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The UN's search for truth

On Thursday, the United Nations called on "all the parties to the conflict" to "respect the integrity of its ambulance services."

Why? Because the IDF hijacked an UNRWA ambulance to transport wounded soldiers to the hospital.

Whoops, no, my bad. It was the palestinians, not the IDF.

The appeal by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) comes after an incident Tuesday in Gaza City in which armed Palestinian militants threatened the lives of an UNRWA ambulance team - a driver and a paramedic -and forced them to transport an injured gunman and two of his armed colleagues to a hospital in Gaza City, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.

"UNRWA condemns this action in the strongest possible terms," he said. "While its ambulances do not make any distinction between the injured, whether they are injured fighters or non-combatants, at no time and under no circumstances should armed men enter any UNRWA vehicle."

Phew, that's some condemnation. I'm sure the pals are shaking in their sandals.

But I digress. Yesterday, Israel complained to the UN that the pals had used UNRWA ambulances to transport the remains of the six IDF soldiers killed in the APC attack—you know, the body parts that were displayed on TV? So what says the UN? "Shows us some proof."

At UN headquarters in New York, spokesman Farhan Haq said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was aware of the allegations: "Both he and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA (Peter Hansen) take such accusations very seriously. The UN has asked the Israeli authorities for evidence."

Yes, because the UN requires proof before, oh, accusing Israel of atrocities in, say, Jenin.

What double standard? | |



Email questions

I keep getting error messages from my email server that my outgoing mail is being rejected. In the last 24 hours I've sent email to Ilyka, Wind Rider, Mark F., Hillel M., Bert W., Tamar B., Gary Farber, Sarah G., Bill Herbert, Lynn B., Stacy Tabb, and, come to think of it, one of my other accounts that has not yet received the email. And this would explain why Lair Simon is uncharacteristically silent on a tech question I asked him Thursday.

If any of you on that list have NOT received email from me since Thursday, please let me know here in the comments. Thanks. | |

Really bad movies; really great special effects

If there is a cooler movie from my childhood than Jason and the Argonauts, I can't think of one. It's on TMC right now. I tuned it in just before Hercules and Hylas ran into Talos, the bronze statue that came to life. Haven't missed any of the great animated scenes yet, and I can't wait for the skeleton fight.

I think after Peter Jackson gets through with King Kong and The Hobbit, he should taclke a remake of this one. This time, though, no fat guys in loincloths, please. I know it was the style back then, but if we can get Brad Pitt all muscled up for Troy, I'm sure we could get a few hotties to star in a remake of Jason and the Argonauts.

They've just finished the scene where Poseidon came up and stopped the clashing rocks. Somehow, even as a child, I always think during that scene: Boy, I hope he used deodorant this morning. | |

Fluffy kitty pictures, cont'd.

"You go left. I'll go right. We'll meet back inside in ten minutes to throw up the grass." | |

Arafat, the unrepentant terrorist

So Arafat missed his biggest PR opportunity since Camp David. He did not, as I expected he would not, order the return of the remains of the six soldiers. Instead, Egypt brokered a deal for them, making me look at Egypt in a new light, frankly. Instead, Arafat said this:

Arafat said the armed struggle would continue for years to come.

Yeah, probably. But we're really hoping that he dies first. I'm just sorry that reports of his stomach cancer were greatly exaggerated.

In the meantime, Israeli security forces stopped two more would-be suicide bombers.

According to the sources, the two attempted on Tuesday to launch an attack and set out from the Hawara road block, where they received a ride to the Rantiss junction. They spotted security forces in the area, however, and decided to postpone the attempt to another date.

The two hid the explosives belt containing 20 kg in Nablus, but after they were arrested, revealed the location to security forces, who blew the charge up.

So we're up to 12 suicide attacks prevented in the past few months. Good for you, security services. May you continue to stop these animals before they can hurt anyone but themselves. | |

Missing the news

Glenn Reynolds reports that the top ten searches in the past day or two have all been for the Nick Berg video. Charles Johnson says his traffic is way up, and Andrew Sullivan reports that most political blog site traffic is up. I noticed tonight that "Nick Berg decapitation video" is lighting up the referrers for my site. According to Jeff Quinton, the top ten search phrases all include the Berg video. (List removed to drop me off the Google search pages.)

I was thinking that perhaps it was thrillseekers, or twisted effs that want to watch a video of someone dying. But now I think it's people seeking information, because the story is getting buried by the standard media, while still being covered by nonstandard media like blogs.

Well. Stick with us, folks. We'll point you to the news that you're not getting from your morning paper. Buried eight paragraphs from the bottom is one line about Berg being held captive because he was Jewish. The New York Times once again manages not to mention that Berg was Jewish.

If you're looking for a description of the video, read Charles Johnson's. But don't do it if you have a vivid imagination. The description itself is horrendous. I won't watch it.

If you want to, it's here. And here. Remember, I warned you. | |



What you won't see much of on the news

Allison Kaplan Sommers found a report that says Nick Berg had an Israeli stamp on his passport and was arrested by Iraqis, accused of being an Israeli spy.

But no, his killers didn't know he was Jewish. His being a Jew is not relevant.

Another thing you won't hear on the news: Besides the press sanitizing or leaving out completely the palestinians' rush for body parts after the attack that killed six soldiers, they tried it again when they blew up another APC:

At first, it was thought the APC had driven over a powerful mine, but after several hours it became apparent that an anti-tank rocket had hit the vehicle.

The IDF has ordered all explosives immediately removed from armored personnel carriers.

The incident occurred close to the Termit outpost, located nearby downtown Rafah. "It is very similar to what happened in Zeitun," senior security officials said.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. A number of Palestinians on the outskirts of Rafah were wounded by the force of the blast. As others ran to grab parts of the APC, the army dispatched a large force of troops, tanks, APCs, and armored bulldozers to prevent the snatching of soldiers' remains and parts of the APC.

Helicopter gunships flew overhead and fired missiles to deter gunmen and distance them from the area.

What you read in the Reuters report:

Israel Kills 12 in Gaza Strip After Deadly Ambush
GAZA (Reuters) - Israel killed 12 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after two ambushes claimed the lives of 11 of its soldiers in the worst blow to the Middle East's mightiest army in two years.

[...] Witnesses said 11 Palestinians, four of them militants, were killed in helicopter missile strikes in Rafah refugee camp, near the area where militants blew up an explosives-packed troop carrier on Wednesday. Five soldiers in the vehicle were killed.

"A helicopter fired missiles at a group of armed militants in two separate incidents at the same spot," an Israeli military source said.

Israeli soldiers scoured the sandy strip on their hands and knees for their comrades' remains, sometimes sniffing what they picked up and putting items into clear plastic bags.

Troops also shot dead a 19-year-old Palestinian and demolished 10 homes during a push into Rafah, a militant stronghold, witnesses and medics said.

Another helicopter fired "deterrent" machinegun rounds at militants gathering on the edge of the camp, military sources said, in what Palestinian residents earlier reported to be another missile strike. Three people were wounded.

Yes, "deterrent" rounds. Because, like, the people gathering didn't have weapons, weren't trying to kill the soldiers, and, oh yeah, they were trying to gather body parts for round two of "We'll give these back if you let live terrorists go free!"

This is the what Sharon has wrought with his releasing hundreds of terrorists for corpses and a criminal. This will apparently be the usual procedure every time a palestinian kills a soldier now—get the body, and hold it for ransom.

And you will not get the full story from the Israel-hating media. But you'll get it from here. | |

4000 pictures

This is the 4000th picture I've taken since I bought my digicam in November of 2002. It was shot at about 9 a.m.

Gracie about to munch on grass

I tried to get her to look up. I failed.

It's Twinsday. I'm off with Sarah and the kids to run some errands and have some fun. The news can wait. | |



Today's moment of kitty zen

Lazy summer tig

I am having a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad day.

I may post nothing but fluffy kitty pictures for the rest of the week.

And no, I'm not going into details.

And of course, the best picture is the one that turned out to have the wierd pink pixels all over half of it. It's ruined.

I am going to make fried foods and forget that the world exists. I have three weeks of Gilmore Girls to catch up on, and one episode of Angel.

But this picture of Tig may calm me down somewhat. At any rate, you can look at it while waiting for more posts. Tig, of course, did not have a bad day. This was taken late this afternoon. | |

The unreported fact behind the Berg decapitation

What's missing from these news articles?

Go ahead and read this AP piece about the murder of Nick Berg by Islamic terrorists, and tell me what's missing.

This Reuters article doesn't mention it.

This Reuters article buries it near the end of the piece.

It's not in this Voice of America article, either.

I'm not the only one who noticed it. Josh figured it out as well.

In the overwhelming majority of news articles, the fact that Nick Berg was Jewish is not deemed relevant. The only two Americans to be beheaded by terrorists were Jewish. But that's not relevant.

Not at all. | |



Arafat's chance to work for peace

This is Yasser Arafat's moment to prove that he truly wants peace with Israel. It's a simple thing. All he has to do is announce to the various terror factions holding the body parts of the six dead Israeli soldiers that they must return the remains to Israel.

Oh, there's an article that says "PA officials" have ordered the return of the remains. But there aren't any teeth behind that order unless Arafat himself says it.

"The police will try to convince the militants to return the body parts... it's in our favor, since the Israeli army will otherwise remain in Gaza and continue to bomb Gaza City," PA Foreign Ministry official Majdi al-Khalidi told The Jerusalem Post.

PA Chairman Yasser Arafat convened his security council in Ramallah on Tuesday and issued a statement saying the PA is in touch with "our brothers in Gaza" to solve the problem of the body parts "according to religious and humanitarian traditions."

He hasn't yet said it. But if Arafat truly wants peace and normal relations with Israel, he needs only to do this small thing to prove he is sincere: Issue a statement that says the terrorists must return the Israeli soldiers' remains, with no conditions. As a gesture of goodwill between the Israelis and the palestinians.

I don't believe he will. In fact, I'm quite sure he won't. But it would be his most meaningful gesture towards Israel since —well, ever.

Update: No, I don't think that this automatically erases the thousands of terror incidents in Arafat's past. No, I don't think that by ordering the remains of the soldiers returned that Arafat suddenly gets a pass on the decades of terror he planned, ordered, and executed. No, I don't think that relations would change overnight. But I did say that it would be a good opportunity for Arafat to show the world he truly wants peace. The intent of my post, I thought, was obvious to all of my readers: If Arafat really wanted peace with Israel, he would start acting like it. The fact that he does not act like it means he does not want peace. | |

The Ant Report Update: A war poem

A single ant
Was found today
Inside my home
He lost his way.
I saw him there
Upon my mat
The kitchen counter's
Where he's at
"Oh, tiny ant"
I said out loud,
"What's on your mind?
So small, so proud
If only I
Could read your head
Alas, I can't."
I killed him dead.

| |



Saudis to Western tourists: Come to Saudi Arabia!

Yes, they really are asking us to come visit the Kingdom of Terror.

RIYADH, 9 May 2004 — Having urged Saudis to spend their vacations in the Kingdom, Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT), has now set his sights on the foreign market. Yesterday he called on Westerners to “discover” Saudi Arabia as a new tourism destination.

He was giving a presentation to British businessmen here during a luncheon meeting with the local British Business Group, which seeks to promote Saudi-British partnerships.

He said the SCT had yet to decide any detailed offers for European or British tourists. “This is only a preliminary briefing about the restructuring of the Saudi tourism industry. But we will be doing a lot more as we move in future,” he said.

The Kingdom had a lot to offer to visitors, the prince said, from archaeological wonders and historic sites to modern attractions, scenic beauty and remarkable wildlife.

Absolutely. Let's check out the reasons you might want to be a tourist in Saudi Arabia:

No alcohol: It's a dry country, unless you know where the after-hours clubs are, and then, make sure you don't get caught by the religious police.

Dress correctly. It's required. Oh, and if you're a woman, you can't drive, you can't bare your legs or arms, and hon, you probably need to wear one of those headscarfs while you're at it. But it's all for your protection.

If you're a man, be careful how you use that digital camera! You may wind up losing some skin for it.

Whatever gender you are, don't be Jewish, and don't have your passport stamped with an Israeli stamp, or you can forget about getting into the kingdom.

Don't bring in any Bibles, and don't wear your crucifix. Oh, and again, don't be Jewish, unless you're Barbara Walters or Thomas Friedman and are sucking up to the Saudi royal family and writing puff pieces about how great Saudi Arabia really is. The laws are really sticky there except for bigwigs.

And get this: The Ministry of Tourism's program is already working. They've drawn tens of foreign visitors to their beaches this year, and are increasing programs at the breathtaking rate of three or four per month. Whew. Five thousand people have taken advantage of the new Saudi tourism industry in the seven years since this program was initiated. Watch out, Orlando! Saudi Arabia is nipping at your heels!

Yet another helpful service brought to you by the management of No, don't thank me. Just throw money. | |

Mother's Day, Meryl Standard Time

I decided towards the middle of last week that I would try to get off my Sunday afternoon shift at the climbing gym and drive up to NJ to surprise my mother for Mother's Day. I didn't think I'd make it for dinner, but I was hoping to arrive in time for dessert. Work was fairly slow, but we were so short-staffed (due to other staffers whose moms live in Virginia getting the day off) that I had to stay until nearly 3 p.m. I was north of Baltimore by 7 (did you know that Mother's Day is a major traffic day? I didn't). My whole family was in on the surprise, but I thought perhaps my knocking on Mom's door after 10 p.m. might not be good for her 73-year-old heart. Besides, if she knew I was coming, she'd prepare things for me ahead of time. So I decided that I would let her know I was coming and called her.

Anyway, that's why there was only that brief post yesterday. Tig got me up at (sigh) five, and I was exhausted during the entire drive, and also last night. I'm fine now, what with getting nine (!) hours sleep last night. But I had a full day. Mom and I went out for breakfast (bagels! NJ bagels! good bagels!), then went to my NJ chiropractor, who told me he misses me and wants me to come back. I think that was because I told him I can't find another chiropractor like him who will tell me dirty jokes every time I get an adjustment. Which reminded him to tell me a dirty joke. And yes, it was funny, and no, I won't post it. See, if I were truly the extremist my detractors claim I am, I'd have filed a sexual harrassment suit against my chiropractor years ago. Instead, I just laugh at the jokes. Guess they're going to have to take away my feminist credentials.

Speaking of feminism, yes, I'll get back to the domestic violence discussion, as soon as I'm back home and settled in. I've been keeping an eye on the news from up here. Nothing out of the ordinary going on, except for that weird story about a hermaphrodite palestinian suicide bomber (you cannot make this stuff up; and man, would I like to have been a fly on the wall when the soldiers brought this guy in to their commander).

Oh, this one is a little interesting, too: They found some palestinian tunnel rats digging a new smuggling tunnel, caught them, and shut it down. Hope the rats turned into birds and sang loud and long about who hired them to do it. The tunnel was 150 meters long. (That's more than one and a half football fields for my American readers.) No word on whether they found any ISM peace creeps shielding the tunnelers.

Okay, so that was low. But then, I make low blows from time to time. Sue me.

Oh. But back to my day. After breakfast and the dirty-joke telling chiropractor (who has raised his rates in the past two years but charged me the same rate he charged me two years ago, either because he's a prince or because I always laugh at his jokes), we went to two kosher butcher shops (one for my favorite corned beef, one for all the rest of the meat), bought steaks for dinner, drove out to Dave's, chatted with him and my nephew, had dinner, waited for my sister-in-law to get home, chatted with her for a while, then went to Rocco and got my hair done. Then home for more dessert (the bagel shop was also an Italian bakery, and they had M&M cookies, which are actually a giant dollop of chocolate on a butter cookie topped with an M&M, and the owner made me buy all of the cookies in his display—I swear I only ordered a quarter pound).

By the way, everywhere we went today, my mother told the clerks and anyone else within earshot about how her daughter drove all the way up from Virginia to surprise her on Mother's Day.

And now I'm commandeering Mom's phone line and using (sigh) dialup and AOL, which is why I never post much when I'm in NJ. Can't stand dialup. Can't stand it. Plus, it's such a pain to surf at those low speeds.

Anyway. Back tomorrow afternoon, then teaching, then normal activity, probably including another fight—er, discussion—with my pal Richard Bennett and his buds. (Get those cites ready, Richard, 'cause I accept no substitutions.)

Oh, and thanks for behaving while I was busy. (That's to everyone, not Richard specifically.) | |



We call it depraved indifference here

It wasn't enough that palestinian terrorists murdered Meirav Hatuel and her sisters and mother. Early this evening, Israel time, terrorists disguised themselves as women and lay in wait for Israeli Gaza residents to gather for a memorial service for the Hatuel family.

Then they opened fire.

By some miracle, none of the mourners was wounded. One of the terrorists was killed. The others got away.

I don't think I have much outrage left.

Yeah. Let's give these people a state. They really want peace. Really. | |


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 is also a good bet if you've never been here before.