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Good news for a change

First, of course, there's the death of Hamas No. 2 (how many friggin' No. 2 guys do they have, anyway?) by Israeli missile. Virtual sweets all around; another Jew-killer bites the shrapnel.

Then there's this gem from Louisiana:

The Louisiana Department of the Treasury has purchased $5 million in State of Israel bonds (Israel Bonds) "to diversify investments and develop economic ties between the State of Louisiana and the State of Israel," according to a Treasury statement from Baton Rouge. This is the first time that Louisiana has bought Israel Bonds.

"This is a win-win situation for Louisiana and Israel," said Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy. "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is America's only true friend in the Middle East, and it is one of our staunchest allies."

All right everyone, vacation in New Orleans this year in gratitude.

And what's not to like about this? Jewish women and Jeeps!

[India News]: New Delhi, Oct 21 : Rajasthan will host a nine-day racing competition for Israeli women, involving off-the-road jeep races, navigational ventures and testing of self-sustenance skills.

Forty-five Israeli women will take part in the competition that begins Saturday, officials here said.

The annual tournament, which aims to promote women's sports in Israel, has been held in Turkey, Ethiopia, Georgia, Israel, Jordan and Thailand earlier.

"The race is always conducted in deserts, and Rajasthan, with its good scenery and cultural heritage, is an ideal spot. The participants will also learn a lot about India through this race," Michal Gur Aryeh, the spokeswoman for the competition, told IANS.

[...] The participants will be grouped into teams of three, and will have to drive the whole route in their jeeps, fending for themselves all the way, Aryeh said.

Israeli ERA Watch: While Saudi women can't drive, Israeli women are racing around the desert on survival courses. You go, girls! | |



Geeking out

The FedEx driver pulled up about five minutes after I posted the below. I've been playing with my new computer since then, with a few breaks for phone calls.

My computer screen is better than my television screen. I just put in The Fellowship of the Ring to test it, and found myself almost unable to stop watching it.

But I did.

Now to find a Windows XP book that will tell me how to get rid of the more annoying parts of XP.

And wow, this 14-inch Sony monitor is tiny compared to my new 17-inch screen.

Posting may be light, except for posting about the new computer. At first, I was thinking perhaps I should have gotten a smaller screen. But not once I started playing around with it. And I'm thinking the weights are nearly equivalent, what with the Sony battery being so darned heavy.

Now I need a new case for the new laptop. One with wheels, preferably. Time to go shopping. For a big one. Seventeen-inch screen, remember. Hoo-boy, I'm going to be geeking out for a while. Weblog? Weblog? I have time for a weblog?

Okay, I'll try. Especially since I haven't loaded Dreamweaver on the new computer. And I'm too lazy to write code from Notepad. | |

When it absolutely, positively, has to be there... uh, when was that again?

Y'know, FedEx was supposed to have delivered my new computer no later than 4 p.m. yesterday.

It is now nearly noon. We're looking at twenty hours overdue. Twenty hours.

Time to call them again. | |

News briefs

Let's try a new format this morning.

Jews Object to Presbyterian-Hezbollah Talk

Imagine that.

Syria Praises American Presbyterian Church

Shocked. Shocked, I am.

No oil for Jews!
Russian oil is flowing in the Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline from the Mediterranean to Eilat and onward to Asia. Some of the Arab producers are trying to block this by preventing tankers that have called at Eilat or Ashkelon to go to an Arab port afterwards.

That's surprising, too.

Fatah leader: PA forces are private fiefdoms
The power struggle between rival Palestinian security services is the main reason behind the state of anarchy and lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a senior Fatah official said Wednesday.

Gee. Ya think?

Egypt is no friend


Israeli officials said the intelligence community has determined a high level of threat against Israeli nationals in the Hashemite kingdom. The officials said the threat level in Jordan has increased over the last week to its highest point in five years.

"We are talking about a threat level higher than that in the Sinai," an official said.

But—but—I thought Jordan and Israel were buds!

There. Short, brief, to the point. If you can't comment on the different issues here, you need to learn how to multitask better in the modern information age, folks. | |



Do-it-yourself news

Today, I'm sending you to a place where I get many of my links. I feel like I'm giving up a big secret. But I'm tired, just finished working at the Sucky Job, I have a sore throat and some kind of sinus thing, am on cold medication, and the Yankees lost again. Plus, my new laptop did not arrive in Virginia, because some idiot in FedEx scanned the wrong number and sent it back to my mother.

I am cranky. Go here and you will find a plethora of news about Israel and terrorism that will likely piss you off as much as it does me.

And by the way, if there are any anti-Semites out there looking for a scrap tonight: Bring. It. On.

| |

Today's moment of Kitty Zen

This is what cats do for their afternoon naps when it starts getting colder outside. Find the highest, warmest spot in the house.

Tig asleep on the closet shelf

That black thing above him is my black sweatshirt, which is now black and white. A few days ago, I was missing Gracie when I woke up in the morning. I heard her washing herself, but couldn't find her. Not on the bed. Not under the bed. Not in the laundry basket. Finally, I looked up into the closet, and saw her sitting on my sweatshirt. She jumped down immediately, so no picture yet. I'll get one.

He sure looks contented and peaceful, doesn't he? Okay, fat, too, but hey, I've already told you my philosophy on that: A fat cat is a happy cat. Tig's very happy. | |



Foolish humans!

So about half an hour ago, Worf woke up from his morning nap. And grabbed my sneakers, since I left them on the floor next to my chair, since I thought they were safe, because Worf wasn't feeling well. Apparently, this morning, he was just cold. Yep. Cold. Ridgebacks have very short fur. They're originally from Africa. They sleep with blankets over them during the cold months. At least, they do in this house.

So. This is Worf, this morning, feeling his oats.

Worf and slipper

He still has the tumor. And Heid's still going to bring him to the vet, and we're still hoping it's operable. But Heidi says everything I was worrying about is Worf's behavior when he's cold. Phew.

My slipper now has dozens of tiny tooth marks in the sole. I was going to buy new ones, anyway. | |

Presbyterians and terrorists: This is just wrong

Just when you think the anti-Israel groups can't get much lower, out comes this news:

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - A visiting US church group met Sunday with the Hizbollah commander in southern Lebanon, who told the visitors that despite being labelled terrorist by Washington, his group has no problem with the American people.

Hizbollah has been on the US State Department list of terrorist groups since the 1980s. It is blamed for the bombings of the US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and of the US Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984, which killed a total of 270 people. Hizbollah denies involvement.

Until the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington estimated that Hizbollah had killed more Americans than any other terror group.

But Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, Hizbollah's commander in southern Lebanon, told a 24-member delegation from the US Presbyterian Church that his group is now seeking dialogue with the American people.

"Hizbollah, which represents the will of a people and a nation, does not have any problem with the American people," Kaouk said in remarks carried by local news media.

"Hizbollah is not on a collision course with the people of the United States. Rather, we are very eager for contacts and understanding," he added. "But the US administration considers that a meeting between us and you is rejected ... because they fear dialogue."

Hizbollah has become more moderate over the years and now holds nine seats in the 128-member Parliament, with a charity arm that runs clinics, hospitals and schools.

Yeah, and Mussolini made the trains run on time. So that makes it all better, right?

That's one AP story. Here's another:

DAMASCUS, Syria -- The head of a visiting U.S. Presbyterian Church delegation called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and said Monday that his church is studying the possibility of withholding investments to increase pressure on Israel.

"The occupation by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza must end because it is oppressive and destructive for the Palestinian people," the Rev. Nile Harper said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He criticized as "unhelpful" the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank to prevent Palestinian suicide bombings.

Harper, of Ann Arbor, Mich., warned that the General Assembly of his church, whose investments in U.S. firms total $8 billion, had instructed its investment agency to study the possibility of withdrawing its money from U.S. corporations whose products "are being destructively used against the Palestinians" by Israel.

The 24-member delegation traveled to Lebanon on Sunday and met with the south Lebanon commander of Hezbollah, a group Washington calls terrorist but Lebanon sees as a legitimate resistance movement against Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

Gee, why would we think Hizbollah is a terrorist organization? The Khobar Towers? The JCC in Buenos Aires? 241 Marines killed in their sleep? I'm just not making the connection. Asshats. And this disgusting both-sides-of-the-issue crap that's been creeping into all AP stories is making me think there is no objective news service anywhere.

Shame on the Presbyterians for this divestment program, but deeper shame for meeting with terrorists and attempting to initiate a dialogue. You want Israel to change her policies? Fine. Meet with Israel, lay out your case, and see what happens. But to meet with terrorists and threaten an economic boycott? I haven't heard the Presbyterian groups call for an end to suicide bombing. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? It's starting to stink around the edges here. Why wouldn't a Christian group go after the Muslims who are slaughtering Christians in the Sudan, and threaten to boycott companies that deal with China and France, major trade partners of the Sudan?

Yeah, I know why. So do you. I just don't feel like saying it anymore. | |

A dog's life

If you've been reading this weblog for a while, you've heard me refer to Worf fairly frequently. He's Heidi's eight-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. He's a hundred pounds of pure muscle and one of the biggest pains in her life, what with his tendency to get into dogfights and, well, bite people sometimes. He has a very short list of people that he likes, and I've been on it for years. Which is a good thing, because many years ago, after I'd already met Worf, I walked into Sorena's bedroom while Heidi was putting her to bed, and Worf growled at me like he was about to bite my leg off. I stopped dead, Heidi spoke sharply to Worf, and he wagged his tail apologetically. Oh, that's right, he seemed to be thinking. It's you. He'd forgotten I was there, and would brook no danger to Sorena.

Worf and his come play lookHe's never bit me, because I've never given him the opportunity. I respect the growl. I walk slowly in a strange dog's presence. I let him approach me, instead of the other way around. And after I'd started visiting Heidi regularly, Worf got to the point where he only barked in welcome or in play, never the bark that means "Come any closer and you'll get to test my jaw strength on your arm." (Which, actually, I now get to do because he grabs my arm when we play, and let me tell you, his jaw could easily break my arm.)

I remember first time he "bumped" me. Ridgebacks will walk between your legs as a sign of affection. Worf bumps very few people, unlike the Ridgeback I met in Bloomfield one day, who bumped me as soon as he met me. (Slut.) I was standing in the kitchen, talking to Heidi, when Worf pushed at my legs from behind. So without thinking, I stood up a little higher. He's tall enough that he has to duck a little, and he usually doesn't. We kept chatting away until it hit me what had just happened, and I said, "Hey! Worf just bumped me!" Heidi smiled.

When Sorena was younger, and Worf wanted someone to play with him, he'd sneak into her room and grab one of her soft dolls. Heidi and I would be in the kitchen talking, and we'd suddenly hear a wail, "Mommy! Worf has my dolly!" Down the stairs Worf would come, devilish expression on his face, his tail wagging furiously. Heidi would go one way and I'd go the other and we'd trap Worf between us and rescue the dolly. And try very hard not to laugh. Now, Sorena helps me rescue my sneakers from Worf.

My snweaker in Worf's jawsWorf is smart enough to have recognized what packing a bag means. Before I moved to Richmond, on the last day of my visit, he'd see the green bag come out and he'd look very sad and stare at me while I packed. The message was clear: Don't go. It's gotten to the point where I feel like Worf is my dog, too, and I think he thinks the same way. I'm the only one who can dogsit for Heidi. I'm the only person who can come into their house when they're not home, and leave it unscathed. She's always said that if her house is ever robbed and Worf doesn't have any gunshot wounds, she's going to tell the police to go question me.

Worf's tumor is back. It's grown. It's in a different area. It's not looking good. He bumped me when I got here yesterday, and I shifted my legs and he yelped. You can see the bump on the side of his face. He's wheezing constantly. He didn't try to play with me this morning when I got out of bed. He came over and said hello, and then went back to bed. My sneakers are on the floor next to me. He didn't even try to grab one and run with it.

We are very worried. Heidi's bringing him to the vet this week. If the vet says it's a waste of time and money to operate again, this is probably the last week of Worf's life. It's going to get very, very painful around here if we lose him. Sorena wasn't even three when they lost Worf's predecessor, but she's eleven now, and it will hit her hard. It will hit us grownups hard, too. I cannot imagine this house without Worf in it. I cannot imagine not being greated at the door by him. I cannot imagine not having to put my shoes in the guest room so he won't grab them and make me chase them for it. I cannot imagine not getting annoyed because Worf won't stop bumping me and I'm trying to talk to Heidi, or do something in the kitchen, or simply walk to another room.

I cannot imagine life without Worf, and don't really want to. Not yet. Not for a few more years, please.

Update: Scroll up. Worf just made me look like an idiot.

| |



The IDF and Gaza: An analysis

Ze'ev Schiff has a fascinating analysis of the end of the IDF operation in Gaza, and what will happen when the settlers are withdrawn next year.

With the end of Operation Days of Penitence in northern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces' General Staff has decided that should the firing of Qassam rockets at Sderot or other Israeli towns in the Negev resume in a serious fashion, the IDF will return to Gaza in force, perhaps even with a larger operation. That is the recommendation it will make to the cabinet should the need arise. And since the cabinet from the start was inclined toward a harsher response - it was the IDF that counseled more restrained action - there is no doubt that such a recommendation would be approved.

The operation also offers clues as to how the IDF would react should Hamas or other Palestinian groups try to disrupt implementation of the disengagement.

One lesson from the operation, and particularly from the deployment of the air force and the depth of the intelligence penetration of the enemy, is that a resumption of it would lead to even more Palestinian casualties. Thus if any responsible political elements remain among the Palestinians, they would be advised to work to halt the Qassam launches.

It would be a mistake to think the operation ended because of diplomatic pressure on Israel: The IDF's conclusion was that the terror attacks in Sinai gave Israel additional time for Days of Penitence. It ended because the IDF thought that at this stage, it had exhausted its usefulness. The army had as yet suffered no losses, and there was a fear that leaving so many forces in Gaza for a prolonged period would lead to operational errors and excessive harm to Palestinian civilians. The IDF also preferred not to continue the operation during Ramadan - even though Hamas had no qualms abut launching Qassams on Sukkot.

The IDF's withdrawal is expected to prompt a renewed Palestinian debate over the logic of firing Qassams at Israel and whether the price, in Palestinian lives and property, is not too high. According to IDF statistics, 138 Palestinians were killed during Operation Days of Penitence, of whom about 80 were armed men involved in the fighting. Of these, about 50 belonged to Hamas, including some involved in Qassam launches. Another 48 casualties have not yet been classified, but clearly, many were civilians. Ten casualties were definitely children under age 14.

Read the rest.

Another point of view, from Arieh O'Sullivan (I so love that name):

Unfortunately, the redeployment was not done with any understandings reached with the Palestinians. The IDF also understands that any threats they make about returning have little impact on the Hamas rocket launchers.

"We know that the Hamas actually yearns to draw us in and inflict civilian casualties. We are trying to avoid this," said the officer.

A quick tally of the results shows that the IDF suffered 16 casualties, including one soldier who was killed on the first day. It succeeded in hitting nine Kassam rocket cells, a dozen bomb-laying squads, and eight antitank rocket launchers. Palestinians succeeded in launching 18 Kassam rockets into Israel during this period.

[...] The operation had more than the obvious goal. It must also be seen as a sort of example of what Israel's policy would be vis- -vis the West Bank villages if they try to bombard Israeli cities from there with Kassams or Katyushas.

Operating on instructions "to exact a price," the army said that it killed more than 100 armed Palestinians during the 17-day offensive. Palestinians say that dozens of civilians were killed, not to mention more than 80 houses destroyed and fields ploughed under.

Operation Days of Repentance was really a modest endeavor on a military scale. It was a brigade-level mission that involved rotating troops, and there was never any sense that they were fatigued or that it was not sustainable.

The onset of Ramadan also did not play a role in the pulling back of forces from Jabalya and Beit Hanun, military sources said.

The timing of when to call it quits, at least officially, is always important. Israel succeeded in doing it from a point of strength and not, for example, after a terrible loss of soldiers or in the shadow of a strike that inflicted heavy civilian casualties.

Yet senior IDF officers are also aware of the fact that the pullback did not come with any understandings reached with the Palestinian side. There was dialogue, but in the end, the move was unilateral.

As one military source said, "We don't know how to make threats on the Palestinians. All we know is how to create leverage. We barely threaten Syria. There are no threats against Lebanon, and zero with Hizbullah. With the Palestinians, there are almost none."

I don't really understand what that quote means. Anyone else? | |

Joss the W. slayer

Buffy fans are organizing a Kerry fundraising night. NZ Bear asks:

I think this may be one of those 'friends don't let friends vote Kerry' moments. Perhaps we devoted Buffy fans in the 'sphere could schedule some kind of intervention?

I answer: Nope. Nothing we can do. It's a free country, and people have the right to vote for whom they please, and to try to convince other people to vote for whom they please. But the thing is, using the High Stakes logic:

In every four-year term there is a chosen one. He alone will face the American public, the United Nations, and the forces of darkness. He is the President.

Hate to break it to you kiddies, but that makes George W. Bush the chosen one. Which would put Kerry and Edwards into the category of Slayerettes. And didn't we all simply hate the Slayerettes? (Especially Kennedy. I wanted her dead so badly I'd have joined the Preacher to get it done.)

I have come to the conclusion that I simply don't care about celebrities putting themselves out for Kerry. They have the right to do so, and I have the right to think they're idiots. As long as they're not funding terrorists like Cat Stevens, I can't seem to raise any ire for them any more. | |



On Second Thought

Nobody knows the tired I've been: You have no idea how tired I am. Bone-tired, heart-tired, mind-tired. The Sucky Boss from the Sucky Job That Would Be A Fine Job If Asshat Wasn't The Boss is getting to me. And I think the six-day work week is starting to get to me. I snapped at my students today (although they were misbehaving) and still felt grumpy at the climbing gym. Thank heaven for little girls: A party of 9-year-olds cheered me up, finally. They were too cute. But I'm still exhausted.

Thanks to everyone who hit the tipjars last week. I have no idea who hits the Amazon tipjars, which I think is what you folks want. I can't thank you personally, except, well, yeah, I can. Thanks. Personally.

Toldja I was tired.

I can't believe the kid is wearing me down: There was a double Bar Mitzvah this weekend. Ethan and Harrison are two very sweet boys who were more disappointed than anyone when I cancelled my Bat Mitzvah last year. Nearly every time I've seen Ethan since then, he's asked "Have you set a date yet?" I told him I'd reschedule it when things got better. Every schoolday this year, as well as every other time I've seen him, he's asked, "Have you set a date yet?" A week or so ago, I asked him if he knew what the expression "running a joke into the ground" meant, which got him to ask "Is it deep enough yet?" before asking me if I'd set a new date.

So I was thinking maybe November 2006, when my class from last year reaches B'nai Mitzvah age. There are only five of them, and one will be doubling with her brother this summer. And if I do have my Bat Mitzvah, after all this, Ethan had better be at mine. I went to his and Harrison's.

They were superb.

[Yawn] Okay, that's it. My eyes are closing, and it's not even nine o'clock. Not even the Yankees are going to keep me awake tonight. | |


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.