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Nothin' but blue skies

I'm having a damned good start to the year. The new job is great. I have finally come up with an idea that will make me extra money on the side that I will enjoy doing, and that seems quite likely to succeed—it fills a niche that nobody else is filling, so far as I can tell. I'm coming up with article ideas regularly, including one that should actually get me a byline (you'll be among the first to know, bubelahs).

And there's going to be a new Babylon 5 series, which may very well star Bruce Boxleitner again. (Please, Joe, forgive Claudia Christian for not coming along to season 5, and bring back Ivanova.)

Life is good.

Two views of the news: IDF lifts the West Bank closures

From the Jerusalem Post: IDF lifts closures over W. Bank cities except for Nablus.

The Israel Defense Forces have lifted the closures from all West Bank cities except for Nablus. IDF forces have been operating in Nablus over the past weeks to root out the Palestinian terror infrastructure.

Late Friday, soldiers reportedly fired on Palestinian stone-throwers, injuring two, one of them critically, Israel Radio reported.

During IDF patrols in the city, Palestinians exploded a roadside bomb next to an IDF jeep. There were no casualties, the army said. The explosion reverberated throughout the West Bank city and knocked out power in the area.

[...] Earlier Friday Palestinians opened fire at IDF units in Nablus and Jenin. Soldiers returned fire.

In the Gaza Strip, a hand grenade was thrown at an IDF unit guarding the fence surrounding the Gush Katif settlement of Atzmona on Friday. There were no injuries reported and no damage was caused.

On Thursday two IDF officers were moderately wounded when a bomb exploded near their jeep while searching for fugitives in the Nablus casbah.

The officers were taken to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. In an unrelated matter, after assessing the situation on the ground, the army lifted a four-month-old blockade on Jenin, which became the sixth West Bank city to be granted unrestricted access to its environs.

In recent weeks the army lifted blockades imposed on Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron. The blockade was imposed on the city, considered the hotbed of terrorist activities, on August 19 following the collapse of the terrorist groups' cease-fire and a spate of suicide attacks in Israel.

Prior to the lifting of the blockade, IDF area commanders met with their Palestinian Authority counterparts to inform them of the move. In the past week in the West Bank, security forces arrested over 70 Palestinian fugitives, and there were 18 incidents of shooting at troops and three bomb attacks.

From Reuters: Israeli Army Lifts Blockade of Jenin in West Bank

Palestinians in a flashpoint West Bank city now separated from Israel by a controversial barrier awoke Friday to a rare sight -- streets empty of Israeli forces who had lifted a long encirclement.

The army said removal of the "closure" it imposed on Jenin in August after a truce declared by Palestinian factions collapsed amid violence was "in keeping with assessments of the security situation."

Jenin, a hotbed of militants and the scene of heavy fighting in April 2002, has been surrounded by Israeli forces for the better part of three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

[...] "Jenin has served as a nest of terror in the past, and has been a springboard for many attacks against Israel," David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's office, told Reuters.

"But in line with our policy, we are willing to make adjustments ... without harming Israel's security interest," he said. "Israel has no intention to impede on the lives of Palestinians."

The West Bank barrier, which Israel says stops suicide bombers from reaching its cities, looms several miles to the north and northwest.

Palestinians call the project, which has drawn international condemnation, a land grab aimed at denying them the contiguous state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel is meant to ease restrictions on Palestinians under a U.S.-backed peace "road map" bogged down by persistent violence and the failure of either side to take promised steps.

Regarding that last paragraph: Astonishing how Reuters can report on Israel easing restrictions and simultaneously report that they are not doing so, isn't it?

Palestinians are supposed to crack down on militant factions while Israel freezes settlement growth on territory captured in the 1967 war and dismantles unauthorized outposts.

Oh, those promised steps. Never mind, I thought that "easing restrictions" counted as one.

Jenin's Palestinian governor, Ramadan al-Batta, said the army's decision was made without any security coordination with his side and he feared this reflected a new Israeli unilateralism that would marginalize Palestinians.

Once again, palestinian spokesliars prove their mettle, and Reuters reporters prove their lack of reporting skills. The Jerusalem Post article was taken from the AP wires, where the AP reports that the IDF did coordinate with the PA.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, violence flared Friday when Israeli troops shot and seriously wounded a 21-year-old Palestinian man. Palestinian witnesses said the man was in a group of Palestinians throwing stones at troops. The army said soldiers shot at Palestinian gunmen firing at them.

Yes, throwing stones. We've seen pictures of them throwing stones. They're brick-sized and able to kill a man.

In a separate incident, an explosive device blew up next to Israeli soldiers in an armored vehicle patrolling Nablus. There were no injuries or damage.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has told Palestinians that if they do not stop attacks and enter road map talks within a few months, Israel will unilaterally draw security boundaries stripping them of some of the land they seek for a viable state.

Moderate Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie and Egyptian mediators have failed so far to coax Palestinian militant factions such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas into a truce with Israel to help redeem the road map.

"The battle for God will continue in all forms and in every place in Palestine," Ramadan Shalah, an Islamic Jihad leader, told thousands of rallying group activists by phone, filtered through loudspeakers, from an unspecified location abroad.

Islamic Jihad, which is sworn to the destruction of Israel, regards the West Bank, Gaza and Israel as "Palestine."

Finally! The proper use of scare quotes!

"To those who talk about a cease-fire or calm, I say, 'You should save your efforts'. Don't work on behalf of our enemy to take away the weapons from our people," Shalah said.

Reuters has actually been including quotes like these, and descriptions like the above, on a regular basis. The Mad Hatter part comes in where they expect Israel to ignore the terrorists openly stated goals of destroying the Jewish state—excuse me, the "Zionist entity."

The mind reels.



Hulk smash blog!

Girl say she taking break from blogging. Hulk not know what blogging is. Girl tell Hulk that blogging is writing. Hulk not know how to write. Girl say we get someone to write for Hulk. Hulk think that stupid. Girl gets girl to sit in front of computer and smash keys. Hulk like that!

Girl says Hulk should talk about news. New what? Hulk ask. News! News! girl says. Says news is things like earthquakes and fires and wars. Hulk know that stuff. Hulk make earthquakes, then start fires, and Hulk has smashed many soldiers. Stupid soldiers. Always firing guns at Hulk, making Hulk mad. Hulk smash soldiers. Hulk smash tanks. Hulk can throw tank far, far away. One thing movie got right. Also liked the way movie-Hulk leaped through desert. Hulk leap just like that. But movie Hulk not as strong as real Hulk. Hulk is the strongest one there is!

Girl say she was working today and boy showed her Thing bean. Girl tell boy that Hulk beat Thing every time they fight. That right. Rock-man cannot defeat the Hulk. No one can defeat the Hulk! Hulk tell girl next time, make sure boy have Hulk bean. Bean. That stupid. Have Hulk toy, like girl has. Everyone should have Hulk toy. Hulk better than Thing. Better looking, too. Orange. Ugh. Green much nicer.

Hulk not like this blogging thing. Hulk not think he will do this again. Bah! Go find something to smash. Hulk bored.

Introducing my very own guest-blogger

Listen, if Andrew Sullivan can have a guest blogger, and Kate can have a guest blogger, then dammit, I can have a guest blogger. If you've been a regular reader of this blog, I think you can guess who my guest blogger is going to be.

And yes, you're right. See the next post.

The unbearable lightness of posting

That must be from my publishing days. It's a lot of fun to make headlines from the titles of books and movies and clichés and the like. Of course, some are more fun than others, and some are downright awful, but hey, what's life without a little bit of referential wordplay? Dull, I tell you. Dull, dull, dull. Except for Star Trek in its new incarnations. Most of their referential plots sucked giant, hairy moose—er, wait. Family blog. Stop there.

I recently watched the ST:TNG episode where they went back to early 20th century San Francisco and ran into Mark Twain. The writer made Twain out to be a technophobe whose mind was changed after he met the Trek crew (and wound up on the Enteprise). Twain is my favorite author. I have read many biographies. It wasn't just a clever plot device, it was an outrageous character assassination on the man who wrote "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," which was (among other things) a paean to technology by a man who believed strongly in building a better mousetrap (or a better typesetting machine, which was, alas, part of the reason Twain blew through the millions his books earned).

You may have figured out by now that I'm not in a news-posting frame of mind. That's because I worked half a shift today, and have a headache, and want to sit down and watch my soap tapes on my newly fixed 27-inch television set after having suffered with a 13-inch loaner for the past two weeks. (Thanks, Sarah and Larry!) At last, I can read the subtitles all the way from the kitchen again!

Y'know, I just realized that I'm starting off the new year with a new job. Yay me. However, I will not be writing about it much at all. Too many asshats out there who have made too much trouble for other bloggers who make the mistake of writing too many particulars about their jobs. And since I was threatened by one of the crew that lost Moxiepop her job, I guess I'll just keep my mouth shut. Oooh, I'm so terrified I can't sleep at night. That Dawn's one scary person. Okay, not really, but she sure thinks so. Yeah, whatever.

No, actually, the reason I won't post about my new job much is for the same reason I don't post much about my teaching job. People I work with can read this website, and you never can tell what people will take offense about. So the most you'll hear from me is "Busy working today, posting will be light" or some such thing. Although I will say that I'm enjoying the hell out of it so far, and there is potential to enjoy it even more as the weeks go by.

I'll see if I can't get some of those changes I promised done over the weekend. In the meantime, hey, enjoy yourselves. It's the end of the 2003 holiday season. Time to get started with a new year, and that means no more holidays until spring. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Yes, I know, a cheerful thought for all you nine-to-five wage slaves. That's me, working hard to bring you as many cheerful thoughts as possible.

Okay. Stopping now.



Happy New Year!

The first day of the new year, and I am back home in Richmond (made it in record time, too, as I was able to drive a pretty steady ten miles over the limit for most of the trip). I've updated the archives and added a folder for 2004. And I'll be revamping the standard copy and maybe sprucing up the site a bit over the next few weeks. I'll also finish putting up my highlights of 2002 and get started on 2003. Yes, I procrastinate a bit. But not nearly as much as the United Nations. Get this: an issue has come up for consideration in the UN General Assembly's 2004 agenda: The Israeli bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.

Just three days after the world awoke to Saddam Hussein's capture, the United Nations grappled with one of the several anti-Israel items on its agenda: "Armed Israeli aggression against the Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system." The agenda item, circa 1981, was neither removed nor ridiculed, but deferred to the General Assembly's 2004 session.

"I think the UN is bizarro world," said Israeli deputy ambassador Arye Mekel after the session. Bizarro world is an alternate universe, popularized on Seinfeld and the Superman comics, where everything is opposite to what it usually is, and while many goings-on at the UN this year have left Israelis scratching their heads, Mekel called the 23rd annual condemnation of the feted IAF raid "the ultimate proof of bizarro world."

"Do they think the destruction of Iraq's nuclear capability was a mistake?" Mekel asked. (At the UN, the answer is probably yes.) "Every time I enter the building, I think I'm on Seinfeld," he noted. "I always look for George and Kramer."

Yes, the new year will be much like the old year, in a lot of ways.


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.