The world from Pakistan's point
A commenter in an
LGF thread sent me over to the Daily Times of Pakistan, a newspaper
I've read a few times but lost track of recently. Here are some of the
issues facing the Paks, as the India Times calls them:
to train foreign Muslim scientists
LAHORE: The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is committed to
training scientists from Muslim countries and will try its best to help
them develop their knowledge in biotechnology, PAEC and Biosciences
Member Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik said on Friday.
Dr Malik was addressing the concluding session of a
two-week training workshop on Advanced techniques on biotechnology,
jointly organised by the National Institute for Biotechnology and the
Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) and COMSTECH in Faisalabad.
An official statement issued after the workshop
said developing Muslim countries had to generate expertise and skilled
manpower in biotechnology.
Oh, that's comforting.
killings bill being swept under carpet: MPs
ISLAMABAD: The women members of parliament protested against the assemblies
on Friday for not allowing the bills for debate against honour killings.
The protest was launched in a seminar that was organized
by the Aurat Foundation entitled Stop Honour Killing: A demand
for action. The seminar turned into a forum against the feudal
landlords, political parties and assemblies of the country who are hindering
the way of legislation against the killing of women on the name of honour.
Mehnaz Rafi, MNA, Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam
(PML-Q) said that the speaker of the National Assembly had refused to
present a bill against honour killings that she had filed two months
ago. Ms Rafi said she was told the bill would only be eligible to be
presented in the assembly after it was approved from the ministry of
law and justice and the PML-Q.
No female member of the opposition parties have supported
PML-Q member, MP Bhindara, when he requested support to pass a bill
in the assembly against honour killings, Ms Rafi said.
[...] Earlier, the chairperson of the National
Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Justice (Retd.) Majida Rizvi
said that the women were killed due to land and money disputes that
are being passed off as honour killings, an unislamic custom that is
being passed of as Islamic. She said that the laws of Qasas and Diyat
are also being misused and a commission has undertaken research to find
a way to change all anti-social laws.
Oh, that's surprising.
splits over kite flying
LAHORE: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) divided here on Friday as
some of its parties arranged a protest against kite flying while others
protested against police raids on seminaries in Lahore.
The Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and its subsidiary organisation
Shibab-e-Milli (SM) had planed to protest against kite flying but MMA
General Secretary Maulana Fazlur Rehman, with the collaboration of the
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and other local religious parties announced Friday
as a protest day against the raids. This controversy badly affected
both protest programmes. JI clerics did not join the MMA protest camp
against kite flying on The Mall near Masjad-e-Shuhada. It was totally
a JI protest camp and JI Lahore head Mian Maqsood and other JI and SM
leaders staged a sit in. They announced the MMA would hold an anti-kite
flying walk on January 20 from Masjad-e-Shuhada to the Fasial Chowk.
Many other religious parties condemned raids on seminaries
in the Friday sermons and protested outside mosques after the prayers.
MMA Acting President Qazi Hussain Ahmad in his Friday sermon here at
the Mansoora Mosque spoke against kite flying. He said the ban of kite
flying was necessary between January 20 and February 20, but the government
had lifted it. He said the motive behind this move was only to prove
that India and Pakistan have same culture. He urged clerics
to speak out against it. We should make it clear that nations
who are defeated in the cultural war can never survive, he said.
Hindu culture is rapidly dominating us and the
rulers are consciously promoting this culture. This is the first step
towards the governments efforts to put the Kashmir issue in cold
store, he added. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Maulana Amjad Khan,
while addressing at the Jamia Madnia, demanded the government stop raids
on seminaries. He demanded the Punjab government dismiss its adviser
for religious harmony, Tahir Ashrafi. Mr Ashrafi is providing
fake reports to secret agencies about seminaries, he said. Several
other religious leaders, including Maulana Muhibul Nabi, Maulana Abdullah,
Maulana Ameer Hussain Gillani and Qari Jamail Akhter also spoke almost
the same in their Friday sermons. Staff Report
Oh, that's new. Yeah, kite flying is a horrible encroachment on
Muslim culture. Kids actually having fun instead of blowing themselves
up. What a concept.
And notice how the story headlines the kite flying while downplaying
the raids on Muslim terrorist mosques. There's a lot more going on in
Pakistan than is relayed by our own mediawho are very quick
to leap on any real or perceived flaw in Israel. Imagine that. permalink
In the name of "peace:"
Anything goes. Lies, lies, and more lies
Yesterday, I excerpted
a Ha'aretz story that said that Gush Shalom activists had gotten British
Airways to remove billboards in a West Bank Israeli town. Today, Lynn
B pointed me to this IMRA article which shows that the peace creeps
lied about their influence over British Airways. It seems that the advertising
campaign had ended, and that's why British Airways put out the order to
take down the Billboards. From IMRA:
The spokesman for British Airways in Tel Aviv called
our office an hour or so after we sent out our letter of protest and
this is their reaction: "British Airways clarifies that the two
week advertising campaign has been completed by December 31th,2003."
David Tamir , of the Tamir-Cohen advertising agency
called us too, and this is what he had to say: "We did not give
the order to bring down billboards in any specific location- but Maxi-Media,
our subcontractor, was asked to bring down all billboards in the entire
country , because the advertising campaign had come to an end".
Women in Green's comment:
Adam Keller and Gush Shalom deliberately mislead the public and misquote
David Tamir, the representative of Tamir-Cohen, the advertising agency
for British Airways, in order to promote their political goals and to
falsely give the impression that Gush Shalom and British Airways are
on the same political side, against Jewish settlement in the land of
We are happy that this question has been clarified
and that Gush Shalom's ugly face has once again been revealed.
Ruth and Nadia Matar
co-leaders Women for Israel's
Gee. The peace creeps lie to further their own image. Nice. permalink
I love Frank J.
He's such a good boy. He wrote
a poem to his mother.
THANK YOU MOM FOR NOT BLOWING YOURSELF UP
by Frank J.
Mom, you've always been there for me,
Whether with band-aid in hand or bail money.
And though that may not seem like some great feat,
I now appreciate that you never blew up across some street.
There's more. Read the whole thing. And buy a shirt from him or something.
Peace creeps get British Airways to remove
billboards from Ariel, a West Bank "settlement."
Two British Airways billboards at the entrance of the
West Bank settlement of Ariel were removed Wednesday after hundreds
of Gush Shalom activists bombarded the company with complaints.
Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller explained in a letter
to the company that "the placing of the very conspicuous British
Airways billboards at Ariel could be taken even if that was not
the original intention as an endorsement by your company."
Keller later wrote in a press release that "Ariel is one of the
reasons for the 'separation wall' that is plaguing the Palestinians.
And because of it, Israel is being judged before the Hague."
No, the separation fence is there because the pals refuse to stop blowing
themselves up in the middle of groups of Israelis.
Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman told The Jerusalem Post that
he was unaware that the billboards even existed. "I don't know
what they are talking about. I've never even seen the signs."
[...] "These people, these so-called peaceniks,
have been inflicting economic damage on us for too long," Nachman
said, referring to Gush Shalom's six-year international campaign to
boycott products created in the settlements. "They minimize my
ability to live, to make a living. They hurt our families innocent
Israelis who never did anything to them."
[...] Gush Shalom only damages Israel's reputation
with these campaigns, said Nachman. "All of the anti-Semitism that
exists today in Europe is because of them, because they tolerate it,
because they gave legitimacy to it. Enough is enough."
Is peace with her neighbors really in Israel's best interests? Should
Israel stop pursuing peace? That's a theory currently being broached.
Ya'alon, himself a former OC Intelligence Corps, said
Israel's strategic reality has greatly changed. And this is presenting
an uncomfortable challenge to our "backs-against-the-wall,"
"everyone-is-out-to-get-us" view of the world.
The generals and most of the Israeli leadership have
shared a persuasive sense that Israel faces an imminent, critical threat
and should therefore jump at every chance to make peace with our Arab
foes, especially Syria. But that appears to be changing, analysts say.
"Peace has become a dirty word," said Efraim
Inbar, director of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan
University. "Peace with Egypt has turned out to be a long-term
disappointment. We had peace with the Palestinians and have had enough
Ya'alon noted during a visit to the Armored Corps School
on Tuesday that the American offensive in Iraq had caused Iran to agree
to reveal its nuclear capabilities, Libya to relinquish its weapons
of mass destruction projects, and was the driving force behind Syrian
President Bashar Assad's call for peace.
Interesting. No peace without serious efforts from the peace-seekers,
as opposed to the mindset that Israel has had for more than 50 years.
In other words, the winning state gets to dictate terms to the losing
state. Wow. To think, that Israel might actually join the real world.
Syria's once looming military threat is today dismissed
as obsolete, thus reducing the incentive to make peace with Damascus.
There seems to be a reevaluation under way about the wisdom of exchanging
the Golan Heights for peace now.
"Seeking peace is part of our national ethos,
which says: We want peace. The other side doesn't," said Prof.
Shai Feldman head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel
"What we have now is role reversal. At first it
will raise eyebrows, but when Israel shuns a hand extended to it will
cause a pretty negative effect on our national ethos." Officials
in Washington won't stand in the way of peace talks, but there are those
in the administration who believe its better Israel not immediately
jump into it, he said.
Alpher explained that there are neo-conservative voices
from Washington putting pressure on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not
to be so quick to reward Assad with peace talks, since America wants
to squeeze more out of Damascus, particularly with regard to its war
against the Saddam Hussein regime.
"In the post 9/11, intifada era there is a sense
that, unlike in the past, we do not have to agree and sit down with
this guy before he stops backing terrorism. We have the right to make
this condition," Alpher said.
One reason why Israelis are still skeptical is because
Assad hasn't made any nice moves toward Israel.
Yes, there's that. He also hasn't closed down terrorists' offices in
Damascus, stopped Hizbullah from having 10,000 rockets aimed at Israel's
northern border, and stopped allowing jihadis to cross into Iraq and try
to kill Americans, but who's counting?
Still, it's quite a wonderful, refreshing idea: Israel gets to tell her
enemies to stop killing her citizens before they can begin to treat for
peace. Works for me. permalink
ask for the Hot Beefeater at Quizno's. (Quizno's? What's Quizno's?)
She mentioned the IHOP Rooty
Tooty Fresh and Fruity, which reminds me of my many IHOP breakfasts
with various and sundry friends. One guy in particular used to order the
Rooty Tooty partly because it gave me giggle fits to hear him say it,
and partly because it had about everything he wanted in a breakfast. And
I got to say it many times while talking him into ordering it, then repeat
it to the waitress. Just in case she missed it, you see.
Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor was a favorite haunt of mine and my cousins
every time I visited them in San Diego. My cousin Sharon, who was barely
five-two and under a hundred pounds, could (and did) finish a Trough,
which was a large platter of ice cream meant for at least two people.
When she finished one, the employees would gather around, ring a very
loud bell, and announce to the entire restaurant, "Sharon has just
made a pig of herself at Farrell's!" and everyone, customers and
employees, would oink and snort at her while she laughed and laughed.
Sharon had the best laugh. It was an infectious giggle that set everyone
Not long after I came to Richmond, I visited a local mall and found an,
er, interestingly-named store in the food court. There's a chain called
Flamers. I just laughed
when I first saw the name. The chain never reached northeastern NJthe
closest they got was Rahwaybut damn. You'd think someone might have
noticed that the name means more than charbroilers.
Then again, you'd think that at least one person in the Richmond state
government might have realized at some point that naming the Virginia
Standard of Learning test might, just might, have people thinking something
a bit different when telling students they're about to take the SOL test.
While I'm on the subject, the same people who named the SOLs must have
named the Powhite Parkway. It's supposed to be named after the Powhatan
Indians, or after Chief Powhatan, or maybe even after both. The radio
and TV traffic announcers pronounce it the way that the Powers That Be
decreed you should pronounce the name: Pow-Hite. Of course, everyone else
in Virginia pronounces it the "Po' white Parkway," because,
let's face it: Did you really think we wouldn't? Even an ex-Yankee
like me saw immediately that the name had to be po'white.
You would think with all the money those folks get paid to name things,
that at least one person would up and say, "SOL? Powhite? What the
hell were you thinking?"
You would think. permalink
BBC Bias watch
No, the BBC isn't biased at all. That's why they just
hired Al Jazeera's editor-in-chief. Because Al Jazeera is such a model
of objective journalism.
Al-Jazeera editor leaves for BBC
The Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera says its editor-in-chief
has submitted his resignation.
According to an al-Jazeera spokesman, Ibrahim Helal said he had had
"a tempting offer" from the BBC.
The charity BBC World Service Trust confirmed that
Mr Helal was joining to work on a variety of media training projects
over the next two years.
Al-Jazeera has been criticised by the US for airing
recorded messages from Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.
Actually, they've been criticized for a lot more than that. Anyone looking
for more objectivity from the BBC should be looking elsewhere. "Media
training projects"? What, training them how to slant the news more
steeply against Israel and the U.S.? permalink
The tipping point
Thanks to all who have hit the tipjar. You'll get individual thank-you
notes in a few days. (Monday will be a good day to write those notes,
as I'll be recovering from working all weekend, again.)
If the rest of you are wondering why you should buy the cow when you're
getting the milk for free, it's becauseyou know, I really hate that
aphorism. Damn. That's just a truly annoying image, when you think of
it, and so insulting to women overall, because it's generally used for
a woman who's sleeping with a man who won't marry her. No wonder I get
mad when I read the word "cow" applied to women, especially
in comic books (because they can't use "bitch").
Where was I? Oh, right. Donations. Why you should if you normally don't.
That's easy. It's because you like me better than you like the people
you don't tip. permalink
You put your right paw in
I have begun to realize my true purpose in life. I am a door-opener for
There's a nice desk upstairs, where I should have my printer and my laptop,
but I seem to be a kitchen-table worker. My setup is on half my kitchen
table (sometimes more when I'm extremely messy), with my back to the patio
glass sliding doors, and my front to the TV so I can watch my soapser,
the newswhile I work. The cats believe that the reason I am downstairs,
and not upstairs, has nothing to do with the easy availablity of the fridge,
pantry, and television. No, it's so I can get up and let them out. Then
it's so I can get up and let them right back in. Then I can get up and
let them out. Then I can get up and let them in.
Gracie's favorite little game in the morning is the "I want to go
out!" yowl, while standing and looking out the door. I open the door.
She runs away. I close the door. She runs back. I open the door. She runs
away. This is a game that would go on forever, except it gets interrupted
by extremely bad language and nasty remarks about cats, doors, and my
purpose in life.
Tig only rarely plays that game, but he's become quite adept at the "Guess
which door I'm at?" game. I let him out the patio. He walks around
the building and scratches on the front door. I let him in the front door.
He stops for a bite to eat, goes to the back door, and asks to be let
out. I let him out the back door. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
This morning, while Gracie was going in and going out and going in and
going out and going in and going out, after about an hour
and a half, I realized that Tig was missing. I did a quick checking of
all his normal sleeping places, and couldn't find him. I figured he was
outside, so I called at the back door and whistled. Nothing. Called at
the front door and whistled. Nothing. Told Gracie to go find Tig. She
stared at me as if I were speaking an unintelligible language, when you
know damned well that cats understand every word you say and, it has been
scientifically proven, can read your thoughts as well. But she still didn't
find Tig. Finally, I remembered that sometimes, Tig crawls underneath
my covers, and since I rarely make my bed, because, well, I'm just going
to mess it up again tonight, and anyway, you can't see it so what
are you compaining about?, and, wait. Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, since
I finally remembered that Tig does that, I went and checked the covers,
all lumped at the bottom of the bed, and saw a suspicous-looking, cat-shaped
lump at the foot of the bed. I poked it. It meowed. I poked it again.
It meowed in extreme annoyance. Satisfied, I watched as Tig crawled out
from under the covers and yowled at me. Of course, the first thing he
did was come downstairs and demand to be let out. permalink
Sean Penn: Back to Baghdad
Oops, he did it again. Sean Penn has an
overlong article in the SF Chronicle (where else?) on his return to
Baghdad, one year later. Some highlights:
My wife and 12-year-old daughter are different people
in the sense that my wife will occasionally kiss me on the lips, and
my daughter, occasionally on the cheek. With this one exception, they're
exactly the same person. And when I told them, "I'm thinking about
going back to Iraq," they rolled their eyes and said, "Uh-huh."
I interpreted that to mean "You're an idiot" or that they
just didn't want to invest in my explanation. So much for guidance.
Okay, that description of his wife and daughter is more than a little
But my 10-year-old son said rather quickly, "Could
you get killed?" I immediately and idiotically responded with,
"I could get killed crossing the street -- or struck by lightning
-- and SARS, what about SARS?"
Yeah, what about SARS? Can we blame that on Bush, too?
He was embarrassed for me.
So are we, Sean.
[...] Only later would I realize the incredible burden
I risked at his potential expense.
Cue scary music: Dum da dum! Foreshadowing the perils of going
into a war zone!
I grab a hot dog and head over to the Meditation Room.
I'm sorry, but the cognitive dissonance of that line is breaking my brain.
As I approach, I see at least 30 sleeping bodies, travel-
weary bones at rest on reclining chairs. A woman opens her eyes and
"Sean?" she says.
"Yes, are you Medea?"
Okay. What kind of parent curses a daughter with the name of the witch
in the Jason mythology
who killed her own children? It is perfectly understandable, under these
circumstances, that Medea is responsible for the following acts:
She is a diminutive blonde with delicate features,
with a reputation for having ridden out the U.S.-led bombing campaign
in Afghanistan, interrupting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's
news conferences, consistently putting herself on the line -- in South
America, the Middle East and Washington.
You know, interrupting
Rummy's press conferences can have perilous results. But back to Sean's
Before the Gulf War, Sattar had been a well-paid civil
engineer. Now he drives the perilous 12 hours into Amman and 12 hours
back to Baghdad, shuttling journalists and humanitarian aides, for a
mere $300 per 24- hour round trip.
Three hundred bucks a day is a pretty good salary even here in the U.S.,
you millionaire asshat. In Iraq, it's a hell of a lot more. But as to
his fall from grace: Did you ask him if he was a Ba'athist before the
war? Or was that not important?
Sattar is in a great hurry to get to the Iraqi border,
nearly 400 kilometers from Amman, before the 7 a.m. shift change. It
is important not to be delayed at the border crossing because from there
we'll begin an additional eight-hour drive to Baghdad through the desert.
Nobody likes to drive the last 200 kilometers through the Sunni Triangle
at night. The desert hubs of Ramadi and Fallujah are not only political
hot zones rampant with guerrilla insurgents but also a center for road
bandits (in Iraq, called "Ali Babas").
Racism! Racism! You're using racist terms on Iraqi citizens who merely
rob because they have been driven to it by the U.S. invasion, which took
away their former livelihood of torturing and murdering Iraqi citizens.
Dipping into my pocket, Sattar is able to influence
the outgoing shift guard to stamp our passports and send us on our way.
Okay, that's the second creepy sexual reference. Ew, Sean. Ew.
It should be noted that by Western standards, these
borders appear extremely penetrable. Their ramshackle and lightly staffed
appearance aside, not one explosive-sniffing canine is in sight. The
vehicle's undersides are given a quick check by mirror, maybe a trunk
is opened here or there, but that's it.
Shocked, shocked I am, that the Jordanians are not carefully checking
everything and everyone that wants to get into Iraq. Why, you'd think
they didn't care if Americans and Iraqis died or something.
This is the obligatory Deep Thought paragraph. Please try not to laugh
We're now on the road to Baghdad, cutting through the
endlessly flat Iraqi desert. For hundreds of kilometers at a stretch,
the occasional Bedouin sheepherder is the only human form in sight.
As far as the eye can see, these Bedouins -- solitary robed figures
traveling the desert followed by a hundred head of sheep -- appear to
have neither a point of origin nor a destination. It seems their only
mission is to exist as props for a National Geographic photographer.
Where are they taking these sheep? And where did they come from?
You know, we're only about halfway through his article, and he hasn't
even gotten to Baghdad yet. Let's flash forward.
I arrive in Baghdad at about 1:30 in the afternoon.
It's about 60 degrees and sunny. The military presence is heavy on the
outskirts of town. Gun turrets and high concrete walls surround all
U.S. military facilities. A Black Hawk helicopter flies overhead at
a surprisingly low altitude, considering the number of attacks that
have come the helicopters' way lately. I've quietly arranged (the less
my whereabouts are known, the better) to switch cars at the Hunting
Club, a private social club that traditionally hosted a who's-who of
Iraqi society. Saddam Hussein's son Oday was known to pick up girls
there. There are many such clubs for the elite in the Middle East. And
the Hunting Club had reportedly been used until recently as a meeting
place for Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
So we're talking heavy-duty Ba'athists here. The families and friends
of the torturers and killers. Nice company you keep, Sean. Let's hear
what they have to say about their loss of status.
There, I would be greeted by Hiwa Osman, the editor
of the weekly Iraq Crisis Report and a trainer with the Institute for
War and Peace Reporting. It's a non-governmental organization, based
in a safe house in Baghdad, where young Iraqi journalists are schooled
by functioning war correspondents. My friend Norman Solomon of the
Institute for Public Accuracy,
Stop, you're killin' me!
with whom I made my first trip to Baghdad, had arranged
a room for me at the institute through Mohamad Bazzi, Newsday's Baghdad
Look at this next part. Sean's mixing drugs and alcohol. Tsk.
When this term "mass graves" is used, one
of the young Iraqi students chimes in with laughter: "This whole
country is a mass grave. We live in a mass grave." And with that,
the fatigue of the trip hits me in the back of the head like a rocket-propelled
grenade. As I excuse myself, Hiwa offers me a shot of Glenfiddich. I
accept a sip, enough to wash down an Ambien, and then crawl under the
covers in the bed they've given me, sinking into a five-hour chemically
See, it must be a Hollywood thing. When the fatigue of a trip hits me,
I just go to bed and sleep. I figure I don't need a sleeping pill, what
with fatigue being tiring and all that. But I'm not a movie star. I just
don't know any better.
Warning: Obligatory movie reference coming up.
In the evening, gunfire emanates with the relentlessness
of frog "ribbits'' around a summer pond, sometimes sporadic and
at other times overwhelming. But in the daytime, it's intermittent at
most -- a few pops here and there. Five times a day, the Islamic call
to prayer is broadcast through loudspeakers from each mosque in the
city. The chant echoes and ricochets through Baghdad's declining alleys
and architecture. One experiences a palpably hypnotic engagement with
Middle Eastern spiritual life, like living in a movie with this chant
as its score.
Because, like, movies aren't like life. Life is like a movie, you see.
Happy ever after and all that. Hey, if my life had to be like a movie,
I call Eowyn in LOTR.
The commander of the unit is Lt. Col. Mark Coats. Coats'
demeanor is confident and alert. He is accommodating of my request to
photograph his soldiers and their interaction with the children. There
is no question of politics here, and the warmth of these soldiers toward
the children is genuine. I get the impression that such events occur
daily here, and not only when journalists are present.
What? Praise? Praise of U.S. soldiers' actions? Sean, are you still high
on that Ambien?
Oh. Here we go.
U.S. soldiers today are not what you'd picture if you
grew up on World War II movies.
Again, the movie references.
No, think real life.
Now add zits (some of them).
Sorry, they don't all fit the Hollywood glamour stuck inside your airhead,
And access to e-mail.
This is not the war of yesteryear, with relatives waving
our boys off on ships and losing all contact beyond a weekly mail drop.
These are young people who, via the Internet, are reminded daily of
the comfort and safety of home and are quick to express their desire
to return to their families. I want to ask many of them their feelings
about our occupation in Iraq, and some express thoughts on this issue
without being asked. And their thoughts represent all sides of the debate.
But one has to be mindful that these are young people who have lost
friends to battle, and girlfriends, boyfriends, wives and husbands to
distance. One wouldn't expect them to yield easily to the notion that
perhaps the United States should not have sent them in the first place.
Perhaps because one can't accept the notion that many of them believe
they should have been sent.
The administrator takes Hiwa and me on a tour of the
building, where thousands of documents are stacked floor to ceiling
in each office. If the Hussein regime could be credited with anything,
it would be with keeping obsessively complete records of the atrocities
the regime itself committed. (Pol Pot and Hitler shared this habit.)
Many of the death warrants are signed by Hussein. Our tour ends in a
room of moldy documents piled head-high and wall to wall, representing
some of the lives claimed under this horrific regime. Our guide makes
the point simply: "We will put all these names in a museum as a
way to say thank you to all those who sacrificed their lives on the
long road to reach freedom." It's a reminder that it wasn't only
the Americans and coalition forces that "liberated" the country.
There were tens of thousands of Iraqis who lost their lives opposing
the regime as well.
Um. Asshat, those people include hundreds of children, who were slaughtered
because their parents angered the local Ba'athist creep. They weren't
"opposing the regime." The Iraqis didn't "liberate"
their country. American soldiers liberated it. And lose the scare quotes.
Hussein's a POW. His sons are dead. The regime is over.
Qadir has to drop us off several blocks away from the
Palestine Hotel. The military has erected huge concrete barriers to
protect the hotel from car and truck bombing attempts because only a
couple of weeks earlier, the hotel suffered a rocket attack from the
back of a donkey cart parked on the main boulevard. Hiwa and I walk
the pedestrian route through the barriers to the hotel, where we are
once again searched before entering. My friend isn't there, so we have
a quick tea and head out to find some lunch. As we walk back to our
car, I take a long look at the rocket damage on the side of the building.
There is a lot of power in that donkey cart -- talk about "dual-use"
No, there isn't a lot of power in that donkey cart. It's a hunk of wood
that has to be pulled by someone or something. However, hidden inside
it was a powerful weapon. Your analogy is as empty as your [fill in the
Here's the money quote, that Sean simply moves blithely past:
For Iraqis, there was no pro-war or anti-war movement
last spring when the United States invaded their country. That, in their
view, was a predominantly Western debate. They're used to war; they're
used to gunshots. What's new is this tiny seed and taste of freedom.
It is a compelling experience to have been in Baghdad just one year
ago, where not a single Iraqi expressed to me opinions outside Baathist
party lines, and just one year later, when so many express their opinions
and so many opinions compete for attention.
And in the next paragraph, he writes:
This is an occupied country. A country at war. Many
Iraqis I speak to tell me there is no freedom in occupation, nor trust
in unilateral intervention.
It astonishes me that they have such a disconnect between reality and
their version of it. In one breath, he relates the vast differences from
a year ago, and in the next, he discounts it. And then refute it!
And with all this, one must consider the daily toll
of civilian deaths in similar situations of mis-targeting. "Your
government has come to liberate the people from Saddam," one man
asks me, "or to liberate oil from the people?"
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's all about the oil, move along, nothing to
The alienation bred by war on a people doesn't stop
with armies, but instead continues with corporations and privatization
dominating and shaping the very culture and economic participation that
freedom might otherwise express. One man tells me that "if the
United States fails in its promise of freedom to the Iraqi people, we
may very well create an entire nation of suicide bombers."
Oooh, those wicked, greedy corporations. You know, the ones that put
up all the money to back, say, the films of Sean Penn. And that suicide
bomber line: Nope, that wouldn't be us creating them. That would be the
Wonderful Arab Cult of Death, brought to you by Yasser Arafat and his
ilk, and polished recently by Osama bin Laden. Please, credit where it's
Okay. Time to see what heroics Sean is coming up with now.
What should be understood is that when I arrive in
Iraq this go-round, for what would be a four-day trip, there are roughly
1,500 journalists in and around Baghdad, and in these four days, only
one, to my knowledge, is shot and wounded. So the survival odds for
such a brief trip are very much in my favor.
Brave, brave Sean. Audience: applause, please. So, how fares our hero?
But for the people and children of Baghdad and the
coalition forces, the insurgents and the utter lawlessness of the streets
are a constant and real threat. Shortly before the U.S. attack, Hussein
opened the gates of his largest prisons and released his worst criminals
and killers into the population. Until recently, several illegal taverns
posted Arabic signs reading "Killer for Hire." Kidnappings,
robberies, rape and murder are commonplace.
But wait... wait... you're not done yet. Oh. There's more.
Thursday: Getting out of Iraq is even more challenging
than getting in.
Maybe later. permalink
LOTR: Geeking out again
The One Ring.net
has so many great links you can get lost there for hours. Here's a neat
USA Today article asking various
questions of various cast members now that it's over.
Judith Weiss sent me this
link to a review from some guy at Swarthmore a while ago. I haven't
quite decided how much I agree with yet, though I do agree with a few
of the author's points. Like, the one about Arwen getting sicker as Sauron
The incredibly aggravating bit about Arwen dying because
Saurons power is growing was a big example of wretched dramatic
excess. Its friggin unnecessary: how much more motivation
does Aragorn need at that point in the story? The people of Gondor depending
on you, check. Frodo, depending on you to distract Sauron, check. The
free peoples of Middle-Earth, depending on you, check. Does he really
need Elrond to show up and say, Win this thing fast, kiddo, because
your beloved is going to croak if you dont. I mean, shes
going to anyway if Aragorn loses, since she gave up her ticket to Valinor.
Preach on, brother.
I haven't gotten this
movie to work yet. Something is hinky with my Windows movie player.
But I'm told it's great. Update: Yep. Just call it "Bogart
of the Rings." Very clever cuts of Humphrey Bogart films with
dubbed voices. And Peter Lorre as Gollum, of course.
And to think, when Judith first joined Kesher Talk, I was worried that
one of my prime sources of links would be too busy to send me any more.
The woman is simply unstoppable. Betcha she could give the Energizer Bunny
a run for his money. permalink
Paypal, you, and me
So the Paypal button is up now (the one that says "Make a Donation")
and verified. A number of you have sent me emails in the past saying you'd
contribute if I'd put one up.
I'm not asking for 80k, like Andrew Sullivan did during his first pledge
week. I'm not even going to do a pledge week thing, as I find that very
annoying. But I'd appreciate a little help at the moment. I'm currently
starting a new business and working a few different things to make ends
meet, and, er, they're not quite meeting at the moment. They will, in
a couple of months, I'm sure. In the meantime, yep, the tipjar is up,
and yep, I'm asking for tips.
Of course, there's always my secret weapon: I could have my mother guest-blog
and guilt you all into contributing. There's nothing quite as powerful
as a Jewish mother's guilt trip. permalink
The sick, twisted heritage of
A mother of two blew
herself up at the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip.
The female suicide bomber entered the security check
building, which is a new facility with extensive security measures and
blew herself up causing vast damage inside the building.
She was identified as Hamas member Reem Salih al Rayashi,
21 from Gaza. According to a Reuters report, she was a mother-of-two.
And the pals are proud of the saying that they love death more
than we love life. Apparently, they love death more than they love their
children. Golda Meir's aphorism remains true: Israel will have peace when
the palestinians love their children more than they hate Israelis.
Magen David Adom evacuated the injured to Barzilai
hospital in Ashkelon, and security forces closed down the checkpoint.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 workers await returning to their homes.
So much for "easing conditions" in the Gaza Strip. Let them
work in Egypt. Or let them eat sand.
Brig.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, commander of the Gaza Division
told a press conference Tuesday afternoon that Rayashi evaded metal
detectors by claiming she had platinum insets in her legs. She was forwarded
to a side office where she made a show of falling over. When soldiers
rushed to her help, she blew herself up.
Another witness, who declined to be named, said an
unfamiliar woman waiting with the laborers was walking strangely. When
she offered to help the stranger, the woman brushed her off, and the
blast went off shortly afterward, reports Associated Press.
"Because she was a woman, a female soldier was
sent for, to inspect her. The terrorist made use of the waiting period
for the arrival of the woman soldier, made her way further into the
complex, and exploded," Shamni said.
The scientific advances made by palestinians: Newer, better, trickier
ways to murder people. The scientific advances made by Israelis: Too
numerous to list.
Referring to the 20,000 Palestinians who pass through
the crossing each day to work in Israel or in the adjacent Erez industrial
complex, he said, "the bomber was trying to disrupt future cooperation."
"We're doing our best to facilitate Palestinians
finding work in Israel As a result of this bombing, the whole crossing
will be closed for several days."
And this, too, will be blamed on Israel.
In a video made before the bombing, Rayashi declared
her lifelong dream of becoming a suicide bomber. "I always wanted
to be the first woman to carry out a martyr attack, where parts of my
body can fly all over. That is the only wish I can ask God for,"
she said with a smile.
Hey asshat, you weren't the first. You probably won't be the last. But
you are a pathetic example of the culture of death that permeates palestinian
society today. Rot in hell.
An IDF official called the attack an attempt to underscore
this symbol of Israeli Palestinian coexistence. "The incident
will only serve to prevent thousands of Palestinians to place bread
on their table," he said.
Refusing to condemn Wednesday's bombing, PA Prime Minister
Ahmed Qurei said Israel was responsible for the attack. Construction
of the security fence, curfews, destruction and attacks on Palestinian
villages, he said, would only entrench the circle of violence.
Of course. Blame the victim. That's what your people do. "Circle
of violence." Last I heard, the IDF had withdrawn
from most of the towns in the West Bank and Gaza. Naturally, this
is a result of easing restrictions meant to prevent terrorism.
Reem Salih al-Rayashi is the first female suicide bomber
from the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Hamas. The use of a
woman bomber could signal willingness to compromise its religious principles
in order to more easily carry out attacks.
"Resistance will escalate against this enemy until
they leave our land," Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin
told Reuters. He also said the use of a woman was unique, but holy war
"is an obligation of all Muslims, men and women."
"This is an indication that resistance will continue,"
Tell me again how Israel is supposed to have peace with these murderers?
They twist their own religious rulings to fit their bloody agenda. And
the BBC is going to fire
a man for simply telling the truth? The world is upside down. permalink
Every once in a while, I happen upon a weblog that's just... good. I
don't read these weblogs regularly enough, but when I remember to, I am
always happy that I did.
is one of those weblogs. It has no angle, no theme, just a lot of really
to hear about your mother, Patti. And yes, laughter
helps at these times.
Crossing the Rubicon is
a similar website (the old site with all the posts is here),
and both of them are going onto my links
page under a new category, Hidden Gems. They both make me feel like
I do when I'm going through a normal day and suddenly see a perfect spiderweb,
or something I'm generally not expecting to see. I like surprises. Good
ones, anyway. permalink
Jersey James is jammin'
Found a blog via Kate (or
refound it, I think I've been there before) written by a
guy from New Jersey (get off blogspot! Kevin will show
you the way). I just spent far too much time reading the blog and
laughing and smiling and reminiscing about New Jersey. Favorite line so
Believe me, I would rather lick the mens room
floor in New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal than take another
It's from a post where James discusses leaving
Laughed out loud at
this one, too:
On December 23rd, I was really glad to receive the
reminder from Rufus Greene that "Christmas is near...ticzbbtxcksutaozrj."
Good thing too, because I had thought that Christmas is near..biczbbtxcksutaorzj.
But James' comparison
of his small town in NJ and a small town in a red state is the best
of all. I didn't check, but what town are we talking about James, East
Rutherford? I see you mentioned Rutt's Hutt way back in the beginning.
Never ate there. Kosher dogs or none at all.
Of course I'm going to insult East Rutherford. I was born in Newark,
raised mostly in Essex County. The smallest town I ever lived in was Menlo
Park, which is the town that started me smoking, thanks to the greaser
crowd I was hanging with. I had stints in Irvington (ew), Hillside (ew),
Elizabeth (see above), Maplewood (eh), and finally, Bloomfield (yay!)
and Montclair (Best. NJ. Town. Ever). But I got tired of living in the
most densely populated state in the union. Merely moving to Richmond lost
me about 90% of my neighbors. From 6,000 per square mile to 600. It's
a lot easier to drive around here. Look me up if you ever decide to visit.
I can show you the NJ side of Richmond, too. You can't really get away
from it. But you can avoid a lot of it. permalink
The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal put together an annual
Index of Economic
Freedom. A look at the various ratings of several Middle East nations
is in order.
Israel is standing at number 29, in spite of three years of terrorism
and economic recession due to the implosion of the tourist industry and
lack of foreign investment because of the terrorism. That's 29, out of
all the nations in the world. Here's a view of the rest of her neighbors'
the "moderate" nation: 51
Arabia, the palestinians' patrons, home of one of the world's largest
oil reserves: 74
occupied by Syrian forces for decades, home of Hizbullah terrorists:
which gets $2 billion a year in U.S. aid: 95
supporter of terrorists for over 30 years, occupier of Lebanon: 138
stifled by mullahs for a quarter century, founder and supporter of Hizbullah:
Looks like it pays to be the only democracy in the Middle East. permalink
More loser news: Dorktator Baby
Assad won't treat with Israel
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad says that Israel
"isn't serious" about inviting him to Jerusalem to discuss
peace between Syria and Israel. Look, I'm the one who has you in
my ATS Dead Pool, not President Katsav.
Various media outlets have been posting pictures of the little
dictator. Y'know, this guy is the dorkiest dictator to walk the
earth since that little Austrian psychopath. And look at this picture
I found (left): Darken the mustache, ignore the stork-neck, and
it could be Adolf's bigger (but dorkier) brother. I think he was
going for that look, myself.
Then again, there's this picture (right), in which he's even dorkier.
Man, if he wasn't the dictator's son, bet he would have gotten his
ass kicked all through high school. I do believe from now on I'll
be calling him the dorktator.
And he's an ophthalmologist. The world's only dictator who can
order your eyes plucked out after first checking them for glaucoma.
Can we get rid of him the old-fashioned way? Someone send the IAF to
buzz him again, and then, whoops! dropped our payload on your summer palace.
So this guy is at the zoo in Buenos Aires, and he hears voices telling
him to jump into the lion cage and taunt them. The voices were inside
his head. Guess who won in the battle of lion v. human?
Yup. And the
Telegraph has a cute little picture of the man lying on his back with
his arms waving, and the lion sitting on him, looking rather bored and
annoyed. Amazingly, the lion did not kill the man. The moral of
the story: You can tease the little cats, but don't mess with lions.
Update: Jeff Silver
says I shouldn't lump a man obviously suffering from mental disease in
with the next two stories. He's got a point. So the "loser"
in this case will simply mean the loser of the battle between man and
lion. There, that takes the edge off nicely.
British serial killer Dr.
Death hanged himself.
Although his motive for the killings was not entirely
clear, the report concluded that Shipman began ending the lives of terminally
ill patients and then moved on to patients that he found annoying or
I guess he got annoyed with himself. Buh-bye!
shutting its Florida animation studio. Could that be because Disney
movies suck great big (etc., etc., etc.) these days and nobody's going
to see them? I think the last Disney animated film I paid to see was The
Lion King. No, Tarzan. Nothing since. On the other hand, Pixar rocks.
Finding Nemo was a hoot. permalink
Yep, that button on the left
is what you think it is
I've added an Amazon Honor System tipjar to the website. The Paypal tipjar
will be up as soon as they've verified my account information. For the
record, I pay more monthly than most other bloggers do, because I'm an
extremely loyal person, and I don't want to leave Net
Access. Then again, my site has only gone down twice in the years
that I've been with them. Can't say the same for many on Hosting Matters
and other servers. And [email protected]'s service is phenomenal. When I was so frustrated
at an extended outage that I threatened to leave, one of the owners phoned
me personally to make sure I stayed. (The site went down during an Instalink
in my early days. Talk about your bad timing!)
Plus, my buddy Jay is working for them again. So the extra few bucks
are worth it, to me.
But that's not why the tipjar is up. I spend a lot of hours writing these
posts. When I get an article published in a magazine like the Weekly Standard,
I get paid for it. I'm adding the tipjars so that I can get paid for writing
on my blog.
I've said from the very beginning that I started writing these blogs
to hone my writing skills, and now you're reaping the benefits of the
thousands of hours and millions of words that I've written these past
two and three-quarters years.
Not only that, but maybe I'll start taking requests if the tip is big
enough. Well, unless the request is to stop posting cat pictures. I can't
do that. Well, okay, but it would really cost you. Put out a figure
and we'll talk. permalink
British anti-Semitism: Working
on Jewish Double Standard Time
Robert Kilroy-Silk, a BBC
correspondent, wrote last week about Muslims:
What do they think we feel about them? That we
adore them for the way they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September
11 and then danced in the hot, dusty streets to celebrate the murders?
That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb amputators, women
He has since been suspended from his job, and an outrcy has arisen from
Arabs throughout the U.K. and elsewhere. In a Guardian op-ed today, a
Muslim correspondent wrote:
The Express's response in defending its columnist is
more worrying. And all the more so since it has been joined by the knee-jerk
recourse of its rivals to the cul de sac of absolute freedom of speech.
Suffice it to say that neither Kilroy-Silk nor anybody else would have
been allowed to say the same thing in our national newspapers about
black people or Jews.
Nobody would be allowed to say the same things about Jews, eh? Let's
Wilson publishes anti-Semitic drivel and recommends a book by Holocaust
denier in a British newspaper. When confronted with that fact, even
though the newspaper issues an apology, Wilson at first refuses to apologize
or withdraw his approval of the book. No calls to have him fired or stop
him from writing for that organization in the future.
The Independent runs
a cartoon depicting Ariel Sharon eating a baby. Calls that it is anti-Semitic
by the cartoonist and his editors. The cartoon ultimately wins
first prize from the British Political Cartoon Society.
Guardian correspondent Richard Ingrams states in his column that he
no longer pays attention to any letters in support of Israel written
by people with Jewish-sounding surnames. No shitstorm ensues; Ingrams
is not fired.
MP Tom Dalyell says that Tony Blair is "being unduly influenced
by a cabal of Jewish advisers." People spluttered and fussed, and
even the Guardian called his remarks anti-Semiticbut Dalyell was
not removed from office for his remarks.
And of course, there was the infamous Tom Paulin remark about how Jewish
settlers should be "shot dead." As this
Telegraph article points out, Paulin is still a regular guest on the
A couple of academics got
in trouble for discriminating against Israelis. But those were legal
issues of discrimination, not issues of speech. In all of the speech issues,
nothing happened to the purveyor of the anti-Semitic remarks.
On the other hand, Robert Kilroy-Silk is about to lose his job, and may
face hate crimes charges for making remarks about Muslims. Yes, it's Jewish
Double Standard Time again. So. What else is new? permalink
Here a fence, there a fence
Judith Weiss has an excellent post up about fences
dividing nations today. In fact, there seem to be more fences than
you can shake a protester at. Funniest of all is her title to the post:
"Selective indignation." Yeah.
The Must-Read part of the article is the very end, where she quotes a
Ha'aretz article in which the mayor of an Israeli Arab village as saying
that he would not like to be annexed by the PA, that he
and his people would be much better off under Israeli rule than under
the palestinians. permalink
Surprise, surprise! Prisons are,
like, no fun at all
who was arrested while trying to tear down the separation fence, had a
rude awakening in custody. Being locked up was (gasp!)
no fun at all. And, like, there were a lot of other criminals in there
with her (though she doesn't call them such). Via Kesher
There are five other women in my dorm room, with bunk
beds like a Jerusalem hostel. Augel is from Uzbekistan, Valentina and
Tanya from Moldova, Alvira from Romania and Arletta from Liberia.
Arletta has been here the longest, nearly three months.
She came to Israel four years ago with her uncle, who bought her ticket.
She lost both parents at age 17, fourteen years ago, when they were
murdered in the civil war that has raged ever since. She worked as a
housekeeper here, for so many families she can't count them. Some were
very kind and trusted her, she says. Others were suspicious and begrudged
her even a glass of water or a sneak peak at CNN while she worked. Her
house was raided at 1:30 in the morning one night, because some of those
who lived there had registered to go home (this gives them immunity
from arrest and time to get their affairs together) and gave the address
to the police. Three others were arrested that night besides Arletta.
They have all gone back to their countries, but she could not because
of the war. She has applied for refugee status, but the human rights
organizations and United Nations refugee officers are too busy to help
her, and the Ministry of Interior is on strike. So she sits, day after
Hm. She's an illegal immigrant from Liberia. Yes, she has had a tragic
life. But still, she was an illegal immigrant. Perhaps if the UN stopped
spending so much time and money on the palestinian "refugees"
and concentrated on people in war zones like Liberia, Arletta would not
have had to sneak into Israel.
When she is able to talk to her friends outside, they
give her discouraging news. More and more people are being arrested.
Israel wants to be rid of all its foreign workers, though new ones will
keep coming to do the work Palestinians are no longer allowed to do
in Israel. In July of 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set a goal of
deporting 50,000 undocumented workers, or 1,000 every month. On my eighth
day in Hadera, Arletta learned that the man who was keeping her things
in Tel Aviv had gone to the hospital in Jerusalem and was arrested when
he tried to get treatment.
No, Israel wants to be rid of all her illegal foreign workers.
People who are breaking the law. Unlike Kate, most people do believe in
things called borders.
[...] Most of the women here are more like Augel, who
crossed into Israel on foot from Egypt, with many other girls. They
were brought by a man who paid their fare and kept their passports.
Augel and I speak Hebrew, which she has learned fluently in the two
years she is here, but I speak very poorly. She can't tell me that much,
but she mimes being beaten as she made her way into Israel. Women from
war-torn countries, "other war-torn countries," I should say--come
here to work: cleaning houses. Some of them do that, and most of their
salaries are kept to pay back the traffickers for their tickets.
She made her way into Israel from Egypt. Question? Why didn't she look
for work in Egypt? Aren't there any jobs there? Surely there isn't discrimination
against dark-skinned people in Egypt. What? There is? No! I thought
only Americans and Israelis could be racists. Arabs can't be racists.
Here's where we find out that, well, four walls do a prison make:
[...] Eli tries to explain to me that this is not a
prison, but "custody." Prison, he says, is a police matter,
and custody is custody. I answer that the barbed wire and guns preventing
us from leaving makes it a prison in my lexicon. When I try to end the
conversation, he says, "You are in my place. You cannot do whatever
you want. If I tell you to sit down, sit down." Mornings, he or
one of the other officers comes into our rooms at 8:15 or so, shouting,
"Banot, lakum!", girls, get up. "Nikayon," they
demand, clean up, though it is ridiculous, because we have nothing to
do all day, you get up, spend half an hour cleaning and the rest of
the day sleeping, sitting around, watching television (if you understand
Russian), making everything dirty again.
Man, that is such a bummer. There isn't even any American television
in an Israeli prison. And they make you get up at the same time every
morning, and go to sleep at the same time every night, even though you
don't want to and it's so unnecessary. I think you should
complain to the United Nations or Amnesty International or something.
Telephone calls are the big carrot and stick. "Rotzah
telefon?", get up, clean up, shut up. It is the thing which keeps
you sane and connected to the outside world. Yet it too is set up to
cause maximum strife. There are only two pay phones for perhaps 60 women,
they are outside and we only get to go outside for an hour or hour and
a half each day, except when it rains, when we don't go out at all.
So then, of course, squabbles break out over the phone and then everyone
is punished by being made to go in early.
Even worse! Everyone doesn't get their own phone in prison. Medic! Medic!
I'm having a heart attack! And look, collective punishment! That's
against the Geneva Convention. Sue! Sue at the Hague!
Man, prison really sucks. I don't know what we can do to help Kate out
here. Oh, wait, yes. Don't get arrested, asshat. permalink
I am so effing tired, I can barely type. My new job entails a lot of
physical work. Flat stomach by June, that's my goal. I think I may get
there by May.
I got the job at the climbing gym. Belaying climbers is a lot more work
than it looks. Especially when your last climber of the day outweighs
you by about a hundred pounds.
I think I'll rest tomorrow and do some climbing on Tuesday. I've never
had a job that was fun before. See, you're never too old to learn new
I'll be back after dinner. Maybe. Go check out last week's blogs if you
haven't already. Or the week before's. I'm in reruns for the moment. permalink
Last week's blogs are archived.
Looking for the Buffy
Blogburst Index? Here's Israel
vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon.
Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try
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.