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Subtle, subtle bias

I saw this AP article in the Jerusalem Post, and have been unable to find it anywhere else, not even on the main AP news page. It's about the American response to the killing of our soldiers this past week. The title is "US Pounds Tikrit," and it contains quotes such as this:

The message was clear.

"We want to remind this town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them," said Lt. Col. Steven Russell of the 4th Infantry Division who led raid.

The target was a series of neighborhoods around Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

That's not the bias I'm talking about necessarily, although the author took great pains to make the soldiers sound like your stereotypical "Rambo" types:

After midnight, Russell's convoy of Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles, their headlights turned off, set out across the town toward three building that insurgents were suspected of using.

Shoulder-fired rockets, a missile, and heavy machine gun fire slammed into the abandoned warehouse.

Soldiers yelled, "knock, knock" and "good morning" in celebration as the structure crumbled amid plumes of dust and smoke.

That's still not the subtle bias I caught. That's rather overt. You'd have to be dead to miss the undertone of this article. But towards the end, this is the part that really caught my attention:

Although most houses had their lights on, nobody dared to look outside.

In one house, a woman was heard coughing.

Soldiers training their guns and the red laser night-sights that they use on the second-floor window.

The coughing quickly stopped.

See, here's the thing. I'm coming down with a chest cold right now, and I've been coughing a bit this morning. Maybe you could all help me out a little here: How can you tell a woman's cough from a man's cough? I'm afraid I've never really heard anything but coughing, no matter who is doing it. Tone? Meter? Duration? Do women cough on a higher scale than men? Really? Because frankly, before reading this AP story, I'd have thought that a cough is a cough is a cough.

So how is it the AP reporter knew that was a woman coughing? You really have to hand it to the reporter. Or maybe it's another case of media bias. The story sounds much nastier if the mean ol' Rambos are aiming their weapons at a poor, sick woman.

Hide in plain sight

Yet another example of how terrorism pays: The terrorists actually admit what they're doing, and the world ignores it.

Report: PA transfers $50,000 monthly to Martyrs' Brigades
The Palestinian Authority pays members of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades up to $50,000 a month, the BBC reported.

Abdel Fattah Hamayel, Minister for Sports & Youth until Mahmoud Abbas resigned as prime minister in September defended the payments, saying, "Originally, some people in these groups had been chosen to work for the security services, so they were getting salaries and still are doing so."

A Fatah leader told the BBC that "Fatah has two sections: a military wing, led by the military and a political wing, led by politicians. But there is no difference between Fatah and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades."

Zakaria Zubaydi, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades leader in Jenin, said that "when Arafat calls for a ceasefire, we will respect his decision and stop."

Those who insist that Arafat can't stop the terrorism are not merely wrong: They're idiots. But the idiots in the EU and in high positions in the President's cabinet, as well as the State Department, apparently are just as stupid.

The thing that amazes me, and that Arafat has been cackling about for years, is that the terrorists are able to tell us exactly what their aims are—the destruction of the state of Israel—and most of us choose to ignore or disbelieve them. (By the way, watch 60 Minutes Sunday night. They're running a piece on how much Arafat has stolen from the PA.)

May I say it one more time: Die, Arafat. Die quickly, die painfully, but die soon.

Israel's big mistake?

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is lobbying his cabinet to get them to vote for a hostage swap with Hizbullah, where Israel will release 400 terrorists in return for the bodies of three soldiers, as well as Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was kidnapped after being lured out of the country on a shady business deal.

The officials quoted Sharon as saying that, when talking about matters of principle, sometimes you have to pay a heavy price. One said that Sharon's commitment to this principle stems from his day as commander of the paratroops, when he used to lead raids aimed at kidnapping Jordanian and Egyptian soldiers to hold in exchange for Israeli soldiers held in enemy lands. In addition, his being wounded at Latrun during the War of Independence impressed upon him the importance of not leaving anyone – dead or alive – in enemy hands.

The ministers will be asked to vote in principle on a resolution approving the swap, after which Sharon will instruct Ilan Biran, who has led the negotiations that have gone of for months, to finalize the deal and draw up the final list of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners to be released.

In exchange for Tannenbaum and the bodies of the three soldiers, Israel is expected to release some 400 Palestinians, none of them with blood on his hands, and some 20 Lebanese, some of whom committed terrorist acts against Israelis on Lebanese soil.

Caroline Glick says it's a bad, bad idea.

Hizbullah is a terrorist organization dedicated the physical liquidation of the State of Israel. Since its inception, its leadership has indoctrinated its people from the cradle to the grave that their goal in life is to make war on Israel and the Jewish people until both are no more.

Every single thing that Hizbullah does, from "educating" children in schools to become human bombs, to running its mosques, its television station, its drug running operations and its guerrilla and terrorist training camps is devoted first and foremost to bringing about the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.

No Hizbullah leader, from Hassan Nasrallah to Obeid to their predecessors and their Iranian sponsors has ever denied that the destruction of Israel is their aim – to the contrary. And it is not just Israeli Jews that offend them. It is all Jews, everywhere. So it is that Hizbullah with its boss, Iran, committed the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. It was Hizbullah, with Iran that blew up the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires is 1994 that left 86 Jews dead and the same week blew up a plane over Panama killing 22 people who it claimed were Jewish businessmen.

In the meantime, Hizbullah set eight bombs on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border, hoping to kidnap some more soldiers as well as murder as many as they could.

Israel has lodged an official protest with the UN over Hizbullah's attempt to attack soldiers and civilians along the northern border by means of a sophisticated string of roadside bombs near the security fence.

Some of the devices were safely detonated by sappers on Thursday, although not all of them were destroyed. The IDF said UNIFIL troops had confirmed that a string of bombs had been laid in the area.

The bombs were planted alongside the security fence after the terrorists had crossed the UN-delineated withdrawal line that marks the official international frontier until such time as a border is agreed upon in a peace accord between Lebanon and Israel.

The security fence is south of that line and therefore inside Israel.

Wow, that's one hell of a threatening strategy: Protest to the UN when you have a problem like this:

The bombs were planted north of Kibbutz Ma'ayan Baruch in the Upper Galilee. The attempted attack appeared to be in line with recent warnings by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that Hizbullah is planning a major operation along the border.

Lt.-Col. Itai Virub, the IDF commander in the region, told reporters the bombs had been well camouflaged and had been designed to cause maximum casualties to troops and those coming to their aid.

I'm going back and forth on this.

Those who oppose the deal primarily argue two points: that releasing Obeid and Dirani will deprive Israel of any opportunity to get additional information on Arad, and that paying such a heavy price will only increase Hizbullah's appetite to kidnap even more Israelis.

The counterarguments are that Dirani and Obeid have long ceased being effective "bargaining chips," and Hizbullah does not need an incentive to try and kidnap more Israelis, which it is trying to do all the time.

Naveh, who spoke Thursday with both the Avraham and Avitan families, said the Avitans told him to keep them in mind when he votes, and to keep in mind that the three soldiers were sent in the service of the state and that "it is now time for the state to bring them home."

Naveh said he told the families that that this is the most difficult decision he has ever had to make as a minister, and that he is struggling with the question of whether there is any value, in terms of getting more information about Arad, in continuing to hold Dirani and Obeid, or whether by continuing to hold them he may not be sentencing Tannenbaum to death.

I think that making this deal will absolutely encourage Hizbullah—and other terrorist organizations—to kidnap more Israelis. I suppose we can only wait and see, because it seems clear to me that Sharon is going to win the approval he wants, and even if he doesn't, will make the swap. The US is urging him to do it to "increase regional stability." Someone has to explain to me how rewarding terrorists does that, because I'm missing the point.



Misogyny in the blogosphere

I haven't finished my response to the Kim du Toit essay on what he thinks is a real man. But many others have chimed in, and it's time to link a few of them.

Donald Sensing rebuts the essay.

Eric says Kim is a bully.

Michele responds by writing about the way she's going to raise her son. And the comments to this post have many people's responses to the essay, particularly to the excerpted part in the post. That's where my comments to date are.

Ilyka has her say here. And here. And via Ilyka, I found, another Master Of Juvenile Scorn™ whom I am proud to welcome to the elite club with this response to Kim's essay. And may I say: Damn, Phil. (By the way, this earlier entry proves that Phil deserves the title. And this one is a laugh-out-loud moment.) Catch Me If You Can is going on my reading list.

Andrea Harris' response.

Kate's isn't as venomous as you might think.

Spoons chimes in.

James Joyner has the most balanced response in the blogosphere.

Matthew Yglesias routs out the liberal troop response.

Alex updates his essay on what it means to be a man.

Shell says it isn't about gender, it's about ideology.

Glenn Reynolds weighs in, links to a few of the debaters, and publishes some email.

And I think that's enough for now. That's a pretty long reading list.



I got nothin'. No, I got chestnuts.

I know there are a lot of things going on in the big, wide world. Terrorists are blowing themselves up in Mecca. CBS has kowtowed to the critics and pulled the Reagan miniseries (wow, the Salt Lake Tribune is really pissed about it, too). A leaked memo is showing Democrats willing to use pretty sensitive national issues as partisan politics (I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you—no Republican would ever do anything like that, no, never). The Russians are helping Iran build nuclear reactors and insist they won't be used for anything but nuclear power.

But I just got back from a surprise farmer's market trip with Sarah and the twins. Seems that because of the extended warm weather, the growing season was extended. And after a stop at the local health-food market, I found the prize of the day: Chestnuts.

They're an acquired taste, and my brothers and I acquired it as small children. My father loved chestnuts. We love chestnuts. Every year about this time, we scan the stores in our neighborhoods, trying to find the first chestnut of the season. When I lived in NJ, we'd call each other up as soon as we found a store that sold them. One year I discovered that an Italian deli in Montclair imported Italian chestnuts even before the supermarkets, and bought enough for all three of us before making the call.

And speaking of making the call: The timer's going off. The chestnuts are finished cooking. I'll be back later.



Gene Roddenberry: Moviemaker, or prophet?

Just don't say that Gene Roddenberry didn't warn us all years ago. Yeah, you thought that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was fiction, didn't you?

I think not.

Voyager says goodbye to Solar System
The most distant man-made object - the Voyager 1 spacecraft - is finally leaving the Solar System. Astronomers think the probe has reached a boundary where the Sun's influence starts to wane.

And that's not all.

In around 2020, Voyager 1 is expected to reach the heliopause at roughly 135 AU. This is where the Sun's influence fades away entirely and interstellar space begins. Astronomers will then get their first chance to measure the magnetic fields and energetic particles of interstellar space.

Look, I may still be around in 2020, but you never know. Kids, it's all up to you. Whatever you do, don't let V'ger come to be! Do it for the children! Oh, wait, that means you. Then do it for yourselves!

A look inside the statistics

An interesting article in Ha'aretz details an IDF policy that at first glance seems to be rather trigger-happy and, in fact, was reported as such by a reservist. But it's not at all what it seems.

Soldiers stationed near the Gaza settlement of Netzarim may shoot to kill if they spot a Palestinian observing Israel Defense Forces activity via binoculars, according to new rules of engagement recently issued by the IDF for that area.

The new rules are apparently a response to the attack on Netzarim two weeks ago, in which three IDF soldiers, including two women, were killed. The subsequent investigation revealed that the two terrorists, one each from Hamas and Islamic Jihad,

had conducted lengthy observations of IDF activity in the area before the attack. Indeed, a senior Islamic Jihad official said this week that the organization gathered intelligence on IDF activity in the area for three months before the attack. That is also why, immediately after the attack, the IDF razed three multistory buildings that had apparently served the Palestinians as lookout posts.

Similar rules of engagement are in place in other areas of the Gaza Strip that the IDF defines as high-risk, and this week, soldiers killed two Palestinians who were spotted observing IDF activity - one near the Kisufim Junction and one at the Sufa Junction. It later emerged that massive bombs had been planted at both sites, and that the dead men had been there to report on the soldiers' movements so that the bombs could be set off at the optimal time.

The pals, of course, and the pro-palestinian press, report all such incidences as the IDF shooting palestinians, making it appear that the Israel army attacks innocent bystanders on a regular basis. But these are neither innocent nor bystanders. In the paragraph above, the observers were part of a team that intended to murder soldiers. They are not simply "palestinians," as in, "The IDF shot to death xx palestinians today" you see in most news stories on such incidents. The "palestinians" are part of the terrorist teams, and their deaths are casualties of the terrorist war that has been waged on Israel all these years.

On the other hand, it's fascinating that Israel also has soldiers who object to the practice and follow a proper recourse for their objections (as opposed to, say, reservists who simply refuse to follow orders).

After a new batch of reservists who arrived in Netzarim this week was briefed on the orders, one complained to his commanders that this practice seemed trigger-happy. When the order was not changed, the reservist complained to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and ACRI's legal advisor, Dan Yakir, sent a letter of protest to the IDF Judge Advocate General. Yakir charged that the new order is blatantly illegal, since it permits "killing people even if they constitute no apparent risk."

Sources in the IDF's Southern Command acknowledged that the new rules are different from those in effect in most of Gaza, which permit shooting to kill only if an armed Palestinian enters a special security zone and behaves in a way that indicates intent to carry out an attack. However, they said, the Netzarim rules are in force in other "major war zones" in the Gaza Strip.

A senior army officer told Haaretz that "the new orders permit firing only at a terrorist who is observing, not at anyone holding a pair of binoculars. The soldiers have clear criteria for determining who is a terrorist."

Keep this article in mind the next time you read a Reuters story about the IDF killing palestinians who were "near a military outpost" or some such thing.

Quick links

The Carnival of the Vanities is at Wizbang this week. You have got to check it out, if only to see Kevin's really clever categories. The theme is voting, and there are buttons!

Michele is trying not to have her brain explode in this post, where I had a few things to say in the comments, but I'm pretty much done now. Theories unsupported by statistical evidence are my least favorite part of the blogosphere.

However, Michele has also responded to Kim's post, and I say to Michele: Good for you. DJ's got a great mom. (And by the way, my best friend—a woman—owns two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They're hers, not her husband's. I'll have to tell her she's a real man.)

James Joyner goes on my links page partly due to this post, which shows a balance rarely seen elsewhere in the blogosphere. Come to think of it, I need to reorganize my links. Maybe I'll do that later today. Clean house, clean weblog—not much of a difference, although I'd rather clean the weblog than the apartment. Of course, if I'd read this post first, I'd probably have changed my mind. Before the signature block, indeed. (By the way, I'm up to over 4,000 referrers and counting from James' post containing links to pictures of women bloggers.)

Lair Simon has tons of cat pictures on his blog since he got that digital camera for his birthday. This is a really cute one of Piper. He's also got partners now. Check out Milo's post on the end of the Democratic party. (As for his conclusion, I say: Phew.) This, however, is my favorite of Lair's recent posts: Lair's version of the new UN security changes ordered by Kofi Annan. It's a hoot.



An email update

First, I owe a ton of people email. My apologies, and I'll try to get caught up tomorrow. (That means you especially, Francesca, but dang, that's a complicated question you asked.)

A few email hints: Please do not title any email to me "hi." That's one of the major spam subject lines. If I don't recognize the author, I delete it automatically. And I'm awfully suspicious of most email titled "re:" if I didn't send it first. I know you mean it as "In regards to Post X," but I may have reflexively deleted it by the time I realize it was legit.

Oh, and here's a big, big tip for free: If your email is titled "up yours," or something similar, I see no need to read it. Ever. If you're going to insult me, you really have to be far more clever than that.

Gone drivin'

Now that I've pissed off most of the blogosphere, I'm outta here for the afternoon.

It's another beautiful day out, and I'm off to meet the G family over at Maymont for a picnic. Ooh, the last of the corned beef, Sarah, Jake, and a pair of two-year-olds. (I shall refrain from attempting to whup them upside the head when they misbehave.) This will be a good day.

Hypocrisy of the right

Kate linked to two stories last night, the responses to both of which irked me. The first was an approving link to this entry by Serenity where she has no problem with a bus driver disciplining a child by slapping him upside the head. She holds that the bus driver was in the right because the child was, in her authoritative judgment, "a brat."

Oh I can hear it now from the peanut gallery. "No one has the right to back hand my child.....if someone ever did that to MY kid I'd have their ASS!"

You know what? Your little angel is a fucking pain in the butt when you aren't around!

#1-He disobeyed an order from an authority figure. This bus driver IS an authority figure for this child.

#2-If this nation is going to go up in arms over words like, "hot dog" and "hamburger", then certainly a child repeating the word, "penis" over and over again can be deemed as offensive as well. It offended the bus driver, the authority figure, who asked this little shithead to stop.

#3-The little fuck has one smart mouth doesn't he? It doesn't matter if this is a "scientific" term or not. The snot nosed brat wasn't using it in a scientific manner or discussion! AND, AGAIN, he mouthed off to an authority figure.

I've had it with "time outs" and "Saturday closets" and coddling little kids to the point that they act like such holy fucking terrors anymore it's enough to make one scream. There is an ENORMOUS difference between discipline and abuse. Smacking a kid upside the head IS NOT ABUSE! STOP THROWING THE WORD AROUND! Some kids will only respond to such forms of punishment for their actions and I say, let it continue.

No, I do not condone punching kids or hitting them with belts, paddles, sticks, switches, kicking them, pulling their hair, etc.

But a slap across the face or their betcha! I don't care who it is! The discipline does not just need to come from the parent. Remember the paddle in the principle's office?

As a matter of fact, no. None of my teachers were allowed to strike a student for misbehaving. In fact, there was a point in high school where my entire English class held its breath as we were sure that we were witnessing the end of our teacher's career, as he seemed about to slug one of the students who was disobeying him. But he held himself back and shouted at the student to get out of his class and go to the principal's office—which was the right thing to do, in spite of the student's disrespectful behavior. And trust me, he had a great reason for wanting to punch the student.

The point is not that children are undisciplined. The point is that a bus driver does not have the right to discipline a child by hitting him. No, smacking the child upside the head isn't abuse. It's got a legal definition, though: It's called assault. No matter what your opinions on hitting children, when a person who is not the child's parent hits him, it's illegal and just plain wrong. (And by the way, Serenity? No way do I want you near a child of mine, not with that attitude. Or anyone else's child, for that matter. Funny, I manage to teach a bunch of active nine- and ten-year-olds without ever having the urge to smack any of them, no matter how they're misbehaving.)

So where does the hypocrisy come in? That would be in the comments about this story, in which a child was suspended for stealing. Notice how even the news article misreports the story:

RIO RANCHO, N.M. -- A Rio Rancho teen was slapped with an in-school suspension for taking both sodas that came out of a vending machine, when he had only paid for one.

[...] On Monday, Rio Rancho student Mason Kisner, 12, said he bought a can of pop at a school vending machine, and instead of getting one can, he received two.

Kisner said he spread the word, and other students tried to get in on the deal. A teacher who saw Kisner getting the two sodas on Monday told him not to do it again. But Kisner said the teacher saw him get another two sodas for the price of one on Tuesday.

The boy said the teacher called him a thief and accused him of trying to teach other students how to steal. He was written up, given a two-day in-school suspension and the incident will appear on his permanent school record.

[...] Rio Rancho Public Schools issued a written statement: "On Monday a teacher observed Mason manipulating the soft drink machine at the school. The teacher advised Mason that getting two sodas for the price of one is the equivalent to stealing. When the teacher observed Mason doing the same thing again on Tuesday, she wrote him up."

The commenters for the most part think that the punishment was too harsh, or shouldn't have been leveled at all. Let's see: A teenager put his money into a soft drink machine and got two cans instead of one. He told his friends about it. They took advantage of the situation. A teacher saw the student, told him that what he was doing was stealing, and said not to tell any more students. The student disobeyed the teacher, got caught, and was suspended.

I'm missing the part where I'm supposed to feel sympathy for the child. He stole. He was told he was stealing. He was warned not to steal again. He stole again. He was punished.

In Serenity's piece, we have a lecture on how spoiled children are due to overpermissive parents. In this example, we have people saying that the child should not have been punished for his actions, and that the school was overreacting. (This boy's father wants the school to apologize to his son, by the way.) Funny, I thought the right side of the blogosphere was the law-and-order side, and the left side was the overly permissive side.

What, you mean there are examples of both viewpoints on both sides of the aisle? Color me amazed.

Objectivity and journalists

Jeff Jarvis' report on a recent conference on journalism states the reason why, in spite of the demonization of journalists by many in the blogosphere, they are not the enemy:

The real point of the meeting was for these leaders in journalism to wrestle with the question of whether journalists should be involved in public policy. If you'd been there, you'd surely have been impressed with the effort, even agony, that these people go to when debating such questions. They worry about issues of ethics, credibility, labor and about practical matters of setting and maintaining standards. The group came to consensus that there is a range of proper and improper involvement: On one end, if a matter of policy directly affects the public's right to know (e.g., the passing of an official secrets act), then it is the right and perhaps responsibility of journalists to speak up and even to lobby. On the other end, if a matter of policy is controversial (say, globalization), then it is not right for journalists to take a stance on an issue they are covering. Of course, there's much in the middle. I'm unfairly summarizing a lot of discussion in a few sentences; the institute will issue a paper on the topic soon.

Amid all the blather we hear about "media bias," note that these professionals take hyperseriously their responsibility to report with fairness, balance, and accuracy and without bias. You can criticize them all you want on whether they succeed. But too often, the critics forget that they do try. One cannot dismiss this effort easily.

Mind you, we're not talking about the Robert Fisks or the Ted Ralls or the Bill O'Reillys here. We're talking about the majority of journalists who do try to present an objective story.

One of the things that I see throughout the blogosphere is a childish sense of jealousy over professional journalists. The attitude is, "Why do they get paid when I do the same thing they do, only better?" The simple answer is that they worked long and hard to get where they are—even the most hated (on the right side of the blogosphere) opinion writers like Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd. You simply do not get to write for the New York Times by accident, and with no previous credentials.

One of the reasons I like Jeff Jarvis is because he is a professional, both in credentials and attitude, and he has tried to explain the professional journalism side of things to bloggers, and vice-versa. I think it's a good attitude to emulate, rather than the adversarial attitude that is so rampant. (And is, frankly, the mark of the amateur.) The jealous barbs get rather tiresome after a while.

The Reagan miniseries

I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you, that television docudrama scriptwriters and producers are making up facts about its subject. Why, that's never, ever happened in the history of television or film! It's almost as if Oliver Stone didn't exist.

There's a reason why TV executives changed the label "docudrama" to "A moment of truth film." It's because television no longer presents the facts. What surprises me is how many people seem surprised by this. There are, as of post time, 98 articles on Google News about this subject.

However, I do find it absurd that people are complaining that James Brolin can't portray Reagan properly because he's married to ultra-liberal Barbra Streisand, which presumably makes him ultra-liberal, too. (I wouldn't know, I've never read a thing about Brolin's politics.) Get real. Or was the actor who portrayed Hitler in the recent miniseries unable to portray him properly because he wasn't an anti-Semitic psychopath?

By the way, I expect all the Reagan sympathizers who are outraged over the CBS miniseries' inability to stick to the facts to stop criticizing Jewish groups who say that Mel Gibson's making up facts that portray the Jews in a bad light for his upcoming film, "The Passion." Goose, gander, etc.



The death of a collaborator: The BBC reports

Tulkarm is a town in the West Bank that a lot of terrorists come from. A BBC reporter discovered it's also a town where palestinians are murdered as "suspected collaborators."

In the Middle East, there is concern about the growing numbers of Palestinians being hunted down and killed - not by the Israeli army but by their own friends and neighbours.

The executioners say they taped the collaborators' confessions. The latest to die were two young men shot dead in the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Tulkarm after being accused of collaborating with the Israeli army.

Palestinian human rights workers say more than 70 suspected collaborators have died in vigilante killings over the past three years.

(The 70 deaths, by the way, are added to the total number of palestinians killed since the Intifada began. So are deaths as the result of "work accidents," or bombs that explode prematurely.) This being the Beeb, however, there must be an anti-Israel slant to the article.

Tulkarm has a ring of Israeli troops around the outside.

There's a whiff of that slant.

And on the inside, it seems that Palestinians suspected of collaborating can expect no law and no justice from their own brothers.

Posters of dead Palestinian militants line the walls of the dusty backstreets of the refugee camp in the town.

We're taken to see a man who issued a death sentence and made sure it was carried out.

Do they pin these deaths on the Israelis? Let's find out.

Sitting in front of me in a bare family home inside the camp is the local commander of the al-Aqsa brigades. A thinly bearded man, he calls himself Abu Amsha.

Charles says: Never trust anybody who goes by the nom de guerre Abu. Meryl says: How can you tell when a palestinian is lying? His lips are moving.

"What gave you the right to decide that these two men should be killed?" I ask him.

"The two collaborators, Mohammed and Samir, killed seven Palestinians because they gave information to the Israelis which led to assassinations. They were following me - I was going to be next," the commander answers.

"The guys brought them to the camp," he continues after being asked how the two collaborators died.

"We put them on their knees. We fired at their heads and then at their bodies. That's how Mohammed and Samir were executed."

"How do we know you didn't torture them - make them say anything you wanted?" I ask the commander.

"From the minute we kidnapped Mohammed, a guy sat with him just holding a gun. We all drank tea. Mohammed admitted what he had done immediately and we taped his confession," Abu Amsha says.

Now let's see if Abu is lying.

But Mohammed's family claim that he was tortured into making that confession in the 21 days that he was held.

They have photographs they want to show me which they say were taken after they recovered his body.

The first photograph is of the back of Mohammed's legs. They're covered in marks, there's blood and some scars.

"They put metal rods in the fire and then they stuck them into his legs," Mohammed's mother, Masoosa, says.

"They melted plastic and dropped it onto his body to burn him. Mohammed was in the al-Aqsa brigades with these other guys. Then he got promoted and they got jealous - that's why they killed him," she says.

Whoops. They have photographic evidence of torture. That trumps Abu's claims of tea and confession. However, this being the Beeb, they have to put an anti-Israel spin on things. Tellya what, I'm tired of quoting them, here you go: Blahblahblah, Israel's fault, blahblahblah, collaborators get killed, blahblahblah, Israel's fault.

The angle of this piece is that many so-called collaborators are murdered without any respect to the rule of law, but the reporter ends the article blaming Israel for the death of actual collaborators. Yeah, whatever. War is hell, yadda yadda yadda. The solution, as always, is simple: Stop sending terrorists to murder Israelis, and the Israelis will stop needing collaborators. Everybody lives, it's a win-win.

By the way: Gone drivin' again

It's heading to the mid-eighties today, and this looks to be the best of the last of the warmest days of the year. I have talked Heidi into agreeing to go driving topless, so we will wait until Sorena gets out of school, get her, and the three of us—yes, that's two adults and a minor child—will drive topless in my Jeep.

Go ahead, fellow bloggers, have fun with the linkage on this one, and by the way, Colin: Your comments are hosed and my email to you bounced, but there's an even more suggestive thing you could have said in your post, and it has to do with an alternative word for cat.

Y'all behave while I'm gone. I'll be back with more pictures, perhaps.

Got another one: Suicide prevention, IDF-style

The IDF and Israeli security forces are doing a phenomenal job, under the circumstances.

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up Monday morning in a West Bank village close to the Sharon region when he saw Israeli security officials searching for him.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly hurt in the blast.

The teenaged bomber had tried to enter Jerusalem on Sunday from the direction of the West Bank city of Nablus, but spent the night in Ramallah after observing the high level of security in the area.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the failed attack, naming the bomber as Sabih Abu Saud, 16, from the West Bank city of Nablus.

That would be Arafat's personal terrorist group. And look at this: A father who did not want his son engraved in Arafat's personal hall of martyrs:

The bomber's father, Kamal Abu Saud, slammed the militants for sending someone so young to his death. "He was just a little boy and those who sent him should have left him alone," he said.

"But he [Sabih] was not a member of any of the [militant] groups," the father said, adding that he strictly supervised the activity of his 11 children.

Saud said he contacted the Palestinian security forces and reported his son missing, but by then he had apparently already left Nablus.

Don't destroy this man's house. Send a different kind of message. See if it makes a difference.



Cry me a river: The pals are insulted—again

Hold onto your hats, folks, the pals are mad at the U.S.:

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday condemned the US for offering a reward of up to $5 million for people providing information about the attack on American convoy in the Gaza Strip on October 15. Three US security guards were killed when a remote-controlled roadside bomb was detonated near their convoy in the northern Gaza Strip.

[...] Col. Rashid Abu Shabak, commander of the Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, lashed out at the US for making the offer, saying the PA was continuing its investigation into the case. "We strongly condemn this decision," he said. "This is an insulting announcement because it deals with a people whose mouth does not water in the face of financial temptations."

Sure, that would be why Saddam Hussein was paying suicide bombers' families up to $30,000 upon delivery of the Semtex to unsuspecting Israel civilians. That's why the pals are so pissed off that Hussein—their patron—has been unseated. That would be why Yasser Arafat is a near-billionaire. Because the pals don't care about money.

Abu Shabak, whose force has been entrusted with investigating the attack on the US convoy, said the Palestinians and their security forces refuse to play the role of mercenaries for the US or any other party. "We don't work as mercenaries for anyone," he added.

No, not at all. There are no palestinian terrorists in Iraq teaching the Iraqis how to make the right kinds of suicide bombs, none at all.

"We operate according to our own security vision, which is to serve the interests of the Palestinian people and to provide them with security and calm."

Okay, that one overloaded my fisking skills. The sheer, utter gall and hypocrisy of it made my brain hurt.

He said the PA was continuing to investigate the incident, but declined to say whether any progress has been made. It's also not clear what happened to the eight Palestinians who were detained shortly after the attack. Sources in Gaza City said most of the detainees have been released.

Have you checked the nearest lampposts for bodies?

A senior PA official in Ramallah described the US offer as "imprudent" and a "flagrant intervention in Palestinian affairs." He added: "The offer is a stab in the back of the Palestinians, who are doing their utmost to capture the culprits."

Wah, wah, wah, we're insulted, we're humiliated. It's getting tiresome, kiddies.

The PA media has accused Israel of standing behind the attack on the American convoy with the aim of driving a wedge between the Palestinian Authority and the US. Senior PA officials have also accused Israel in private of being responsible for the attack.

Way to find the culprits. Blame Israel, then say you can't bring them to justice because they're not yours. Like we haven't heard that one a hundred times before.

Doesn't Colin Powell ever get tired of hearing this shit? Just once—just once, I'd like to hear him say, "Hey! Morons! We're on to you, who you think you're foolin' here?"

Well, hey, when pigs fly.

Gone drivin', Day Two

Everybody should hang around with teenagers from time to time. It went over 80 degrees in Richmond today, and for the third day in a row, I went driving around enjoying the hell out of our Indian Summer in my Jeep. Today, I brought along a little extra fun company.

Me in my JeepI taught school this morning. Four of my five students earned enough points and claimed their prizes (the fifth won his two weeks ago), and a few asked if the eighty-point prize is still available. It is, I told them as we were walking to the carpool line. It's a ride in my Jeep, top down, for a duration of a minimum of 30 minutes and includes one highway, if their parents permit. Two of them said their parents had already said yes. Then my fourth-graders watched jealously as Mara (my teacher's aide) and I quickly put down the top (it went up before bed last night due to a report of light rain), got in, and drove off. Spent some time at Mara's house with her, her brother, and parents, then asked if she'd like to try driving the Jeep. She's got a learner's permit, and gee, let's think. A sixteen-year-old has the choice of sticking around the house on an 80-degree Sunday afternoon, or going for a drive in a topless Jeep. So, off we went, with Sam in the back packing his soccer equipment. The plan was to drop Sam off and drive around a while longer.

Pinky and the JeepShe's a pretty good driver, but was a bit nervous driving my car, and had to be urged to take it up to top speed on the highway. I treated Sam and Mara to a dose of New Jersey driving etiquette when some asshat blew his horn at Mara for having the nerve to obey the speed limit signs on an exit ramp (and she was really obeying those signs after I told her that if you go around a curve too quickly in a Jeep you can roll it over). I simply told the asshat what I thought of him and offered him (verbally) the one-finger salute. HOKE30 just kept on driving. We don't know if he heard me. I think, though, my stock went up just a bit higher in Sam's estimation. (Then again, I am the only teacher they know who drives them around in a Jeep without a top, so my stock's pretty high up there to begin with.)

It turns out even the R's cat liked my Jeep. He likes to sleep on top of their cars, and jumped onto mine and got a bit of a surprise. Whoops, where'd the roof go? Oh, well, something new to play in!

Last night on the way home, I stopped at the supermarket near dusk. It was dark when I finished shopping, and the moon and the stars were visible. There's something wonderful about being able to see the moon and the sky while you're driving, just by glancing up.

Today on the way home, it was just turning cool enough to need the heat, but I found myself wanting to keep driving for another couple of hours, blasting the radio and belting out the songs, enjoying the last warm days of the year, and watching the moon rise over the windshield.

I love my Jeep.


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.