arrests in Berlin, Paris, Rome, Stockholm and Amsterdam in the past two years to disrupt what were described as terrorist plots, although in many cases it remains unclear whether the threats were overstated or false alarms.
I would urge the Belgium authorities to consider the threat as real.
The problem has become more acute since the attacks in Madrid and the July 7 subway and bus bombings in London, with many intelligence officials predicting that Islamic radicals will inevitably strike again on the continent.


UN condems Hizbullah

Jerusalem Post reported Following intense US pressure, the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday issued an unprecedented condemnation of Monday's Hizbullah attacks on northern Israel.

It's abpit to,e/
This condemnation - slamming Hizbullah by name for "acts of hatred" - marked the first time the Security Council has ever reprimanded Hizbullah for cross-border attacks on Israel. The condemnation followed by two days a failed attempt to get a condemnation issued on Monday, the day of the attack, when Algeria came out against any mention of Hizbullah in the statement. When asked what changed from Monday to Wednesday, one diplomatic official replied: "John Bolton," a reference to the US ambassador to the UN. Bolton lobbied vigorously for the passage of the statement.
Good for John Bolton. If the Senate still refuses to confirm him after the reconvene in 2006, Bush needs to do another recess appointment the first time the Senate is not in session.
The condemnation expressed "deep concern" over the attack, and called on Lebanon to exercise its sovereignty and authority in the south according to relevant Security Council resolutions. Security Council Resolution 1559, which led to the withdrawal earlier this year of Syrian troops from Lebanon, also calls for the dismantling of the militias in the country, as well as a call to the Lebanese government to extend its control over the entire country, including the Hizbullah dominated south. Israeli officials expressed satisfaction that the statement did not include any attempt to "balance it," referring to Israel's response to the Hizbullah attack, and that for the first time ever it placed full responsibility for the violence on Hizbullah's shoulders.


Companies Ban 'Christmas

American Family Association reports that Several retailers have joined in the push to ban the use of "Christmas" in their in-store promotions and retail advertising. The new push to eliminate "Christmas" and replace it with "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings," etc. is gaining ground with several retailers participating.

Not wanting to offend a handful of complainers, these companies are willing to offend the vast majority who hold Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Their attitude is that those who identify themselves as Christians don't care if they eliminate "Christmas."

They are very wrong, and I do not want to do business with a company that feels that way. If they want to post Hanukkah signs on December 26-Jan 2, or Ramadan signs Oct. 5-Nov. 4 that is perfectly ok with me, but December 25 is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, and I would like to see nativity scenes in addition to Santa and the reindeer, and next year on April 16 I would like to see more than bunnies and eggs, I would like to see some indication that they know the true meaning of Easter.

Also today is Thanksgiving. It is a day we should be giving Thanks to God for all that He has given us. We are not giving thanks to the turkey, or to the one who provided the money that was used to buy the turkey, or the one who cooked the turkey, but to The One that created the turkey (although thanks to the latter two is appropriate as well)
While it is too late to make changes this year, we have already sent letters to several major retailers we have identified as participating in banning "Christmas," asking them to put Christmas back into their in-store promotions and retail advertising next year. We have sent letters to the chairmen of Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Kmart/Sears, Costco, Kohl's and Lowe's about their practice. (Lowe's even refuses to promote their trees as Christmas trees, but calls them "Holiday Trees." Their toll-free number is 1-800-445-6937.)

Please sign our petition letting these companies know that banning "Christmas" in their promotions and advertising next year will result in a loss of business. As we identify other companies participating in this practice, we will contact them.

We need your support to be effective. That is why we need your petition. Please help us get the word out by forwarding this to your friends and family. Many of them will want to participate. We will keep you informed on which companies make changes and which ones refuse.

Click this link to sign the petition now!


Chinese hack attacks

CNET News reported Security experts have revealed details about a group of Chinese hackers who are suspected of launching intelligence-gathering attacks against the U.S. government.

The internet is a very good thing, but it can be used for bad things too. This is why it is so important that control of the root servers remain under the control of the US, and not taken over by the UN.
The hackers, believed to be based in the Chinese province of Guangdong, are thought to have stolen U.S. military secrets, including aviation specifications and flight-planning software. The U.S. government has coined the term "Titan Rain" to describe the hackers.
The author Tom Clancy is very in tune with the military; he also wrote a series Net Force, set in 2010 and charts the actions of Net Force: a federal agency set up to combat increasing crime on the internet. I think it is time to set up Net Force now (if it has not already been done).
"From the Redstone Arsenal, home to the Army Aviation and Missile Command, the attackers grabbed specs for the aviation mission-planning system for Army helicopters, as well as Falconview 3.2, the flight-planning software used by the Army and Air Force," Alan Paller, the director of the SANS Institute, said on Tuesday. The team is thought to consist of 20 hackers. Paller said that the Chinese government is the most likely recipient of the information they intercepted. "Of course, it's the government. Governments will pay anything for control of other governments' computers. All governments will pay anything. It's so much better than tapping a phone," Paller said at an event at the British Department of Trade and Industry.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Ultimate Guide to Google Services

TipMonkies posted an extremely complete list of Google Services, including some I was not aware of:

  • Google Analytics crawls your website and keeps track of your visitors through a small piece of Javascript. Great tool for webmasters trying to improve their stats and AdSense revenue.
  • Google Base looks like its going to be Google’s massive content library, with all sorts of content, uploadable by anyone. Oddly enough, it sounds like EPIC and Google Grid mentioned in this video. Many people are comparing this service to Craigslist.
  • Google Movie Showtimes lets you type in a zip code or address, and it will find movie theaters and showtimes near that area.
  • Google Ridefinder lets you easily find taxis in some of the major cities around the United States.
  • Google Scholar searches things such as theses, papers, and other research and technical information.
  • Google Send to Phone is a little Firefox extension which lets you send text messages to mobile phones via SMS.
  • Google Sitemap helps create particular searches for a web address which can be very useful for webmasters looking to index their own site, or see who is linking to it.
  • Google Video and Google Video Upload offer an archive of freely available video clips.


Still Searching for a Strategy

Adam Liptak wrote in an opinion piece which pretends to be "News Analysis" in NYT Four years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the government has yet to settle on a consistent strategy for holding and punishing people it says are terrorists.

Actually they settled on a strategy right away. Bleeding heart liberals like the NYT have not liked that strategy (apparently the NYT has not seen the big hole in the ground where two big buildings used to be, prior to 9/11), so they have been pressing the government to be nicer to people who want to kill us.
Its efforts remain a work in progress, notable for false starts and a reluctance to have the executive branch's broadest claims tested in the courts. Last year, three Supreme Court decisions turned back the administration's boldest positions. Government lawyers do not seem eager to give the justices a vehicle for elaboration, at least not one that involves Jose Padilla, an American citizen captured on American soil.
Or perhaps they don't want to have to expose in open court the sources and methods by which they learn the terrorists plans.
Mr. Padilla's lawyers filed an appeal in the Supreme Court last month, asking a fundamental question: "Does the president have the power to seize American citizens in civilian settings on American soil and subject them to indefinite military detention without criminal charge or trial?" The administration says there is no need to answer that question just now. President Bush, in a directive signed on Sunday and made public yesterday, ordered the Defense Department, which had been holding Mr. Padilla as an "enemy combatant," to transfer him to the Justice Department "for the purpose of criminal proceedings against him." That move, the administration says, renders Mr. Padilla's appeal to the Supreme Court moot.
The Supreme Court has already accepted one case this month concerning the scope of the president's power to fight terror. That one involves whether he has the authority to try detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for terrorist offenses before military commissions there.
New York still has a lot of tall buildings. Does the NYT want some of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay to fly some planes into them as well? Would the editors at the NYT be willing to be on those planes?
The administration had vigorously urged the court not to hear the case.


US pushes Bosnia leaders into deal after 10 years of ethnic divide

Guardian reported Bosnia's rival leaders agreed yesterday to the biggest shift towards centralising power in their partitioned country since the war ended 10 years ago. A pact reached in Washington under heavy American pressure aimed to overhaul the creaking constitutional machinery that ended the 42-month war in November 1995, but left the country partitioned and dysfunctional.

Good news. The Bush Administration is fixing the problem that Clinton created in Bosnia.
At ceremonies in Washington to mark a decade since the Dayton accords ending the war were sealed, leaders of parties representing Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, as well as leaders of non-ethnic parties, agreed "to streamline" parliament and the tripartite presidency and "embark on a process of constitutional reform" that will strengthen a national government. The ambitious US-authored scheme aims to turn Bosnia into a "normal" parliamentary democracy and reduce the role played by ethnic factors. The plan has been pushed by the US state department. Its progress is crucial to Bosnia's chances of entering the European mainstream. On Monday the EU launched Bosnia on the path of integration, but made plain that it needs to speed up reforms to become "a fully functioning and viable state" if ultimate accession to the EU is to succeed. Yesterday's agreement, if implemented, should also bring closer the end of the international mission in Bosnia.
How long did Clinton say those troops would have to be there? Wasn't it just one year? This shows how incompetent Democrats are at military matters.


3 Brigades May Be Cut in Iraq Early in 2006

WaPo reports Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

The operative words there are Barring any major surprises the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades. We are not going to stay any longer than the Iraqi government wants us to stay, but we are not going to abandon them and let the insurgents win, and turn Iraq into a bed of terrorism.
Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.... The current number of U.S. forces in Iraq represents an increase of more than 15,000 troops over a base level this year of about 138,000, including 17 combat brigades. The equivalent of another brigade's worth of combat power was added this fall to bolster security for the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum and the coming Dec. 15 vote on a new national government. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke over the weekend of plans to bring the force level back down to 138,000 after the elections, effectively removing the extra brigade equivalent added for the election period.
That makes sense. Cutting and running like the Dems want, does not make sense.
In addition, officers said, two combat brigades that had been slated to move into Iraq to replace units coming out are now expected to be held back. One of those units -- a brigade of the 1st Armored Division based in Germany -- will probably be positioned in Kuwait. The other unit -- a brigade of the 1st Infantry Division -- will probably remain at its home base of Fort Riley, Kan., the officers said. The plan to keep at least one brigade in Kuwait represents what one senior officer called a "hybrid option." It is intended to hedge against events in Iraq deteriorating once U.S. force levels begin to drop, the officer said, adding that the Pentagon probably will place troops on alert elsewhere as well.


Texas sues Sony BMG for spyware violations

Yahoo! News reported Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Sony BMG Music Entertainment (6758.T) for hiding "spyware" software on its compact discs in a bid to thwart music copying. According to the lawsuit filed in Travis County, several of the company's music compact discs require customers to download Sony's media players if they want to listen to the CDs on a computer. Software included with that media player "remains hidden and active" after installation, the Attorney General's office said, and makes users vulnerable to security risks and possible identity theft.

Users should be able to use any Media Player they want.
Sony said on its Web site that it had recalled all CDs that were installed with its XCP technology designed to prevent illegal music copying, Abbott said, but Texas investigators were able to purchase several of the CDs at Austin retailers on Sunday. Texas is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 per violation of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, which was enacted earlier this year. "Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Abbott said. Sony announced on Friday that customers could exchange CDs that contained XCP software for new copies without the spyware, and download software designed to fix the security vulnerabilities.
Since they are willing to let you exchange to get CDs that don't contain it, and let you download software to disable the XCP software, it appears they are admitting it is spyware.


Iraq's a lost cause? Ask the real experts

Max Boot wrote in Los Angeles Times When it comes to the future of Iraq, there is a deep disconnect between those who have firsthand knowledge of the situation — Iraqis and U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq — and those whose impressions are shaped by doomsday press coverage and the imperatives of domestic politics.

And who are being influenced by the false reports printed by the Left Wing Main Stream Media (MSM).
A large majority of the American public is convinced that the liberation of Iraq was a mistake, while a smaller but growing number thinks that we are losing and that we need to pull out soon.
They are getting more strident in those claims, because they realize we are so close to victory, and they desperately want us to fail.
Those sentiments are echoed by finger-in-the-wind politicians, including many — such as John Kerry, Harry Reid, John Edwards, John Murtha and Bill Clinton — who supported the invasion. Yet in a survey last month from the U.S.-based International Republican Institute, 47% of Iraqis polled said their country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 37% who said they thought that it was going in the wrong direction. And 56% thought things would be better in six months. Only 16% thought they would be worse.

American soldiers are also much more optimistic than American civilians. The Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations just released a survey of American elites that found that 64% of military officers are confident that we will succeed in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. The comparable figures for journalists and academics are 33% and 27%, respectively. Even more impressive than the Pew poll is the evidence of how our service members are voting with their feet. Although both the Army and the Marine Corps are having trouble attracting fresh recruits — no surprise, given the state of public opinion regarding Iraq — reenlistment rates continue to exceed expectations. Veterans are expressing their confidence in the war effort by signing up to continue fighting.
So the people being shot at are reenlisting because they know they are doing good, and they want to be there for the victory.
Now, it could be that the Iraqi public and the U.S. armed forces are delusional. Maybe things really are on an irreversible downward slope.
And maybe Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real. Maybe. But not likely.
But before reaching such an apocalyptic conclusion, stop to consider why so many with firsthand experience have more hope than those without any. For starters, one can point to two successful elections this year, on Jan. 30 and Oct. 15, in which the majority of Iraqis braved insurgent threats to vote.
And the election December 15 will be another major milestone.
The constitutional referendum in October was particularly significant because it marked the first wholesale engagement of Sunnis in the political process. Since then, Sunni political parties have made clear their determination to also participate in the Dec. 15 parliamentary election. This is big news. The most disaffected group in Iraq is starting to realize that it must achieve its objectives through ballots, not bullets.

There are also positive economic indicators that receive little or no coverage in the Western media. For all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy, the Brookings Institution reports that per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war. Thanks primarily to the increase in oil prices, the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% next year. According to Brookings' Iraq index, there are five times more cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five times more telephone subscribers and 32 times more Internet users.

The growth of the independent media — a prerequisite of liberal democracy — is even more inspiring. Before 2003 there was not a single independent media outlet in Iraq. Today, Brookings reports, there are 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations and more than 100 newspapers.

But aren't bombs still going off at an alarming rate? Of course. It's almost impossible to stop a few thousand fanatics who are willing to commit suicide to slaughter others.

Yet there is hope on the security front. Since the Jan. 30 election, not a single Iraqi unit has crumbled in battle, according to Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who until September was in charge of their training. Iraqi soldiers are showing impressive determination in fighting the terrorists, notwithstanding the terrible casualties they have taken. Their increasing success is evident on "Route Irish," from Baghdad International Airport. Once the most dangerous road in Iraq, it is now one of the safest. The last coalition fatality there that was a result of enemy action occurred in March.

This is not meant to suggest that everything is wonderful in Iraq. The situation remains grim in many respects. But the most disheartening indicator of all is simply the American public's loss of confidence in the war effort. Abu Musab Zarqawi may be losing on the Arab street (his own family has disowned him), but he's winning on Main Street.
That is because the Democrats have decided that since they have no new ideas, the only way they can hope to be reelected is if they can convince the American People that the Iraq War will fail, and that it is all the Republican's fault, and the MSM sees it as their job to help the Dems sell that lie.
And, as the Vietnam War showed, defeatism on the home front can become self-fulfilling.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Louisiana Sees Faded Urgency in Relief Effort

NYT reported Less than three months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, relief legislation remains dormant in Washington and despair is growing among officials here who fear that Congress and the Bush administration are losing interest in their plight. As evidence, the state and local officials cite an array of stalled bills and policy changes they say are crucial to rebuilding the city and persuading some of its hundreds of thousands of evacuated residents to return, including measures to finance long-term hurricane protection, revive small businesses and compensate the uninsured.

I am not surprised. The extreme incompetence of the local and state governments, the obscene greed shown by the demand for an additional $200 Billion in money for many things besides fixing things damaged by the flood, and the insistence on building up the levees to protect land 7 to 15 feet below sea level even with a Cat 5 storm, when the rainfall from such a storm would fill up the "bowl" and flood it out anyway makes the US wonder why the other 49 states should pay for Louisiana's stupidity. Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida were hit by hurricanes as well, and their state and local governments worked much better with FEMA, and they did not make obscene requests for huge amounts of money, or ask for protection of land 7 to 15 feet below sea level.


Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for U.S. Pullout

NYT reported For the first time, Iraq's political factions on Monday collectively called for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces, in a moment of consensus that comes as the Bush administration battles pressure at home to commit itself to a pullout schedule. The announcement, made at the conclusion of a reconciliation conference here backed by the Arab League, was a public reaching out by Shiites, who now dominate Iraq's government, to Sunni Arabs on the eve of parliamentary elections that have been put on shaky ground by weeks of sectarian violence.

If the elected Iraqi government requests such a timetable, or even if it just asks us to leave, we certainly should do so. I am not certain how much weight should be given to a "consensus" that attendees to a meeting of the Arab League, with many countries that want Iraq's Democratic Government to fail.
About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, many of whom will run in the election on Dec. 15, signed a closing memorandum on Monday that "demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces," the statement said. "The Iraqi people are looking forward to the day when foreign forces will leave Iraq, when its armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and an end to terrorism," it continued.
I assure the Iraqi people that the American forces would love to be back home with their families. But they are dedicated to helping the Iraqi people form a Democratic Government responsive to the needs of all of the Iraqi people.
Astute Blogger blogged I believe that the Sunnis who are attacking Shias in Iraq will either be unmoved by this appeasement, or encouraged to be more brutal in order to win more concessions.

Mahablog blogged I guess they really can work together and agree on something. The television pundits still talk about staying in Iraq another two or three years, but I think we’ll be out in a matter of months (see “Speaking With One Voice,” below). The only question is, will it be an orderly and honorable withdrawal or something more ignominious? The Bushies and their rightie supporters will be the last people on the planet to realize that a withdrawal will happen, but once they catch on they’ll find some way to argue that withdrawal was the plan all along.


Pajamas Returns

Charles Johnson & Roger L. Simon at OSM blogged Once upon a time, some friends who met in the casual atmosphere of the blogosphere (us) got together and decided it would be groovy to start a blog company. "We could call it Pajamas Media," we said, referring to the now-famous quote by whatshisface, who disparaged bloggers as a bunch of guys sitting around in their sleepwear. Well, we were as surprised as anyone when we managed to raise a significant amount of capital to form said company.

At our swanky launch party in the Rainbow Room at New York’s Rockefeller Center on November 16, we changed out of our "pajamas" both literally and figuratively. We went from being to OSM™ Media, LLC, the OSM being short for Open Source Media. And oh, what a drubbing we took. Many, many readers pointed out to us that OSM™ was an oxymoron; the open source tech community expressed concern; and a very fine gentleman named Christopher Lydon at Open Source ( politely pointed out that we might be trampling on his space. (We’re sending him a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers, a heartfelt apology, and his name back, as we speak.)

All of which, as it turns out, has led us to make a change for the better. We are re-assuming our identity as Pajamas Media. (Just give us a few days to sort the technical issues out.) In short, the whole experience of being caught with our pajamas down has been a bit embarrassing, but in the end, when we realized we could get our beloved name back, we were overjoyed. So a warm, hearty thanks to all of you who expressed your displeasure with our phony identity.

Whoopee!!! I joined Pajamas Media, and liked the name, and was disappointed by the change in names, but I still like the concept. But I am even happier now that they have gone back to the original name.
So how did this happen in the first place? Back at the beginning, certain, shall we say, paternalistically minded parties (i.e., the guys in suits) decided that we should act like grownups, and being as yet somewhat immature—at least as businesspeople--we did as we were told.

Which is how, one day, we ended up sitting around a conference table listening to representatives from a "branding" company. What followed is still a bit of a nightmarish blur, but it involved a PowerPoint presentation on the history of names, and such probing questions as, "If you were an animal, what animal would you be?" (Which is how we almost ended up as Jellyfish Media.)

Enough said. So, in the spirit of "open source," we thought we’d tell you the real story behind the reason for our name change. And hope that our corporate parents will be satisfied with good grades and healthy revenue.

LaShawn Barber blogged OSM has reverted to its original name, Pajamas Media. Trademark issues aside, the name Pajamas Media has more character. I was disappointed when I heard the name would change and even more disappointed when I heard it was Open Source Media. But that’s the past. Onward to the future, baby! We are the pajamahadeen and ought to say so. The name not only mocks Jonathan Klein, but it invokes a rebellious and defiant spirit. A new medium has emerged and will continue to challenge traditional media to at least do accurate, if not objective, reporting. (I’ve come to the conclusion that not many human beings can be objective.) Unfortunately, we can’t expect anything more of leftist journalists, can we?

Eric Deamer blogged I agree with commenter Benjamin at Jeff Jarvis's that the marketing people were right and Pajamas Media is a bad name. (My problem with it being that it relates to an extremely inside baseball joke that can only be appreciated by blog geeks). The problem wasn't changing the name, but changing it to Open Source Media, which goes too far in the other direction, sounding too dull and corporate. And it was already in use to begin with. I'm not saying I can come up with a better name. Names are hard. Even if I could think of one I wouldn't post it for fear of somebody using it.

Decision08 blogged I think it’s a good move…and I also think Pajamas should take advantage of this second chance and re-launch, as it were, with more content…HuffPo may be a joke, but they launched with an incredible amount of material. I may have been one of the few who liked Open Source Media, but hey, Pajamas it is (and it fits my lifestyle much better)…



Drudge Report reported At 11:04:45 AM ET Monday CNN was airing Vice President Dick Cheney's speech live from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington -- when a large black 'X' repeatedly flashed over the vice president's face! The 'X' over Cheney's face appeared each time less than a second, creating an odd subliminal effect.

One top White House source expressed concern about what was aired over CNN. "Is someone in Atlanta trying to tell us something?" A CNN spokesman did not return repeated calls late Monday night.

I am not surprised that the Clinton News Network would do this; it is another example of how the MSM, including CNN, is in the pocket of the Democratic Party


Monday, November 21, 2005

Barricaded in Paris

National Post reported French Jews are leaving the country in ever-growing numbers, fleeing a wave of anti-Semitism. They are moving to Israel, the United States, and increasingly, Montreal -- where the mostly English-speaking Jewish community is preparing for its greatest demographic change in decades. In the first of three stories, Mireille Silcoff examines the fear in France that is driving the emigration.

I am not surprised. Even before the Muslim youths started burning cars, the French have been very anti-Semetic, and also very anti-religious. Christians were not allowed to wear large crosses, Jewish skullcaps were forbidden, as were several items of Muslim dress.


Angry AOL bloggers now push boycotts

BusinessWeek Bloggspotting blogged The anger over banner ads on AOL Journals is reaching a fever pitch. Bloggers are organizing boycotts of advertisers, presumably including Bank of America, whose ad appears on the Journals I've seen today

Here is an example of one of their posts: To ALL Interested Parties!

This is the letter being sent to all the advertisers, all the Execs, Every single Possible person who will listen!


To whom it may concern,

A significant number of AOL paying-customers were recently ambushed by America On Line with advertising from your organization on OUR paid journal/blog sites.

Paid journal/blog sites? Does AoL charge you extra for a journal/blog site, or is it something they have added as an additional freebie to their customers? The monthly fee you are paying is for internet connectivity. I will agree you are paying a lot more than you should ($23.90 a month); that is why Netscape (owned by AoL) can afford to provide their web accellerator for free for $9.95 a month, when they are competing against independent NetZero, since AoL customers are paying so much excess for their internet access they are a cash cow that subsidizes Netscape's much lower rate.
AOL chose to break our trust by invading our paid-for sites and there is a significant gathering of journalers, soon to be joined by nationally syndicated reporting, who are aggressively fighting this invasion of our AOL JOURNAL sites.

As one of the agencies whose advertisements appear on these Journals, we are calling for a boycott of your organizations and affiliates until the unwanted advertising on our AOL JOURNALS is permanently removed.

Other blogging sites PAY the host for the advertising.
AoL is the host for your blog, and I suspect that Bank of America, Free Credit Report,, Elidel, and Kodak/Nascar, as well as any other advertiser whose ads are appearing in your blog, are paying AoL for running those ads. There are a number of blog providers that charge you a monthly fee to host your blog, and then you are free to either accept advertising, for which you will be paid, or to not accept advertising, in which case your blogs will have no ads. But when you get your blog for free, the company providing it may well decide to show ads on it. The same is true for free websites.
AOL doesn't even give us the courtesy of warning us that advertising will appear on our blogs, nor do they offer any semblance of an option regarding these highly intrusive ads.

We are calling on each and every one of your organizations to protect your integrity, despite the lack of AOL's own integrity, and immediately remove your advertising from AOL JOURNALS.

Armand T
Tacoma, WA

AoL Users are usually regarded as clueless, and there is nothing about this that would change that notion. They should realize that TANSTAAFL still applies: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch


Muslim fanatics terrorise a nation

The Australian reported Islamist murders and threats have transformed the once-tolerant Netherlands into a place of armed bodyguards and fear, writes Anthony Browne. A film about gay rights should hardly raise an eyebrow in The Netherlands, which for centuries has prided itself as a beacon of freedom of expression and was the first country to legalise gay marriage. But when Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee turned Dutch MP, started making a new film about the oppression of homosexuals under Islam, the threat to everyone taking part was deemed so great that she decided there would be no faces shown on screen and no end credits and that the entire production team would remain anonymous. Ali, a "lapsed Muslim" who revealed this week that she had finished the script, lives in a safe house under 24-hour protection. The precaution is as wise as the courage is extraordinary: Theo van Gogh, the director of Ali's previous film, about domestic violence under Islam, was killed -- repeatedly shot and almost decapitated in broad daylight in the streets of Amsterdam by an Islamic extremist. Impaled on a knife in van Gogh's chest was a five-page note declaring holy war on The Netherlands and threatening death to other public figures deemed "enemies of Islam".

If a person chooses to move to Israel, he should expect that the country will be very Jewish, and that he might or might not feel free to practice his religion if he is not a Jew. (Actually in Israel Christians and Muslims are free to practice their faith, but they might be somewhat uncomfortable when the country celebrates Jewish holidays). If a person chooses to move to an Arab country, he should expect that the country will be very Muslim, and he may find either severe restrictions or even (depending on the country) outright inability to practice his own religion. This is something he should consider before deciding to move there.

A muslim moving to The Netherlands should be aware of the liberal nature of that country, and if he finds that sexual liberation uncomfortable, he should move to a country more attuned to his sensibilities. He should not kill, or threaten to kill, someone that says something, or even makes a movie about something, that offends him.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

New climate deal

Guardian reported Britain is to open the door for other nations to abandon setting compulsory targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions: the principle at the heart of the Kyoto agreement to tackle climate change. Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, has told The Observer she is prepared to accept voluntary targets - a move hinted at this autumn by Tony Blair.

Voluntary targets will not do any good. You need mandatory targets, but you cannot exclude China and India. They must sign on and it must be verifyable before any of the western nations join in.
The news caused consternation among green campaigners last night. 'Voluntary targets are not worth the paper they are written on,' said Stephen Tindale, head of Greenpeace UK. 'Without mandatory targets [the Kyoto Protocol] is effectively dead.'
It is dead anyway. No western nation is going to destroy their economy when China and India are not included, because they will add more emissions than everyone else put together cuts back.


Journalism Versus Reality in Iraq

Strategy Page blogged American troops are developing a hate-hate relation with journalists.

Just as conservative bloggers do.
The basic problem is that soldiers and marines in Iraq have access, usually via the Internet, to what the mass media is saying about what they think is happening in Iraq. These news reports, all too often, do not reflect what the troops experience. It gets uglier when the troops realize that reporters are spending most of their time in the Green Zone or some well guarded hotel, leaving it to local Iraqi stringers to collect information and photos for the reporters stories. Relations are a bit better with the few embedded journalists who still travel with the troops out in field. But even the embeds are often mistrusted and disliked, because some of them are blatantly out for dirt, not an accurate story.
That is because that is all the MSM wants to print. They are in the pocket of the Dems, and the Dems don't want any good news from Iraq. They can't hurt the Bush administration with Good News from Iraq.
Few of the troops understand that the news business is driven by dramatic events, not the tedious kind of process the troops go through every day to defeat the terrorists. To the troops, the war is being won. They see bad guys killed in large numbers, and few Americans getting hurt (it’s fairly common for their to be about twenty enemy dead for each American loss). The troops see tangible evidence, every day, of Iraqis having a better life. The troops cannot understand why that is not news, and why journalists always seem to be looking for a negative angle. To the average G.I., the attitude is, “what are these reporters looking for?” They are looking for a story, and bad news is a story. Good news is not.
It should be. If the Democrats held the White House the MSM would be printing every Good News item it could find.
As a result of this clash of cultures, reporters are increasingly seen as a potentially dangerous enemy. For the troops, this is already accepted as true for many Arab journalists. Some of those have been arrested for hostile activity, or later revealed as al Qaeda agents. European journalists are seen as particularly clueless, so wrapped up in their anti-American fantasies, that communication is nearly impossible. But after watching a CNN clip on the net, or viewing an online story from the New York Times or Washington Post, it’s hard to view U.S. journalists as fellow Americans.


Al-Zarqawi's Jordan Family Renounces Him

Yahoo! News reported Family members of Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi renounced the terrorist leader Sunday after his al-Qaida in
Iraq group claimed responsibility for the Nov. 9 suicide attacks on three Amman hotels that killed 59 people.

He has killed many more than 59 Muslims in Iraq, and they said nothing, but killing Muslims in Jordan must somehow be worse than killing Muslims in Iraq.
The family of al-Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmed Fadheel Nazzal al-Khalayleh, reiterated their strong allegiance to Jordan's King Abdullah II in half-page advertisements in the kingdom's three main newspapers. Al-Zarqawi threatened to kill the king in an audiotape released Friday. "A Jordanian doesn't stab himself with his own spear," said the statement by 57 members of the al-Khalayleh family, including al-Zarqawi's brother and cousin. "We sever links with him until doomsday." The statement is a serious blow to al-Zarqawi, who no longer will enjoy the protection of his tribe and whose family members may seek to kill him.
Al Zarqawi, would you like to take a vacation, and go home to visit your family. <grin>
"As we pledge to maintain homage to your throne and to our precious Jordan ... we denounce in the clearest terms all the terrorist actions claimed by the so-called Ahmed Fadheel Nazzal al-Khalayleh, who calls himself Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," the family members said. "We announce, and all the people are our witnesses, that we — the sons of the al-Khalayleh tribe — are innocent of him and all that emanates from him, whether action, assertion or decision." The statement said anyone who carried out such violence in the kingdom does not enjoy its protection. The al-Khalayleh tribe is a branch of the Bani Hassan, one of the area's largest and most prominent Bedouin tribes, which help form the bedrock of support for the royal family's Hashemite dynasty.


With all due respect Sir, I completely disagree

Major K blogged Congressman and Col John Murtha, USMCR - Ret. is by all accounts a bona fide American Hero. He has bled for this nation in a foreign land and shown great courage. He has now called for the establishent of a rapid timetable for the withdrawal of US Troops from Iraq, stating that we “have done all we can do.” Colonel, I could not disagree more. Unlike the mudslingers in Washington D.C. and the Media, I don’t believe that Col. Murtha has anything but the best of intentions and the welfare of the troops at heart, so I will not slight the man’s character in the least.

Your point is well taken. When I first heard what Congressman Murtha said I said that he had sold out to Al Qaeda, but I retract that. I believe that he has just been unduly influenced by the extreme left in his party to make a foolish statement.
I do, however, believe he is making a critical error. The case has been made many times, and well, by others that establishing a timetable for withdrawal merely tells our enemies how long they need to go underground to conspire and train their thugs before unleashing them on the people full-scale. I will not bother with repeating that argument.
It is an extremely important point however. Not only should no timeline be established, but we need to be vague about the conditions that must exist before we withdraw, so that the insurgents will believe that we will be there forever.
I wish to explore a few other points instead.

We are far from having done all we can do. Part of the US Military Culture that makes us so effective is our qualitative approach. This is especially the case in combat units. In my 13 years in the service, I have heard: “We work to a standard, not to a schedule” a countless number of times. Quitting time comes when the task is accomplished to standard, which is almost never 5pm. We have our objectives to meet:
  • Kill or capture terrorists
  • Restore Infrastructure and Services
  • Establish and protect a functional Iraqi version of Democracy
  • Establish better respect for individual human rights
  • Train the Iraqi Security Forces to do/facilitate the same

All of these objectives are intertwined. And from my view, we are not done yet by a long shot. The killing and capturing of terrorists has slowed down the progress of all the other objectives. Americans seem to have a “microwave popcorn mentality” about these things. I know that most Americans will forego the 10-minute popcorn on the stove for the 2-minute popcorn in the microwave oven. This is one of the many nice things about living in an industrialized nation. The problem is that war is not popcorn and countries are not appliances. Instant gratification is not on the menu.

This country has a culture with different sensibilities from our own. Like many others in the world, this has never been a full-scale first world nation. When it was growing, starting to move toward that end and prospering, it was taken over by what can only be called a mafia family and driven into the ground by 3 horribly destructive wars leaving its people in fear, it’s infrastructure destroyed, and the landscape crawling with thugs and criminals formerly employed by the government or recently released from prison. The land mass is about the size of California and population is greater than that of Texas. What has happened to this country makes hurricane Katrina look like spit on the sidewalk. THERE IS A HUGE MESS TO CLEAN UP AND A CULTURE TO REHABILITATE, not to mention an army to rebuild. Three years, with fighting continuing, is a blink. It took over a dozen years to get from the declaration of the Declaration of Independence to the ratification of the US Constitution, and there were still several rebellions and a horribly bloody civil war to follow. The Iraqis are way ahead of the power curve on a historical basis.

We left this this job half done before, and the vipers’ nest remained. Thousands of Shia in the south were murdered because they thought we would help them in their uprising.
Thanks to George HW Bush (41). But the errors of the father are being fixed by the son.
Our aircraft enforcing the UN mandated no-fly zones were fired upon daily - read: Acts of War. And this remained a preferred retirement home/vacation spot/training academy/financial endowment for terrorists. It was not the only one, but it was a prominent one. Now the terrorists have been put out of the government and into the shadows, where for three years they have been hunted. We have culled the herd, but the population is still large enough to warrant keeping the guard dogs busy. If we leave or give notice, we will, like in Somalia, leave the power to be restored to the vermin. Saddam will have been replaced, but it will be the same vermin surrounding the new boss. If you ask me, I really don’t care if my cement shoes are made by Gambino or Gotti. Iraq was not a peaceful place before we came here, it will be worse if we leave before we have met the standard. It’s going to take a few more years. If I have to do another tour, so be it. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it because it needs to be done.
More and more Islamoterrorists are coming in to Iraq to kill innocent Iraqi citizens, and we are confronting them there. Would you not prefer that we confront them in Iraq rather than here at home, and if innocent citizens are going to be killed, would you prefer that they be American citizens or Iraqi citizens. Our military is confronting the Islamoterrists in Baghdad and Basrah rahter than Broken Arrow, Boston, or Beumont; in Mosul rather than Muskogee, Memphis, or Mesquite; in Karkuk and Karbala rather than Ketchum, Kansas City, or Kilgore; in Tall Afar and Tikrit rather than Tahlequah, Texas City, or Texarkana.
I have to give Congressman Murtha credit in yet another regard. Of all of the carping, nitpicking and fault-finding I have heard from those complaining about how badly this is going, he is one of the few with the guts to offer another idea. Many have said, “well we never should have gone there.” Nice sentiment from a Monday-morning quarterback, but no longer relevant. The question is, what now? Unless you are going to step up and suffer the backlash of those who call for a pull out, shut up if you don’t have a better idea. Again, I think a pullout or notifying our enemies, who may yet be pursued elsewhere, of our pullout date is a horrible idea. But empty nit-picking is worse. Our military has always been strong, but our national will seems constantly in doubt.

We have a standard to meet, and if allowed to do so by our people and our leaders, we will.

Hat Tip to Deb at EIMC

This was a fabulous post