Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have created a new computer system that uses software from a popular Internet encyclopedia site to gather input on sensitive topics from analysts across the spy community, part of an effort to fix problems that plagued prewar estimates on Iraq."
"There will come a time to look at the lessons of the Iraq war, but it is not now, Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, told the Commons last night. An inquiry now would send the "wrong signals at the wrong time", distract resources from where they were most needed, and appear to set a deadline for Britain's operations in Iraq, which would be politically and militarily damaging."
Why is the Washington Post giving P.W. Botha a quasi tribute (with pictures)?
(Let me summarize for you his book Islam Observed. Islam in Morocco is different from Islam in Indonesia.)
Full text: Afghan women and girls
"Women's lives 'no better' in new Afghanistan"
"Baghdad is under siege"
"Al-Jazeera backs new pan-Arab daily paper"
Peter Galbraith is one of those people that I intensely dislike. Here, he informs you about Iraq: "“It’s not a country." This person who never studied the Middle East although he poses as a Middle East expert added that Iraq is a fruit, but not a country.
"“It is folly to think we can win in Iraq the way some of us thought possible in 2003,” Eliot A. Cohen, the director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, wrote this month in The Wall Street Journal."
"Threats of bloody retribution and accusations of American involvement erupted across Pakistan's tribal areas yesterday after the missile strike that killed 80 people in a radical madrasa. An estimated 20,000 tribesmen crowded into Khar, six miles from the school that was shredded by air strikes on Monday. Cries of "Down with America" rang out as radical clerics addressed the turbaned protesters, many of whom brandished Kalashnikovs or rocket launchers."
Walid Jumblat and the word-of-the-day. Walid Jumblat has a word-of-the-day subscription. HE really does. The man, in addition to subscribing to the New York Review of Books (that really impresses the hell out of shallow upper class Lebanese society), now receives a different word every day to expand his vocabulary. Today in his talk at Wilson Center, he could not stop using the word "precipitate." OK. Later, Jumblat visited the restaurant, House of Beef, and asked them why they did not have any vegetarian dishes. He said that beef precipitates. Do you notice that Jumblat also dresses differently when he visits Washington, DC? He is so keen on impressing the White Man. OK, Jumblat.
Israeli occupation forces destroyed her house in Khan Yunis.
Hasan Nasrallah's interview. I watched the interview with Hasan Nasrallah carried live on New TV. The interviewer is Batul Ayyub of Manar TV. She is a good interviewer and she asked tough questions. One thing stuck in my mind: when he spoke about "brotherhood and love" between Hizbullah and the Saudi government. For some reason, I did not get a fuzzy feeling. He also said that Hizbullah always counts (yu`awwil) on the "positive role of Saudi Arabia in Lebanon." The position of Hizbulalh is now this: the March 14th Movement is a movement that is implementing an Israeli-US plan in Lebanon but we would like to make an alliance and form a government with them. OK. There is more to say but I alas don't have time.
For those who want to see a Lebanese war criminal live from Washington, DC.
"How to cut and run" (thanks Kamal)
The New Yorker on Rachel Corrie. The New Yorker, a magazine that has a literary reputation that it does not deserve, a magazine that under David Remnik has become a replica of Newsweek and people magazine but with longer articles, a magazine that has neither insights nor wit, a magazine that has made great efforts to increase the fear and hatred toward things Muslim in the US and which has made great contributions to Bush's wars' efforts, a magazine that published articles on the Middle East by a former prison guard in Israeli torture camps (who brags about his service in his new book) who claims that Islamic terrorists are under every bed and every table in the west, has decided that in order to serve Zionist propaganda in the US is to assign a certain John Lahr to review the Rachel Corrie play. In American Zionist publications, there are no limits and no boundaries to how far one goes in order to serve the interests of Zionist occupation. This John Lahr, who has the writing skills of contributors to People magazine, has decided that mocking and ridiculing a dead young woman is quite appropriate. Notice that he does not even review the play as a play; he forgot about his original task in order to bash the dead young woman and mock her. Like a the typical sexist writer, he invoked the word "hysteric" to describe her. That sums her entire life for this guy. Imagine if she was a victim of an Arab army tractor: imagine how this Lahr and his editor at that lousy magazine would have lionized her. No Lahr and no Remnik and no Zionist in the US can tarnish the image of Rachel Corrie. No matter how hard they try, and no matter how vulgar they are.
"The Pentagon is beefing up its public relations staff and starting an operation akin to a political campaign’s war room as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld faces intensifying criticism over the Iraq war and the public is increasingly disenchanted with the conflict. In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Dorrance Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said new teams of people will “develop messages” for the 24-hour news cycle and “correct the record.”"
..."The plan would focus more resources on so-called new media, such as the Internet and Web logs."
Selective history of Arab communism by Hazim Saghiyyah: here, Hazim Saghiyyah, lists ME communist victims. Oddly enough, he fails to mention any Arab communist who was killed by pro-US regimes (Jordanian, Saudi, Moroccan, Sudanese (during the Numayri era), Yemeni, Omani, Iraqi (when the US supported Iraqi persecution of Iraqi communists), Tunisian, etc). But then again: it is really brave to criticize the enemies of Saudi Arabia in a Saudi newspaper. Really brave. And it is really consistent to champion "liberalism" in a newspaper of the Wahhabi government. Really consistent. And it is really courageous to attack Arab communists in a newspaper funded by the government that bans women from driving cars. Really courageous.
I read in Al-Quds Al-`Arabi that Ahmad Chalabi (who was assumed to be the most popular leader in Iraq while the Bush administration was preparing for war relying on the advise of the likes of Kanan Makiya--who offered the "sweets and flowers" prediction) is planning to form a new "liberal" political party in Iraq. Is that not enough reason to abhor liberalism in all its forms? And Chalabi's old party got him zero seats in the last parliamentary election. I predict that his new party will get him minus zero seats in the next election.
Khalid Bin Sultan (assistant of the Saudi Minister of Defense--who just happens to be his dad) arrives in Washington for talks on "strategic cooperation." This must be part of the strategic vision of Bush to spread "liberty" and "freedom" in the Middle East.
"Many weapons in Iraq are missing, report says: The U.S. can't account for about 14,000 arms given to security forces." (Weapons were all caramelized).
"Growing numbers of American military officers have begun to privately question a key tenet of U.S. strategy in Iraq — that setting a hard deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create a stable state."
"Hizbollah has stepped up the rebuilding of its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon despite the deployment in recent weeks of thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers to limit the Islamic militant group's activities. Standing firm against international pressure to disarm, the Shia group is rearming and rebuilding tunnels and trenches destroyed by the Israeli army during this summer's 34-day war."
"President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win"
"Auditors Say Shift of Rebuilding to Iraqis Appears 'Broken Down'"
"Infiltration of Iraqi Police Could Delay Handover of Control for Years, U.S. Trainers Suggest" (Years? Take your time. You are "liberating" after all.)
Full text: "Corporate Mercenaries"

Monday, October 30, 2006

"The Bush administration has undertaken efforts to arm and train the Presidential Guard of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in order to prepare it for a potential violent confrontation with Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip. According to information received in Jerusalem, the American security coordinator in the territories, General Keith Dayton, appeared before representatives of the Quartet in London last week and presented them with a program for bolstering the Palestinian presidential guard. The program calls for Egyptian, British and perhaps even Jordanian instructors to train the force loyal to Abbas."
"The Palestinian police say they cannot impose order because the IDF does not permit its people to patrol the city with weapons. But this argument ignores the symbiotic and personal affiliation between the terror-spreading gunmen and security services, and between the gunmen and parts of Fatah. The affiliation is an old one, but is cause for greater concern now. How can Fatah reassert its authority over Palestinians in the territories? It cannot even protect the public from those who present themselves as Fatah men, and reap political and financial gain from the chaos they themselves sow."
"Fears over huge growth in Iraq's unregulated private armies: Mercenaries 'outnumber UK soldiers three to one'"
"However, angry local villagers said the casualties were not terrorists but innocent children and religious seminarians. Wailing men tugged corpses, including that of a seven-year-old boy, from the rubble in Chingai village. Thousands of mourners attended mass burials. Several thousand people marched through Bajaur's main town, Khar, chanting: "Death to Musharraf" and "Death to Bush", in a protest against the Pakistan and US leaders. Jamaat Islami, a hardline but influential Islamist party, condemned the attack as "brutal and barbaric"."
Ad-Diyar newspaper is reporting that a British envoy is arriving to Damascus to discuss the Iraqi situation with Syrian officials.
Joseph Samahah on Michel Kilu. When Joseph writes, Angry Arab reads, carefully.
Not all leftist atheists are sensitive. Here is Richard Dawkins: "Q: Do you ever worry about inadvertently contributing to the dehumanization of Muslims that has taken place since Sept. 11, at least in the big American media? A: That hadn't occurred to me."
"UN investigates Israel's 'uranium weapons'" (This just in: UN completes investigation. Israel found innocent. The victims of Israeli bombing, according to UN investigation, demanded uranium weapons.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Israeli barrier and settlement to leave West Bank village with nowhere to go"
"Anyway, what Cheney actually said 17 months ago was that the insurgency was in its "last throes." That was much stronger than saying we were "over the hump" regarding violence. Beware of people who misquote themselves while purporting to display candor."
Al-Quds Al-Arabi is reporting that Iyad `Allawi's bloc in parliament has split into three factions. `Allawi is between London and Beirut, while `Adnan Pachachi (the second leader of the bloc) is between UAE and London. The newspaper is also reporting that the missing US soldier in Iraq is the brother of Intifad Qanbar, the Chalabi propagandist.
Go celebrate. Another lousy writer from the Tuwayni family who can't write Arabic.
Many successful Lebanese journalists are no more than nudama' (as they used to call them in the books of Arabic turath) (entourage or hangers on of sorts) of oil princes.
If the official Israeli delegation was visiting any other Arab country other than Qatar, AlJazeera and Hizbullah would have noticed, and...yelled.
The speech by Ziyad Rahbani in the commemorative rally of the Lebanese Communist Party. (Happy birthday Lebanese Communist Party).
For those harboring illusions, Hasan Nasrallah had a long meeting last Friday with the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon.
2% of Lebanese posses 60% of bank deposits in Lebanon.
It looks like US officials are now negotiating with Saddam's Ba`thists in Amman in the hope of making the occupation "better" for the Bush administration.
According to Al-Akhbar, a staff member of the US embassy in Beirut was caught smuggling silencers into Beirut.
You can't accuse American reporters of not doing their job. Here, an interviewer poses a question to Secretary Rumsfeld: "AGAR: Yeah, I think we are keeping them busy in Iraq, and God bless our troops for doing that. Those who want to support the troops -- I know you have a website for that."
An American reporter posed this question to the US Secretary of Defense: "Q Mr. Secretary, there were some pretty biting comments from Prime Minister Maliki today."
Well, I am glad to report that Judith Miller is back, and she is still searching for Iraqi WMDs. She will find them. Just give her time.
"Suskind: We know that almost everything from the tool kit was tried: extraordinary techniques that included hot and cold water-boarding and threats of various kinds. We tried virtually everything with Binalshibh. But he was resistant, and my understanding of that interrogation is that we got very, very little from it. At one point, there was some thinking that we should put out misinformation that Binalshihb had been cooperative, he had received money and he was living in luxury. So that would mean that his friends and family, who obviously are known to al-Qaida, might face retribuition, and we ended up not doing that."
Sisley, Alfred, Provencher's Mill at Moret, 1883.
"SEC. RUMSFELD: Indeed. And of course, some of the leaders, like in Iran, have a martyrdom complex where they envision that their world will see chaos and violence and destruction." (thanks Mouin)
"Bush to Iraqi PM: You are not a puppet" (Iraqi PM to Bush: I AM a puppet. I am a puppet).
This is the US media. As far as the US media are concerned, Michael Young speaks on behalf of Shi`ite Arabs, and Noah Feldman speaks on behalf of Sunni Arabs. Notice that he conflates Sunni Arab public opinion with House of Saud.
Faysal Al-Qasim on the failure of the US propaganda media in the Arab world.
Iraq Occupation Inc and Amin Gemayyel. We need to learn more about the relationship between Amin Gemayyel's private security company (managed by his son-in-law) and Iraq Occupation Inc. Gemayyel maintained very good ties with Rumsfeld (ever since the latter was dispatched as a special US envoy when Gemayyel was "president" of Lebanon) and has reportedly obtained contracts with Iraqi puppet ministries. In fact, a plane with millions in cash was intercepted at Beirut airport two years ago, but Rafiq Hariri made sure to cover up the case. The press reported that the cash was given by the Iraqi puppet ministry of interior in the most corrupt government of `Allawi. Gemayyel was today meeting with Mas`ud Barazani in Salah Ad-Din. He referred to past "friendship" between Mustafa Barazani and Pierre Gemayyel. It must be a reference to the time when both militias were receiving opportunistic help from Israeli intelligence.
Jalal Talbani, Kurdish militia leader (who had a very close relationship with Saddam and who had many cordial meetings with Saddam after Halabja) confirms what we know: that Kurdish militias will not be disarmed because they participated in "the liberation" of Iraq.
"The conflict in Iraq is drawing fewer foreign fighters as Muslim extremists aspiring to battle the West turn their attention back to the symbolically important and increasingly violent turf of Afghanistan, European and US antiterrorism officials say. The shift of jihadis to Afghanistan this year suggests that Al Qaeda and its allies, armed with new tactics honed in Iraq, are coming full circle five years after US-led forces ousted the Taliban mullahs."
"MEMORIAL on the 50th Anniversary of the Kafr Qasem Massacre" (thanks Samia)
"Failure in Iraq has exposed the limits of American power. The knock-on consequences have made a nonsense of the president's national security strategy. Having asserted the right of the US to act pre-emptively against potential threats, Mr Bush now finds himself impotent to prevent the two remaining members of his "Axis of Evil" – North Korea and Iran – from, respectively, testing and building weapons of mass destruction. The administration that once rode roughshod over the United Nations now has to engage in horse-trading on the Security Council because unilateral military action is no longer a credible option. Perhaps the supreme irony is that the Islamist terrorists continue to gather strength: financed by Saudi Arabia, trained in Pakistan and, increasingly, hatching their plots in Britain. Axis of Evil? This sounds more like the Axis of Allies."
For those who want a succinct description of "liberation": "Their stories began with a familiar theme: the shrinking lives of middle-class families in the capital. Social clubs have emptied out. Weddings have been sparsely attended. But as the circle has become smaller, and as they focus intensely on just staying alive, they said, even the basics are being stripped away. “All the elements of society have been dismantled,” said Fawsia Abdul al-Attiya, a sociologist and a professor at Baghdad University. “You are afraid because you are a woman, a man, a Sunni, a Shiite, a Kurd."
The puppet is looking for some respect. "“I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces, yet I cannot move a single company without coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate,” Mr. Maliki told Reuters on Thursday. “If anyone is responsible for the poor security situation in Iraq, it is the coalition.”"
"Baghdad now is convulsed by hatred, paralyzed by suspicion; fear has forced many to leave. Carnage its rhythm and despair its mantra, the capital, it seems, no longer embraces life. "A city of ghosts," a friend told me, her tone almost funereal."
"Iraq's savage sectarian war, with its indiscriminate torture and killings, is an even greater obstacle to peace than the insurgency."
"British forces in southern Afghanistan are experiencing periods of lockdown in two key areas, halting patrols to avoid suicide bombings by the Taliban."
"Bush & Blair: two leaders searching for a way out of Iraq, and finding none: Their credibility undermined, their moral authority shot, their populatrity in tatters, yet still they fight on. Rupert Cornwell on the bleakest week of the bloodiest month for the war leaders"
"Residents of the Arab Israeli village of Kafr Qasem held memorial ceremonies in recent days marking the 50th anniversary of the 1956 massacre in which Border Police killed 47 Arab citizens who were returning to their village from work.
"Americans now spend an alarming $15bn a year on cosmetic surgery in a beautification frenzy that would be frowned on - if there was anyone left in the United States who could actually frown with their Botox-frozen faces."
"Saddam's trial farce stumbles to climax"
"The Taliban are planning a major winter offensive combining their diverse factions in a push on the Afghan capital, Kabul, intelligence analysts and sources among the militia have revealed."
Jeffrey Goldberg: or how the Middle East should not be covered. If I were to nominate somebody for being the most ill-informed and most fanatic "reporter" to cover the Middle East since Sep. 11, it has to be Jeffrey Goldberg. Notice this review of his recent book in the New York Times. Notice that his military service in the Israeli occupation army is mentioned matter-of-factly. Imagine how calm the New York Times would be if it is reviewing a book by an AMERICAN reporter who served in the Iranian or Syrian armies. Would they find that "service" to not be a disqualification? Would the New Yorker permit somebody who served in either of the two armies--but not the Israeli army--to even bring beverages and snacks to the editor of the magazine, let alone writing articles on the Middle East for them? Goldberg did, however, do a good job in peddling Bush's propaganda prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A colleague of his at the New Yorker told me that he has been, as of late, disappointed with the neo-conservative agenda. How thoughtful. Read Goldberg's articles just after Sep. 11. They should be required readings in a class on How Not to Cover the Middle East. He went around the region to try to prove the theory of Israeli terrorism experts that all what suicide bombings is about is seeking sex in heaven. He reached the Egyptian Islamist Muntasir Az-Zayyat during his journey, and the latter had to remind him that Muslims also have sex here on earth. Goldberg was quite shocked. When female suicide bombers appeared on the scene, Goldberg had to claim that they were lesbians who also were seeking sex with virgins in paradise.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lies of Walid Jumblat. In the Lebanenese press, Walid Jumblat claimed that the title of his talk at the Wilson Center is "Regional Impact of the Israeli war on Lebanon." Notice that the actual title makes no mention of Israel at all. It is the mysterious war on Lebanon. Walid Jumblat (and the Wilson Center) don't know who launched this war on Lebanon. They are still searching for the culprit.
Sexism in the Lebanese nationality law.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"A council of eight countries—Jordan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey—will run the project together." (thanks Ms. L.)
Sisley, Alfred, Moret-sur-Loing, 1891.
Sen. Obama will do well in American politics. He stands for both sides of every issue.
"From "Mission Accomplished" to "Mission Impossible" in Iraq"
"The Iraqi prime minister sharply criticized U.S. policy Friday during a private meeting with the U.S. ambassador, pointing to America's failure to either reduce violence or give his government authority over security matters. The criticism in private was the latest example of tension between the two governments and stood in stark contrast with a joint public statement issued after the meeting."
"Has Sistani met with any American official in the past 3 1/2 years? Frederick Jones, the NSC's communications director, said yesterday that no American official has ever met Sistani." (But he regularly meets with US puppets). But you have to read this column: the dude is quite furious that Sistani has not met with Americans. Meet with Tony Danza, o Sistani).
"L'idée que, sous prétexte qu'un pays est démocratique, ses citoyens, après délibération entre eux, ont la légitimité de bombarder les citoyens d'un autre pays est une idée qui va finir par tuer la démocratie." (thanks Karim)

The prime mininster of Lebanon reacting to the news that the month of October is about to end. (You may notice that his kleenex tissues are caramelized).
"Rice: Hezbollah must disarm if it is to remain in Lebanese politics" (Rice: Dahlan's gangs must keep arms to stay in Palestinian politics; Kurdish militias must keep arms to stay in Iraqi politics; Somali warlords must keep arms to stay in Somali politics; Afghan warlords must keep arms to stay in Afghan politics; Mujahedeen Khalq must keep arms to stay in Iranian politics; and Hariri Inc must keep arms to stay in Lebanese politics).
"Top Democrats are rushing to repudiate former President Carter’s controversial new book on the Middle East, in which he accuses the Israeli government of maintaining an apartheid system. Two key party leaders — Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, party chairman, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — and several congressmen issued statements Monday saying that the book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” does not represent their views on the Jewish state."
Laleh sent me this under the heading "poor Israel": "Democrats in Congress are arguing that the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq harmed Israel and is tying America’s hands in dealing with Iran’s nuclear threat."
"Another study, published this week, suggests that a strong anti-Israel current exists in American academic circles. The study, conducted by Gary Tobin and Aryeh Weinberg of San Francisco’s Institute for Jewish & Community Research, found that almost one-third of college faculty members think the United States is the greatest threat to global stability. Overall, respondents ranked America as the second-greatest threat — after North Korea but ahead of Iran, China and Iraq. Israel was ranked seventh, ahead of Syria, Pakistan and Russia. Tobin said last week that he is planning to publish a separate monograph focusing on the views of American academics regarding Israel and the Middle East. The initial results already suggest that atheists, liberals and those who voted for John Kerry in 2004 are more likely than conservatives and Bush voters to see Israel as a threat to global stability."
"The State Department is unforthcoming about the real cost of the corporate armies operating in Iraq: the mercenaries, or 'private security contractors', who guard US officials and international contractors ensuring that Coalition forces are free to fight insurgents. The GAO estimated last year that there were more than 25,000 of these 'contractors', significantly outnumbering British troops. A former squaddie, kitted out with dark glasses, automatic
pistol, rifle, body armour and radio, working for a construction team, can earn at least $12,000 a month. A former special forces NCO protecting a Coalition official or construction firm boss can make more than twice that. The State Department says the cost of security makes up 16 to 22 per cent of the overall outlay on big reconstruction projects, but this may be an underestimate. The GAO has observed that the State Department's reports to Congress 'do
not identify the magnitude or impact of the costs associated with security providers on reconstruction efforts or available funding'. When asked why not, embassy officials in Baghdad claimed that 'such requests can be burdensome for both the contractors and agency officials.' Publishing the true cost of 'security contractors' would mean admitting to the American public that what has become a deeply unpopular occupation is also even more expensive than it
currently appears." (thanks Laleh)
"Bush promised his evangelical followers faith-based social services, which he called "compassionate conservatism." He went beyond that to give them a faith-based war, faith-based law enforcement, faith-based education, faith-based medicine, and faith-based science. He could deliver on his promises because he stocked the agencies handling all these problems, in large degree, with born-again Christians of his own variety. The evangelicals had complained for years that they were not able to affect policy because liberals left over from previous administrations were in all the health and education and social service bureaus, at the operational level. They had specific people they objected to, and they had specific people with whom to replace them, and Karl Rove helped them do just that."
"The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, passed during the media frenzy following the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, established mandatory minimum sentences for possession of specific amounts of cocaine. However, it also established a 100-to-1 disparity between distribution of powder and crack cocaine. For example, distributing just five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence, while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. The discrepancy remains despite repeated recommendations by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to Congress to reconsider the penalties."
Did you hear Madonna actually say, with a straight face, that she plans to educate and raise her newly adopted son, so that he can go back and help Malawi. Blacks need whites to raise them to do better, it seems.
"Voting is an irrational act: your vote does not matter unless it's a tie."
Peter Bergen is one of those. He is one of those who changes his tune to suit his audience. He is a progressive when he writes for the Nation, and a neo-con when writing for the New York Times. We have them in the Arab world too, you know.
"Two years ago, when he was teaching at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the professor hatched a plan designed to undermine the site's veracity — which, at that time, had gone largely unchallenged by scholars. Adopting the pseudonym "Dr. al-Halawi" and billing himself as a "visiting lecturer in law, Jesus College, Oxford University," Mr. Halavais snuck onto Wikipedia and slipped 13 errors into its various articles. He knew that no one would check his persona's credentials: Anyone can add material to the encyclopedia's entries without having to show any proof of expertise."
"Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb"
Meet two senatorial candidates.
An Iraqi: looking very "liberated."
Palestinians can smile too. Here, Palestinian children celebrating the `Id.
On the Arabs who were in Nazi concentration camps. (The book is in German and has appeared in an Arabic translation)
A highly intelligent Israeli occupation soldier searching for "terrorists" inside this hole in Rafah.
You have to respect the International Committee of the House of Representatives. I mean, they really want to learn about the Middle East. Look at the panels that they assembled to learn about Hizbullah, for example.
"Armenian Lebanese writer Micheline Aharonian Marcom, born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Los Angeles, speaks of the necessity of remembering and cites William Faulkner as a powerful influence." (Congratulations Micheline)
"A critical moment arrives when Bush announces, "And I'm trying to figure out a matrix that says things are getting better. I think that one way to measure is less violence than before, I guess. We'll have to see what happens here after Ramadan. I believe these people -- oh, I was going to tell you Abizaid believes Ramadan, no question, caused them to be more violent because he says there's some kind of reward during Ramadan for violence."" (thanks Tina)
Seurat, Georges, The Channel at Gravelines, Grand Fort-Philippe, 1890.
"In a radio interview Tuesday, US Vice President Dick Cheney confirmed that US interrogators have used a controversial technique know as waterboarding to interrogate senior Al Qaeda suspects. McClatchy's Washington bureau reports that Mr. Cheney said the White House does not see the practice as torture, and allows the CIA to use it. Cheney said use of waterboarding was a "no-brainer for him.""
I notice that Hizbullah, which is now aligned with the Qatari government, has not been critical of the Qatari invitation to the Israeli foreign minister.
A reader from Kuwait sent me this:
"I was praying in a large, well-known mosque in a Kuwaiti residential area last Friday (Oct. 20, the last Friday of Ramadan). Between the Isha and Taraweeh prayers, when people were praying quietly, a man took the microphone and made a long, loud speech asking for donations for the Palestinians. He said he had the permission of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Municipality, etc. Afterwards, he laid his suitjacket on the floor and worshippers dropped money into it; it seemed like they were pretty generous. I was in the women's section upstairs; they didn't have a woman to come up and collect there, but they should have. I guess some women gave donations when they left. I assume he was from HAMAS; he had a short beard and mentioned mujahideen, etc. I was surprised, though, since the government says it's not supporting HAMAS."
"French Lessons"
"Staying the Course Right Over a Cliff"
  • "Fifty-five percent [of US Muslims] are afraid that the war on terror has become a war on Islam.
  • Only 12 percent believe the war in Iraq was a worthwhile effort, and just 10 percent support the use of the military to spread democracy in other countries."
  • (99% agree that CAIR is a tool of House of Saud, I think)
  • "For the first time, women in India have legal protection against abuse in their own homes under a law which came into force yesterday. It is the first time Indian law has recognised marital rape, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse of a woman by her husband as crimes."
    "Nato forces in Afghanistan have killed scores of civilians in a single operation, bombing them in their own homes as they celebrated the end of Ramadan."
    "Fifteen years after the first Gulf War, and three years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a UN commission is still paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to the victims of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait."
    "Amnesty launches a campaign to free the bloggers jailed for telling the truth about repressive regimes" (Amnesty International is willing to launch many campaigns provided it is not compelled to take a stand against Israel).
    "Nicaragua last night voted to outlaw all forms of abortion, including operations to save a pregnant woman's life, after a campaign by the Catholic church."
    "Officials in Afghanistan were today investigating the possible deaths of 60 civilians during a Nato and Afghan army offensive in the south of the country."

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    I expect the Dharfur groupies to start a campaign to sell orphans from Malawi.
    "His Highness Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the deep-thinking, resourceful, compassionate and forward-looking Deputy Ruler of Dubai, was born in December 25, 1942."

    “Sheikh Muhammad and Sheikh Hamdan treated their camels better than they treated their slave boys for the simple reason that the camels were far more valuable,” the lawsuit said. (thanks Muhammad)

    There was a dentistry conference in Lebanonesia today: it was titled when biology and technology meet. The proceedings were all caramelized.
    "In short, we seem doomed by domestic politics and demography to re-enact Vietnam in Iraq. The only question is what age the 300-millionth American will be when the last American is airlifted out."
    German soldiers exhibiting Nazi nostalgia.
    Kooky clerics: Taj Ad-Din Hilali, the Islamic Mufti of Australia, said that unveiled women "invite rapes."

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Schwitters, Kurt, Bild mit heller Mitte, 1919. (The painting may be a little sticky; I caramelized it).
    It is not a good sign when your own puppets are mad at you: "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at the United States on Wednesday, saying his popularly elected government would not bend to U.S.-imposed benchmarks and timelines and criticizing a U.S.-Iraqi military operation in a Shiite slum in Baghdad that left at least five people dead and 20 wounded."
    "Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here." (Notice the casual language of the Washington Post. Notice how they insert propaganda lines into articles. "US effort to bring democracy in Iraq"? Are you kidding me? Does the writer of the article really believe that this was what it was about?)
    The only Iraqi who seems to know the future path of events in Iraq is Iyad `Allawi (former puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/Saddam's henchman): he is building his retirement house in Lebanon.
    Was Nuri Al-Maliki (Iraqi puppet prime minister) not funny today? He was when he said that his government will insist on monopolizing the possession of weapons in Iraq. He was talking about militias. He forgot to notice the presence of a foreign occupation. Is it not funny when quislings act as if foreign occupation does not exist?
    "For example, the original war plan envisioned the U.S. troop presence in Iraq being cut to 30,000 by the fall of 2003. Last year, some top U.S. commanders thought they would be able to significantly cut the U.S. troop level in Iraq this year -- a hope now officially abandoned. More recently, the U.S. military all but withdrew from Baghdad, only to have to have to reenter the capital as security evaporated from its streets and Iraqi forces proved unable to restore calm by themselves."
    In one hour from now, I will be interviewed on Aljazeera. The topic is Bush's press conference.
    "This year’s intensely competitive election for control of the House of Representatives and Senate will be the most expensive midterm election ever, the Center for Responsive Politics predicts. Candidates, national political parties and outside issue advocacy groups will spend roughly $2.6 billion by the end of 2006 to influence the 472 federal contests around the United States and pad the war chests of incumbents not running this year."
    "Even more alarming was the announcement by George Soros, one of the world's ten wealthiest individuals, that he would employ his financial clout and connections with other Jewish billionaires to create a new body to balance "AIPAC's hawkish policies". Soros has no interest in visiting Israel and no qualms about presenting himself as an anti Zionist. Despite being a holocaust survivor, he describes the Bush Administration as equivalent to a Nazi regime, accuses Israel of being largely to blame for the resurgence of anti Semitism, and takes pride in being openly critical of Israel which his charity foundation ignores, although it "supports the rights of Arabs in Israel". Soros also promotes the bizarre belief that a weak rather than a strong Israel could best achieve a peace settlement with its neighbors."
    "Photographs of German soldiers posing with a human skull in Afghanistan triggered outrage in Germany yesterday and cast a shadow over government plans to raise its military profile worldwide."
    "Starbucks, the giant US coffee chain, has used its muscle to block an attempt by Ethiopia's farmers to copyright their most famous coffee bean types, denying them potential earnings of up to £47m a year, said Oxfam."
    "The CIA tried to persuade Germany to silence EU protests about the human rights record of one of America's key allies in its clandestine torture flights programme, the Guardian can reveal. According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and "avert pressure from EU" over human rights abuses in the north African country. The report describes Morocco as a "valuable partner in the fight against terrorism"."
    Syrian dissident Michel Kilo is now held on charges that he "weakened the [Arab] nationalist sentiment." Who can support the Syrian government?
    Normalization with Israel: last refuge of Arab scoundrels. When Arab governments feel pressures from the US, or when they unwittingly displease the US, they rush toward expediting normalization with Israel. That explains why the Qatari government invited the foreign minister of Israel.
    I watched and listened to the press conference by Bush. Again, I am always most struck that there is no evidence of any learning by him in the course of the years. Six years into his job, and he still sounds as clueless as when he started. When he speaks on foreign policy, he sounds as sure of himself and as well-informed as somebody picked from the street at random and quizzed about organic chemistry. The best line of the press conference was when he admitted that the enemy is "making progress". But he added that just because the enemy is making progress, should not mean that Americans should worry about the war effort. In the past, he used to claim that the US is making progress, but now--he says--the enemy is making progress. (Well, let us hear it in Bush's own words: "I also said in my remarks, just because the enemy has been able to make some progress doesn't mean we should leave." This is like saying, just because the earth is flat, it does not mean that it is round). The enemy is clearly identified as: Saddam's followers and Al-Qa`idah. Does supporters of the war not accept that there are some Iraqis, most Iraqis really, who are opposed to Saddam, Bin Laden, and to Bush's occupation? Of course, he also used his cliches about "they hate freedom", etc. How boring. Basically, Bush said this today: that he will do more of what he has been doing all along in Iraq. That can only mean that the mess will only get bigger.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    "More than 100 U.S. service members have signed a rare appeal urging Congress to support the "prompt withdrawal" of all American troops and bases from Iraq, organizers said yesterday. "Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home," reads the statement of a small grass-roots group of active-duty military personnel and reservists that says it aims to give U.S. military members a voice in Iraq war policy."
    It is not a good sign when you don't even trust your puppets. US troops today invaded the offices of a TV station owned by the most trusted Shi`ite ally of the US: the Higher Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (is there something ironic that such a council is the closest ally of the US among the Shi`ite groups?). Muwwaffaq Rubay`i (who is coming to MESA): who is a most corrupt and most submissive puppet of the occupation tried to intervene: explaining to the US soldiers that "we are friends" of the occupation to no avail. The soldiers said that they were looking for the missing American soldier, and that was that.
    "Niger orders expulsion of Arabs" (thanks John)
    "The Taliban were demonstrating their control over a wide region. These are the same Taliban that Brigadier Ed Butler, the commander of British forces in the region, said were "practically defeated" in Helmand."
    Iraq war: the video.
    "Yet one of Young-Bruehl's chief strategies for showing Arendt's relevance today is to speculate on what her mentor would have thought about events since her death. As Young-Bruehl dissects The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), a veritable "field manual" for identifying an enemy, we get sentences such as, "She would, for example, have taken the measure of Slobodan Milosevic's government from his talk about 'Greater Serbia,' a phrase he obviously and purposefully modeled on Hitler's 'Greater Germany.'" And, "It seems to me that Hannah Arendt, had she been alive in 2001, would have gone straight to her writing table to protest that the World Trade Center was not Pearl Harbor and that 'war on terror' was a meaningless phrase." At the same time, Young-Bruehl acknowledges, "Neither I, her biographer, nor anyone else should presume to know what Hannah Arendt would have thought about any event, trend, idea, person, or group that she did not look upon with her own fiercely observant eyes and the eyes of her uniquely and inimitably brilliant mind.""
    "FEAR AND MONEY IN DUBAI" (thanks Maryum)
    "Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World's Largest Embassy" (thanks Kathy)
    `Adnan Abu `Awdah. I forgot to mention this regarding the episode (Part I) on Abu `Awdah on AlJazeera's Ziyarah Khassah. Abu `Awdah told viewers that he was always different from people around him (he meant better); that he was more skeptical. He attributed that--I am not making this up--to regularly reading Time magazine. For me, reading Time and Newsweek causes irreparable damage to my brain cells, although they can be of good use. Falafil Al-Asdiqa' in Lebanon used them to wrap falafil sandwiches.
    A US commander in Iraq said that security could be transferred into Iraqi hands in 12 months or so. Is the transfer of security different from the transfer of sovereignty? Because sovereignty was transferred to Iraqis two years ago as you may remember.
    Karen Hughes wearing a Persian carpet during a meeting with Muslims for the `Id. Karen Hughes really thinks that she is being very effective in winning "hearts and minds" of Muslims with her gimmicks. Look at this. And what is that on her hair? A Persian carpet? But you have to admire Karen Hughes. She will go to any length to improve US image in the Middle East. In fact, tomorrow in her meeting with a Lebanese-American delegation, she plans to smudge her face with Hummus and olive oil. The US would be hated in the Middle East without the efforts of Karen Hughes. Wait. The US IS hated in the Middle East. Never mind.
    This is hilarious. Iraqi deputy puppet prime minister was in London. He pleaded with the US and UK to not flee Iraq. The clock is ticking. Puppets must already be packing their bags. `Allawi is already building a house in Beirut. Since Barham Salih is scared, I suggest that the occupiers take him away with them when they leave. And please, turn off the light before departing. Wait. There is a blackout in the country anyway.
    "Israel carried out 7,000 air raids and fired 160,000 artillery projectiles into Lebanon, a tiny country. That's about two air raids and 40 projectiles per square mile. But the punishment was not evenly distributed. Israel's war was aimed specifically at Lebanon's Shiite population. Shiite neighborhoods in Beirut were destroyed, but other neighborhoods remained untouched. Shiite villages in the south were obliterated--literally wiped from the surface of the Earth--while nearby Christian villages escaped unscathed, mercifully able to shelter their Shiite neighbors."

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Pearlstein, Philip, Mr and Mrs Edmund Pillsbury, 1973.
    "Nearly 50 per cent of Americans believe that a glorious Second Coming is imminent, and some of them are doing their damnedest to bring it about. But Dawkins could have told us all this without being so appallingly bitchy about those of his scientific colleagues who disagree with him, and without being so theologically illiterate. He might also have avoided being the second most frequently mentioned individual in his book – if you count God as an individual."
    OUTSOURCING (thanks Mouin)
    "Gulf Arab states are giving up on America" (Don't bet on it).
    Hajj Isma`il. Who would have known. Abu Mazen, we read, has brought back Hajj Isma`il (Jabr) from retirement, and appointed him chief of all PA security forces in West Bank. He was previously dismissed from his position in a token campaign against corruption. Those of us who lived through the Lebanese civil war, knew of Hajj Isma`il. He was the man most responsible for the fiasco of PLO's incompetent plan in the face of the Israeli invasion of 1982. `Arafat, who had little regard for competence or merit in his appointments, insisted on appointing Hajj Isma`il despite overwhelming evidence to his incompetence. In fact, when the Fath-Uprising split off from Fath in 1983, Hajj Isma`il was cited as the main reason for their rebellion. So he will now work closely with PA's chief thug (or thug-in-chief) Muhammad Dahlan.
    "An Israeli-American man pleaded guilty to calling in a bomb threat to the Long Beach Airport after he arrived too late to board his flight, authorities said." (If he was Arab, he would already be in Guantanamo).
    This is quite hilarious in fact. You read this blasting headline about "an American" report in this Israeli newspaper. You read further and discover that the "American" report was issued by none other than the research arm of the Israeli lobby. This is like the Saudi government citing the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC. Hilarious.
    "The return to government of Avigdor Lieberman, who has called for Israel's borders to be redrawn to exclude its Arab citizens, signals a more hawkish policy." (If the excluded group is non-Arab, the Guardian would have called it racist not "hawkish" policy.)
    "Despair of Baghdad turns into a life of shame in Damascus: Young women fleeing war and poverty fall prey to sex traffickers"
    Alexis de Tocqueville: "The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise. . . . They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes.5"

    My past connections with the North Korean government. When I was 7 or 8, the Lebanese government recognized the North Korean government. The latter government quickly established an embassy in Beirut, and bought an entire building in Ramlat Al-Baydah for that purpose. It also bought whole pages in Lebanese newspapers (especially in the leftist, Arab nationalist newspaper Al-Muharrir (its offices were bombed by the invading Syrian army in 1976) to propagandize for Kim Il Sung. The new North Korean ambassador was advised that my late father (who held the job of secretary-general of the Lebanese parliament) would be a good person to meet and know, and that he could "open doors" so to say. So the ambassador started a routine. Our family (and I was the youngest) would be invited on Saturday nights to an evening at the North Korean embassy in Beirut. For us, children, it was a tough call. You see, we enjoyed the great food and snacks, but hated the political discussions and...the propaganda documentaries that we had to endure before being escorted into the dining room. So the evening would start with a gathering in a large room. The ambassador and his wife, and our family attended in addition to an interpreter and some embassy staff. The discussions were exclusively political: the ambassador would either pose questions to my father, or he would report "achievements" about North Korea. During the conversations, alcoholic beverages would be served for the adults (and the political officer would get drunk quite often), while we kids were served juices and a large selection of snacks. We enjoyed that part, although we wanted it to go fast, very fast. We would urge my father to cut the discussion as short as he could. The conversations were all in classical Arabic in order for the interpreter to understand. That amused my mother a great deal. The next step after the introductory discussion was the propaganda segment. That was the most painful part of the evening. It almost always included a hagiographic film about Kim Il Sung. And when his image would appear on the screen (in the dark projection room), everybody would clap. We, kids, went along. We were extremely bored in that segment, and it was not easy to sleep because the high-pitched Korean opera would keep you awake. And the films ranged in length: from 20 minutes to more than an hour. I had to awaken my brother Midhat one evening because his snoring was so loud. He did not care; he was not going to go through yet another Kim Il Sung biographic epic film anymore. But during the movie, we also enjoyed the snacks. But my brother Midhat and I would make plenty of noises as we would open the pistachio shells, and that would cut into the silence at those sensitive moments when Kim Il Sung was engaged in some heroic act or another. Once the propaganda segment was completed, we were invited to the best part of the evening: a lavish Korean meal served non-proletariat style. There were servants, drivers, maids and cooks in that socialist paradise, we noticed. The food was really great. We particularly enjoyed a dish that was called The Oven of Heavens. I have been to so many Korean restaurants in the US and in Europe and I have never seen that dish. Does anybody know what it is? This went on for years. And we enjoyed that. One time we entered the dining room only to be horrified at the sight of Lebanese food catered from the then trendy Yildizlar restaurant. We inquired immediately at the absence of Korean food. We were informed that the ambassador assumed that we did not enjoy Korean food. We had to immediately disabuse him of that false notion. The relationship progressed between my father and the ambassador although it would take one meeting to realize that my father could never be converted into the communist cause. I think that they found that out from the first meeting. His personality gave him away. And then my father received an official state invitation to North Korea with my mother. My parents received similar invitations from capitalist countries, but for some reason, my mother insisted that she would not go on this trip unless the kids (all four of us) are also invited. That triggered some prolonged negotiations with the North Korean foreign ministry. And then the final word came: no children. My mother refused to go, and that was that. The dinner invitations continued but were interrupted during the civil war. But some time in the 1980s, they resumed, but I was in the US at the time. My sister once took her friend Muna along for the occasion, and I am told that the guests had a good time, and that they laughed a great deal, often at the expense of the hosts.
    Do you see pictures of Muhammad Bradi`i (spelled Baradeeieieieieie in the Washington Post) with Condoleezza Rice? Does his smile not bother you? It bothers me a lot. And when you see him with Rice, does he not look like he is about to bow down and shine her shoes? Really. And did he not get the Nobel Prize in shoe shining?
    ""It is just a waste of time. You cannot have dialogue with someone shooting at your head," said Mohamed Haidar, 48, a British-based financial consultant prominent in London's Lebanese community, who was in Lebanon during the war."
    I have not posted elaborately on the new decision by King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to form a special committee for bay`ah (acclamation) of future kings and crown princes. It is clear, and opinions among Saudi dissidents agree, that the King is asserting his authority vis-a-vis the Sadayri brothers. But the new committee does not take hold until after the rule of the current king and the crown prince. In other words, it is based on the assumption that `Abdullah will outlive Prince Sultan. If Sultan, on the other hand, outlives `Abdullah, then all bets are off. He can easily issue a new royal decree to supersede the previous one.
    I have posted on the Mecca declaration before. It reflects the insensitiveness and fanaticism of the House of Saud. In its first article of the Declaration for example it says that "the blood of Muslims, and their money and honors are prohibited on you." So the fanatical clerics assembled by House of Saud have no problems with attacks on the money and honors of non-Muslims? Well, we know where Wahhabi Sauds stand on that.
    Dharfur groupies. I know that rich kids need safe causes so that they can feel good about themselves, and their parents can pretend that their kids are doing good for the world, and most importantly, they can list work-for-a-safe-cause on their resume. It used to be "send-buckets-of-tears" to women in Afghanistan, and I am noticing that the new cause is Dharfur (so the good people who used to send buckets of tears to Afghanistan now operate on the assumption that all is well in that country). These privileged kids need causes in which the US appears to be innocent--only to the ill-informed. They need a cause on which Republicans and Democrats can agree. Some have good intentions--maybe. But let me give you a hint: the US has been destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, and it sponosred the destruction of Lebanon over the summer--you may have heard. And the destruction of Palestine has been taking place with US weapons and money. You want a cause? Pick one.
    "QUESTION: Do you have any comments on the remarks made by Mr. Alberto -- Alberto Fernandez and how does the State Department and you feel about the -- what he said?
    MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think he himself addressed it. He originally told his colleagues that he had been misquoted. He went back and looked at the transcript and he realized at that point that he had misspoke. He put out a statement apologizing for his remarks. He also made it clear that those remarks do not represent his personal views and they certainly don't represent the views of the State Department. So as far as we're concerned, the matter is closed.
    QUESTION: Did he get in trouble?
    MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?
    QUESTION: Did he get in trouble?
    MR. MCCORMACK: What do you mean by "get in trouble"?
    QUESTION: Was he rebuked by his superiors for this?
    MR. MCCORMACK: He's still in his job.
    QUESTION: That's not what I asked you.
    MR. MCCORMACK: He's still in his job."
    "The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.
    Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year."
    Press Freedoms Wordwide:
    The ranking

    Czech Republic
    Trinidad and Tobago
    United Kingdom
    Costa Rica
    South Korea
    El Salvador
    South Africa
    Cape Verde
    Serbia and Montenegro
    Dominican Republic
    United States of America

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Flash. "In response to questions about his recent interview with Al-Jazeera, the following is a comment attributable to Mr. Alberto Fernandez:
    "Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on Al-Jazeera, I realized that I seriously misspoke by using the phrase 'there has been arrogance and stupidity' by the U.S. in Iraq. This represents neither my views nor those of the State Department. I apologize."" (He should have added: instead of accusing the US of "stupidity" and "arrogance", the US occupation of Iraq can only be described as humble and intelligent.)
    Karen Hughes found nice Muslims: "Today as I travel the world, I meet so many dynamic, intelligent, capable, creative and just warm and wonderful Muslim women who are making a tremendous difference in their countries, from Malaysia to Morocco, from the Philippines to Qatar and UAE."
    "While organizations like the Philadelphia-based think tank the Middle East Forum, with its Campus Watch project, as well as the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, known as CAMERA, monitor and seek to counteract anti-Israel bias in various mediums, supporters of the proposed center argue that by being anchored to an accredited college, this project will ultimately have more influence within the academy."
    Inness, George, Sunset at Montclair, 1885.
    "But has there been a worse moment for American power since Ronald Reagan celebrated morning in America almost a quarter of a century ago? I can't think of one."
    "What brought this Tigris River city north of Baghdad to this state of siege was a series of events that have displayed in miniature the factors drawing the entire country into a sectarian bloodbath: Retaliatory violence between Sunnis and Shiites has soared to its highest level of the war, increasingly forcing moderates on both sides to look to armed extremists for protection."
    Did you see `Adnan Abu `Awdah on AlJazeera's Ziyarah Khassah? Sami Kulayb, as usual, did an excellent job. Abu `Awdah was chief propagandist for King Husayn, especially during Black September. At one point, Abu `Awdah said that he left the Muslim Brotherhood (which he had joined) and then the Jordanian Communist Party (which he also had joined) because he could not take orders. Kulayb had to remind him that he later was taking orders when he was an officer at the mukhabarat of Jordan. Abu `Awdah now poses as an advocate against discrimination against Palestinians in Jordan. Did he notice such discrimination and slaughter during Black September?
    Come back: they want to "liberate" you. Come back. "1.6m Iraqis have fled their country since the war"
    "Mr Schröder is candid about his dealings with Mr Bush who, even in private meetings, would constantly refer to his Christian beliefs. Mr Schröder said he became distrustful of decisions based on one-to-ones with God. Such decisions were not open to debate or criticism, he said, "because doing that would be to betray God's orders received during prayer". And he sounded a warning about the political sway that religion has in the US. "We rightly criticise that in most Islamic states, the role of religion for society and the character of the rule of law are not clearly separated," he said. "But we fail to recognise that in the USA, the Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the Bible have similar tendencies.""
    "A state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, yesterday claimed Mr Fernandez had been mistranslated, and said he had disputed the description of his comments. Asked whether he thought Washington could be judged as arrogant, Mr McCormack - who was in Moscow with Condoleezza Rice - snapped "No". However, a transcript by the Associated Press confirmed the accuracy of Mr Fernandez's reported quotes." That is a lie. I heard the comments myself. Fernandez used the words "ghaba'" (stupidity) and "ghatrasah" (arrogance). There is absolutely no question as to the accuracy of the translation of the two words.
    "Blair gives Iraq 12 months to be ready for handover" (Blair given less than 12 months by British people)
    "Poll: 81% of U.S. Jews believe Arabs want to destroy Israel" (Poll: 100% of US Arabs believe Israel has already destroyed Palestine)
    "In an interview with the Public Broadcasting System in 2003, he said he was greeted at the makeshift airport by a baboon “who looked everybody over, and if the baboon approved, then one got through.”"
    I am not making this up. People on the left AND the right are members of the Hariri militia (known as Lebanese Internal Security Forces) and they are showing their newly acquired skills (thanks to French training) of fighting demonstrators in Lebanon. This was part of a spectacle of training open to the media. The director-general of the force pledged to fight "terrorism" and organized crime. Mafia: beware. Lebanese police is going after you. Be very scared. Be terrified. And the Lebanese police has a sketch artist too. So there.
    ("AGGRIEVED BUNCH: MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong (seated, second from right) and various complainants holding up documents over Najem’s alleged unpaid bills.")
    Finally. Al-Akhbar newspaper is the only Lebanese newspaper that exposed the international crook, Elie Najm. A few weeks ago, the Lebanese press hailed the "self-proclaimed" Lebanese billionaire for donating $15 billion to Lebanon. The head of the Lebanese press syndicate praised him in a fancy press conference. But I have to admit: he is one of the "best" international crooks.
    Violence is Iraq has ended. No, it is true. You read it here first. Why am I saying that? Well, a group of Sunni clerics (and a handful of Shi`ites who do not represent the four maraji` or Iraq nor of As-Sadr) were invited (and funded) by House of Saud to call for an end to violence. When the call was issued, Sunnis and Shi`ites took the streets of Iraq: they held hand, danced, and sang hip hop songs. House of Saud: you are so good at bringing peace and harmony to the Middle East, your deep fanaticisim notwithsanding.
    Unlike Arabic newspapers, I did not report that Syrian government released Michel Kilu. Well, because he remains in jail. A government that is scared of Michel Kilu is a government that should be overthrown NOW.
    "Don't disturb your government" by Khalid Saghiyyah.
    Cement companies in Saudi Arabia raise their profits by 20%. It is good that I read Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat to acquire crucial information.
    I can't breath. The influence of House of Saud over Arab media is most suffocating. Open the windows, please, NOW.
    A group of Iraqi Ba`thist has officially announced their split from Saddam's party. This has been brewing for 2 years now. I heard about it 2 years ago in Beirut. But is this not too late? Did this group not notice Saddam's crimes earlier? And Iraqi Ba`thist are coming out of the shadows as of late. They seem to assume that US withdrawal is around the horizon. One Iraqi resistance leader from the Ba`th spoke to AlJazeera and admitted that they are now talking to the media. He was willing to provide the US with "a face saving" exit. In a few years, Iraqi Ba`thists and Taliban Afghans may very well be back in power.
    A source who "knows" in Beirut tells me that Walid Jumblat approached the Iranian government with a request for money a month before the Israeli war on Lebanon.
    "AMERICAN officials held secret talks with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency last week after admitting that their two-month clampdown on violence in Baghdad had failed."
    "The men belong to a word-of-mouth burial society for the unclaimed dead, formed during the 1980s war with Iran, starting small and growing with the need. Today, about 500 men — laborers, professionals, clerics and tribal leaders — are members of the legation of the dead in this country where deep piety and terrible brutality have repeatedly intertwined. The society has no name and no officers. It adheres to no religious sect or political agenda. Thirty to 60 men make each trip. Some go every time; those who have to take time off from work may go only once every few weeks. They pay their own expenses and have rejected government compensation."
    "Belief in God is not only a delusion, he argues, but a “pernicious” one."
    Another evidence that Iraq is "sovereign": "The idea of devising specific steps that Mr. Maliki would have to take was described by senior officials who support the plan but would speak only on condition of anonymity."
    Taliban-for-Bush: "Return of the Taliban."
    Expert on Bullshit.
    Michel Hayik is lowering the collective intelligence level of the Lebanese people. He is a "fortune teller" whose words are carefully examined and anticipated. His fame grew substantially in the last few years because before Rafiq Hariri's assassination he said that: "something will happen in Lebanon." That was taken as an accurate and precise prediction of events. Good night. Oh, and he was on New TV. The host said that Hayik is known world-wide, and Hayik himself said that he is known among school children in...China. He also said that the "rumors" that he will be starring in a "Hollywood" movie also starring John Travolta and Selma Hayek (no relation). Hayek made some predictions on the show. He said that Lebanon may witness "demonstrations." The host made him repeat those precise predictions for the benefit of Lebanese viewers. He also said that he has a new look. OK. I always am accused of dissing Lebanon and Lebanese. OK. Time to praise something about Lebanon. I will admit that some of the "best" crooks and charlatans that I have read about are Lebanese crooks and charlatans. They really are good at what they "do." Should we not arrange for Michel Hayik to meet with Bernard Lewis? I mean both engage in "predictions" although Lewis specializes in numerological predictions. Oh, yeah.
    • "4 million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average 12-month period. 1 On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.2 92% of women say that reducing domestic violence and sexual assault should be at the top of any formal efforts taken on behalf of women today.3

    • 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.4 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.5

    • 1 in 3 teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner.6 Women of all races are equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.7 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence–related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.8 Some estimates say almost 1 million incidents of violence occur against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend per year. 9 For 30% of women who experience abuse, the first incident occurs during pregnancy.10 As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.11"

    "[J]udges of the Miss Earth competition hailed the emergence of a bikini-clad Miss Afghanistan, Vida Samadzai, as a giant leap for women's liberation. They even gave Samadzai a special award for "representing the victory of women's rights.""
    "why are Western men so obsessed with Muslim women's attire? Even British government ministers Gordon Brown and John Reid have made disparaging remarks about the nikab -- and they hail from across the Scottish border, where men wear skirts." (thanks Mouin)
    Western media love those stories. They just can't get enough of them. Women who "went" to Islamic madraaassaaaaaaass complaining to westerners--and urging WESTERNERS--to save them (via Bush's liberation wars, I assume) from Islam. Here, this person whose knowledge of Islam is similar to my knowledge of car engines, says: "Earlier this year, the state-run General Union of Syrian Women released a report showing that one in four married Syrian women is the victim of domestic violence." Well, o voice of "modern" Islam. That is in fact almost the same percentage of US women who are victims of domestic violence. In fact, there are studies (cited in Catherine McKinnon's Feminism Unmodified) which talk about domestic violence affecting up to 75% of women in the US. So does that mean that Islam is also responsible for domestic violence in the US too? Enlighten me, PLEASE, o former reporter of the Wall Street Journal--bastion of cultural sensitivity and feminism.
    George Will identifies the problem in Iraq: "the character of the Iraqi people." (thanks Ken)
    Iraq, "liberated": "The brutality of today's Iraq has washed over his largely Shiite village of 4,000: In the past few months, 10 people have been killed in Yusufan. Among them were a mother and child. "Who knows?" he said when asked the reason. In Basra, and even more in Baghdad, governments are sources of gossip rather than confidence. The police, who he said never set foot here, are best at taking bribes."
    "For US troops in Iraq, October 2006 is on course to become one of the deadliest months of the war. With a week to go, at least 78 US troops have been killed - bringing the total US death toll to 2,791. The latest to die were three US Marines who were killed yesterday during combat in Anbar province."
    A new ad is running on Lebanese TV saying that you should love Lebanese industry if you love Lebanon. Well, at least I learned that I don't have to love Lebanese industry.
    "Iraq: Battle of the militias"
    "A senior US diplomat said yesterday that the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq, but warned that failure in the violence-ridden Arab nation would be a disaster for the entire region. In an interview with al-Jazeera, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the US State Department, also said the US was ready to talk with any Iraqi group - excluding al- Qa'ida in Iraq - to reach national reconciliation in the country, which is racked by widening sectarian strife as well as an enduring insurgency."
    "A[n Israeli] cluster bomb exploded Sunday, killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding his younger brother in a southern Lebanese village, Lebanese security officials said." (thanks Nir)
    I heard Sen. Clinton say during her debate the other day that the cultures of Iraq and Vietnam are different. I did not know that. I mean, I never knew that the cultures of Iraq and Vietnam are not the same. What would I (or you) do without the wisdom of US senators?
    "Last week a tipping point was reached as political leaders in Washington and London began openly to think the unthinkable: that the war was lost."
    "The Department of Justice is investigating whether Rep. Jane Harman and the pro-Israel group worked together to get her reappointed as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee." (thanks Emily)
    "McCarthyism Without Habeas Corpus"
    "Two months after the war with Israel ended, Lebanese whose houses were destroyed during the conflict have yet to receive promised financial help from their government."
    "Three Israeli doctors are under arrest for allegedly performing illegal experiments on thousands of patients, including an elderly concentration camp survivor who only narrowly escaped being a victim of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele." (thanks May)
    "Israel admits to using phosphorus bombs in recent Lebanon war" (thanks Laleh and Shadi)