Monday, April 30, 2007

I am not making this up. An official in the Saudi Ministry of Labor said that "only 7000" foreign maids flee their place of employment every year in Saudi Arabia.
George Tenet said on 60 minutes that there are Al-Qa`idah cells here in the US (which is something that I don't buy. Bin Laden had to import the hijackers and get them visas because he could not recruit from among American Muslims). When asked for the basis of his information, he said it was a hunch. A hunch for an intelligence chief? Was it also a hunch that led him to believe that Saddam had WMDs?
"According to a military order seen by AFP on Saturday, the army told the village council in Bardaleh, north of Jericho, that nearly 59 acres of Palestinian farmland would be confiscated "for security reasons" to extend the barrier." (thanks Yasmine)
The Hariri tool organization, Al-Yasar Ad-Dimuqrati (its very name is an insult to the real Left everywhere), held an election. The last time it held its founding election, the late Samir Qasir (one of the founders), looked at the audience and told them: No need for elections. I will select everybody. And he did (this account was given to me by Lebanese columnist, Wisam Sa`adah, who attended the event). According to the account in the Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, 353 members voted. So we don't have to wonder anymore: this organization has 353 members (I am sure that Hariri Inc sent them 200 or more to show support and vote to avoid embarrassment).
Two years after they started, and amid total silence from Western human rights organization, Fu'ad Sanyurah, just realized that Syrian workers in Lebanon are victims of attacks and abuse. He made a little statement about that, and then went back to sleep.
On Labor Day: Workers of the world, unite! NOW.
"Former chief of staff Dan Halutz was forced to resign a couple of months ago and is now spending his days as a student in a lucrative program at Harvard University." (thanks Maryam) I swear, I will not be surprised if Harvard University sets up a special workshop on "How to kill and injure Arabs?" Of course, the liberals of Harvard will not be protesting this outrage; the Harvard chapter of Darfur groupies has other priorities.
George Tenet, who told us that Saddam had a massive arsenal of WMDs (do you remember him sitting behind Colin Powell at the UN?), is now telling us that Al-Qa`idah is about to acquire nuclear weapons. He said that they will hide them in specially baked somosas in Waziristan. Yes, Mr. Tenet. Tell me more. Tell me about how much Mr. Bush impressed you with his leadership style. Tell me how you prepared your presentations to him in slides and playing cards, because he was bored reading one-page memos.
"The United States admitted 68 Iraqi refugees in the six months through March, a tiny percentage of those fleeing their homes because of the war, State Department figures show."
Western Math: " In 34 days of fighting, between 1,035 and 1,191 Lebanese civilians and combatants were killed, as were 119 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians." Notice that among the Lebanese casualties, there is no breakdown of civilians and combatants, while a breakdown is provided for Israeli casualties. Of course, there is a higher number AND percentage of civilians killed among the Lebanese casualties, than among the Israeli casualties. But then again: Western media have to do what they can to improve the image of Gun Zionism.
"Six refugees from Darfur who are being hosted at Kibbutz Sde Boker cannot work at the Kibbutz before obtaining medical insurance, but the government is not supplying funds for the required medical check-ups." (thanks Cherifa)
"In a special campaign begun while the war was still raging, the United Jewish Communities, representing the Jewish communal federations of North America, received pledges totaling some $359.5 million." As for Arab and Muslim American organizations, they offered...vapid statements. (thanks Laleh)
" "Once more, the Lebanese are at the forefront of moral freedoms in the Arab world."" I may add that the Lebanonese are at the forefront of savage civil wars, sectarian hatreds, vulgarisms, sex tourism, abuse of foreign maids, submission to Arab oil princes and their catamites, confused identities, and a pseudo culture that mistakes mimicking things Western (10 years after the fact) for innovation. (thanks John)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

"WASHINGTON, D.C. - area commuters will be inundated with a controversial poster-ad campaign when they take the city’s subway system next month. Starting May 13 for four weeks, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has ordered 20 of its subway stations to place posters advertising a June 10 rally to end “Israel’s illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.”" (thanks Zitta)
"A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad. Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post."
"A direct rocket strike on a reservist staging ground at Kfar Giladi, which killed 12 soldiers on August 6, was the breaking point in public support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz during the Second Lebanon War and support continued decreasing until the war ended, a series of surveys conducted during the war found. At the start of the war, the two enjoyed broad public support, though throughout the war, the public had more faith in Olmert's performance than in Peretz's."
"Totalitarian Islam's Threat to the West"
You ask and Grant (not at all) Ayatullah Sistani answers:
Question: What are the kind of TV programs and films that parents are not permitted to let their children watch?
Answer: All that which contradicts their good religious upbringing--including commanding the good--and prohibiting evil, and the spread of destructive ideas and the erotic pictures that stimulate satanic instincts, and all that leads to intellectual and moral decadence for the viewer.
Question: is it permissible to hit children?
Answer: If straightening is confined to using force, and hitting is permissible provided it does not exceed three lashes, and that it be done gently so that the body is not red or made black; as for the adults, there is controversy so it is better to abandon."
Question: Is it permissible to kiss a foreign girl?
Answer: It is permissible to kiss a foreign girl provided the kissing is devoid of instinctive enjoyment, although it is better to abandon if the girl reaches the age of six.
Question: is it permissible to kiss non-Muslim women?
Answer: It is not."
The Israeli factor in US presidential campaigns (thanks Zitta)
"On whether Blackwater is a private army:
We have no private army. What we do have is a team of military and law enforcement veterans and other motivated, capable Americans who protect diplomats, provide training and offer logistic services, and we do those things in support of friendly-nation peace operations around the world, including support of some of our Muslim allies."
Today, I woke up to find that my garbage disposal is not working. Given the deep interest that Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Security Council have been showing toward Lebanon, I plan to submit an official letter to the Secretary-general. I also would like that the UN team that is investigating the Hariri assassination, add the case of my garbage disposal to the investigation. And I also believe that I deserve a special statement from the Security Council on the matter: my garbage disposal is not less important than Pierre Gemayyel.
Alas, Kristof did not select me. "I’ve chosen the two winners of my second annual “win-a-trip contest.” One is Leana Wen, a medical student at Washington University in St. Louis. The second is Will Okun, who teaches at Westside Alternative High School in Chicago and dabbles in photography and writing. Leana, Will and I will travel together through Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Congo. Stay tuned." I am speechless. Why was I not selected? I mean, nobody is more fascinated by the boring personality and fake humanitarianism of this commercializer of people's misery, than me. Yes, Will Okun "dabbles in photography" but I have dabbled in mocking you, for years. So why was I not selected, I want to know. I recommend to the torturers at Guantanamo and Amman a new form of torture: traveling with Kristof. Personally, I think that I will break down after a few minutes of hearing him talk.
"U.S. launches artillery barrage in Baghdad". So is "liberation" still not complete?
"It’s our country’s bitter fortune that while David Halberstam is gone, too many Joe Alsops still hold sway. Take the current dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, who is leading the charge in ridiculing Harry Reid for saying the obvious — that “this war is lost” (as it is militarily, unless we stay in perpetuity and draft many more troops). In February, Mr. Broder handed down another gem of Beltway conventional wisdom, suggesting that “at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback.”
"Iranian police have warned barbers against offering Western-style hair cuts or plucking the eyebrows of their male customers, Iranian media said on Sunday." (Is this true or is this another invention by Amir Taheri? But then again, I would not be surprised if Khamenei was behind this).
Recent speeches by Libyan dicatator, Mu`ammar Qadhdhafi, clearly points to some conflict in his relationship with Western governments. Somebody should write an investigative article about the background and current state of Libya's foreign policy transformation, and the causes of Qadhdhafi's disillusionment.
More doubts in my head about the claims by House of Saud of Al-Qa`idah plot: "Al-Thayedi did not rule out the possibility of the militants having received outside assistance by governments that have alliances with Al-Qaeda. He cited “countries such as Iran and Libya, who both have a history in meddling in the affairs of the Kingdom.” He added that Al-Qaeda has vowed to wage an open war on the Kingdom by any means possible." So now, Al-Qa`idah is supported by Libya and Iran?
In `Ayn Al-Hilwah refugee camp, more than 100,000 people live in 1 square kilometer. (Read about my visit to the camp here).
Read the names on page B-4 (thanks Narrima)
"widows of Iraq’s torn-apart society"
I assumed that Afghanistan was already "liberated": "Aircrews say they have been told to show no mercy, but to press home their advantage until all their targets have been destroyed. The Apache attack was one of five in three days in -Helmand, where British troops operate alongside a much smaller contingent of American infantry and special forces."
As Mr. Bush continues to make "modest progress": "As British draw down, violence in Basra is up."
I find the flirtatious dance between Hizbullah and Walid Jumblat to be nauseating. I wish that they would do it behind closed doors. It is highly likely that Jumblat will succeed yet again in snookering Hizbullah.
"82 Inmates Cleared but Still Held at Guantanamo".
"He also criticized her proposal that all French people should have a national flag in the cupboard for display on Bastille Day, saying, “It would be as if I said that all the French people must have a photo of their mothers in the living room.”"
"In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle."
"She also campaigned actively against female suffrage...Howell does not ask, for instance, whether Bell’s peremptory dismissal of religious leaders was wise (“How I do hate Islam!” she wrote in 1921). She favored the more secular Sunni Arabs and helped reinforce their domination over the more numerous Shiites....Still, Bell’s achievement as a nation builder was extraordinary..."
"The operational mistake that middle east experts keep making is the failure to recognise that backward societies must be left alone, as the French now wisely leave Corsica to its own devices, as the Italians quietly learned to do in Sicily, once they recognised that maxi-trials merely handed over control to a newer and smarter mafia of doctors and lawyers. With neither invasions nor friendly engagements, the peoples of the middle east should finally be allowed to have their own history—the one thing that middle east experts of all stripes seem determined to deny them." (thanks John) (This is the article that caused Arab neo-conservative, Hazim Saghiyyah to shed a river of tears; he feared that the US may abandon the Middle East).
Sarkozy supports cartoons that mock Muhammad, but objects to cartoons that mock him.
Don't cry for me Qandahar: "NATO risks losing the war in Afghanistan because of a “tremendous deterioration” in the popularity of the government of US-backed President Hamid Karzai, former US ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke said on Saturday." (Fatima)
"Camels are also big business in a country where strict Islamic laws and tribal customs would make it impossible for women to take part in their own beauty contest." Why do Western media act as if beauty pageants are a sign of feminist progress? (thanks Naqi)
The Mufti of Saudi Arabia has spoken. He said that there is a [divine] reward (ajr) in killing "the misguided" people. (thanks Osama)
"More recent episodes that provoked concern include one in which border agents reportedly Googled the name of an Ohio man and then questioned him about a letter to the editor he had written to The Toledo Blade regarding events in the Middle East." (thanks Karim)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Right-wing Lebanonese leader, Duri Sham`un (head of the small party that sponsored Antoine Lahd) says that Israel did not win the war last summer because "it did not feel like it."
""...could he have interviewed at least one woman or person of color for his much-lauded documentary Buying the War that aired on PBS?" It's hard to believe that Moyers and the other producers didn't realize that they were talking only to white men for their nearly 90-minute documentary.... When, oh when, will brilliant and socially conscious reporters like Moyers realize that media justice is an ongoing need—and not just something to observe during Black History
Month or when covering "women's issues"?... (thanks Maria)
A professor at UC, Berkeley organized a debate on the Israeli war on Lebanon. The debate was before a class on Middle East studies. I was invited, along with an Israeli diplomat. The Israeli side sent an Arab bedouin diplomat (who had served in the Israeli military/intelligence). I wished it was open to the public, but it was not--I don't know what the school was afraid of. The "diplomat" complained to the audience that I refused to shake his hands, or greet him, or even talk to him, or address him directly. Boo hoo hoo. That counts as backward behavior by Lebanonese standards. It is delicious to be backward sometimes. Let us say that I had fun in the debate. OK, I admit. I had great fun.
Do you know that there is an international committee (Azhar-managed, and Saudi-funded) that goes around the world to inspect meat to determine if it is halal or not. I wish such a committee would inspect the dead children in Darfur, Palestine, and Iraq instead. If I am not a vegetarian, I would rush right now to get me a non-halal shawirma. I will not be surprised if there is an international committee (Azhar-managed and Saudi funded) which inspects Danish cartoons on regular basis.
I know that many of your find claims by House of Saud to be credible. I don't. But I will translate to you from an official statement by House of Saud regarding the plan by the terrorist network that was arrested yesterday. The statement said that the network was planning: "...criminal, destructive, and evil plots, including sending members to study flying, to use in terrorist operations inside the kingdom, and to fund terrorism, and to launch suicidal attacks against public personalities and oil installations and petroleum refineries, and to target military bases inside and outside, and to participate in regional conflicts, or [sic] to plot terrorist operations in other countries, and to spread chaos in a neighboring country and to then emerge to confront targets inside the kingdom and outside it, and to spread misguided thought, and to invade one of the prisons to release prisoners from the [ranks of] misguided category." But the statement did not in any way imply that the plots included a plan to invade Poland.
Speaking for Arab neo-conservatives, Hazim Saghiyyah pleads with the US administration: please, please, don't leave us alone. Please, don't abandon us. Please?
"He says Condi panicked in October 2002 and made him call a Times reporter, Alison Mitchell, who covered the Congressional debate about invading Iraq. In essence, he hypocritically told Alison to disregard the conclusions of his own agency, which had said that the links between Saddam and terrorist groups were tenuous, and that Saddam would take the extreme step of joining with Islamic fanatics only if he thought the U.S. was about to attack him. His nose growing as long as his cigar, he said nothing in the C.I.A. report contradicted the president’s case for war. “In retrospect,” Slam writes, “I shouldn’t have talked to the New York Times reporter at Condi’s request."
"Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, comes across as a fool who discounted the C.I.A.’s warnings about Al Qaeda in the summer of 2001, asking Mr. Tenet if he had thought about the possibility that Al Qaeda’s threat was “just a grand deception, a clever ploy to tie up our resources.” And Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, who headed a Pentagon unit that provided the White House with dubious information about a possible Al Qaeda-Iraq connection, is mocked for providing “Feith-based analysis.”"
"Bush administration officials have been scratching their heads over steps taken by Prince Bandar’s uncle, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, that have surprised them by going against the American playbook, after receiving assurances to the contrary from Prince Bandar during secret trips he made to Washington."
"The approach has led to a joke going around Riyadh that says the best way to get a job and a new house is to join Al Qaeda — and then repent to the government. General Turki said that when officials change the minds of those caught, the prisoners also end up as useful informers."
An aide to a driver of a bodyguard of an assistant to a commander of an Al-Qa`idah cell was captured. Bin Laden and his deputy are still in hiding.
So Alec Baldwin gave an interview yesterday. I will summarize for you: he basically said that while he did hurl abusive words at his daughter, he really intended to hurl those abusive words at his ex-wife. He really wants you to know that, and hopes that now you can go back to like him again.
US officials don't understand that real "moderate Muslims" really detest the "moderate Muslims" that are promoted by the US government.
I like the role of the Army in Turkey. It always manages to intervene to make sure that nobody takes democracy in Turkey too seriously. Rice and Bush, on the other hand, are still fascinated by the "desert democracy" (that is actually what David Lamb, a former LA Times correspondent in the Middle East, called it in his book the Arabs) in Saudi Arabia.
"Almost two years after the G8 group of leading industrial nations promised to boost development assistance by $50bn a year by 2010, the Africa Progress Panel headed by the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said rich countries were only 10% of the way to their target." (thanks E)
As Mr. Bush keeps making progress, "A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday."
(thanks Laleh)
The shift in Walid Jumblat's position and rhetoric in one week is quite remarkable. I have a friend who I ask about the psychology of Walid Jumblat. He knows the Druze community well, and the families. He speculated that the change was due to preparation for the upcoming presidential election. He noted that Jumblat is quite consistent in adjusting and shifting prior to parliamentary elections in Lebanon, only to readjust again after he achieves what he wants from the elections. His speech yesterday was a dramatic shift: especially if you compare it to his speeches before Martin Indyk's audiences in Washington, DC. Hizbullah leaders are naive enough and will be fooled yet again by him, and then they will express shock yet again when Jumblat turns against them again. I still remember a Hizbullah leader explaining to me the alliance between Hizbullah and Jumblat in 2005 by saying that Hasan Nasrallah has a big sway over Jumblat. I was shocked because Jumblat's statements just after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri were clear enough in the direction that Jumblat would take. In fact, Jumblat was sponsored by Wolfowitz (who took deep interest in Lebanon before taking a deep interest in the "welfare of poor countries" at the World Bank) very early on, according to my sources in Beirut. Wolfowitz hoped that the experiment in Lebanon would work, unlike the debacle in Iraq. Jumblat yesterday reminded the audience about the fight against Israeli occupation in 1982, all the way to the fight against Israeli aggression last summer. He said that "the resistance is what binds us". He said that Tariq Jadidah (a Sunni neighborhood) is the same as the southern suburbs. But people pointed out to me the demeanor of Jumblat. He looked sad or scared, or both. He certainly feared a Druze-Shi`ite conflict: a conflict that his party can't prevail in. One of the ones kidnapped and killed was one of the PSP's snipers last January. In fact, he was briefly arrested by the Lebanese police for his role in shooting at one college student (from the Shamas family which is now accused in the press of responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of the two men). But Jumblat interceded at the time and the man was released. Is it guilt that Jumblat is experiencing--not that he is known for bouts of guilt or remorse. He calls for a strong role by the state, but he has subverted the Lebanese state all along--as have ALL the others. (Of course, I don't want the Lebanese state, and I don't want it strengthened. This is a state that does not deserve support, and has never protected its citizens, and never achieved even a semblance of social justice. This is a state that only flexes its muscles against refugee camps (especially when the men are away--remember Amin Gemayyel's army troops what they did in the camps in 1982 and 1983 and 1984?). All in Lebanon are acting that they are now concerned when they have allowed the American-Saudi-Israeli conspiracy to push the country into the brink of civil war, with the enthusiastic support of the Hariri family and its chorus line. By the way: how much support would the Hariri family have in Lebanon if it were to lose its fortune? The answer to the question can explain a lot. And why would the killers shoot a 12-year old? I don't have answers. Gen. `Awn said that murder has the hallmark of "intelligence apparatus." He did not elaborate.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In US foreign policy there are good Taliban and bad Taliban; good militias, and bad militias: "At the same time, speculation spread that sectarian groups -- from Jumblatt's Druze followers to backers of Sunni politician Saad Hariri -- were rearming and training in camps in more remote parts of the country."
That is the only accurate headline of the story: "Saudis Say They Broke Up Suicide Plots"
I understand that some people like Robert Fisk. The colonized really like it when one of the colonizers says a nice word or two once in a while about the colonized. They think they are being elevated. Their elation makes them pay fuzzy attention to the words: they forget that they are praised only when they mimic the colonizers. Did you read Fisk's praise of March 14th? He even noted the complexion of the demonstrators (Nation and MERIP also mentioned the looks of the demonstrators).
"And here's what the candidate said: "Hamas or Abbas, it makes no difference."
Those are the Palestinians. "A Palestinian demonstrator sits on an Israeli border police vehicle during a protest against Israel's controversial barrier near the West Bank village of Bilin April 27, 2007. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen". Ahmad Fatfat would have served them tea.
Does this not prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Hariri-Chirac connection has been innocent all along, and that Chirac's interest in "the truth" is purely altruistic? ""Compte tenu des obligations qui sont les leurs, M. et Mme Chirac n'ont pas encore eu le temps de trouver leur logement. Ils occuperont à titre très provisoire un appartement quai Voltaire qui leur est prêté par M. Ayman Hariri, le temps de trouver leur domicile définitif", a-t-on expliqué dans l'entourage de Jacques Chirac." (thanks Joey)
"Inside Africa's Guantánamo: The only way the US can prop up its client regime in Somalia is through lawlessness and slaughter"
Read this interview with Mahmud Darwish: I like his prose as much as I like his poetry.
"U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians. Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims." (thanks Amina)
Yet another opportunist US presidential candidate explains the Palestinian problem: "Obama, unperplexed, explained that the Palestinians suffer because of their leadership. "I said that no one suffers more than the Palestinian people because of their leadership's failure to recognize Israel, denounce violence and be serious about peace negotiations and regional security," he said." (thanks Yasmin)
In meetings with US officials, I really would not be surprised if the new secretary-general, Mr. Ban, is sent out to fetch beverages and snacks for US officials.
Walid Jumblat (the notorious war criminal of Lebanon) seems to doing one of his regular ideological/political adjustments/shifts. In the last two weeks, he has been changing his tune--yet again. His position about Hizbullah has been softening (today he stressed that what he shares with Hizbullah is much bigger than "the current difference" and last week he praised the resistance against Israel). Is he getting ready to adjust to the post-Chirac, post-Bush era?
I swear. My major problem with Thomas Friedman is not his politics (as abhorrent as they are, as are his shifting positions (from an early cheerleader for the Iraq war to an audacious critic) but his nimble mind and his lack of any sophistication. His mind is just not capable of any abstractions or conceptualization. Look at this pearl of wisdom: "if Einstein were alive today, he would be telling both America and China that they have homework to do."
"Japan's abhorrent practice of enslaving women to provide sex for its troops in World War II has a little-known sequel: After its surrender -- with tacit approval from the U.S. occupation authorities -- Japan set up a similar "comfort women" system for American GIs. An Associated Press review of historical documents and records -- some never before translated into English -- shows American authorities permitted the official brothel system to operate despite internal reports that women were being coerced into prostitution. The Americans also had full knowledge by then of Japan's atrocious treatment of women in countries across Asia that it conquered during the war. Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U.S. troops until the spring of 1946." (thanks Mick)
"Racism was an integral part of Saudi society. My students often used the word “nigger” to describe black people. Even dark-skinned Arabs were considered inferior to their lighter-skinned cousins. I was living in the world’s most avowedly Muslim country, yet I found it anything but. I was appalled by the imposition of Wahhabism in the public realm, something I had implicitly sought as an Islamist." (Of course. Racism was never "an integral part" of Western societies. Never. And I say this while not disputing what was stated here). (thanks John)
"What Ottawa doesn't want you to know: Government was told detainees faced 'extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial'" (thanks Hicham)
"Private contractors, including for-hire intelligence analysts, computer technicians and spies, now form a "key part" of the overall intelligence workforce, according to a survey by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence." (thanks Laleh)
"Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate in the French presidential election on May 6, accused Nicolas Sarkozy, her conservative opponent, on Wednesday of having “apologized” to President Bush for France’s decision not to back the United States militarily in Iraq."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there."
"Serving British soldier exposes horror of war in 'crazy' Basra"
In two days I read that Mr. Bush stressed that he is making "modest progress" in Iraq, and I read this: "Blow to Bush as top US commander warns of worse to come in Iraq"
I heard the highly-praised, General David Petraeus, give a briefing at the Pentagon today. Two things got my attention: 1) he told the press that Iraq now has private banking. He underlined the significance of that. So the war was about that? It was for private banking? We had private banking at the height of the civil war in Lebanon, and you don't see us bragging. 2) he said that the press should know that Iraqis should be able to live with car bombs and violence. He reminded the press that people in Northern Ireland were able to live with violence and bombings for year. So the American invasion of Iraq was a social science project to see whether the Iraqi people are capable like the people of Northern Ireland to live with bombings??
When "liberation" hit Somalia: "Thousands flee as shelling by Ethiopian tanks kills hundreds of civilians in Somali capital" (thanks Ali)
Theater of the Absurd. Lebanese prime minister, Fu'ad Sanyurah, called LBC-TV to express his views on the murder in Lebanon. He made two requests to God--I kid you not: 1) he urged God to place the victims in heaven; 2) he also called on God (the merciful, he added) to take revenge--I kid you not. He asked God to form revenge squads: to promptly form vigilante teams to hunt down the killers, and to chop off their bodies--Saudi style. He recommended former torturers form the Israeli-trained South Lebanon Army. As for the Israeli war on Lebanon, Sanyurah asked God to forgive Israel because Israeli leaders...were just kidding. Mini-Hariri also called LBC-TV: he called on the families of the victims to emulate the exemplary model of the Hariri family--I kid you not, who did not cause any trouble when Rafiq Hariri was killed. These words were uttered by the head of the family which has taken the country to the verge of civil war all in the name of revenge. (I forgot to add that Hariri family calls revenge "the truth.")
New TV has just reported that the two kidnapped Lebanese (from Beirut) were found dead. (One victim was 12-year old).
"Poetry Professor Becomes Terror Suspect" (thanks Nir)
For those who care, "Audio: Interview with "Angry Arab" As'ad AbuKhalil"
"In that Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele, did, between on or about 20 October 2005 and 22 February 2007, knowingly and wrongfully fraternize with the daughter of a detainee, wherein such acts constituted conduct unbecoming an officer in the armed forces."
You will not read this in the US press. Israeli troops crossed into Lebanon today.
Abusing and torturing Iraqi prisoners, will not result in punishment. But passing cellphones to prisoners is a serious crime. "The American military has charged a top commander at its main detention center here with “aiding the enemy,” a rare and serious accusation that carries a maximum sentence of death....Lt. Col. William H. Steele provided aid to the enemy between October 1, 2005 and October 31, 2006 “by providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees” at Camp Cropper..."
"Correction from my last column: H.I.V.-AIDS kills more people in Africa than malaria."
"Liban : le dernier combat du président Chirac" (thanks Sonia)
AlArabia TV led the newscast with this: "US commander confirms that violence has declined in Iraq since the beginning of the implementation of the security plan." (And then Al-Arabiya waited a full 19 minutes before reporting on the actual (not hypothetical) violence in Iraq.)
How the politics of people in Lebanon has changed. When I was in high school, you could go to a village in South Lebanon and find out that almost everybody was politicized: but all were members or supporters of secular Lebanese and Palestinian political parties and movements. There was little influence of religious parties, or even of the Amal Movement. I am nostalgic to that era, politically.
"UK Journalist Union: Support boycott of Israeli goods"
"Comme tout le monde hier, enfin comme tous ceux qui ont lu des journaux tels que Le Figaro, Le Parisien Libération, ou encore les dépêches de l'AFP et d'AP, touts choses qui ont autant de rapport avec la poubelle qu'une serviette n'en a avec un torchon, que Jacques Chirac n'avait pas acheté son sublime appartement avec vue sur le Louvre, qu'il ne le louait pas non plus, mais qu'un ami le lui avait prêté. Un ami très amical qui, par ailleurs, est dans les affaires, mais bon, cela, on ne va pas le lui reprocher." (thanks Nadia)
"Hundreds of Filipino workers stranded in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia after fleeing "abusive" employers are to be repatriated by the Philippines government, a labor official in Manila has said. President Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday greeted at Manila international airport 108 Filipinos who had returned from Saudi Arabia and 16 from Lebanon." Notice that the word abusive is between quotation marks in this civilized right-wing, racist newspaper. (thanks Sophie)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Dancing in the Streets"
"You can be certain that Allawi agrees with very little on what Hitchens and Ajami have to say about his book." (thanks Amer)
Features of the "conspiracy". This is an actual headline from the Saudi newspaper, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Olmert Resorts to the Option of Limited Operations in Gaza."
"The UN yesterday accused the Iraqi government of trying to cover up a rise in civilian casualties from sectarian violence since the troop surge ordered by George Bush earlier this year."
"On March 4 American soldiers ripped cameras from local reporters in Nangarhar and deleted their pictures after a convoy of marines shot at least 10 people and wounded 33 in the aftermath of a suicide attack. A US commander later justified the deletions on the basis that "untrained" Afghans might "capture visual details that are not as they originally were". A preliminary military inquiry, publicised last week, suggested what those sensitive details could have been: contrary to the soldiers' earlier claims, investigators found that all of the killed civilians had been unarmed. Faced with a swelling insurgency and mounting criticism, Afghanistan's government has also taken a tougher line with the media. Last week three journalists with Tolo, a popular television station, and four from the Associated Press, were detained on orders from the attorney general, Abdul Jabar Sabet, who claimed he had been misrepresented by a reporter."
"A resistant tea pot from Marji`yun" (by Sahar Burhan).
""Of course I'll meet her, if she wants to meet me," the [Syrian] foreign minister told The Washington Times..."
Tomorrow the Syrian government will announce the results of the "parliamentary" elections. I wonder. Who will win? The Syrian people are awaiting the results with a great sense of anticipation.
Mr. Bush recently said that the US has been making "modest progress" in Iraq. But for three years since the beginning of the US invasion of Iraq, Mr. Bush stressed that the US has been "making progress." Is that an indirect admission, that conditions have deteriorated?
Hizbullah rarely pays attention--if ever--to issues of socio-economic justice. But then again: Hariri economics in Lebanon passed because Hizbullah did not oppose them.
The Israeli state accused `Azmi Bisharah of treason. I personally believe that it is incumbent on every citizen of Israel--if he/she holds high moral standards--to betray the state. If they don't they are guilty--not the other way round.
To former leftist, Lebanese Minister, Tariq Mitri. When you look at the mirror: do you see yourself or do you see Sa`d Hariri? (The same question can be directed at Lebanese minister Charlez Rizq).
Iran plans to sell 118 state-owned oil companies. That should please the US.
I do believe that despite the abysmal failures of Sawa Radio and Al-Hurra TV, the US has a real host at improving the image of the US among Arab and Muslim opinion. I mean that. This could finally be achieved, recent public opinion among Muslims notwithstanding. I just read that Lebanese miniser, Na'ilah Mu`awwad, who is visiting Washington, DC, has met with Karen Hughes (shown above wearing a Persian carpet on her head because somebody told her that in the Middle East culture they wear Persian carpets on their heads). I mean, is there anybody who knows Muslim and Arab public opinion more than Mu`awwad (her lack of command of Arabic notwithstanding)?
A former student at Brandeis University wrote to me. He said he took a course with Dennis Ross. The curriculum of the course was...his book. (Students had to receive injections of morphine to endure).
AlJazeera Arabic just referred to Israeli threats to invade Gaza as "plans for military operations." I told you. Israeli propaganda themes now prevail in the Arabic press: Palestinian resistance is now portrayed as terrorism, and Israeli terrorism is now portrayed as "military operations."
Call me conspiratorial (please, do. I mean it). But there has been lately a new switch in Saudi funded media toward more favorable coverage of Gun Zionism. I would not be surprised if an Israeli media "expert" helps them out, just as Israel had propaganda experts advising the influential Phalangist Voice of Lebanon radio during the civil war years in Lebanon. Today, in the newscast on Al-Arabiya: the anchorperson asked the correspondent in Gaza whether "Hamas will stick to its pledges of not firing missiles against Israel." A few minutes later, he asksed whether the developments will in any way affect "the limited operations" planned by the Israeli military against Gaza. At that point, I felt that if I were around the grave of King Fahd, I would not have been able to resist the temptation to poke him with a stick (OK, with a sharp metal object. OK, with a very sharp metal object.)
thanks Hadjar. (Click to enlarge NOW).
I taped the show on AlJazeera English early this morning. It will air on May 1st. The other guests were Scott Ritter, neo-con Joshua Muravchik, Alberto Fernadez, and Michael Issikoff of Newsweek. It was hosted by Jasim `Azzawi. Muravchik called me a "good demagogue."
This is the place in Chicago (on Clark) where you can find the best falafil in the US. I managed to take this picture while obscuring the obnoxious cedar.
"Mismanaging Iraq: Stealing From the Poor and Giving to the Rich" (thanks Rania)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"A reporter followed Obama out of the building and asked him about that statement. He did not answer but left in his car for the Capitol." (thanks John)
"Women in Israel are considerably more educated than men and hold more than half of all academic degrees, but they are paid less, according to a report on the social status of women to be reviewed by the Knesset next week."
"Al-Qaida and its affiliates arguably benefit most from the occupation. They established themselves, brought in recruits, sustained operations against the Americans and expanded. The last thing they want is for the Americans to leave and deny them targets and motivation for new members."
"Rambo image was based on lie, says US war hero Jessica Lynch"
"Les Chirac s'installeront provisoirement dans un appartement de la famille Hariri" (thanks Joanna)
"More than 70 percent of Egyptians, Pakistanis, Indonesians and Moroccans believe the United States is trying to weaken and divide the Islamic world, a poll released on Tuesday showed."
"He has been dying for at least twenty consecutive years now -- although he only started dying physically about ten years ago, he has been dying in a moral sense since at least the mid-Eighties." (thanks Laleh)
"Egypt: Is Mubarak dead? There is a rumor that Mubarak is dead. It is not confirmed yet, but there are multiple Egyptian sources that indicate the president since 1981 has died. At this stage, all the levers for lifting his son to power are not in place, and Jamal 's rise to power is not assured. As a prominent Egyptian thinker told me in fall, if the transfer of power is not completed by the the president dies, then it is wide open game." (thanks Dick)
From NYT's obituary of Yelstin: "Nevertheless, Mr. Yeltsin brought about fundamental economic change: a market economy, however distorted and corrupt..."
""You can't fully comprehend the pressures driving immigration without comprehending what U.S. agricultural policy is doing to rural agriculture in Mexico. "" (thanks Ema)
Bush Doctrine Arrives in Somalia. ""Somalian Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi hopes big oil companies will return to the country and said parliament is set to vote on a petroleum law to encourage this by providing a legal framework."" (thanks Dale)
"These are what orthodox Jews call "modesty buses". The separation system operates on 30 public bus routes across Israel. The authorities here say the arrangement is voluntary, but in practise, as I found out, there is not much choice involved." (thanks Brenda and Rania)
Arab governments and their opponents: Takfir and Counter-Takfir. AlArabiya TV (which has become more blatant in its services for US propaganda as of late than Fox News) had a panel on militant takfiri groups. They invited "experts" on Islam: one former buffoonish cleric from the book burning center At Al-Azhar and a former director of Jordanian mukhabarat--I kid you not. So she asked the Azhar (Mubarak) stooge about those groups: he said that those who support militant groups should be declared "outsiders to Islam" (basically, declared infidels), and that they can then be "killed, crucified, and their hands cut off" and he was elaborating on what else of their bodies can be cut off, before he was interrupted with another question.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Do you notice that whenever I post something on gender inequality, people rarely bother to comment. It does not seem to stimulate discussions.
"The mainstream US media will sidestep this point, but al-Maliki pretty explicitly said that the reason he called off the wall building is that he doesn't want his government compared to that of Israel. That is, the Adhamiya wall is being likened in the Arab world to the Apartheid Wall being built by the Israelis in the West Bank. Al-Maliki made the statement in Cairo, and when he referred to the "other walls" he didn't want the one in Adhamiya compared to, he pointed toward Israel. The Western press is bringing up the Berlin Wall as part of his meaning, but the videotape makes it absolutely clear that his referent was Israel's project."
Call me conspiratorial (please do), but (Arabic) has this headline: "Olmert shows flexibility toward the Arab peace initiative." Tomorrow on news about Bush's promotion of freedoms in the Middle East.
"The UK is covertly trying to oust the head of the world's main anti-bribery watchdog to prevent criticism of ministers and Britain's biggest arms company, BAE, the Guardian has learned. The effort to remove Mark Pieth comes as his organisation has stepped up its investigation into the British government's decision to kill off a major inquiry into allegations that BAE paid massive bribes to land Saudi arms deals."
US Newsweek: "Boris Yeltsin's accomplishments were far-ranging and unrivalled."
UK Guardian: "A destroyer, not a builder"
"An atmosphere of disappointment, despondency and anxiety prevails in Israel in its 59th year. There is no point in trying to dull the power of these feeling when we mark Memorial Day and Independence Day."
"Itzik to Palestinians: Swap Qassams for computers" (Angry Arab to Israelis: Swap WMDs for Blenders).
"The new age of the wall has begun."
"Wolfowitz Says He Will Change...Style". OK. Stop spitting on your hair.
Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat has started the campaign against Jordan's Prince Hasan. Make no mistake about it: in the fight between Hasan and House of Saud, I equally detest both sides.
I am proudly biased when it comes to Palestine and the Palestinian people. My friend Amer sent me a picture from an Iraqi newspaper, Az-Zaman, and it showed Palestinians demonstrating calling for the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israel. These are the Palestinians. There are more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and yet the Palestinians are remembering the Lebanese prisoners in Israel.
6 months in jail if you insult Lebanese president, Emile Lahhud. In Saudi Arabia, it is beheading.
Of course, the elections in Syria is a joke. A sad joke, of course. But I was amused that the US government criticized the elections in Syria. Would the US also criticize the elections in Jordan or the no-elections in Libya and Saudi Arabia?
Is this another brilliant Israeli idea borrowed by US occupation in Iraq?
The Note-Taker as A Historian: The Pain of Reading the Account of Dennis Ross. I normally would not have recommended Dennis Ross' The Missing Peace especially that he has the literary skills of, well, note takers. His book is no more than a compilation of his notes on US negotiations as part of the so-called "peace process." I may not recommend that you read the 800 pages of this book, but students of political science should read it (to see the deception and lies of diplomats), as should all Arabs. They should see how their leaders--all their leaders, Hafidh Al-Asad and `Arafat included--negotiate away the rights and aspirations of the Arab peoples if it meant keeping themselves in power, or solidifying their rule. I certainly left this book with more contempt for Hafidh Al-Asad (who was busy sending laudatory secret messages to Israeli leaders while maintaining his empty Ba`thist rhetoric in the Syrian media) and for `Arafat--not that I ever respected those two, not to mention the rest of the Arab tyrants. I singled out those two leaders because some Arabs, especially Palestinians, may still harbor some illusions about the two. And it is rather funny that Ross thinks that he is very intelligent, while he is, well, not. Extremely not, I mean. You read this book and realize that the author was not able to even provide an interesting profile of any of the leaders that he met and negotiated with. He is just not capable of that; he is not even capable of providing any new insights or interesting analysis. He can only take notes, and notes were taken, and compiled in this tedious book. Ross tells everything, but keeps many important things out: like how `Arafat and Asad constantly asked that he be removed for his obvious bias against Arab interests. Ross only rarely mentioned this complaint, and only in passing. But you read this book (and you read everything he has said and written since he left office) and realize how right Asad and `Arafat were in asking that this man is not qualified (not in knowledge and not in terms of objectivity) to be a neutral negotiator. He tells you where he stands on p. 6 (he says that he "identifies" with the Israeli people). It is also clear in the rest of the book: he mentions his friends in Israel right-and-left, but has not a single Arab friend, not even the puppets. And his references to Arabs are consistently patronizing: and when an Israeli prime minister compared Arabs to children (something David Ben Gurion also had done) he seems to agree. It was quite incredible--or maybe not--that `Arafat told Clinton (the most pro-Israeli president until Bush) that he had "blind trust" in him (p. 10). And look at his generalizations about the Palestinian people: "Victimization has deep roots in the Palestinian mind."(p. 42). Well, could that victimization be due to...well, victimhood" And please, Mr. Ross. Tell us more about the "Palestinian mind." As for Arab charge that US holds double standards regarding the implementability of UN Security Resolutions, he expresses surprise. He says that there is "a difference betweeen the Security Council Resolutions."(p. 43). Exactly. That was the point of the Arabs, Mr. Ross. I did learn in this book that the lousy PLO leadership, under the lousy `Arafat, allowed US officials to censor, edit, and "refine" the text that was read by Haydar `Abdushafi in the Madrid conference. I was not surprised to learn about the role of Rejje Larsen: he remains to this very day a tool of the US (he also is a good friend of Ross). (p. 118). But there is one amusing section in the book. It was when Ross waxes poetic. He told his friend (the deputy chief of Mossad): "Ephraim, we have just watched a field of mines transformed into a field of dreams" (p. 164). Is there better poetry than this? Like a good drama, you will laugh and cry reading his book. I mean, will you not cry when you read that when Rabin died, Ross writes: "I was devastated and started to cry."(p. 210). And it was quite amusing how the US government deals with Arab leaders: with all the contempt and condescension that they so deserve. Before meeting with Mubarak, Clinton asks his aides: "What do you want me to do with him?" (p. 213). Abu Mazen told Ross that he liked "Bibi" "personally." (p. 392) And it is not true that the Syrian negotiators insisted on full withdrawal of Israel from Syrian lands. Gen. Omar agreed to an adjustment in the hills over the river "as much as 50 meters", or so says Ross. (p. 560) And so submissive was Arafat's leadership to US and Israeli officials that he agreed to remove Palestinian flags in Ramallah before meeting with Barak (p. 597). And please Ross: as it is well-known that you know no Arabic, so refrain from using Arabic words. He even misspelled a simple word like Ra'is (he misspelled it in a way akin to spelling "president" as preaeakekajdf;ajd;flkjad;fj).
"I like Sanyruah." "Thomas Friedman is my friend." Robert Fisk on New TV.
For those who care, I will discuss Iraq tomorrow morning (9:00AM Pacific Time) on Forum. You may listen live.
For those who care, I will be participating in a town hall meeting on Aljazeera English on Wednesday morning (7:00AM Pacific Time). It will discuss the Iraq war. You may watch live.
Bush: a uniter not a divider. (Al-A`dhamiyyah neighborhood in Baghdad).
Chicago was warmer than San Francisco. That was unusual. Also, finished on the plane Dennis Ross' 800-pages account of his involvement in the "peace process." I have so much more to say on that later.
"Yesterday, after planting the Palestinian flag upon the Israeli army camera tower which watches over the village of Bil'in, and remaining up there for over five hours, Puerto Rican activist Tito Kayak was arrested by Israeli forces." (thanks Dale)
"A Terrorist Goes Free"
"3 Suspects Talk After Iraqi Soldiers Do Dirty Work"
"Gender pay gap begins 1 year after college: Study finds women make only 80 percent of salaries of male peers"
Look how nice: "The American ambassador said Monday the U.S. would "respect the wishes" of the Iraqi government after the prime minister ordered a halt to construction of a three-mile wall separating a Sunni enclave from surrounding Shiite areas in Baghdad." But one question to this nice ambassador? Why did you start the construction of the walls without consulting with your own puppets in the first place? Imagine if foreigners--I mean, heavily armed foreigners--in the US start building walls to separate the races.
"Kurds Cultivating Their Own Bonds With U.S."
"I don't think you're ever going to get rid of all the car bombs," conceded Petraeus to the Post. "Iraq is going to have to learn -- as did, say, Northern Ireland -- to live with some degree of sensational attacks."" (thanks Wissam)
"Boys play soccer near a blast wall in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood. U.S. forces plan to erect walls and Jersey barriers around at least 10 districts."WP
NYT headliens: "Growing Unrest Posing a Threat to Nigerian Oil." As for the people, who the hell cares.
"Have you read anything good lately?
I don’t actually read other peoples’ books. If I want to read a book, I write one myself. I have written more than 40 books."
"In the latest in a campaign of attacks on Western and secular targets, masked Muslim gunmen bombed the American International School in the northern Gaza Strip at the weekend, causing damage estimated at more than £100,000."
"Abbas: Mideast peace can pacify 'all flash points in the world'"
"Jordan accused of censorship after security agents seize al-Jazeera tape"
"Africa's secret - the men, women and children 'vanished' in the war on terror: Fleeing war-torn Somalia, the refugees trapped and missing without rights"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Rabbi Avraham Levine never imagined that years after immigrating from Russia to Israel he would fall victim to a brutal anti-Semitic attack in the heart of the Jewish state. But less than three months ago, he was beaten up by teenage skinheads as he walked home in the city of Petah Tikva on Tel Aviv's outskirts." I wonder. Will the ADL condemn Israeli anti-Semitism? (thanks Bandidito)
""Arming the Palestinian Presidential Guard is part of Elliott Abrams' plan to bury the Mecca agreement, the basis of the national unity government. Abrams, deputy national security adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush and an acknowledged expert in the language of force, related in a
closed-doors briefing that non-Hamas cabinet ministers would resign and that Abbas would dissolve the government and announce new elections."" (thanks Regan)
"Soldiers in an IDF base drew swastikas and yelled 'Heil Hitler', hurting a soldier who had emigrated from France to Israel in order to escape anti-Semitism. The affair was exposed after the soldier, age 21, submitted a suit to the Ministry of Defense." I wonder. Will the ADL condemn Israeli anti-Semitism? (thanks Badis)
This neo-con writer begins his article like this: "On Democracy in Iraq: It's starting to take root." He then concludes: "In the next few months, of course, things could go to hell." (thanks Laleh)
Ali posted pictures of me enjoying a great Falafil sandwich in Chicago.
"Iraq: Oil Lamps Return To Iraqis' Lives" (thanks Laleh)
It is official: the US is making "modest progress" in Iraq. Now, what is "modest progress", you may ask? Well, it is like a student improving his/her grade from F to F+. That is "modest progress."
There is no evidence of any Arab reader who has spoken with two tongues more than King Abdallah in Jordan. Zionist media used to accuse Arafat of saying one thing in Arabic, and another in English, but Abdallah of Jordan is guilty of the double-talk more than anybody. In fact, he never gives an interview in English that he does not later denies in Arabic--only in Arabic. Here, he denies that he said what was attributed to him in an Israeli newspaper. Of course, I believe his English language interviews, not his Arabic.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"The Bush Administration has announced the first officially disclosed sale of US military equipment to Israel since the end of Israel's conflict with Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon in 2006. In a notice to Congress, the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency said Israel had requested as many as 3500 MK-84 "general purpose" bombs, spares and parts plus US government technical assistance in a deal worth up to $US65 million ($77.8 million) if all options are exercised." (thanks Zitta)
"Jordanian authorities on Saturday confiscated the videotape of an interview with the country's former crown prince by Al-Jazeera Television, the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster and a Jordanian official said. The tape was confiscated as an Al-Jazeera reporter was about to leave the Hashemite kingdom. No further details about the circumstances of the seizure were immediately known. Nasser Judeh, the chief Jordanian government spokesman, confirmed the videotape's confiscation but said it had nothing to do with the content of the interview with Prince Hassan, the uncle to Jordan's King Abdullah II and one time heir to the Jordanian throne." (Judeh is the son-in-law of Prince Hasan)
"On Saturday, Six Palestinians, including a 17-year-old girl, were killed Saturday by IDF and Border Police troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said."
People who bomb planes should be called terrorists--I don't care what their causes are. But do you notice that people who bomb planes and support US right-wing causes are called "militants"?
"The Marine Corps chain of command in Iraq ignored "obvious" signs of "serious misconduct" in the 2005 slayings of two dozen civilians in Haditha, and commanders fostered a climate that devalued the life of innocent Iraqis to the point that their deaths were considered an insignificant part of the war, according to an Army general's investigation."
This looks like a real authentic Iraqi political party. This looks like a party that really speaks for the aspirations and sentiments of the Iraqi people. I will not accept any accusations that this is a party that reflects some American covert activities in Iraq. No, way. It looks like a bunch of Iraqis came on their own (and without receiving any US funds or arms) and just decided to improve the image of US troops. Really. "One purpose of the party, he said, is to promote a better image of U.S.-led forces to the Iraqis in the province. He said tribes also will participate in a U.S.-backed effort to re-establish a court system in Ramadi." I know that some of you suspect US covert operations whenever they read some new initiative involving a "tribe" in some Middle East country. Not me.
"Israel asks for $65 million in military equipment from U.S."
I must confess that As-Safir has been quite sharp in its criticisms of the March 14th camp as of late; and the paper strongly criticized the latest Arab "peace" initiative. Al-Akhbar, on the other hand--which was supposed to emerge as a leftist alternative publication--has been copying the wishy-washy positions of Hizbullah.
Finally, an article on Syrian workers in Lebanon. (Can somebody find me the original article from Le Monde Diplomatique? Thanks)
Not much time to blog. But Al-Quds Al-Arabi is reporting about a new crisis between AlJazeera and Jordan (unfortunately, this time I had no role in the crisis). Apparently, Ghassan Bin Jiddu interviewed former Crown Prince, Hasan (who was one of the most vicious anti-Palestinian in Jordan and one of the most enthusiastic advocates of normalization with Israel but who since his marginalization by his brother has been posing as an Arab nationalist activist) and Hasan strongly criticized the Saudi government and its role in the region in the interview. The Jordanian intelligence service confiscated the tape just as Bin Jiddu was getting ready to leave the country. I am sure that Rice will once again praise "reform" in Jordan, just as she has praised "reforms" in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. I notice that countries that contribute to the Sunni-Shi`ite conflict are praised by the US for "reform." Don't be surprised if Rice praises Al-Qa`idah for "reform." (thanks Fatima)

Friday, April 20, 2007

"At the close, Moyers mentions some of the chief proponents of the war who refused to speak to him for this program, including Thomas Friedman, Bill Kristol, Roger Ailes, Charles Krauthammer, Judith Miller, and William Safire. But Dan Rather, the former CBS anchor, admits, "I don't think there is any excuse for, you know, my performance and the performance of the press in general in the roll up to the war…We didn't dig enough. And we shouldn't have been fooled in this way." Bob Simon, who had strong doubts about evidence for war, was asked by Moyers if he pushed any of the top brass at CBS to "dig deeper," and he replies, "No, in all honesty, with a thousand mea culpas….nope, I don't think we followed up on this." Instead he covered the marketing of the war in a "softer" way, explaining to Moyers: "I think we all felt from the beginning that to deal with a subject as explosive as this, we should keep it, in a way, almost light – if that doesn't seem ridiculous."" (thanks Mouin)
This is an actual headline from a leading Israeli newspaper. Don't be surprised if that headline wins the Pulitzer next year. (thanks Rashid)
When The New York Times feigns concern for Arabs: don't read further. It is way too touching. The only time the New York Times or the Western press express sympathy for Arabs, is when they are killed by other Arabs, especially if "honor" is invoked. Look at this sentence from the NYT: "So-called honor killings among Muslims are a phenomenon across the Middle East". First, this is not peculiar to Muslims nor to the Middle East. Read the book Republic of Cousins to see evidence of that in Europe--southern Europe especially. Also, what about "passion crimes" in the West? But most importantly, women are killed in US cities--by MEN--at rates much higher than all honor crimes in the Middle East combined. So when women are killed by men the New York Times barely notice if 1) it occurs in the West; 2) if "honor" is not invoked by killers. OK. At least we understand the standards of the Times. And then look at this ridiculous sentence: "The Israeli police and courts have caught and convicted some of the killers; unlike the laws in some Arab societies, Israel’s do not make allowances for such acts." Oh, really, o New York Times? That must be because 1) Israel is a feminist state, unlike all other states; 2) because Israel cares so deeply about the lives of Arabs. How nice of that state? I never knew that until I read this article. And in passing, the NYT says: "Ramla was once an entirely Arab town, but most of its residents fled or were exiled during the 1948 war." Oh, no. The residents of Ramlah were ALL forcibly and violently expelled by Israeli occupation troops led by Itzhak Rabin (he admitted such in the Hebrew edition of his memoirs, but that section was deleted from the English language edition lest support for Israel among American leftists suffers). And I have one last question: Israeli manages to kill Arabs almost every other day in Palestine: why no profile of those victims? Or do I really have to wonder or is it not way too obvious?
It figures. AlJazeera interviewed a foreign adviser to fascistic French presidential candidate, Le Pen. The adviser is Lebanese by the name of Elie Hatem: clearly, it seems, a graduate of the Lebanese Forces. He thought that he was intelligently appealing to the Arab masses by sending clear anti-Semitic messages: he even held up illustrations that he got "from the internet." (But then again, remember that Walid Jumblat once found documents and maps "on the internet.")
From NYT: "Afghans inspect a vehicle peppered by gunfire in a March 4 episode involving marines in Ningarhar Province. A preliminary military inquiry found that the marines killed at least 10 civilians and wounded dozens."
"But almost a year later, marines killed at least 10 civilians in Afghanistan in an episode that bore some striking similarities to the Haditha killings and suggested that the lesson had not taken, even in a platoon of combat veterans wearing the badge of the elite new Marine Corps Special Operations forces."
"A U.S. military brigade is constructing a 3-mile-long concrete wall to cut off one of the capital's most restive Sunni Arab districts from the Shiite Muslim neighborhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanization of Iraq's most populous and violent city."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

For those who care, I will offer comments via phone on AlJazeera (Arabic) in 100 minutes from now. The topic is Gates' visit to Iraq.
This site has a link to my site, citing a Chicago Tribune story about the shooter in Virginia. But this link makes it sound as if I accepted the Chicago Tribune story, when I in fact mocked those stories that were fishing for a Muslim angle. Also, the shooter in his crazy video invoked Jesus Christ. It made me wonder: had he invoked Muhammad, would the coverage of the story not have been different, and would the media not have treated the crime as a terrorist crime?
Tomorrow, I leave for Chicago. I am speaking at the Palestine Film Festival. (My presentation will be caramelized, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding).
"A United Nations envoy said Thursday that Israel's detention of Palestinian children and failure give them proper trials are a problem that feeds the violence in the region."
"Jordan's Abdullah tells Israel: We share the same enemies".
"U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during his visit to Israel that Washington has decided to sell Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs to Saudi Arabia, Haaretz has learned." The bombs will be used against those who violate the ban on free love in the kingdom.
It looks like Mr. Bush is indeed "making progress" in Iraq: "Iraq is condemned by Amnesty International today for becoming the world's fourth highest user of the death penalty, with a rapid acceleration in executions since 2004, when the US handed control to the newly elected government.It says 270 death sentences have been handed down and more than 100 carried out."
Saddam's propagandist, Tariq `Aziz, and his family prove that they are models in submission to tyrants and autocrats. Tariq `Aziz named his son Saddam after Saddam Husayn, and his son Ziyad (who lives in Jordan), named his daughter Rania after Queen Rania of Jordan.
It is not true that mini-Hariri can't talk intelligently about international affairs. Today in Rome: he reiterated his call for the UN to deal with Iranian "enrichment of...potassium."
I wish to congratulate my friends at As-Safir newspaper for losing Faysal Salman as a columnist. (He now writes for Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal).
Billboards in Lebanon are now announcing bank loans for plastic surgery. This is the true Lebanonesia.
Students at the Lebanese University were expecting to see the US ambassador in Lebanon. Above, they prepared to welcome him. (LCP is the Lebanese Communist Party).
"Les milices libanaises commencent à réarmer"
It has been brought to my attention that some people have been exchanging death threats in the comments' section of this site. Please desist. While I don't censor the comments on the site, I will delete any such threats and calls to violence not only because they violate the laws of this country (and other countries). People who post threats or calls to violence shall be banned by comments' section cop.
"An Egyptian living in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to death for desecrating the Koran and renouncing Islam, Saudi newspapers and a rights activist said on Wednesday. Okaz and al-Hayat newspapers said worshippers at a mosque in the desert town of Arar in north Saudi Arabia lodged a complaint with police saying the man, a pharmacist, had left copies of the Muslim holy book in the mosque washrooms. They said a court found the man guilty on Tuesday of no longer being a Muslim because of his acts and 'violating the boundaries set by God'. They said the man, whom they identified only as an Arab national, pleaded guilty." (thanks John)
When the puppets grumble. The recent speeches of Mu`ammar Al-Qadhdhafi have been a throw back to his speeches from the 1970s. He clearly has been expressing his disappointment at the US: he was expecting better and bigger rewards for his new status as one of many Arab tyrannical puppets. The US took notice. They sent Amb. John D. Negroponte who heaped praise on the Libyan dictatorship that legally admitted killing innocent civilians (including college students from Syracuse University) on Pan Am 103. Now that is the real Bush Doctrine.
American Left and the Middle East: Part X: "Bush has never sought the resumption of the Oslo process that became moribund at precisely its most promising juncture, the Taba meetings of January 2001. Nor has Bush seized the opportunities presented by successive iterations of the Saudi-drafted peace plan endorsed by the Arab League." Oh, please. Calm down and lower your enthusiasm. Yes, the Oslo process and the Taba meetings were a "promising juncture" for Gun Zionism. And the Saudi-drafted peace plan was indeed a great opportunity for the enemies of the Palestinians.
Kooky court: "The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.”"
Arab media keep referring to the two Lebanese students who tragically died in the shooting at Virginia Tech. But there is also a third Arab victim: an Egyptian graduate student who also died. "Waleed Shaalan, a 32-year-old graduate student, came to the United States from northern Egypt last year to study engineering. He lived among other Egyptian students in Blacksburg, Va., and was planning on bringing his wife and one-and-a-half-year-old son to America in May to live with him. He was gunned down on Monday while he was studying in Norris Hall, but witnesses say he died a hero. According to Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, Mr. Shaalan was in a classroom with another student when the gunman entered and opened fire. Mr. Shaalan was badly wounded and lay beside the other student, who was not shot but played dead, as the gunman returned two times searching for signs of life. Just as the gunman noticed the student, Mr. Shaalan made a move to distract him, at which point he was shot a second time and died. The student believed that Mr. Shaalan purposefully distracted the shooter to save him, Mr. Dymond said."
"Britain's biggest journalists' union, The National Union of Journalists, has criticized Israel's "military adventures" and has voted narrowly in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods. The vote followed calls by some British academics last year to ostracize their Israeli counterparts." (thanks Zitta)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nine months after the end of the Israeli war on Lebanon, the body of a Sri Lankan maid was removed from the rubble of a building in Tyre.
LBC-TV (the ultra-nationalist station of the Lebanese Forces militia--most notorious for the Sabra and Shatila massacres among many other massacres) opened its evening news cast today (in reference to the two Lebanese students who died in the shooting in Virginia) by stating that some Lebanese are always part of any international "episode"--as if bragging. They noted that Lebanese also died among the Sep. 11 victims--forgetting to add that they died among victims from some 80 other countries of the world.
I read that Lebanese sectarian war criminal, Walid Jumblat, sent letters of condolences to Bush and to the president of Virginia Tech over the tragic shooting on campus. Who does he think he is? I mean, yes he has the support of the some 80 % of 6% of the Lebanese population, but that does not earn him some international stature? Also, does he also offer condolences to the families of innocent victims killed by his militia during the war?
"Poverty, much like unemployment, also tends to affect blacks, especially those under 18, at a higher rate than whites; nearly 25 percent live below the poverty line, three times the percentage of whites. Of blacks under 18, 33.5 percent lived in poverty compared to 10 percent of white youths."
The new Baghdad security plan takes effect.
The Lebanese state's murder of Mahdi Zu`aytir. Where is the outrage, as Bob Dole used to say?
Adonis begs out loud: Please give me the Nobel Prize for literature. Please?
"Sixty-six civilians were killed in hostile actions since last Independence Day, mostly during the Second Lebanon War, bringing the number of civilians killed in terror attacks since the state's establishment to 1,635, according to National Insurance Institute (NII) Director Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom." By comparison, in 1982 alone, Israeli invasion of Lebanon resulted in the death of 20,000 mostly civilian Lebanese and Palestinians. And who is the terrorist?
"The editor of the London Guardian on Tuesday condemned as "misguided" a resolution passed by a British journalists' union last week that called for a boycott of Israeli goods. "The Guardian disapproves of these kinds of boycotts and does not think they serve a useful purpose. It was a misguided motion," editor of the British daily Alan Rusbridger told Haaretz by telephone last night."
"The phrase "security for the Jews" has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for "the lessons of the Holocaust." It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens. For 40 years, "security" has been justifying control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges."
Yes, there were no WMDs in Iraq but: "Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought, according to the most comprehensive independent study of its resources since the US-led invasion in 2003."
Here we go again: "As for the term's meaning, one popular theory comes from a story in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, about Ibrahim and his son, Ismail. This theory picked up speed because many bloggers wondered if the shootings could be related to terrorism."