Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Now Italy is considering signing a bilateral agreement to exempt US troops from ICC prosecution. The UK, too.

"We are not going to reach a British position until we know the European one, if there is one," the spokesman said on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers' meeting in the Danish seaside resort of Elsinore. "But these kinds of agreements are not incompatible with the ICC treaty."

Diplomats said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had indicated to Italian reporters on Friday night that Rome was prepared to clinch a deal with Washington, following the controversial examples of Romania, Israel and East Timor.

"He (Berlusconi) is convinced there is a problem for the United States and no one can ignore that it is a real problem," an Italian diplomat said.

< email | 8/31/2002 11:02:00 AM | link

This is the type of regime enforced by supporters of the poor victim of colonialism Comrade Bob Mugabe.

"The game we are about to play needs music," the Zimbabwean police constable said to the12-year-old girl. But as he tossed a mattress on to the ground it was clear that it was no game he was planning.

For the next four hours the girl's mother and younger sisters, aged nine and seven, were forced to chant praises to President Robert Mugabe and watch Dora being gang-raped by five "war veterans" and the policeman.

"Every time they stopped singing, the policeman and war vets beat them with sjamboks and sticks," said Dora, crying and clenching her hands repeatedly as she recalled the ordeal that took place behind her family hut in a village in the dark shadow of the Vumba mountains of Manicaland, in eastern Zimbabwe. "They kept thrusting themselves into me over and over again saying: 'This is the punishment for those of you who want to sell this country to Tony Blair and the whites.' When they had finished, it hurt so much I couldn't walk."

< email | 8/31/2002 10:55:00 AM | link

An Arab 'Think Tank' in Cairo figured out what the root of all the world's problems is. Like you needed them to tell you.

A think tank affiliated with the Arab League, the 22-nation group that seeks to forge a unified voice among its members, ended a two-day conference on "Semitism" this week at which participants labeled Jews "enemies of all nations," challenged the Jewish historical claim to Israel and cast doubt on the U.S. account of who was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

< email | 8/31/2002 10:46:00 AM | link

This is what the BBC considers the POIGNANT MESSAGES of the protestors in Johannesburg this morning.

Messages on the demonstrators banners included "Factory gases and waste are killing", "Hands off Iraq", "Globalise the Intifada" and "Stop Thabo Mbeki's Aids genocide". Many chanted anti-American slogans and bore banners ridiculing US President George W Bush.

SUch insightful thought provoking messages, don't you think?

< email | 8/31/2002 10:08:00 AM | link

Another armed robbery ended by a citizen with a handgun.

< email | 8/31/2002 09:52:00 AM | link

Friday, August 30, 2002

THe University of Toronto will take no action against a professor who used the university list server to spread pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli resolutions.

University officials claimed:

"faculty at a university must be able to voice unpopular or controversial ideas."

I wonder if the University would have taken the same approach if the professor had been calling for more immigration control in Canada or the investigation of Islamic groups that have terrorist ties in the country or called into question 'affirmative action'?

< email | 8/30/2002 10:57:00 PM | link

Americans killed in the Middle East since the start of the Second Intifada.

Hillel Lieberman, 37, a rabbi born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn who taught at a seminary at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, was found slain in a West Bank cave on Oct. 8, 2000.
Esh Kodesh Gilmore, 25, son of American immigrants, was shot dead while working as a security guard in Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2000.
Gavriel Biton, a teacher, was killed in a roadside bomb attack on a school bus near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2000.
Binyamin Kahane, the American-born militant settler son of the assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane. He was slain with his wife, Talia, in a roadside ambush on Dec. 31, 2000. Talia Kahane, born in New York City, immigrated to Israel as a child.
Koby Mandell, 13, from College Park, Md., was bludgeoned to death with a friend while hiking near their home in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Tekoa on May 8,
Sara Blaustein, 53, from Lawrence, N.Y., moved to Israel in August 2000, just before fighting began. She died in a roadside shooting on May 29, 2001.
Yehuda Shoham, 5 months old, died June 11, 2001, six days after a stone was thrown at his family's car, striking him in the head and knocking him unconscious.
Judith Greenbaum, 31, a school teacher from Passaic, N.J., died in a suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001.
Malka Roth, 15, daughter of immigrants from New York, died in a suicide bombing at a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001.
Shoshana Ben-Yishai, 16, born in New York, was killed in a shooting attack on a bus in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem on Nov. 4, 2001.
Avi Boaz, a 71-year-old Brooklyn-born architect, was shot dead by Palestinian militiamen on Jan. 15.
Aharon Ben-Israel Ellis, 32, a member of a community of black Hebrew Israelites from Chicago, was shot dead by a Palestinian while singing at a bar mitzvah in the town of Hadera on Jan. 17.
Moranne Amit, 25, a law student, was stabbed to death by four Palestinian teenagers on a promenade in Jerusalem on Feb. 8.
Staff Sgt. Lee Nahman-Akunis, a 20-year-old paratrooper, was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen at a military roadblock outside of the village of Surda, north of Ramallah, on Feb. 15.
Keren Shatsky, 15, daughter of American immigrants, died in a suicide bombing at a pizzeria in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Karnei Shomron on Feb. 16.
Rachel Thaler, 16, died Feb. 27 of wounds suffered in a suicide bombing at a pizzeria in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Karnei Shomron.
Esther Kleiman, 23, daughter of immigrants from Chicago and a special education teacher, was shot dead in a shooting attack on a bus on March 24.
Suraida Saleh, 21, a Palestinian American, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on March 29 in Ramallah, at the start of a major Israeli military offensive.
Hannah Rogen, 89, an immigrant from the New York City borough of the Bronx, died on April 2 of wounds suffered in a suicide bomb attack on a hotel in Netanya on the eve of the Jewish Passover holiday.

Four American citizens killed in battles at the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank during a major Israeli military offensive were:
Sgt. Merom Fisher, 19, died on April 5.
Sgt. Matanya Robinson, 21, was ambushed and killed on April 8 by Palestinian fighters.
Sgt. Shmuel Weiss, a 19-year-old army medic, was shot and killed in the April 8 ambush.
Staff Sgt. Gedaliah Mellick, 21, died on April 9 when a Palestinian sniper shot a grenade he was carrying, triggering an explosion.
Moses Gothlieb, 70, from Los Angeles, was killed June 18 in a bomb attack on a bus in Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood built on land annexed to Jerusalem.
Gila Kessler, 19, was killed on June 19 in a suicide bomb attack on a bus in Jerusalem.
Capt. Haim Lev, a 24-year-old soldier, was killed July 10 by a Palestinian sniper while searching for weapons smuggling tunnels in Rafah, a town along the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Five Americans killed in a July 31 bombing of a cafeteria at Jerusalem's Hebrew University were:
Marla Bennett, 24, from San Diego.
Benjamin Blutstein, 25, from Susquehanna Township, Penn.
Janis Coulter, 36, from New York City.
David Gritz, 24, from Peru, Mass.
Dina Carter, 38, from Greensboro, N.C.

< email | 8/30/2002 10:45:00 PM | link

Trying to uncover the hot/cold messages about Iraq that are coming from the Administraton.

< email | 8/30/2002 10:25:00 PM | link

The two primary Kurdish leaders in Northern Iraq claim that they can field 120,000 fighters.

Mr Talabani said that between the KDP and the PUK, and other opposition factions, there were 120,000 well-trained fighters. "Those fighters are well-trained and they can liberate the country, if they will be supported by Americans to prevent the attack by chemical or biological weapons," he said.

< email | 8/30/2002 10:17:00 PM | link

Rumors abound in Russia as the Russian envoy in Washington met with Iraqi opposition leaders.

''This is routine diplomatic work, maintaining various links and contacts,'' an unnamed source at Russia's Foreign Ministry told Interfax news agency. ''This does not imply official talks, only routine working contacts. In no way do these contacts imply a change in Russia's policy towards the Iraqi leadership.'' Russia's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the talks.

Another 'source' had a different take.

Another unnamed Foreign Ministry source, quoted by the Izvestia daily in its Saturday edition, said the meeting might have been part of a deal with Washington to secure Russian silence during any U.S. military action. In exchange, new Iraqi leaders supported by Washington would look favourably on Russian economic interests in the country. ''Not long ago, the Americans promised us that if we 'show understanding' in the issues regarding Saddam, the United States will guarantee that the leadership they want to place in power in Baghdad would honour contracts signed with Russian oil companies,'' the source said. ''This was probably what was discussed in the Washington meeting with the Iraqi opposition representative.''

< email | 8/30/2002 10:09:00 PM | link

Israeli arms dealers apparently have a history of clandestine sales to Iran pre-dating an oncgoing since the 1979 revolution.

< email | 8/30/2002 09:53:00 PM | link

Israeli finally got sick of Hizbollah cross border attacks. Attacks which break the terms of the UN brokered ceasefire following Israel's pullout from Lebanon (where are the General Assembly denunciations and damning resolutions?). They have thretened miltary retaliation against Syria if the attacks continue. It worked for the Turks, we'll see if it works for Israel.

"Israel does not wish a military escalation, but if Syria, which pulls all the strings in Lebanon, wants to trigger one through Hezbollah, it should know that we will not sit idly by," an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

< email | 8/30/2002 09:16:00 PM | link

Now an 18 year old girl has been murdered in the street for being a 'suspected collaborator'. She is the neice of the woman murdered by the terrorists last week.

And this dispicable news service, Australian Broadcastin Service (ABC), has the temerity to call al-Aqsa Martyrs Briged, the perpetrators of this disgusting display of 'justice', 'an Islamis resistance group'. Which in case you forgot is closely tied with Fatah, which is directly under the control of Yasser Arafat.

Damn it! I'm sick of reading stories like this and then having to listen to morally bankrupt morons defend the actions of these murderers, who tell us we have to understand the roots of their anger.

< email | 8/30/2002 08:22:00 PM | link

Perez writes about the what feels are the 'roots' of the problem between Israel and the Palestinians.

The battle does not constitute a struggle for national liberation, for we offered the Palestinians self-determination, ever since the Camp David agreement with the Egyptians 15 years ago. It also does not relate to a Palestinian state, to which we agreed in principle in Oslo in 1993, and again explicitly at Camp David in 2000.

It is also not over territory. In a statement made in Oslo, Yasser Arafat demanded that the Palestinian state be established within the 1967 borders, and in Camp David in 2000, President Clinton offered him 97% of the territory, plus a land swap of 3%. He also offered the Palestinians an independent status in Jerusalem.

Neither does it relate to settlements. The present Israeli government undertook not to establish new settlements. And with the existing ones, it was proposed that they be concentrated in a determined area, 3%, the equivalent of the land intended for swapping

Nor does the conflict relate to Israel's credibility. Israel gave Egypt back all its land, water, and oil and all this through political negotiations conducted by the right wing of Israel's political spectrum. This also applies to Jordan in this case, negotiations were conducted by the left.

He admits there are still issues that need to be addressed.

Some problems were outstanding: refugees, border crossings, air passage, the mode of connecting Gaza to the West Bank, contiguity of territory.

But he feels those cannot be reasons for the violence that marks the conflict. What is it then?

In my view, the violence stems from an erroneous political structure on the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was a body that was made up fundamentally of a Palestinian coalition of the terror organisations, among them Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Liberation Front, to name a few.

In Oslo, the PLO agreed to divest itself of violence. This, it transpired, was not agreeable to all the PLO coalition partners. Some did not accept laying down their arms and abandoning terror.

But when it came to an agreement with Israel, the divergence between Fatah and the other organisations surfaced. Fatah is a national movement ready to also take the political road. The other organisations are religious groups, intent on destroying the "infidels" among them, Israel.

< email | 8/30/2002 08:10:00 PM | link

A group of SAS troops returned home to Australia today. They had some stuff to say about what they did and what they saw.

"The people have suffered so much over the years and it was great to see things starting to change," he said. "We began to see young girls going to school again, which hadn't happened under the Taliban."

All of those who condemned us for overthrowing the Taliban should be ashamed of themselves. They should have to go to Afghanistan and explain to those little girls why they were better of under the Taliban and why the soldiers who freed them (and the tax-payers who support them) are evil and bad for doing what they did.

How are things progressing?

Lt-Col Tink said Afghanistan was now a far less hostile environment than when the first contingent of troops arrived in December. In areas where the Australians served there were now no functioning al-Qaida.

"We were willing to get on with the job and we were low maintenance," he said. "I think that's what the US valued about us."

No friend, we are thankful to you becuase you were there when we needed you and you understood what was right and what needed to be done. There is a fantastic picture on the site but it is circular so I can't get it to post. Go see it.

< email | 8/30/2002 07:48:00 PM | link

I think the comparisons of Iraq to North Korea in terms of WMD's doesn't work. They both hold WMD's and both brutalize their own people. But, I think the motives for sitting in their boxes are different. Saddam sits there defying the world losing billions in oil income because he choses to. All he needed to do to end it all was to let the inspectors do their job. He sits there now biding his time. And it is his mortal time. He doesn't trust his heirs to turn him into the 'Eternal Leader', he thinks only he can accomplish it by becoming the modern Saladin. He waits and gives the world the finger because he is not prepared. But, at his age, his time is running out.

The Kim's of North Korea though have a different outlook.

...to be continued.

< email | 8/30/2002 05:18:00 PM | link

Mugabe continues down the Stalinist path.

In a separate development, soldiers arrested about 20 displaced farmworkers building a camp outside Harare to accommodate hundreds of other farm labourers forced from their homes by President Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

Elphas Mukonoweshuro, professor of politics at the University of Zimbabwe, said the worsening repression signalled Mr Mugabe would be "casting his net wider" against his critics. "The international community must take note this is no ordinary African dictatorship," he said. "It's a very dangerous regime with revolutionary rhetoric and uses armed military units against unarmed civilians. We are at the beginning of what is likely to be a very disastrous period for this country."

< email | 8/30/2002 04:26:00 PM | link

The sattelite search for Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat.

< email | 8/30/2002 02:56:00 PM | link

The Palestinian Interior Minister spoke out against suicide bombings and violece.

In an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper before the Gaza killings, Yahya called on militants to "return to the legitimate struggle against the occupation, without violence." "Suicide attacks are contrary to the Palestinian tradition, are against international law and harm the Palestinian people," he was quoted as saying. "It is not necessary to respond or take revenge for every act. Both sides must act with restraint."

Strong words for someone in is position. Heck, Reuters, the AP, NY Times ABC, NBC, CBS, all British media and the UN all won't even come right out and call it a crime against international law.

< email | 8/30/2002 02:27:00 PM | link

Sofar now the enviro-chondriacs at Johannesburg have blamed electricity and now....ready for it....the flush toilet.

One of the panelists taking part in a television special on the Earth summit complained about the "pernicious introduction of the flush toilet," according to Competitive Entreprise Institute President Fred Smith, who also was a panelist on the program. A female panelist from India complained that the flush toilet encourages excessive water consumption around the world and is not ecologically friendly.

By the end of the week they may reach the mid-20th century in their denunciations.

Patrick Moore, head of the environmental advocacy group Greenspirit and a former founding member of Greenpeace who left after becoming disillusioned with the Green movement, believes those who would do away with electricity and flush toilets hold a "naive vision of returning to some kind of Garden of Eden, which was actually not that great because the average life span was 35."

Said Moore, "The environmentalists try to inject guilt into people for consuming, as if consuming by itself causes destruction to the environment. There is no truth to that. You have the wealthiest countries on earth with the best-looked-after environment."

Amen to that, brother.

< email | 8/30/2002 08:39:00 AM | link

Another story about the wonder that is, Nationalized Health Care. This time in Scotland.

At the end of June, 79,943 patients were waiting for hospital treatment - up almost 8,000 from March, an 11 per cent rise. They are also waiting an average of 57 days, a week longer than they were waiting a year ago. In June last year, 73 per cent of patients were seen within 13 weeks. This has now fallen to 68 per cent.

They also provide an alarming picture of the nation’s accident and emergency departments. Almost half of all patients on trolleys waited more than half an hour to be seen by a doctor. At Glasgow Royal Infirmary, more than 75 per cent of trolley cases had to wait longer than half an hour.

With populations that are a mere fraction of America's the UK, Canada, France and Scotland are having immense financial problems supporting this system. Yet every day we hear the cry from the left that it is something we absolutely must do. When their economies finally collapse in the efforts to maintain even this poor level of service will people here finally get it?

< email | 8/30/2002 08:15:00 AM | link

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Iranian reformers are urging Khatami to get more involved in foreign affairs to stop the harline Ayatollahs from forging closer ties while ignoring chances to expand them with America.

Iran is believed to be trying to use the US threat of military action against Baghdad to extract concessions from its old enemy, such as the return of prisoners held since their 1980-88 war and containment of the People's Mujahideen Organisation, a force of anti-Iranian militants based in Iraq.

In return Baghdad has asked Iran for military assistance and the return of 100 aircraft that took refuge in Iran during the 1991 Gulf war. Tehran has rejected the requests but it is less clear whether it will change its policy of supporting Kurdish and Shia Moslem groups based in northern Iraq and Iran that are opposed to Baghdad.

< email | 8/29/2002 09:51:00 PM | link

In The Case Against the Iraq War Matthew Rothschild lays out a list of reasons for which the war should be opposed. Please allow me to play the role of Prosecutor (assuming Matthew Rothschild is defending Saddam).

This invasion would be unconstitutional

This is a blatant misrepresentation. The War Powers Act of 1973 very clearly grants the President the power to use force. Throughout the history of this nation Presidents have used the military for operations to defend America and to defend innocents and oppressed people abroad 125 times. Only five of which carried a Congressional declaration of war. Before and after WWII. This has been before the Supreme Court (the first time was John Adams) and in every case the President’s Constitutional authority to send troops into combat as Commander-in-Chief without a declaration of war from Congress has been upheld.

Saddam has been linked to financial support for Palestinian terrorist organizations. These organizations have murdered Americans. Five of them just recently at the University cafeteria bombing in Jerusalem. There is also evidence he planned an assassination of a former American President. Going after Saddam as the financial backer of these organizations is fully in the President’s Constitutional powers. Just like Cuba the murderers themselves are secondary to the backers.

It would be against International Law

He follows this with Country A may not attack Country B unless country B has already attacked Country A. Not sure exactly where he got that. But I will use something more concrete. For starters the original UN Security Council Resolution that allowed the US action against Iraq in 1990 is, despite what Matthew Rothschild thinks, still in effect. It is by that authority that we still carry out air patrols in Northern and Southern Iraq. UN Resolutions do not have expiration dates. Just because they remain un-enforced, or enforced with collective UN scowls does not render them expired. This UN Resolution calls on us to not only liberate Kuwait, but also “to restore international peace and security in the area”. Something Matthew Rothschild admits later does not exist. The Congressional act that give the President authority to enforce the UN Resolutions also still apply.

The UN Charter, which he points out we have signed and must obey, prohibits the use of force for three reasons: (1) to seize territory; (2) to impose a colonial-style government; and (3) in a manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. Well lets take those. We plan to keep no territory. Although people like Matthew Rothschild will claim we have colonial aspirations, this is manifestly untrue. Just look around the world. If we were a colonial power, all of our ‘colonial administrations’ would be falling into line behind us. And finally the Purpose of the UN is the “maintenance of international peace and security”. Saddam oppresses his people brutally and has begun two wars of aggression in order to annex land. His removal and replacement with more representational government would reflect the highest spirit of the UN.

And finally no international law, by the tenets of our Constitution can abridge the ability of the United States do defend itself.

It would violate the Christian doctrine of a “just war”

I will let Matthew Rothschild debate this point with the Shia Muslims, Kurds and other oppressed people living under Saddam’s murderous rule.

It would further damage U.S. relations with its allies, relations that are already frayed by Bush’s mindless unilateralism

I will ignore the slur and move onto the accusation. It is preposterous on its face. Afghanistan was far from unilateral. A Canadian sniper team had the highest kill ratio in combat. French fighter planes flew missions supporting US, British, Australian and Canadian troops. Japanese ships helped support and supply troops in the theater. An international force made up largely of Turks now helps keep the peace in the country. Or perhaps he is referring to the ABM Treaty. Which so far has not resulted in a mad arms race. And more grumbling from Matthew Rothschild and chatterers like him than Russia and China. Or maybe he means Kyoto, which Japan has already announced they will not meet, Australia has no plans of signing and may be signed, unilaterally by the way, by Chretien. And of course China, Russia and India have signed it. They pollute more than anyone and have no obligations under the treaty.

When these same allies faced annihilation at the hands of the Soviet Union, Saddam Hussien or Nazi Germany we did not worry that friendly countries that chose not to join us in liberating them would think any less of us. Perhaps Matthew Rothschild should worry that the most powerful economy in the world may start looking unfavorably upon the nations and institutions, supported by that economy, often show nothing but hatred, contempt and disdain for America.

It would wreak havoc in the Muslim world, where there is plenty of havoc already

“We should not enter the war with Nazi Germany where there is plenty of war already”. Yep, sounds just as sophomoric either way. How much havoc does Matthew Rothschild assume will be wreaked when Saddam has a nuclear arsenal to use for deterrence as he moves again on the Gulf States? This is a really poor argument for inaction. There is a much stronger case that once Saddam is gone and a rational non-murderous government is in place in Iraq the region will become much more stable.

It could shake the US economy, which is trembling right now

What exactly would happen to the economy if there is a Bio/Chem/Nuclear attack on US soil? I would argue that the opening of the Iraqi people as a market for American and international companies and the free flow of newly liberated oil fields would help stimulate the economy.
Here is the NY Sun’s take on the economic impact even if we must go it alone.

And most importantly, it could result in the deaths of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of innocent people
For on thing, this is the same argument they used to try and stop America from toppling the Taliban. It proved false then and will prove false in Iraq. The US has shown time and again since Vietnam that we do not make it a policy to murder and bomb civilians. Yes some innocents will die. Probably, as in Afghanistan, far fewer than would have been murdered by the despots themselves or as an extension of their policies. Does Matthew Rothschild know the full American battle plan? Does he believe we will be firebombing Baghdad? This is the eternal call to inaction. It is the same pacifist rationale used to prevent people from defending themselves even in the face of an immanent threat. While it may be fine for you to apply that in your personal life Matthew Rothschild, it is wrong to enforce it on others as a national policy.

Worst case: It could end with the United States dropping a nuclear bomb on Baghdad

Does he really believe this? Even if we were to be attacked with a WMD during the course of a campaign, I find it inconceivable that the President or his Advisors would even consider dropping a nuclear weapon on a city filled with civilians. One may be used against troop deployments, but the odds of one being used against a non-military target seems small indeed.

In fact it is more likely that inaction will eventually result on an Iraqi initiated nuclear attack on New York or Tel Aviv.

Having gone through his points, let us look at some of the other ‘facts’ he presents.

President Bush acts as though he has the right to attack Iraq any time he wants to

As long as Iraq poses a threat or helps or harbors those who do, the President does indeed have this right as laid out in the War Powers Act of 1973. The UN Resolutions and accompanying Congressional act at the time as well as the Congressional act following September 11th support the President’s Constitutional right to do this also.

That means Congress, not the President, has the sole power to declare war.

Matthew Rothschildis right, but clouds the issue. Congress has the sole power to declare war but, the President holds the power to initiate war. As Commander in Chief it is the President’s prerogative to move American troops as he sees fit. If the situation calls for it, Congress can declare war or refuse to support the action by refusing to allocate funding necessary to continue the action.

But how open-ended is this authorization? Congress did not intend to give the President a blank check to wage war against Iraq forever or any time he happened to feel like it

Congress granted the power to enforce the UN Resolutions. The conditions have never been met by Saddam, therefore the Congressional authority still stands. It does not expire just because Saddam has dragged his feet and the world has refused to punish him for it. If they did not mean for it to continue to this point they would have ended support for the air patrols of the no-fly zones.

Furthermore, for the United States to take this aggressive action without the approval of the UN Security Council would be a violation of the UN Charter, which the United States has ratified.

I addressed this above. For one, the UN Security Council gave the authorization 10 years ago and continuing resolutions stating that Iraq is to in compliance with those resolutions give Bush all the authority he needs.

The United States has a $400 billion Pentagon budget; Iraq’ military budget is about $4 billion

What is Matthew Rothschild’s point? Actually he makes a case against himself. Saddam, by the rules of the cease fire, should not even be expanding his military. Nor is he supposed to be working on missile or WMD technology. Defectors have repeatedly testified that he spends exorbitantly on both.

The United States has thousands of nuclear weapons; Iraq doesn’t have one yet, much less the means to deliver it

I would like Matthew Rothschild’s source for this information. The International Atomic Energy Agency, in 2000, said that based on intelligence and other information that Saddam was within two years of possessing a nuclear weapon. And again numerous defectors have stated that he is close to his goal.

And even if Iraq obtained one nuclear weapon or two, would that present a “mortal” danger to the United States.

It could be mortal in two ways. There is proof that Saddam supports terrorist groups his payments and arms to Palestinian groups and has harbored international terrorists. This was highlighted by the recent ’suicide’, in Baghdad, of Abu Nidal. A terrorist leader who planned and carried out international terror attacks. The weight of evidence would say that Saddam would not hesitate to give supply a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group. Or to give a Palestinian terrorist group a biological agent that would cause a plague in Israel. But it all depends on one thing. Saddam needs a nuclear missile for deterrence. As was proven in the Cold War. Nuclear missiles are a very effective in this capacity.

Once Saddam has a nuclear missile and he again decides to ‘reclaim’ Kuwait, which he considers a province of Iraq, by what means can he be stopped. The threat of a nuclear missile in Tel Aviv or Berlin or Paris, will be a threat that must be weighed. When he decides he no longer wants to acknowledge the no-fly zone, how will we continue to enforce it for the protection of the Shiite and Kurds? What will stop him from claiming the Gulf unless we are willing to face a nuclear attack on Europe or Israel?

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury says so

Ha! Just had to throw that in for a little light relief.

First, on the diplomatic front, a unilateral war against Iraq—or even one with our viceroy (ha!) Tony Blair on board—would drive a wedge between the United States and many of its allies in Europe and around the world

Not likely, they are too addicted to our money and the gobs of free aid and material they get from us. He points to the Gulf and Arab states being against a war on Iraq. What would you say with a murderous thug on your border while the course of action was still undecided?

Scenes of innocent Iraqis being killed on Al Jazeera will not, it is safe to say, enhance the image of the United States in the Muslim World, an image already badly, badly smeared by Ariel Sharon’s offensive against the Palestinians and the 11 year embargo the U.S. insists that the UN impose on Iraq, an embargo that has killed thousand of Iraqi kids.

The first part is the same dire warning given about the rising ‘Arab Street’ at the thought of the US bombing innocent Afghanis. More likely the images of cheering Iraqis as Saddam’s body is dragged through the streets of Baghdad would make the other dictators in the Arab world very uncomfortable. And enhance America’s image among the people oppressed in Iran and elsewhere. A bold statement that if you murder your own citizens and threaten the peace and stability of the world, you will have to answer for it.

Then there is the bone thrown to the Jewish Lobby and its domination of American policy. I don’t need to deconstruct it anymore than has been done in the past few months.

The embargo exists because Saddam refuses to allow inspections. This should frighten any thinking person. He has refused to allow inspectors at the cost of billions of dollars in oil exports. What could he be doing that he is so desperate to keep inspectors out, when he has already shown an aptitude for keeping the inspectors constantly on a wild-goose chase. The UN Security Council (not just the US) has voted to extend the embargo. The lie has been put to the claims of 500,000 dead Iraqi children.

Well, for starters, the despotic rulers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, stooges of the United States…

I love this line. Absolutely adore it. Matthew Rothschild Can’t make up his mind. Either they are brave and worthy allies for standing up to the President and his proposed attack on Iraq or they are our stooges. If they were our stooges wouldn’t they be lining up to support our efforts? Which is it?

…if the US invasion galvanizes what Robert Fisk (Double Ha!) calls the sleeping Arab masses.

Same fatuous warning we got before going into Afghanistan and again while continuing the attack during Ramadan. BlahBlahBlah. Try to think up a new one, it can only sound original a limited number of times.

And, secondly, the more brutal the United States appears in the Muslim world, the more likely it is that suicide bombers will come to roost in the United States.

I’ve been thinking about this for months. I find this a minimal threat at best. A network of suicide bombers requires a sympathetic population, willing to support an harbor them. Any networks would be easily traced within the United States and the supply of bombers within the States, without nearby populations of willing bombers, would not be able to sustain a protracted campaign.

On the economic front, another war against Iraq is sure, in the short term at least, to spike the cost of oil, since Iraq is a leading oil supplier, and since the other big oil suppliers--Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran—are right next door.

This is a bit of disinformation. The world’s major oil suppliers are now places like Norway, Mexico and the new world’s #1 Russia. Oil from the Gulf states was not cut off in the Gulf War and would not be cut off this time. Iraq carried out a unilateral oil embargo recently. Didn’t hear about it? Know why? It didn’t do squat.

Secondly, what would happen to the price of oil if a nuclear armed Saddam decided to annex the entire Gulf?

On the military front, and here's a sobering irony, Bush's invasion may actually increase the odds that Saddam Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons.

This is a threat we will face sooner or later. Matthew Rothschild does not do a good job explaining why waiting to face this threat at the time of Saddam’s choosing is better than dealing with it now, before (we hope) he possess nuclear weapons. Unlike the Soviet Union, which was the continuance of a murderous terror regime laid begun and established by Trotsky and Lenin and cemented by Stalin, Saddam is a lone madman with the desire to assure his place in history. His paranoia will not allow him to place his legacy solely in the hands of his sons. He is now 76 years old. What will he do to make his name remembered for all time?

The lesson of 1991 should be that Saddam Hussein knows not to use his chemical or biological weapons. What evidence is there that he's more reckless and suicidal today than he was back in 1991? He hasn't recently invaded another country. He hasn't recently gassed the Kurds or the Iranians (which he did, it must be noted, when he was receiving military intelligence from the United States).
He is still in that box that Colin Powell said he was in just a few months ago. He hasn't exactly been jumping out of it.

For starters is this same ‘box’ that Rothschild accuses the US of forcing the UN to maintain while Iraqi children die? Saddam is not stupid (megalomaniacal and murderous, yes). He is in his ‘box’ because he chooses to be even though it costs him billions in oil revenue. He is waiting to acquire functional nuclear warheads. How will we keep him in this ‘box’ when that time comes?

Back in 1991, the peace movement had a slogan: No Blood for Oil. It's a slogan that's even more relevant today.

I’m sure that is how the people of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (while living under their present rulers may not be wonderful, it is certainly better than being a citizen of Iraq) felt then and I am sure it is how the Kurds and Shiite people of Iraq feel today. In truth this slogan is just as hollow as it was then.
By the way. I have a degree in Near Eastern Studies. My Arabic professor was Iraqi and during the Gulf War he told us he wished to see Saddam hanging from a telephone pole. So thinking it is strictly a war for oil and Iraqis don’t want it, it to willfully ignore the pleas of those oppressed people.

Now Bush is dreaming of an antiseptic war, a quick strike that would topple the regime at little cost. This is the so-called "Baghdad First" strategy, but I doubt it will succeed. Instead, it could very well lead to some gruesome door-to-door fighting. And let's remember, Baghdad is a city of more than three million people, and they aren't all named Saddam Hussein.
This is the biggest reason to fear Bush's invasion of Iraq, whether it's Baghdad First or Baghdad Last: It is likely to lead to the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of innocent Iraqis.

Somehow I have trouble accepting Mr. Rothschild as a sound military strategist. This sounds more like the mantra of people like him during the campaign in Afghanistan. How many times did we hear “Quagmire” and “Brutal Afghan Winter”. This argument proved wrong in Afghanistan and it will prove wrong in Iraq.

< email | 8/29/2002 09:24:00 PM | link

Asia Times article about Iraq. No time for comment just go read it.

< email | 8/29/2002 04:59:00 PM | link

Independent radio station in Zimbabwe blows up. Reuters is reporting that it was a bomb. BBC is unsure?

< email | 8/29/2002 04:57:00 PM | link

Could Tony Blair's special envoy to East Asia be the one to bring the case against Saddam to the UN?

"An international threat needs an international response, not isolating ourselves, not turning away and burying our heads in the sand," Mandelson said. He said Iraq had defied a host of UN Security Council resolutions and its leader Saddam Hussein was "a murderous despot" whose weapons of mass destruction posed a global threat. "The world has to take this threat seriously. We cannot just run away," Mandelson said.

He admitted that non-interference was a recognised principle in international relations. "But there must be qualifications to this principle of non-interference," he said, adding that the "threshold" should be a threat of intolerable and inescapable violence. "It is better to anticipate a crisis rather than be simply good at resolving crises," said Mandelson, Blair's special emissary to East Asia who is paying a three-day visit to Indonesia.

He said governments should consider whether the danger to the world posed by Iraq and its leader was greater than the risk of war, and whether the current international "selective and limited" isolation of Iraq was better than action taken directly against Saddam. Britain, like any other government, had to decide which side it was on. "On this side our allies might not be perfect, but they are certainly better than the other side," he said.

< email | 8/29/2002 02:55:00 PM | link

The RIAA has been bitching about technology since 1979.

< email | 8/29/2002 12:42:00 PM | link

Interesting. Researchers have found a Japanese mini-sub sunk by a battleship at the mouth of Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th 1941.

< email | 8/29/2002 12:36:00 PM | link

The American delegation on the offensive in Johannesburg. Only the truth can set you free.

"The United States is the world's leader in sustainable development," said Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky. "No other nation has made a greater and more concrete commitment."

On several issues at the summit, the United States has opposed decade-long timelines or binding targets for results, prompting criticism. But Dobriansky said: "Words are good, but only concrete action can address these problems."

< email | 8/29/2002 12:31:00 PM | link

Nice story about a major proponent of school choice in Texas.

Dr. Leininger made national news in 1998 when he pledged $50 million to a 10-year voucher program. Called the Horizon Project, it promises financial support for parents – mostly low-income Hispanics – in the Edgewood ISD who want to send their children to private school.

< email | 8/29/2002 12:17:00 PM | link

Okay then. The Londin Times online gives us a rundown on the history Saddam's nuclear, chemical, biological and terrorism activities. It is all sorted and numbered for convenience. There is some stuff on there you may not know, so go read it.

< email | 8/29/2002 11:10:00 AM | link

Oil in the Gulf. No, not that Gulf. Our Gulf. Up to now most wells off of Florida have been relatively shallow. Now that they are strting to go deeper what is being found is astonishing.

The Minerals Management Service calculates that from 5 trillion to 20 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas are in these deep deposits on the shelf, with the most likely figure 10.5 trillion cubic feet. The average size of a deep gas reservoir on the shelf is about 20 billion cubic feet, which means that all of an average reservoir would be eligible for the royalty suspension, which covers the first 20 billion.

< email | 8/29/2002 11:02:00 AM | link

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

The leaders of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate overruled the decision to ban photos of armed children and masked militants at Palestinian rallies. Good for them.

Naim Tobassi, Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate Chief in the West Bank, said that the union was committed to opposing all attempts to interfere with the work of journalists. "The union will do its best to facilitate the mission of foreign correspondents and Palestinian journalists at all times," said Mr. Tobassi. "It rejects all threats to journalists' work and will have nothing to do with declarations on restrictions of journalists and their work."

< email | 8/28/2002 10:43:00 PM | link

Amidst it all today was a happy day for Israel as 300 new immigrants arrived to make thier lives there.

< email | 8/28/2002 10:36:00 PM | link

What the heck to make of this? A ship bound from Israel, containing military supplies froma private Israeli company, has been detained in Germany under suspicion of being en route to Iran?

< email | 8/28/2002 10:27:00 PM | link

This is a bit of a snub to the EU Australia has indicated the possibility that they will sign an agreement to prevent Australians from bringing US peacekeepers before the ICC.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said:

"We've told the Americans that in principle we'll be prepared to agree to their request but we do have some legal work to do," he said. "So we're really finalising or getting final legal advice from the Attorney-General's Department and the Government's legal adviser,"

< email | 8/28/2002 10:13:00 PM | link

Sometimes the right thing can have some bad results. The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has ruled that 50 eviction orders are to be nullified. This is the type of thing that could push a hard-line Stalinist like Mugabe to genocidal rage. I hope those farmers and all the people who work for them are prepared.

< email | 8/28/2002 10:11:00 PM | link

John Keegan is an excellent writer and has possible more insight than just about anyone around (even though he never served in the military) on matters of war and military history. Here he tells us what Sir Winston Churchill would do about Saddam.

Something certainly should be done. Saddam is not Hitler. He is, unfortunately, quite as megalomaniac but, while currently much weaker than Hitler ever was, potentially able to achieve greater power than Hitler ever possessed.

When - it is not a question of if - Saddam acquires nuclear weapons, the moment when he could be crushed without risk to his opponents, or of provoking a wider war, or of truly destabilising the Middle East, will be gone. At the moment Saddam could be toppled quickly, cheaply and without difficulty. The moment will not last.

Churchill would see the opportunity and, if in power, would grasp it. He would ignore the timidity of yesterday's men and strike.

He would avoid by any means the need to make the speech that he was impelled to deliver to the Commons after Munich in 1938: "Do not suppose that this is the end. It is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first taste of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."

Britain did arise, at terrible cost. It could not have arisen had Hitler acquired nuclear weapons. The signs are, thank goodness, that President Bush is determined not to fall.

< email | 8/28/2002 10:05:00 PM | link

Some British Ministers are sure that eventually Bush will give in to overwhelming world pressure to sign Kyoto. What these ministers don't understand is that for one the Senate voted 95-0 to table the measure until serious changes are made. They also don't realize that Bush and his Administration understand exactly what Kyoto is made to do. Hobble the US eceonomy to the tune of nearly $300 Billion. Another thing they don't understand is that we stand almost alone (there are only two other countries that regularly vote against UN anti-Israel resolution. I can't think of them right now. One is Central American and the other is Asian) against the weight of the world's opinion on Israel and we have not swayed one bit. When it comes to the destruction of our own economy what makes these guys think we will be any less determined?

One intersting quote:

"America will be forced to take more substantial steps than she is ready to do at present, simply by the pressure of American business itself, much of which is already recognising some of the issues and is often ahead of the US government, and by the impact of climate change on America, which will hit America just as much as everybody," the source said.

If they recognise the issue then why aren't they rushing to make the changes themselves? Why do they need the Administration to sign Kyoto so that they can go ahead and act more 'environmentally friendly'? Besides, I thought the whole goal of UN (and EU) conferences was to show how evil (Osama and Saddam are not evil but free market economy and 'big business'? No question) American businesses are.

< email | 8/28/2002 09:50:00 PM | link

I think the problem people are having when talking about Saddam and sanctions and teh UN miss the point. There doesn't need to be a debate or a negotiation. Saddam signed a cease fire. He was braking the rules of the cease fire as he signed it. He was hiding his weapons in the hopes they would not be found, in direct contravention of the agreement. Followingthe signing he continued to move his arsenal to hidden locations, research and purchase technology to advance his WMD research. He hindered the inspectors and finally expelled them before they or the UN declared the conditions of the cease fire were met.

Saddam does not have the authority to declare all of the conditions have been met. Failing to meet his obligations does not give him the authority to demand negotiations. There is no need for negotiation. He must allow the terms of the cease fire to be met. Why ask for more negotiations? They are not necessary. The negotiations were completed in 1992.

< email | 8/28/2002 02:28:00 PM | link

Al Knight does a great job summing up the two sides of the Iraq debate by pitting Kristof against Cheney.

Kristof raised all of his alarms to buttress a single point: that the U.S. would be smart to leave well enough alone. At one point, he reluctantly concedes that it might be easier to face a weaker Saddam today than a stronger one tomorrow, but then, inexplicably, he dismisses his own conclusion by saying, "but hey, Saddam is 65 years old. Tomorrow he may fall into a coffin on his own."

So here you have it: The liberals' argument against the war. Saddam may die before he can cause further harm. The same vague hope, of course, could have been directed at any number of historical tyrants including Hitler, or Stalin - or for that matter Ivan the Terrible.

Cheney did not see Kristof's column before publication, but in one paragraph he anticipated the quality of the opposition's argument. Many have argued, Cheney said, that "we should act only if he (Hussein) gets a nuclear weapon" but these same people, he added, would "then turn around and say that we cannot act because he has a nuclear weapon."

< email | 8/28/2002 12:24:00 PM | link

But I thought nationalized health care was the perfect solution and Canada was the proof.

Despite spending nearly C$100 billion (US$64 billion) per year on healthcare – the most per capita among countries that run a similar system – a study released last week by the Fraser Institute, a public-policy think tank in Vancouver, shows that Canada ranks only slightly higher than Hungary, Poland, and Turkey in the quality of service its citizens receive.

Could Hillary and Bill have lied to us. Right to our faces?

< email | 8/28/2002 11:52:00 AM | link

Underclass is a myth, Left admits

The existence of an underclass of the permanently poor is a myth, a Left-wing think tank claimed yesterday in findings that present a direct challenge to assumptions at the heart of Labour policies on welfare reform.

According to a pamphlet published by Catalyst, poverty is normally temporary and most people who are poor will not stay poor for life.

< email | 8/28/2002 11:44:00 AM | link

The discovery of the oldest Knights Templar Church in London.

< email | 8/28/2002 10:22:00 AM | link

An excellent argument in the Times [UK] Online for the removal of Saddam.

The scale, and imminence, of the threat we face requires action of a kind it has become hard to contemplate. We have no alternative but to launch a pre-emptive war against Iraq to prevent Saddam completing his drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Massive military force must be deployed to remove Saddam’s regime. Such an action will inevitably lead to significant casualties, both Western and Iraqi. No reasonable, or moral, human being can regard such a course with equanimity. But reason, and morality, tell us that there is no alternative.

Because the costs inherent in such a course are great, and because it would mark a departure from the paths with which diplomatic elites are comfortable, powerful voices argue for other strategies. There is no doubting their sincerity, or seniority. But then those who practised appeasement in the 1930s and detente in the 1970s were honourable men. It was never their intention to give tyrannies time and space to extend the reach of their oppression. Although that was the inevitable consequence of their inaction.

So, today, those who argue that we should wait until it can be proven that Saddam actually possesses a nuclear capability are wrong. By then the costs of action would be hugely greater. And those who argue, like Jack Straw, that we should rely upon UN weapons inspectors to neutralise the threat are wrong. Saddam is a past master at frustrating the efforts of the best of them.

And what does it all come down to in the end?

Cynics might call it cowboy diplomacy, but putting its faith in freedom is how the West has always won.

< email | 8/28/2002 07:41:00 AM | link

That depends on what the meaning of fraud is. You see 'accounting errors' apparently mean something else when Democrats come up with $7 million in unreported funds.

< email | 8/28/2002 07:29:00 AM | link

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The head of Norway's most popular political party is furious about the presence of terrorists.

Are there idiots sitting in the immigration agency, or is it just the totally naive politicians who run Norway who are responsible?" thunders Progress Party boss Carl I Hagen.

I thought it was only racist Americans that spoke like this?

What's more, terror suspect Mullah Krekar was given at least NOK 250,000 in taxpayer money to fund an Islamic religious organization that's been defunct for several years. Krekar also left Norway, and reportedly has been back in northern Iraq for more than a year, violating the terms of his residence status in Norway.

< email | 8/27/2002 04:05:00 PM | link

One hundred helpful hints to keep in mind as you plot your rule of the universe.

< email | 8/27/2002 02:37:00 PM | link

Neat, a robot will searh a shaft that hold the 'last' mystery of the Great Pyramids.

< email | 8/27/2002 02:25:00 PM | link

Conventional military activity by the Israelis in action. Some 30 wanted Palestinians have turned themselves in to the IDF, knowing that Israeli forces were closing in on them.

The growing number of terrorists who choose to surrender is due to the feeling among the Palestinians that the Israeli army will eventually capture all the men on its wanted list, and was continuing to root out the terrorists according to "a work schedule of priorities," the unnamed officer said.

Recently there have a number of incidents where Palestinians have turned in family members planning terror attacks. The senior officer said that Israel's policy of destroying the homes of terrorists' families and the possible deportation of family members from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip were the chief factors in the changing attitudes among Palestinians. "There are still serious terror warnings," the officer said, "but for the first time there are more explosive belts than suicide bombers."

< email | 8/27/2002 01:52:00 PM | link

The Palestinians and their supporters are trying hard to turn the Johannesburg conference into another hate-Jews, I mean hate-Israel, fest.

Palestinians are trying to collect thousands of signatures on a petition demanding that Israel free Barghouti and South Africa close its embassy in Tel Aviv and freeze its diplomatic ties with Israel. The petition also calls for supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

Recall that all of these organizations refuse to accept the right of Israel to exist and call for the destruction of the 'Zionist entity'.

And just in case their call for support of these organizations didn't get their agenda across.

Some members of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee wore T-shirts bearing a picture of terrorist Osama bin Laden. Daniel Rubinstein, the vice chairman of the South African Union of Jewish Students, said that when he entered the Barghouti event, the head of the Palestinian committee remarked, "You can smell the Zionists."

< email | 8/27/2002 11:40:00 AM | link

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has rebuked Canada for racism.

The panel expresses concerns about Canada's treatment of Aboriginal Peoples and "existing patterns of racial discrimination affecting people of African and Asian descent."

China and Zimbabwe are still not on the agenda for the Commission's consideration.

< email | 8/27/2002 10:00:00 AM | link

Monday, August 26, 2002

US policy in Afghanistan has become one of promoting 'nation-building'.

Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy secretary of defence, one of the leading hawks in the Bush administration, told The Daily Telegraph: "I do think increasingly our focus is shifting to training the Afghan national army, supporting ISAF, supporting reconstruction efforts - those kind of things that contribute to long-term stability.

"My biggest single concern is that the economic aid that was promised at the Tokyo conference, which I think is crucial not just for economic purposes but for political and security purposes, is just not coming through at the levels that were pledged." The Tokyo conference in January pledged $4.5 billion (£3 billion) in international aid for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, of which donor nations promised to give $1.8 billion this year. "The statistic I recall is that barely 30 per cent of what was promised for this year has been delivered," Mr Wolfowitz said. "Clearly there are major aspects of this that have implications not only for the daily welfare of people, but also for the general security situation."

I think this is a good thing but, no matter how much money or peace-keepers flow into Afghanistan we have to accept that it will not become stable, peaceful or independent overnight. Stability and commerce and ideas will flow from the major cities, despite the occasional street violence. Once the cities have begun to rebuild, the warlords on the fringes that are still hoping to carve out their own niche will, hopefully, see that by cooperating with the central government, foreign businesses and peacekeepers prosperity can be thiers for a much lower cost than violence. Again, this will not happen overnight but we cannot despair at the occassional spasms of disrution that will come.

< email | 8/26/2002 09:19:00 PM | link

Lynn Syewart (yes that Lynn Stewart) is defendng two Palestinians who firebombed a synagogue in NY, back in the Fall of 2000. Apparently this wasn't a hate crime. It was just some michief with some political overtones.

“We believe it was mischief, it was negative,” Stewart said. “It may have had political overtones, but not hate crime overtones, because I don't think these kids are capable. They say to us, ‘We just wanted to send a message. We want them to know they shouldn’t be supporting Israel, that our people were dying.'”

So because you are upset about what is happening on another continent you are going to throw molotov cocktails at a place of worship? And how would Ms. Stewart feel about a couple of young American boys throwing molotov cocktails on Sept. 12th?

“We are going to question whether or not the vodka was indeed an inflammable of the type that is seen as part of a Molotov cocktail. We contend it isn't,” said Stewart.

Just because they were too stupid to know a vodka molotov cocktail wouldn't work does not remove the intent of their crime, which was carried out on the basis of the religion of the people at the place they targeted.

< email | 8/26/2002 09:09:00 PM | link

Will Britain finally deport Sheikh Abu Hamza? In secretly taped meetings he exhorted his follweres to crime and murder.

But on one of the six video tapes made at private meetings around the country the fanatic tells impressionable young supporters: "What are they doing there anyway? Most of them are spies. "Even if they don't do anything - if Muslims cannot take them and sell them in the market - kill them, it's OK." "We have to push our children to the front line," he said. "Everybody wants his son to be killed like a lion."

Hamza said anyone standing in the way of his Islam would spend their life in fear. He warned: "They should always be worried. They should always be on the run. They should always feel insecure."

During a question and answer session, Hamza said banks were a Jewish establishment, the work of Satan. Robbing them and kafirs, or unbelievers, could be acceptable because they were not protected by Allah. He said: "I say go and do it (steal), take shoot and loot. "Every battle has its purpose. Ours is to put the authority of Allah and humiliate kafir who are challenging the authority of Allah and Muslims. "Sometimes you will feel too weak to go on, but you say 'I still have some strength to humiliate and kill and remove some of the germs who are making me weak so that people who come after me can carry on with weaker enemies'."

Hamza also backed burglary and theft from non-believers. He said: "I can't see any problem giving yourself a free hand - getting yourself a new car. "Go for their houses where you can loot and come back. It is like going to the forest and picking up wood from no man's land."

"Allah made the contract that a certain kind of believer will fight in the cause of Allah ... they will kill in the cause of Allah. "Jihad is their fight and it is also an obligation. But some people call this terrorism."

"Jihad is the only way to protect believers. Jihad comes first. "I do not want you to say 'I believe in one God'. No, no. I want you to make trouble for kafirs. "Before you can say I believe in you God I want you to put everybody's god in the dustbin. "And so you insult kafir...you say there is no god except the creator Allah. You start the trouble. "Allah will never ever allow the kafir to be pleased with you. He created them and he moulded them to be your enemy. "Jihad is moving up and proving yourself. It is something for you to look for. Go and look for it."

The people of Britain should be outraged that this man is in their midst and the authorities are apparently to cowed to take action. The law has taken away their rights of self-defense and allow men who exhort their followers to prey on the public.

< email | 8/26/2002 09:03:00 PM | link

Yay Bahrain. The closest thing to consetual government in the Middle East has stood solidly behind the US efforts to go after terrorists. After turning down Palestinian professor Mazen Al Najjar for a visa following his deportation from the US, they have said that they will not accept anyone seeking refuge from international justice.

"This was thought to be a normal request for a normal person. But because there is a problem between him and the US these are not normal circumstances. "Bahrain will not be a place for entertaining people alleged to have terrorist links."

Now if only Europe would get the same attitude.

< email | 8/26/2002 03:49:00 PM | link

Found I have to post another CNN story. Apparently the wonderful nationalized health care system in Sweden is so efficient it has led to one in six Swedes being injured to too sick to work.

...one of every six working-age Swedes is off work because of illness or injury.

The number of people on government-paid sick leave has doubled in five years, and welfare benefits for the sick and disabled now exceed the government's military and education budgets combined.

In all, about 340,000 Swedes -- one in every 26 of a population of 8.9 million -- are getting sick pay from the National Social Insurance Board, a third for longer than a year. An additional 470,000 are on disability pensions -- early-retirement benefits paid by the government to those who stop working before the retirement age of 65. These often are bigger than regular pensions.

I am sure Hillary's planned nationalized heath care package would be much better. She could probably get a full 25% of the workforce on disability and dependent on the government.

< email | 8/26/2002 03:40:00 PM | link

Gleaning information from a phonebook smuggled out of North Korea.

Early analysis suggests there is plenty of raw intelligence to be found in the book. For one thing, it provides an intriguing glimpse into some of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's methods of controlling his people. His government runs informant hotlines that remain open day and night in case snitches want to rat out their neighbors or colleagues. According to the academic's analysis, the hotline can be reached by dialing local area codes and then 82. The book also suggests that the ruling party has a previously unknown outlet for its relentless propaganda: cable television. Most important, the book provides a comprehensive listing of government ministries, intelligence bureaus, and some military offices—precisely the kind of information outside intelligence agencies have long been denied. There are 18 pages in the Pyongyang section devoted to government offices—a sign that power is highly centralized in North Korea and that the nation's bloated bureaucracy is alive and well, even if its economy is dying. (Restaurants fill only one page.)

I like their description of North Korea. He risked death if collared—but so do all of the desperate souls trying to escape the world's last Stalinist hellhole. Of course they leave out one other Stalinist hellhole.

< email | 8/26/2002 02:46:00 PM | link

Rather than attempt to adress the issues of children being used as soldiers by the PA and other terrorist organizatoins Palestinian union of journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has just decided it would be easier to ban the filming of armed children and masked militants at rallies.

"It is completely forbidden to film or photograph children carrying weapons because this represents a flagrant violation of the rights of children and these pictures reflect negatively on the image of Palestine in the international media," the PJS said in a statement faxed to news agencies and newspapers.

"Any Palestinian journalist who will film or photograph armed children in paramilitary conditions or take pictures of masked men would face union procedures and official accountability, knowing that the act serves Israel and its anti-Palestinian media campaign against our just cause."

< email | 8/26/2002 02:05:00 PM | link

More than half of Britons would like to emigrate from their homeland, fed up with the price of living and terrible weather, and would prefer to live in the United States or Spain, a survey published Monday said.

Of those wanting to leave Britain behind, the United States was the most popular destination followed by Australia.

The survey found that being able live more cheaply and the chance of new opportunities were cited as the main reasons for moving abroad. Unsurprisingly the notoriously wet and shifty British climate was the next most popular reason for leaving.

< email | 8/26/2002 01:09:00 PM | link

I thought only colonial racists could hate Mugabe.

Maugabe's men are apparently raping the children of the opposition.

In a detailed report from Zimbabwe, London's Sunday Telegraph yesterday published claims that hundreds of girls as young as 12 were being raped or kept as sex slaves in rural Zimbabwe by Mr Mugabe's youth militia. The Sunday Telegraph report quoted human rights lawyers branding the rape and mistreatment of the girls as "systematic political cleansing". The girls are said to be from families that opposed Mr Mugabe's recent re-election.

"They are raping on a massive scale," Frances Lovemore, a counsellor at the Amani Trust that monitors torture in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare told the newspaper. "Girls as young as 12 and 13 are being systematically taken and used and abused because of their families' political views."

Correspondent Christina Lamb, who apparently defied Zimbabwe bans on foreign press to get the report, wrote that Amani had "compelling video evidence" to help to bring Mr Mugabe to trial at the international court of human rights. Lamb quoted victims now living in hiding as saying they were pack-raped by police and the so-called "war veterans" who are at the heart of Mr Mugabe's state seizure of white-owned farms and his terror-tactics militia. Girls had their genitals burned with iron rods and other Mugabe opponents were badly beaten. Mr Mugabe's thugs ruined food in opponents' homes in the starving countryside by urinating on it, victims have said. One victim, 12, told Lamb she was raped for four hours by a gang of pro-Mugabe thugs while her mother and sisters were forced to watch and made to sing pro-Mugabe songs of praise.

Another story about the use of rape in Zimbabwe as a political tool.

The report told of one 12-year-old girl, in the Vumba mountains in eastern Zimbabwe, who was gang-raped by war veterans and policemen while her mother and younger sisters were forced to chant Mugabe's praises and watch the ordeal.

She was raped because her father supported the country's main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Other victims were severely beaten, and some claimed brigade members urinated on their food supplies - a terrible indignity in a land where millions were close to starvation, the report said.

"We found a population living in terror, some towns completely "cleansed" of all opposition," a Sunday Telegraph reporter said.

Zimbabwean officials were speaking in chilling terms about the need to take the country back to zero, the report said.

Last week, Didymus Mutasa, the organisation secretary of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF Party said: "We would be better off with only six million people (out of a total 12 million), with our own people who support the liberation struggle.

< email | 8/26/2002 11:23:00 AM | link

Sunday, August 25, 2002

A handgun in the hands of a private citizen has saved the lives of a man and his child again. After two men forced their way into their hotel room the father pulled his .44 from under his pillow and shot both criminals. One is dead and the other is in the hosptial.

Steven D. Robey, 46, who was pinned to his bed with a gun to his head, reached under his pillow for his .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and shot both men to save his and his daughter’s lives.

Said the sheriff's Capt.: “A gun was pointed at his head and a man was taking his daughter in the bathroom,” Chard said. “I feel I would have responded in the same way.”

Now let's review. Mr. Robey was licensed to carry a firearm. The two thieves, I am guessing, were not and their guns were probably unregistered. If gun control advocates had their way. Mr Robey would now be dead his daughter raped and murdered and everything they owned would now be in the hands of two criminals.

< email | 8/25/2002 11:26:00 PM | link

The stories around Zimbabwe are gaining speed and momentum. First, Jack Straw (from Witchita) has come out swinging in advance of Tony Blair's trip to Johannesberg.

Mr Straw said Zimbabwe was a "self-made pariah, not a colonial victim". "Robert Mugabe is leading his country to ruin. The decline in Zimbabwe's fortunes has been swift and devastating. "In the name of land reform policies he is reducing his people to starvation. "A fraudulent election earlier this year was characterised by murder and intimidation.

"His continuing use of state-organised violence since then underlines his determination to hold on to power at all costs." He went on: "Human rights abuses, violations of the rule of law and economic illiteracy have made Zimbabwe an outcast regionally and globally."

Next comes a story of what the opposition faces.

Chipwanyira, 34, is from the Buhera district of southeastern Zimbabwe. 'I am a peasant farmer and the deputy constituency secretary for the MDC [the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's opposition party].

'On 14 July four riot police and two members of the CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] came to my house. They fired guns at me. I was very much afraid and I fell down. They beat me with their fists and baton sticks. My arm broke and I fainted. I only woke up at the police station.

'The police told me that I was selling Zimbabwe to the British and that I did not fight to liberate Zimbabwe. They told me to go to Britain. They asked me what we discussed at MDC meetings, especially when the party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, was present. I did not want to disclose anything,' said Chipwanyira. 'For three days the police kept beating me. They held me down and beat my feet until they were swollen like big balls. They beat my back and my legs. They smashed my fingernails. This was at the police station. I know the names of some of the police constables who did this.'

'The use of torture has reached epidemic proportions in Zimbabwe,' says Reeler. 'Our data suggests between 400,000 and 600,000 people have experienced some form of torture in the past two years. This is a terrible wound on the national psyche that will take years to heal.

When will we start seeing this make the headlines here in America? When will our newsrooms get over their squeamishness in covering the murderous nature of Robert Mugabe? I hope it does not come too late for all those who want peace.

Update: Here is the full text of Straw's comments

< email | 8/25/2002 12:46:00 AM | link

More words from the people of Afghanistan and how they feel about the US war to oust the Taliban. Rather than people far from the scene with an Agenda I think it best to listen to those most affected.

Under the reconstruction project, which is already under way, a new 12-foot dome will be built over the shrine and white marble will be laid on its floors. The village's rebuilt mosque is to have 16-foot ceilings and a minaret, and there will be landscaped waterfalls and manicured flower gardens. Guesthouses for the pilgrims who come from afar to visit the shrine will also be put up.

``There was a lot of propaganda that the Americans just wanted to destroy Islam,'' said Abdul Mohammed, the engineer who is in charge of the 10-month project. ``But this is a joint venture between America and Afghanistan that shows Americans respect our religion.''

Villagers say they don't blame the United States too much for the devastation of the bombing. During the 10-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which lasted until 1989, Khak Raiz was bombed 33 times. ``This was a part of war,'' said Noor Mohammed, 38, who brought his 10-member family Friday on their weekly outing to the shrine. ``All sides did bad things. But at least now we have peace and stability.''

That sentiment was echoed by other pilgrims who came to pray at the shrine. ``In 15 years, I've visited this shrine only once. Why? Because of lack of security. In the last two months, I've been out here four times,'' said Ubaidullah, 45, who walks with crutches because he was beaten badly by Taliban militiamen during their regime. ``Americans have given us that security. Now we are waiting for their development work.''

Where once there was no hope, people now can imagine a day when they can live in peace and free from fear and violence.

< email | 8/25/2002 12:16:00 AM | link

A young man who nearly brought the terror of suicide bombing to Kurdistan changed his mind at the last minute. Either he did not say what changed his mind or the reporter did not pass it along. He does write why the Kurds think this new brand of extremism is affecting the youth.

Mullah Majjed and his secular counterparts blame a campaign of preaching linked to aid distribution by Islamic charities backed by wealthy Gulf governments - including that of Saudi Arabia - and private donors. Last week the ruling family of Saudi Arabia was sued by victims of the September 11th attacks for their role in fomenting the radical Islamic movement that bred men like Mohammed Atta, the leader of the hijackers.

"These people are stealing our youth. They are preaching intolerance where once there was tolerance," said Sadi Ahmed Pire of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two main parties who split the government of the Kurdish enclave.

The charities have been targeting Kurdistan ever since senior hardline Islamist clerics announced that the flood of Western NGO's into the area after the 1991 Gulf War was a ploy to undermine the Kurds Islamic faith. Most tie their aid distribution explicitly to observance of the strict rituals of the 'Whahabi' strand of Islam followed in Saudi Arabia and, increasingly, elsewhere in the Middle East. Students are subsidised on the condition that they attend prayer meetings and women in their family wear the veil. For orphans to receive aid they have to study the Koran. Wahabi literature is widely printed and disseminated. Thousands of mosques have been built in villages that do not even have schools. Opponents of the Wahabi groups claim the mosques have been deliberately built in highly visible locations.

< email | 8/25/2002 12:12:00 AM | link

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