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Happy New Year!

I'm outta here, over to Heidi's for a Sucky Movie Marathon. I may have something up later if I can't sleep tonight. Everyone stay safe, and if you're drinking, stay outta the driver's seat.

Helping out a friend

Someone I know is looking for work in the New York area. If you work for a company that needs a grant writer or development researcher, email me.

Vote for Laurence Simon

Michele's got a poll going for Most Intriguing Blogger of 2002. Here's her definition:


adj 1: disturbingly provocative; "an intriguing smile" [syn: challenging] 2: capable of arousing interest or curiosity

So the most intrgiuing bloggers would not be the ones who are the most popular, or the most prolific or the most recognizable. They would be the bloggers who are, obviously, disturblingly provacative, arouse your interest or curiosity or, in general bring you back to their site again and again because you are always wondering what they will say or do next. They make you think and make you want to leave comments or email them. They present issues that interest you or at least make you have an interest in something you previously did not. They make you want to know more about them, what makes them tick, what lies behind the words and the keyboard, even if you don't agree with them, even if you hate them.

That's Laurence Simon. You can never read his site without saying something like, "What a sick, twisted man he really is," and yet, you go back for more. Acidman is trying to stack the vote, but sorry, dude, Lair is the Rolex, and you are the cheap knockoff that you can buy for ten bucks in Times Square. (And of course I mean that in the nicest of ways. Well, okay, there really is no nice way to mean that, but you get my drift.) Go to Michele's place and click on the "here" link to vote. (She wants me to send you to her main page. She doesn't want me sending you directly to the voting page. Fine. Bitch.) And if you're a weblogger who agrees with me, howsabout posting about votes for Lair? While there are some worthwhile blogs on the list, Amish Tech Support deserves the win. Vote early, and vote often. Okay, vote once. But vote for Lair.

Yes, but he's funny

Yes, I know I sent you here just yesterday, but Terry is describing his Christmas vacation and it's even funnier than the last post, and it's only his first day. Like, removing the water from the broken washing machine so he can get it out and buy a new one:

On to the water. Take out jeans and wring into tub. Prepare hose.

Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.

Continue about five more times. Include two slurps which lasted about a half second too long, resulting in getting a nice mouthful of cold, soapy, indigo stained water. Also give yourself a pain in your sternum to replicate that of having to physically hold the ends of hose down into both tub and bucket as water slowly drained. Watch about 45 minutes drift away from your otherwise rich and rewarding life. Finally, get out hated plastic dipper to get remaining water out of tub unreachable by end of hose and curse the very idea of having to soil the purity of the operation by bailing. Also take a moment to wonder why it was that in your first trip to the hardware store that you did not just purchase a small $5 electric pump. Finally, get several beach towels off of shelf and finish sopping up remaining water. Curse.

Besides, it's been too depressing around here lately. Go visit Terry.

Firebug central?

You know, I'm starting to wonder about the place I've moved to. In my first month here, there was some kind of apartment fire that I only heard about because my friends read about it in the paper. Then there was the dumpster fire here my first month. Today, I heard what sounded like two or three explosions, but figured it was either someone really slamming the dumpster tops, or playing with fireworks before New Year's, as I heard voices coming from the direction of the noises and then the noises stopped.

Then tonight, I heard fire engines come to the complex. Twice. You can always tell the difference between a fire engine and any other emergency vehicle. The sound of those giant engines practically precedes the siren. In fact, I just saw one heading down the main complex road, and I can hear its engine chugging away nearby.

So I have to wonder: What kind of place have I moved to, anyway? What, are my fellow tenants bored unless they get a fire engine here once a month or so?




Gotta laugh

Terry wrote about his office Christmas party. If you can make it through this post without laughing, you're dead.

I found out who brought the Pot o’Collards, and I’m not surprised. He could pass for a member of some conspiracy group (Left or Right—he has a real ecumenical spirit), except he’s just a bit too insane. Five minutes alone with him, and even Lyndon LaRouche would shake his head and let out a low whistle. Of course, I may have gotten on his bad side by opening the pot and loudly asking, “Hey, who cooked a Christmas tree!?”

It's also a little past the ol' Possumblogger's one-year anniversary. Happy Blogiversary, Terry.

Jim Miller seems to think that I'm responsible for some of the changes going on in Richmond. Wow, I didn't know I was quite that powerful.

Tim Blair has a really funny fisking of the reasons why a human shield is heading for Iraq.

Why we call it Rotters News Service

Two articles about two instances where people were killed in Israel. Look at the horrendous anti-Israeli slant:

Six Dead in Palestinian Attack in Jewish Settlement
By Nir Elias
OTNIEL, West Bank (Reuters) - Two Palestinian gunman opened fire in a cafeteria for religious students at a Jewish settlement on Friday, killing four settlers before Israeli soldiers shot and killed the gunmen, Israeli sources said.

Military sources said the second assailant fled the settlement of Otniel near the West Bank city of Hebron and was shot dead by soldiers who gave chase.

Hours after the attack at Otniel, police said a "car bomb" exploded in Jerusalem, injuring a man they later believed set it off by igniting two gas balloons inside the vehicle.

The attack at the settlement took place during prayers before the Friday night Sabbath meal in the dining hall.

Six dead, including the terrorists, called, of course, "gunmen." The Israeli dead? Settlers. Let's look at the next story, shall we?

Israeli Army Kills Palestinian Boy in West Bank
By Muin Shadeed
TULKARM, West Bank (Reuters) - Soldiers shot dead an 11-year-old boy in the West Bank on Sunday, the second Palestinian child killed by Israeli gunfire in two days, witnesses said.

There was a glimmer of hope for struggling efforts to end the conflict with word that a top decision-making body of the Palestine Liberation Organization would meet early next month to ratify steps toward reforms deemed key for peace.

But with world attention diverted by a possible U.S. war on Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged since the Israeli army killed eight Palestinians in operations against militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip within 24 hours last week.

Abdel-Karim Salameh, 11, was hit in the head and killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Tulkarm while walking home from school, about 500 meters (yards) from a crowd throwing stones at soldiers, local witnesses said.

Are those two middle paragraphs news writing or editorializing? Hm, tough to decide. "A glimmer of hope for struggling efforts to end the conflict." "But with world attentioned diverted by a possible U.S. war on Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged." Uh-huh. The Palestinians killed the other day couldn't possibly have been, oh, wanted terrorists who fired on the soldiers trying to arrest them, could they? But wait, let's go back to the deaths of those "settlers."

"Two terrorists entered the kitchen of the dining hall and shot toward those inside the kitchen. One managed to escape before (Israeli) forces arrived," a military source said.

"The second took position inside the kitchen, and when the force arrived, he shot at them and they responded with fire. One officer was lightly injured."

The attack came at the end of a day of Palestinian anger over Israel's killing of eight Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday. A militant rally echoed cries for revenge at the funerals.

Soldiers, security guards and ambulances rushed to the scene at Otniel. The army said eight people were wounded. Hospital sources said at least one person was in serious condition.

The army said: "There were four Israelis murdered."

Palestinians in Hebron and three nearby villages were put under Israeli army curfew after the attack.

The only way you get the word "terrorist" into a Reuters news story is to quote an Israeli official. Otherwise, they're just "gunmen." However, they're quick to point out that two of the Israeli seminary students killed on Friday were soldiers, even though there was no way the "gunmen" could have known that:

Two of the four dead seminary students from Otniel were unarmed off-duty soldiers, participating in a program that lets religious Israelis study as part of their military service, an army spokesman said.

Palestinian militants often target Jewish settlements in their fight for statehood. The international community says the settlements are illegal. Israel disputes this.

But back to the main story.

Abdel-Karim Salameh, 11, was hit in the head and killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Tulkarm while walking home from school, about 500 meters (yards) from a crowd throwing stones at soldiers, local witnesses said.

Israeli military sources said they had no information on Palestinian casualties there and that troops had used riot dispersal gear against the stone-throwers. Such equipment can include rubber-coated metal bullets that can be lethal.

An Associated Press (AP) cameraman was hit in the back of his head by a bullet when Israeli soldiers opened fire in the Gaza Strip as he was filming a demonstration, Palestinian witnesses said. AP said his condition was not life-threatening.

Notice the last paragraph. It makes it look like the Israeli soldiers deliberately shot the cameraman. It isn't until the next graf that you get the full story.

Witnesses said soldiers shot in the air and at the ground and the bullet that hit him had apparently ricocheted. The army said it was investigating the incident.

Ah. It was a ricochet. The soldiers were not aiming for anyone at the demonstration, but let's make sure we demonize the evil soldiers who deliberately killed a little boy walking home from school. Who was only throwing rocks at the soldiers. Here's a picture of Palestinian kids throwing rocks at soldiers:

Pals throwing rocks

Some rocks, huh? Why, they wouldn't hurt an elephant. But they'd kill a person.

Buried in the middle of the story is this:

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus, a Palestinian bystander was shot dead during a clash between militants within the faction-ridden Fatah movement of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, witnesses said.

What? An innocent bystander was killed? Headline! Headline! Oh, wait. It was a Palestinian killed by Palestinians. Never mind, not newsworthy. But please be sure to call it "the Israeli-occupied West Bank" for form's sake.

Meanwhile, back at the death of the Israeli seminary students' story:

The militant Islamic Jihad group's official Abdullah Shahmi told Reuters it carried out the attack in retaliation for Israel's killings.

Palestinian militants have often targeted Jewish settlements during their fight for statehood and against Israeli occupation in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Killings. Not in scare quotes, not a note that the army was fired upon by wanted terrorists in most of the instances, just "killings." Like the IDF simply hangs around the West Bank idly shooting anyone that moves. Well, if you only get your news from Palestinian Reuters correspondents, that's probably an accurate description.


Israel's right-wing government signaled the army would strike even harder at militant groups behind violence against its citizens in a more than two-year-old Palestinian uprising against occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

"The defense minister (Shaul Mofaz) and I agreed to apply heavy pressure on the terrorist organizations," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted by a government source as telling his cabinet at a regular meeting on Sunday.

Sharon has made the fight against what he calls Palestinian terrorism his key campaign platform for a January 28 general election.

"What he calls Palestinian terrorism." So, if someone straps a bomb around themselves, goes into a shopping mall populated by civilians, and blows himself up, it's only Ariel Sharon who calls this terrorism? Reuters is getting so blatant I'm astonished the the world's news editors aren't dying of apoplexy every time they read this crap.

On Saturday, Israeli soldiers shot dead nine-year-old Hanin Abu Suleiman outside her home in the Gaza town of Khan Younis, Palestinian security sources said.

Israeli military sources said troops in the area had been shot at by Palestinian gunmen and returned fire but could not say if they had hit anyone.

So they take it as fact that the Israeli soldiers "shot dead" a nine-year-old girl, but attacks that Sharon "calls" terrorism get their own definition in Reuters articles. This is their description of the eight "killed by the IDF" last week that "caused" the "settlement" attack. (Sorry for so many quotes. I was in Reuters mode.)

At least three of the seven men killed in the West Bank were described as militants by both sides. A teenage bystander and a hospital security guard were also killed. Two Palestinians who Israel described as gunmen were shot dead by Israeli forces.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops shot dead an armed Palestinian on Wednesday night when he approached an army outpost near a Jewish settlement, military sources said. Hamas said the man was one of its members.

This is buried near the end of the article on the deaths of the students. Notice how Reuters tries very hard to make the dead men all seem innocent, yet even by their own count, six of the eight were terrorists. Six of the eight. And yet, they make it seem like all the dead were innocent bystanders, and the IDF just went on a shooting rampage. By the way, the two that "Israel described as gunmen" were shooting at the IDF just before they were killed.

In the town of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers stopped a car with two wanted Hamas activists in downtown Manara Square. Soldiers opened fire when one of the men drew a gun, killing him, the army said. An assault rifle, two guns and cash were found in the car, the army said.

By the way, also buried at the end of the Reuters article—buried so that it will get as little notice as possible—was this gem about Hamas' so-called truce talks:

An Egyptian government source said Egypt had invited key Palestinian factions to meet in Cairo to forge a united stand on sensitive issues such as a halt to suicide bombings in Israel.

Fatah said it accepted the invitation and militant group Hamas said it agreed in principle to go but ruled out negotiating on a halt to attacks. No date was set for the talks.

Here's your expression of truce:

"In blood and spirit we will redeem the martyrs!" mourners chanted at the funeral of hospital guard Samer Shamaly. Israel said he belonged to a militant group in Arafat's Fatah faction. The group denied the charge.

And, of course, there's the usual tally:

At least 1,750 Palestinians and 675 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian revolt began in September 2000 when negotiations failed on a Palestinian state on territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

But then they added this:

Palestinians won self-rule in West Bank and Gaza cities under interim peace deals in the mid-1990s.

Funny how they can't seem to add the next paragraph, which should be: "But lost it after a series of suicide bombings, some coming as often as two or three time a day, killed hundreds and wounded thousands in March and April, including the Passover Massacre in Netanya, which killed several Holocaust survivors." Not that you'll ever see that in Rotters News Service.

I have two words for Reuters, and, well, I've recently decided to stop saying things like, "Eff off, Reuters," in my weblogs, so I won't say them.

Or I might.

David Mamet: If I forget thee, Jerusalem

It's been around a few places, but if you haven't read this yet, go read it. It's wonderful.

If you love the Jews as victims, but detest our right to statehood, might you not ask yourself "why?" That is your debt to the Jews. Here is your debt to the Jewish state. Had Israel not in 1981 bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor, some scant weeks away from production of nuclear bomb material, all New York (God forbid) might have been Ground Zero.

Read it, and you may never read Tom Clancy again. I know I'll be passing his books by from now on. Well, it's not like I ever bought one to begin with, or read one, for that matter, but—read it. You'll see why.

What you missed

If you haven't been around for a few days, you probably didn't see this post on the latest terrorist attack in Israel, "What more is there to say?"

You probably also didn't read this one on email bombs. And if you haven't been here since Christmas, you missed this post about my getting a phone call from my brother's pocket. (It's true. Would I make something like that up?)

You see what happens when you blink around here? You miss a lot.



What's wrong with this cease-fire proposal?

Egypt has been working overtime trying to get Hamas and Fatah to agree to cease terrorist attacks in Israel. Any second now, you're going to hear from all of the usual suspects that Israel is preventing peace, because Israel is going to turn down this so-called cease-fire.

Egypt today released a draft of an agreement drawn up between Hamas and Fatah during talks last week in Cairo, which includes an assent by Hamas to a cease fire in attacks against Israel, but only if the IDF pulls back to its September 2000 positions.

Army Radio reports the agreement, and adds that the draft also puts another condition to the cease-fire, which is granting freedom of movement to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Look at that first sentence. Here's the phrase that pays: "a cease fire in attacks against Israel." As in every supposed truce agreement, the terrorists refuse to halt attacks in the territories. They're talking only about attacks within the Green Line, the demarcation of Israel's borders after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Of course Israel will refuse any agreement that excludes 200,000 Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. The terrorists consider them to be combatants, which is why they murder five-year-olds hiding under the covers.

Armed with such a program, the Palestinian Authority would try to negotiate a two-stage truce that would first take hold in Israel and, after an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns and cities, would extend to the West Bank and Gaza, Shaath said.

Let's see. "We promise not to attack you outside of the Green Line, but it's going to take us a while to stop murdering children in their beds, okay? First you have to remove your troops and let us get back to the business of making bombs."

I think not.

So the spin on this one will be "Israel refuses cease-fire agreement with Hamas and Fatah." You think that's Egypt's intent? I wouldn't bet against it.


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.