Monday, February 28, 2005

FOXNews.com - Officials: Bin Laden Urges Zarqawi to Hit U.S.

FOXNews.com - U.S. & World - Officials: Bin Laden Urges Zarqawi to Hit U.S.

WASHINGTON — Recent communications between Usama bin Laden (search) and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) indicated that bin Laden has "encouraged Zarqawi and his group to focus on attacks inside the United State, multiple U.S. officials told FOX News on Monday.

The sources would not get into detail about how the communication was made or how it was intercepted by the United States and they pointed out that there is nothing specific in the message — such as maps, specific cities, or buildings — just a message encouraging a "focus" on attacks inside U.S. borders.

Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda (search) in Iraq and believed to be the inspiration of the ongoing bombings, beheadings and attacks on Iraqi and American forces, pledged his alliance to bin Laden last year and changed the name of his group in Iraq to reflect his tie to Al Qaeda. Iraqi officials said they expect to take Zarqawi soon; they recently nabbed a key associate and the driver of Jordanian-born terror leader.

U.S. officials say Zarqawi has "his hands full" trying to stay out of U.S. or Iraqi custody in Iraq and they question whether Zarqawi's group would have the ability to pull off an attack inside America. Also, officials are wondering aloud what this means about Al Qaeda and whether it means the group is reaching out to its central leader because they are under significant pressure.

My Way News- Lebanon Govt. Quits, Pressure Mounts on Syria

My Way News-Lebanon Govt. Quits, Pressure Mounts on Syria:

"BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's Syrian-backed government collapsed Monday, piling more pressure on Damascus, already under fire from the United States and Israel.

Prime Minister Omar Karami, under opposition fire since the Feb. 14 assassination of his predecessor Rafik al-Hariri, told parliament his government was resigning to ensure that it 'does not become an obstacle to the good of the country.'

The news delighted thousands of flag-waving demonstrators who had defied an official ban to protest at Syrian domination of Lebanon. Banks, schools and businesses had closed after an opposition call for an anti-Syrian general strike.

Druze opposition leader Walid Jumblatt said the 'people have won' and called for calm. 'Today we are at a new turning point in the history of the country,' he said.

A Syrian official source, who asked not to be named, said only: 'This is an internal affair. Lebanon has the constitutional channels that govern these issues.'

Syria plays a dominant role in Lebanon and maintains 14,000 troops there. Pressure has been growing within Lebanon and from abroad for a complete military withdrawal.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he thought Washington might eventually resort to military action against his country.

'Washington has imposed sanctions on us and isolated us in the past, but each time the circle hasn't closed around us,' Assad told Italy's Repubblica newspaper.

'If, however, you ask me if I'm expecting an armed attack, well I've seen it coming since the end of the war in Iraq.'

Asked if an attack was imminent, Assad said: 'I don't think so, for now it's just skirmishing. True, the White House language, if looked at in detail, leads one to expect a campaign similar to the one that led up to attack on Iraq.'

U.S. PRESSURE

Syria has come under intense diplomatic fire from Washington since Hariri's killing in a huge bomb blast in Beirut. Many Lebanese blame Syria, which denies responsibility."

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Lebanese ministers resign office

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Lebanese ministers resign office:

Lebanon's Prime Minister Omar Karami has announced he and his government are resigning, two weeks after the murder of former PM Rafik Hariri.

The move came as crowds protested in Beirut, calling for Syrian troops to leave the country.

The Lebanese parliament was also debating an opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in the government."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

washingtonpost.com: Prisoner Uprising In Iraq Exposes New Risk for U.S.

washingtonpost.com: Prisoner Uprising In Iraq Exposes New Risk for U.S.:

Nonlethal Weapons Proved Ineffective as Chaos Spread

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq -- A bloody inmate riot three weeks ago at the biggest U.S.-run detention facility in Iraq has exposed an increasingly hard-core prison population that is confronting U.S. forces with a growing risk of prison violence, according to military officers.

U.S. troops who dealt with the clash tell of a chaotic and threatening situation. They say the extent of violence surprised them. They also say the nonlethal weapons available to them at the time for crowd control proved largely ineffectual.

'What happened here on January 31st has changed the dynamics' of managing such situations, said Maj. Gen. William Brandenburg, who oversees U.S. military detention operations in Iraq and toured the facility last week. 'It showed that the prisoners could hurl rocks farther than we could fire nonlethal weapons. It also showed that we have to do a better job of understanding who we have in detention.'

Four inmates died and six were injured in the uprising the morning of Jan. 31, the most deaths in a prison disturbance since U.S. forces invaded Iraq two years ago. Frightened guards, some having arrived in Iraq only a month before, tried vainly to quell the rioting, spraying pepper gas and shooting rubberized pellets into throngs of prisoners, according to accounts by troops here.

The clashes spread through five of eight compounds at the sprawling detention facility in the southern Iraqi desert near the Kuwaiti border. Prisoners pelted guards with large stones and makeshift weapons, heaving debris over 15-foot-high metal fences and up at 30-foot-tall guard towers that ring the compounds.

Only after two Army guards in separate towers opened fire with M-16 rifles, killing the inmates, did the violence subside. U.S. officers say the guards acted on their own, with no order to fire. Rules here allow for use of deadly force if soldiers feel endangered."

Yahoo! News - Allawi Enters Iraq PM Race; Bush Faces Europe

Yahoo! News - Allawi Enters Iraq PM Race; Bush Faces Europe:

"HORSE-TRADING

The United Iraqi Alliance has yet to name its candidate for prime minister formally, although the front runner is Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shi'ite and former exile. He is being challenged from within the alliance by one-time Pentagon (news - web sites) darling and former exile Ahmad Chalabi.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the assembly to form a government -- a margin no coalition has unless it strikes an alliance with another group. A Kurdish alliance came second in the election, winning 25 percent of votes for 75 seats.

Iraq's leading Kurdish leader said on Monday that the Kurdish bloc would strike an alliance with the party that most supported a federal and pluralist Iraq.

'There are talks with various parties on steps to form the government and other matters. The main point for us is Iraq's identity and there can be no compromise on the issue of a federal, democratic, pluralist and united Iraq,' said Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

If the main Shi'ite alliance and the Kurds were to ally, they could grasp a two-thirds majority and decide the top government posts between them. Until Allawi joined the running on Monday, that had appeared the most likely scenario.

Adding intrigue to the horse-trading, Allawi, who is a secular Shi'ite, met Jaafari for more than an hour on Monday.

'We evaluated the election process,' Jaafari said afterwards, giving no details. He expected it to be a couple of days before the main Shi'ite alliance names a candidate."

Yahoo! News - Allawi Enters Iraq PM Race; Bush Faces Europe

Yahoo! News - Allawi Enters Iraq PM Race; Bush Faces Europe

Allawi Enters Iraq PM Race; Bush Faces Europe

Mon Feb 21, 5:37 PM ET

Add to My Yahoo! Top Stories - Reuters

By Mariam Karouny

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The battle to become Iraq (news - web sites)'s prime minister heated up on Monday when interim leader Iyad Allawi's coalition formally put him forward as a candidate after last month's historic elections won by a Shi'ite alliance.

Photo
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Allawi's coalition, which came third in the Jan. 30 vote, winning 14 percent of the vote and securing 40 seats in the 275-member National Assembly, decided to put their candidate forward after nearly two weeks of intense debate.

The proposal comes as Allawi's biggest ally, President Bush (news - web sites), begins a five-day tour of Europe with an appeal to its leaders to bury differences over the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and join the United States in promoting democracy across the Middle East.

Thaer al-Naqib, an Iraq government spokesman, told Reuters the decision on Allawi was clinched when several other parties and coalitions said they would support the interim leader's bid to return to his post.

His entrance into the fray suggests Allawi's backers believe that not everyone is content to let the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shi'ite-led religious coalition that won the election, gaining 140 seats in the assembly, decide who gets the top job.

HORSE-TRADING

The United Iraqi Alliance has yet to name its candidate for prime minister formally, although the front runner is Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shi'ite and former exile. He is being challenged from within the alliance by one-time Pentagon (news - web sites) darling and former exile Ahmad Chalabi.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the assembly to form a government -- a margin no coalition has unless it strikes an alliance with another group. A Kurdish alliance came second in the election, winning 25 percent of votes for 75 seats.

Iraq's leading Kurdish leader said on Monday that the Kurdish bloc would strike an alliance with the party that most supported a federal and pluralist Iraq.

City Journal Winter 2005 | Postmodern War by Victor Davis Hanson

City Journal Winter 2005 | Postmodern War by Victor Davis Hanson

It is still suicidal to meet the United States in a conventional war—at least for any enemy that has not fully adopted Western arms, discipline, logistics, and military organization. The recent abrupt collapse of both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein’s regime amply proves the folly of fighting America in direct conflicts. The military dynamism that enables the United States to intervene militarily in the Middle East—in a manner in which even the richest Middle Eastern countries could not intervene in North America—is not an accident of geography or a reflection of genes, but a result of culture. Our classical Western approaches to politics, religion, and economics—including consensual government, free markets, secularism, a strong middle class, and individual freedom—eventually translate on the battlefield into better-equipped, motivated, disciplined, and supported soldiers.

To an American television audience, al-Qaida videos of pajama-clad killers in ski masks beheading captives look scary, of course. But a platoon of Rangers would slaughter hundreds of them in seconds if they ever approached Americans openly on the field of conventional battle or even for brief moments of clear firing. In Mogadishu, Somalia, everything boded ill for a few trapped Americans—outnumbered, far from home, facing local hostility in urban warfare—and yet the real lesson was not that a few Americans were tragically killed, but that the modern successors to Xenophon’s Ten Thousand or the Redcoats at Rorke’s Drift managed to shoot their way out and kill over 1,000 in the process.

Nevertheless, the numerous setbacks of Western armies from Thermopylae to Vietnam prove that there are several ways to nullify these military advantages, both on conventional and irregular battlefields. The question is: Are such historical precedents still relevant to the modern age?

From early times, enemies have obtained superficial parity by a sort of military parasitism—by buying, stealing, or cloning Western weaponry. The galleys and guns of the Ottoman forces at Lepanto without exception were copies of Venetian designs, for example, as was the Turkish arsenal itself at Constantinople. In 1850, Japan had virtually no munitions industry, no oceanic fleet, and no organized naval corps; by 1905, its ships were among the best in the world and soundly defeated a Russian armada— but only after tens of thousands of Japanese students for a half century had studied at European universities and military academies. From Europe, the Japanese had systematically imported everything from Western notions of command to advanced optics and metallurgy.

Today, China is a similar example. Like the Ottomans and the nineteenth-century Japanese, the Chinese military believes that it can either purchase or steal Western computer, aeronautical, and nuclear technology—while skipping bothersome Western notions like democracy and free speech—in order to obtain military parity with the United States. The Arab world too has sought to match Israel with MiGs, Scuds, SAMs, and RPGs—technology that it could neither design nor fabricate, but that it believed could give its autocracies the ability to destroy a democratic, highly sophisticated Jewish state all the same. Every rocket-propelled grenade that kills an American in the Sunni Triangle is either imported from the West or fabricated in the region according to Western blueprints and designs.

Yet in the long run, such imported technological expertise cannot be maintained, constantly improved, or used to its optimum potential without free citizens, secular universities, transparent government, and open inquiry. These intangible values and concrete institutions are the real engines that drive the modern Western ability to field high-tech arms and disciplined soldiers in the first place. For all the worry about weapons of mass destruction, neither Iran, nor North Korea, nor Libya, despite the purchased veneer of a sophisticated military, could ever defeat a militarily serious Western state of comparable size unless it underwent radical social and cultural democratic reform—which ironically might then deprive it of any impulse to attack the West in the first place.
[...]
It would have been extremely messy to have shot the first 400 looters who began a cascading riot that ruined $13 billion in Iraqi infrastructure. Storming rather than pulling back from Fallujah in April 2004 would have offended the press, the professors, and the Europeans. Arresting or killing Moqtada al-Sadr in June 2003 might have angered the Arab world and invited parlor debate among the mandarins back home, but such measures also would have shown ironclad American resolve and eventually would have impressed even our enemies.

The key in irregular, as in conventional, war remains the will to win. That’s why it was simplistic to suggest in the 2004 campaign that John Kerry was a “flip-flopper,” as if he altered positions solely because of changes of heart. In fact, his support for, or criticism of, the war hinged entirely on the pulse of the battlefield. Winning in Iraq made him shed his Howard Dean pacifism; seeing American inability to put down insurgents turned him back into a war critic. And at times, even our war leaders seemed to overlook this simple and depressing facet of human nature: for all their care to hit only terrorists, to supply money and aid, and to work with the Iraqis, they forgot the one requisite for success—the overarching aim to win at all costs.

Victory always sways the heart even of the most ardent pacifist, just as defeat and humiliation erode the will of the most zealous hawk—although it is hard to confess that most humans still think with the most primitive part of their brains. Amid all the glitter of contemporary culture and technology, the will to fight for victory remains crucial to battlefield success, an odious thought for us postmodern children of the Enlightenment, who feel we should be exempt—as too wealthy, educated, or sophisticated—ever to have to descend to the primeval swamp to destroy bin Ladin and his ilk to ensure our survival. But bin Ladin’s October infomercial mentioned truces and respites, not out of tender concern for the West, but because bin Ladin is beginning to feel, like al-Sadr, that he is going to lose.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Israel Blames Syria for Suicide Bombing - My Way News -

My Way News: "Israel Blames Syria for Suicide Bombing

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz blamed Syria on Saturday for a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv, and Israel's Army Radio reported that he also froze plans to hand over security responsibilities in the West Bank to the Palestinians.

Israeli security officials also said they may resume assassinations of the leaders of the militant Islamic Jihad group, which claimed responsibility Saturday for the bombing. The officials said on condition of anonymity that the recent cease-fire forged with the Palestinians no longer applies to Islamic Jihad, which has links to Syria.

A resumption of Israel's targeted killings of wanted militants, which Israel recently agreed to halt, would likely mean the end of the cease-fire declared by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at a Feb. 8 summit in Egypt.

Although Mofaz blamed Syria for Friday night's bombing outside a nightclub, he did not immediately threaten retaliation against Israel's northern neighbor.

Speaking at a meeting with defense chiefs, Mofaz said Israeli officials would go abroad in coming days on a diplomatic offensive to present the case against Damascus and the Islamic Jihad Palestinian militant group, Israeli Army Radio reported.

'The defense minister ruled that Israel sees Syria and the Islamic Jihad movement as those standing behind the murderous attack in Tel Aviv,' a statement from Mofaz's office said."

mubarak of egypt

Yahoo! News - Mubarak orders direct presidential elections in Egypt

Yahoo! News - Mubarak orders direct presidential elections in Egypt

CAIRO (AFP) - President Hosni Mubarak said he had told parliament to amend Egypt’s constitution to allow direct presidential elections in which anyone can stand and all citizens can vote by secret ballot.

The announcement, welcomed by the opposition as a first step, comes amid US pressure on Egypt to accelerate democratic reform and follows months of unprecedented protests in which demonstrators have denounced the likelihood of Mubarak being elected to a fifth six-year term.

In a televised speech, Mubarak hailed what he called an historic move signalling a new era of political reform. He said he had asked the constitution to be amended before May in time for the next presidential election.

“I took this initiative to open a new era of reform,” said the 76-year-old Mubarak who has ruled Egypt since his predecessor Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

Under the current system, parliament elects a single candidate for the presidency by a two-thirds majority, whose name is then put to a referendum.

The move would “for the first time in Egyptian history, allow everyone who is able and willing to serve the fatherland ... to present their candidacy for direct election as president of the republic.”

Both the lower and upper houses of parliament will convene extraordinary sessions to study Mubarak’s demand, an official said.

The Shi'ite Factor in Gulf Politics

The Shi'ite Factor in Gulf PoliticsThe Shi'ite / Sunni conflict underlies Gulf politics.

Saddam Hussein's regime tried to show a pan-Arabic face to the world. In Iraq, that ideology meant Sunni dominance over the Shi'a. The Shi'a saw Saddam's pan-Arabism as an attack on their version of Islam.

The discourse in the Gulf is full of coded speech that masks the depth of this Sunni / Shi'ite conflict from those that miss the coding. Arabic language websites demonstrate the virulent nature of the conflict.

One Sunni extremist, affiliated with Al Qaeda, wrote a pamphlet listing the threats to Sunni Islam. He identified four threats of equal danger.

1. Jews
2. Christian Crusaders (the United States and Great Britain)
3. Secularists
4. The Shi'ite heretic threat

The Sunni extremists call Shi'ites refusers — they refuse to accept the successors to the prophet. The word "refusers" is a slur, akin to a racial epithet.

Salafist is a broad term to describe Sunni extremists, who are especially centered in Saudi Arabia. The word Salafist roughly means fighters willing to take up arms for the faith. The Salafist movement wants to create Sunni fundamentalist states. That does not necessarily mean that the Salafists agree on the means to that end — they are not all necessarily terrorists.

Salafists believe in successors to the prophet Muhammed. Salafists hate the Shi'ites above all others. One Al Qaeda website called Shi'ites, "the most evil people on the face of the earth." Their hatred takes on a form similar to the early 20th century European hatred of Jews. They hate Shi'a because they are neighbors — the enemy your see every day, the enemy who secretly seeks your destruction.

Salafist hatred of Shi'ite centers on the Mongol sack of Baghdad in the 13th century. Salafists believe a Shi'ite minister for the Caliph tricked the Caliph into dividing the cities defenses, letting in the Mongols, who raped and pillaged, sending Islam into its darkest period. This episode encapsulates the idea that the Shi'tes have a method of achieving their ends: betrayal from within. Last spring, Arabic websites said that this method had been repeated in the fall of Baghdad to the Americans.

The Salafists borrow old European anti-semitic motifs, including the protocols of the Elders of Zion, and apply bastardized versions to Shi'ites. Salafists believe Shi'ism is an offshoot of Judaism. This idea has historical roots — they believe Shi'ism was in fact created by a Jew.

Today Salafists argue about whether Saddam was an apostate or a true son of Islam. His war against Iran, a Shi'ite state, was popular with Salafists. The prevailing attitude seems to be that he was bastard, but our (Sunni) bastard, who kept down the Shi'ites and kept a buffer between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Salafists have a unified world view, like Marxists, but one centered on religion. Religion, to them, is like the tectonic plates that move beneath the complicated surface of world political events, driving them. They see Iran/ Israel tension as a charade. The four threats — secularists, Jews, crusaders, and Shi'ites — are seen as parts of the same whole: idolaters. Muhammed fought idolatry, and so do the Salafists today.

While this Salafist worldview is infused with conspiracy theories and craziness, it serves real interests. Shi'ites make up 60% of Iraq, 20% of Kuwait, 75% of Bahrain and 90% of Iran. In Saudi, they are only 10-20% of the population but concentrated in strategic regions. They are 80 million Shi'ites in the Gulf, who have power only in Iran and now Iraq. And Salafists know Iran could be the major power in the Middle East, and thus fear any rapprochement with the United States.

Salafists fear the rise of Shi'ism and the overthrow of Sunni Islam by stealth. Salafists worry that the Shi'ites will succeed in dividing the Ulama from the rulers to get to power in various Gulf states. Neocons in Washington have spoken of breaking up Saudi Arabia and creating a Shi'ite state — the Salafists hear this. Fundamentalist Sunnis are outnumbered by Shi'ites in the Gulf, and they are determined to hold onto their power — the Saudi state, religious, and educational institutions.

According to another site I viewed, almost 60% of Saudi Arabia is Shi'ite. If Iraq is the first of a resurgence of Shi'ite populations embracing democracy and eschewing extremist Islam, that puts the Saudis in a tight spot.

New Scientist Psychedelic medicine: Mind bending, health giving - Features

New Scientist Psychedelic medicine: Mind bending, health giving - Features

JOHN HALPERN clearly remembers what made him change his mind about psychedelic drugs. It was the early 1990s and the young medical student at a hospital in Brooklyn, New York, was getting frustrated that he could not do more to help the alcoholics and addicts in his care. He sounded off to an older psychiatrist, who mentioned that LSD and related drugs had once been considered promising treatments for addiction. 'I was so fascinated that I did all this research,' Halpern recalls. 'I was reading all these papers from the 60s and going, whoa, wait a minute! How come nobody's talking about this?'

More than a decade later, Halpern is now an associate director of substance abuse research at Harvard University's McLean Hospital and is at the forefront of a revival of research into psychedelic medicine. He recently received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to give late-stage cancer patients the psychedelic drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy. He is also laying the groundwork for testing LSD as a treatment for dreaded super-migraines known as cluster headaches.

And Halpern is not alone. Clinical trials of psychedelic drugs are planned or under way at numerous centres around the world for conditions ranging from anxiety to alcoholism. It may not be long before doctors are legally prescribing hallucinogens for the first time in decades. 'There are medicines here that have been overlooked, that are fundamentally valuable,' says Halpern.

These developments are a remarkable turnaround."

Friday, February 25, 2005

National Post Canadian rejection of missile defence historic, unpredictable shift: analysts

National Post

Canadian rejection of missile defence historic, unpredictable shift: analysts

Alexander Panetta
Canadian Press
One U.S. official emitted a deep, extended laugh when asked for an assessment of the prime minister and said Canada no longer qualifies as a trusted ally.

While wary of speaking on the record, the Americans are particularly annoyed with Martin over what they perceive as weak leadership.

They say he expressed support for missile defence, then did nothing to refute misconceptions about it, and finally pulled out when public opinion mushroomed against it.

Most analysts believe the Canada-U.S. trade relationship will continue unhindered because the countries rely heavily on each other's goods and services.

But Canada's refusal to sign on to the missile plan could further marginalize its concerns and interests when trade-related issues like softwood lumber appear before U.S. Congress, said one Calgary observer.

"This is one more issue that goes into the balance scale, one more reason to say, 'Screw Canada,' " said David Bercuson, director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

Thursday's decision has already prompted some debate.

Martin declared the United States must seek permission before firing any missile over Canadian airspace.

He was responding to warnings that Canada has abdicated sovereignty by refusing to take part in the U.S. project.

Beirut's Berlin Wall (washingtonpost.com)

Beirut's Berlin Wall (washingtonpost.com):

"Over by the Martyr's Monument, Lebanese students have built a little tent city and are vowing to stay until Syria's 15,000 troops withdraw. They talk like characters in 'Les Miserables,' but their revolutionary bravado is the sort of force that can change history. 'We have nothing to lose anymore. We want freedom or death,' says Indra Hage, a young Lebanese Christian. 'We're going to stay here, even if soldiers attack us,' says Hadi Abi Almouna, a Druze Muslim. 'Freedom needs sacrifices, and we are ready to give them.'

Brave words, in a country where dissent has often meant death. 'It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution,' argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. 'It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor.'

The leader of this Lebanese intifada is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus."
[...]
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Where will this amazing Lebanese intifada go next? The answer may lie partly with the Shiite militia, Hezbollah, which is probably the most powerful political organization in the country. Hezbollah officials and leaders of the opposition have been trading signals this week about whether they can form a united front. What's clear is that the Lebanese are fed up with the status quo and that Hezbollah -- like all the other parties -- must adjust to change.

World Tribune.com -- After U.S. push, study of Arabic up by 92 percent, tops Hebrew

World Tribune.com -- After U.S. push, study of Arabic up by 92 percent, tops HebrewU.S. pushes Arabic: Study of language now tops Hebrew


WASHINGTON — The United States has designated Arabic a strategic language and promoted its instruction in schools throughout the nation.

Officials said federal funds for international education programs, including Arabic, have increased by 33 percent since 2001 to $103.7 million in 2004. They said the U.S. Education Department has also provided opportunities to finance students and educators to learn Arabic in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia.

The result has been a sharp rise in Arabic courses and school enrollment over the last six years. Officials said Arabic has now replaced Hebrew as the main Middle East language taught in schools.
[...]
Still, Americans struggle with the challenges of learning Arabic, deemed by the Education Department a "super hard" language that requires more than 2,200 class hours to achieve relative fluency. The Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics said that despite increased federal funding only 70 U.S. elementary and secondary schools — most of them private Islamic schools -- have been teaching Arabic.

As part of its efforts to promote Arabic, the government has overseen an effort to develop standards for learning Arabic in the United States. Officials said a report on standards would be published around April 2005 and tested in Dearborn, Michigan, the location of the largest Arab-American community in the United States.

"We're living in a global society," Wilbert Bryant, deputy assistant secretary for higher education in the Education Department, said. "We must be able to speak the languages of many countries. The only way is to start at K-12. It's the only way to remain competitive and retain our position as the superpower in the world."

Putin loses his smile after lecture from Bush on democracy - Independent UK

News: "An unsmiling, visibly irritated Mr Putin squirmed as he listened to Mr Bush tell a press conference he had been told that Washington had 'concerns about Russia's commitment in fulfilling' the 'universal principles' of democracy. 'Democracies always reflect a country's customs and culture, and I know that,' Mr Bush said. 'Yet democracies have certain things in common; they have a rule of law, and protection of minorities, a free press, and a viable political opposition.'

Mr Putin had wanted to talk about the two countries' joint efforts to combat terrorism but was forced instead to defend his domestic reforms and his commitment to democracy.

For a man who is seldom subjected to such face-to-face criticism and is famously cool under pressure, he looked at times as if he was about to lose his composure. 'I respect some of his [Mr Bush's ideas] a lot and take them into account. Others I won't. [Such issues] should not be pushed to the foreground. New problems should not be created that could jeopardise our relationship. We want to develop the relationship.'

Russian officials tried to play down the tension by suggesting the two men's relationship had matured to a level where they could now tell each other things they did not want to hear."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Yahoo! News - 'Minutemen' to Patrol Arizona Border

Yahoo! News - 'Minutemen' to Patrol Arizona Border

WASHINGTON - Intent on securing the vulnerable Arizona border from illegal immigrant crossings, U.S. officials are bracing for what they call a potential new threat this spring: the Minutemen.

Nearly 500 volunteers have already joined the Minuteman Project, anointing themselves civilian border patrol agents determined to stop the immigration flow that routinely, and easily, seeps past federal authorities. They plan to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the southeast Arizona border throughout April when the tide of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaks.

"I felt the only way to get something done was to do it yourself," said Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant and decorated Vietnam War veteran who is helping recruit Minutemen across the country.
[...]

Officials fear the Minuteman patrols could cause more trouble than they prevent. At least some of the volunteers plan to arm themselves during the 24-hour desert patrols. Many are untrained and have little or no experience in confronting illegal border crossings.

"Any time there are firearms and you're out in the middle of no-man's land in difficult terrain, it's a dangerous setting," said Bonner, whose agency is keeping a close eye on the Minutemen plans.

"The Border Patrol does this every day, and they are qualified and very well-trained to handle the situation," he said. "Ordinary Americans are not. So there's a danger that not just illegal migrants might get hurt, but that American citizens might get hurt in this situation."

Civilian patrols are nothing new along the southern border, where crossing the international line is sometimes as easy as stepping over a few rusty strands of barbed wire. But they usually are limited to small, informal groups, leaving organizers to believe the Minuteman Project is the largest of its kind on the southern border.

It may also prove to be a magnet for what Glenn Spencer, president of the private American Border Patrol, described as camouflage-wearing, weapons-toting hard-liners who might get a little carried away with their assignments.

"How are they going to keep the nutcases out of there? They can't control that," said Spencer, whose 40-volunteer group, based in Hereford, Ariz., has used unmanned aerial vehicles and other high-tech equipment to track and report the number of border crossings for more than two years.

[...]

Gilchrist said the Minutemen are under strict orders to merely identify and follow illegal border crossers and alert federal agents. They should not interact with the immigrants except to offer food, water or medical care. If there's a couple of "bad apples" who turn up in the group, Gilchrist said, they will face prosecution if they step outside the law.

Something dramatic needed to be done to curb the years of crime, property damage and trash dumping caused by the border crossings, Gilchrist said.

"Things are out of control" he said. "And they've been out of control for decades."

FrontPage magazine.com :: Osama's Big Lie by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

FrontPage magazine.com :: Osama's Big Lie by Daveed Gartenstein-RossConclusion

The theologians influencing bin Laden have expressed views that further illuminate the perpetual conflict between the West and a potential al-Qaeda-sanctioned caliphate. The 9/11 Commission Report notes bin Laden’s heavy reliance on Egyptian ideologue Sayyid Qutb, and concisely explains Qutb’s significance:



Three basic themes emerge from Qutb’s writings. First, he claimed that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief (a condition he called jihiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed). Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jihiliyya. Second, he warned that more people, including Muslims, were attracted to jihiliyya and its material comforts than to his view of Islam; jahiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam. Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslims – as he defined them – therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction.[vi][6]



Besides Qutb, other theologians cited by bin Laden believe that Islam and the West are locked in mortal combat. Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid, publicly praised by bin Laden, argued in an essay entitled “The Call to Jihad in the Qur’an” that all Muslims are obligated to participate in a perpetual jihad against the non-Muslim world.[vii][7] Bin Humaid bases the much of his argument on Surah 9:29 of the Qur’an. He explains, “Allah revealed in Surat At-Taubah (Bara’ah) (Repentance, IX) the order to discard (all) the obligations (covenants, etc.) and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Mushrikun as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizyah (a tax levied on the non-Muslims who do not embrace Islam and are under the protection of an Islamic government) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (as it is revealed in Verse 9:29).”



Beyond that, bin Humaid promotes an aggressive jihad for the purpose of establishing Islam:
[...]

There is nothing new about al-Qaeda’s use of deception to weaken the West’s resolve. In 1996, bin Laden told Robert Fisk that the Afghan mujahideen who had accompanied him to Sudan were definitely not engaged in training for future jihads. Fisk recounts bin Laden’s repudiation of this suggestion: “‘The rubbish of the media and the embassies,’ he calls it. ‘I am a construction engineer and an agriculturist. If I had training camps here in Sudan, I couldn't possibly do this job.’ And ‘this job’ is certainly an ambitious one: a brand-new highway stretching from Khartoum to Port Sudan, a distance of 1,200km (745 miles) on the old road, now shortened to 800km by the new Bin Laden route that will turn the coastal run from the capital into a mere day’s journey.” We now know this denial to be absolutely false. In fact, during his time in Sudan, bin Laden laid the groundwork for his current global terrorist network.[ix][9]



Al-Qaeda has again turned to deception as a means of gaining a strategic advantage in its war against the West. Although many continue to fall for the terrorists’ claims of reasonableness and a limited agenda, al-Qaeda has repeatedly made its true endgame clear: re-establishing a caliphate ruled according to Taliban-style Islamic law, re-conquering all formerly Muslim lands, and preparing Islamic super-state for perpetual conflict with the West. Ignore their true agenda at your own peril.

Iran jails editor for 14 yrs for insulting leaders

Netscape News: Iran jails editor for 14 yrs for insulting leaders: "



TEHRAN, Feb 22 (Reuters) - An Iranian journalist was jailed for 14 years on charges ranging from espionage to insulting the country's leaders in an unusually heavy sentence in Iran, where tens of journalists have been tried in recent years.

Rights activists said on Tuesday that Arash Sigarchi, 28, was convicted by the Revolutionary Court in the Caspian province of Gilan in northern Iran.

Sigarchi, a newspaper editor in Gilan who also wrote an Internet journal or 'weblog,' was arrested last month after responding to a summons from the Intelligence Ministry.

'In total, he has been given 14 years in prison,' Mohammad Saifzadeh, a member of Centre for Defence of Human Rights in Tehran told Reuters by telephone.

Sigarchi's family has asked Saifzadeh and Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi to represent him in an appeal. "
[...]

Iran's judiciary has closed down more than 100 liberal publications in the past five years and jailed many journalists, earning Iran the reputation as the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, according to rights groups.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said Sigarchi had been updating a weblog in which he had spoken out about the arrest of more than 20 Internet journalists, technicians and webbloggers late last year.

Most of that group have subsequently been released, although several complained of being tortured and forced to write false confessions while in detention.

Terrorism more effective as economic disruption than body count

Global Guerrillas: SMALL GROUPS AND GLOBAL WARFARE: "SMALL GROUPS AND GLOBAL WARFARE

The decline of the nation-state is seen in a graph of the ability of small groups to replicate the state's most vital commodity -- large scale violence. Lethality_of_small_groups_1 The Yale economist, Martin Shubik examines this in his paper 'Terrorism, Technology, and the Socioeconomics of Death' (PDF). His conclusion? Rapid technological improvement and global information transfer (part of a larger context of interconnectivity) has produced a spike in the ability of small groups to produce mass casualties (see attached graph). "
[...]
System Disruption and the Democratization of Violence

If we look at different metrics of violence, such as the economic costs of system disruption, the picture changes dramatically. Unlike traditional terrorism, system disruption doesn't focus on casualties but rather on the dislocation of infrastructures and markets. The effectiveness of these attacks are measured in the financial damage it causes the target economies.

Attack_severity_1Analysis indicates that the results of attacks that cause system disruption do not follow a power law but rather a linear function. This makes the method much more suitable for sustained warfare against nation-state targets. Attacks can be planned with a relatively high degree of confidence in the results. Additionally, the results are sufficient to provide substantial returns on the invested effort and capital (direct losses to Iraq due to systems attacks are over $7 billion, to the world economy the damage is in the hundreds of billions due to the influence of the attacks on the supply of oil to global markets). The reasons for this superior performance include:

* The barriers to systems disruption are de minimus. The methods are therefore available to the vast majority of groups that attempt it (a 99.9% solution). Specialized knowledge helps, but it isn't necessary to accomplish an attack with a substantial impact.
* Infrastructures and markets provide vast vulnerabilities that can be exploited with relative safety. As a result, attacks against systems can be easily replicated over time -- for example, routine attacks on gas and oil pipelines that connect to the Iraqi refinery/power plant complex in Baiji usually result in $50 million + in damage per attack.
* Attacks gain leverage from the technology and interconnectedness of the networks being attacked. Even small attacks can generate outsized returns. In contrast to traditional terrorism, systems attacks do not suffer diminishing returns.

The quantity of damage routinely generated by systems disruption far exceeds the pay-off of traditional terrorism (the area under the curves). This technique is therefore a viable method of warfare that can challenge nation-state military power today.

Iraqi's are forming their own ad hoc militias to take on the terrorists themselves!

INTEL DUMP -Fighting for their own country, their own way


Greg Jaffe had an exceptional piece in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) describing the rise of "irregular" Iraqi units around the country, which were popping up on their own, raised by individual officers, funded privately, with little connection to the U.S.-led effort to raise an Iraqi army. Surprisingly (or maybe not so), these ad hoc units appear to be better led, better equipped, and more combat effective than their "official" brethren. And, perhaps more importantly, some U.S. officers are recognizing this, and figuring out how they might co-opt or work together with these Iraqi forces.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In the battle against insurgents here, two kinds of Iraqi military forces are emerging: the planned units and the pop-ups.

The planned units of the Iraq Army, about 57,000 soldiers strong, are the result of careful preparation this summer between the U.S. and Iraqi commanders. The pop-ups started to emerge last fall out of nowhere, catching the American military by surprise. These dozen disconnected units totaling as many as 15,000 soldiers are fast becoming one of the most significant developments in the new Iraq security situation.

The unplanned units -- commanded by friends and relatives of cabinet officers and tribal sheiks -- go by names like the Defenders of Baghdad, the Special Police Commandos, the Defenders of Khadamiya and the Amarah Brigade. The new units generally have the backing of the Iraqi government and receive government funding.

While regular units of the Iraq Army have taken up residence on rehabilitated army bases, the others camp out in places like looted Ministry of Defense buildings, a former women's college, an old Iraqi war monument and an abandoned aircraft hangar. Frequently, U.S. officials don't find out about them until they stumble across them. Some Americans consider them a welcome addition to the fight against the insurgency -- though others worry about the risks.

"We don't call them militias. Militias are...illegal," says Maj. Chris Wales, who spent most of January tracking down and finding these new forces. "I've begun calling them 'Irregular Iraqi ministry-directed brigades.' " The "pop up" label comes from other U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

Troops who might have otherwise joined the regular Iraqi Army are drawn to these units because they are often led by a particularly inspirational commander or made up of people with similar tribal and religious backgrounds. This makes the units more cohesive and potentially effective against the insurgency. "Just show us where to go and we will eat the insurgents alive," an Iraqi in one of these units told Maj. Wales earlier this month when he tracked them down at a long-shuttered Baghdad airport.

Mr. Jaffe's article continues that these units do carry some risk, in that they are not folded into the regular command structure, and thus at risk for fratricide and other problems. Nonetheless, senior U.S. officers see a great deal of promise here:

As these irregular units proliferate, U.S. officials face a thorny dilemma: whether to encourage these forces, whose training and experience varies wildly, or to try to rein them in. "There is a tension between on the one hand encouraging and fostering initiative and on the other executing the plan for the Iraqi Security Forces that everyone agreed on," says Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who is overseeing the massive U.S. effort to help train and equip Iraqi military units. "To be candid, I would err on the side of fostering initiative. I want to get the hell out of here."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Defense Tech: "EX" STRESS RELIEF FOR G.I.S

Defense Tech: "EX" STRESS RELIEF FOR G.I.S: "'EX' STRESS RELIEF FOR G.I.S

First we found out that the Army was planning to ply G.I.s with the raver favorite Ketamine, or 'Special K,' as a morphine substitute. Now comes word that 'American soldiers traumatized by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares,' the Guardian reports.


The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year...

The South Carolina study marks a resurgence of interest in the use of controlled psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs. Several studies in the US are planned or are under way to investigate whether MDMA, LSD and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can treat conditions ranging from obsessive compulsive disorder to anxiety in terminal cancer patients. (via Boing Boing)"

Defense Tech: JIMMY CARTER: SUPER SPY?

Defense Tech: JIMMY CARTER: SUPER SPY?: "JIMMY CARTER: SUPER SPY?

The rumors are that the Navy's newest nuclear sub, the USS Jimmy Carter, has been designed for spywork, with a 'special capability... to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them,' according to the AP.

jimmy_sub.jpgThe rumors are right, Military.com's undersea warfare experts believe. Here's what retired Rear Admiral Hank McKinney, the former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's submarine force, had to say:"
[...]
In the case of USS JIMMY CARTER, all of the modifications were made before the submarine was delivered to the Navy. This submarine will be utilized to conduct many specialized missions, some of which will be routine unclassified oceanographic research operations which will advance our knowledge of the ocean. Some of the missions will be highly classified missions which I am unable to comment on.
[...]
Thus Carter is able to do many different and exciting things with her 50 commandoes, her garage space, and her ocean interface for deploying and retrieving unmanned (and autonomous?) undersea vehicles and perhaps also aerial vehicles.

BBC NEWS Mars pictures reveal frozen sea

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mars pictures reveal frozen sea:


"Mars pictures reveal frozen sea

The find has implications for life on Mars


A huge, frozen sea lies just below the surface of Mars, a team of European scientists has announced.

Their assessment is based on pictures of the planet's near-equatorial Elysium region that show plated and rutted features across an area 800 by 900km.

The team think a catastrophic event flooded the landscape five million years ago and then froze out."

Table shows millions upon millions killed by the commies!

Communism is the most deadly force known to man!

WAR VERSUS GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER

WAR VERSUS GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER: "WAR ISN'T
THIS CENTURY'S
BIGGEST KILLER

By R.J. Rummel"

Our century is noted for its absolute and bloody wars. World War I saw nine-million people killed in battle, an incredi ble record that was far surpassed within a few decades by the 15 million battle deaths of World War II. Even the number killed in twentieth century revolutions and civil wars have set historical records. In total, this century's battle killed in all its international and domestic wars, revolutions, and violent conflicts is so far about 35,654,000.

Yet, even more unbelievable than these vast numbers killed in war during the lifetime of some still living, and largely unknown, is this shocking fact. This century's total killed by absolutist governments already far exceeds that for all wars, domestic and international. Indeed, this number already approximates the number that might be killed in a nuclear war.

Soldier in Iraq stunned to receive hate mail from American elementary school students!

New York Post Online Edition: news

Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.

That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.

“It’s hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don’t need to be getting letters like this,” Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey. “If they don’t have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all.”

One Muslim boy wrote: “Even thoe [sic] you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?”

His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: “I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques.”

Most of the 21 letters Jacobs provided to The Post mentioned some support for the armed forces, if not the Iraq war, and thanked him for his service. But nine of the students made clear their distaste for the president or the war.

The letters were written as a social-studies assignment. The JHS 51 teacher, Alex Kunhardt, did not return phone calls, but the school principal, Xavier Costello, responded with a statement:

“While we would never censor anything that our children write, we sincerely apologize for forwarding letters that were in any way inappropriate to Pfc. Jacobs. This assignment was not intended to be insensitive, but to be supportive of the men and women in service to our nation.”

If you'd like to write a polite email to the school chancellor, go here

Monday, February 21, 2005

U.S. and France Expect a Thaw

U.S. and France Expect a Thaw: "President Bush's dinner with French President Jacques Chirac in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday approaches with the expectation that bygones will be set aside, despite enduring points of disagreement.

'I think there'll be a new politeness in the relationship,' said Walter Russell Mead, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 'But I don't think the substance is going to change very much.'"
[...]
It is a progression, at least in tone, from when Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state and formerly the president's national security adviser, voiced the wish to punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia for their resistance to the Iraq war. In those days, France was seen as the most annoying member of what wags called the "axis of weasels," and the hard feelings and bitter words were mutual.

What's changed? Most notably, the invasion of Iraq that France so vociferously opposed fades in time and the Iraqi elections shifted the ground upon which Washington and Paris staked their leading disagreement.

'Imprudent'

"American action in Iraq was imprudent, but it must not be allowed to end badly," said Jean-Claude Casanova, specialist in bilateral history, tracing a basis for France to cooperate with Washington now.

In one of a series of European media interviews Friday, Bush said, "I personally don't feel bitter" over France's anti-war stance. He added, "Now is the time for us to set aside that difference and to move forward in areas where we can work together."

Rice's visit to France this month proved disarming to critics, in no small part because she ventured into what her contingent offhandedly called the "belly of the beast" - not just Paris, but an academic setting known as an intellectual center of anti-American ferment.

Reviews are still coming in. "Strong, simple, and totally in the tradition of the American ideology," Ernest-Antoine Selliere, head of France's powerful employers' union Medef, said of the speech. Rice's "will to turn the page is totally evident."

CNN.com - Anti-Syria demonstration in Beirut

CNN.com - Anti-Syriademonstration in Beirut - Feb 21, 2005: "BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Chanting 'Syria out,' thousands of people packed the streets of Beirut to protest the presence Syrian forces in Lebanon -- and the influence they believe Syria has on the Lebanese government.

They had support from President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac, who issued a joint statement calling for Syrian troops to leave Lebanon in line with U.N. resolution 1559.

Bush and Chirac also said they supported a U.N. investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who died in an explosion last week"[...]
Also Monday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Syria will "soon" take steps to withdraw its army from Lebanese areas in accordance with a 1989 agreement, but it was not clear whether that meant Syria would completely leave Lebanon as demanded by the international community.

The announcement came after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The opposition, which includes members of numerous political and ethnic groups, has openly accused Syria of involvement in Hariri's death, an accusation both Syria -- and the pro-Syria Lebanese government -- have denied.

Syrian Cabinet minister Boutheina Shaaban told CNN from Damascus the assassination was "deeply against the interests of Syria." And she appeared to suggest the United States had some involvement.

Iran looks to Delhi for nuke support

Iran looks to Delhi for nuke supportIran looks to Delhi for nuke support
Natwar tells counterpart to work with IAEA; Kharrazi welcomes Cabinet move on pipeline talks
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
Send Feedback E-mail this story Print this story
Posted online: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 at 0203 hours IST

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 21: In the face of increasing international pressure on its nuclear programme, Tehran today conveyed to New Delhi that it needs to seek access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi underlined that this was Iran’s necessity, which he hoped would be recognised by the international community.

Kharrazi, who had a 20-minute meeting with his Indian counterpart Natwar Singh, highlighted the importance of the civilian use of nuclear technology while briefing India on Tehran’s ongoing talks with the European Union and International Atomic Energy Agency. The two leaders also had an hour-long meeting in the presence of select officials before the delegation level meeting.
[...]
On the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Kharrazi welcomed the latest Cabinet decision to designate the Petroleum Minister to carry forward the negotiations. A technical team from the Ministry will visit Iran this month-end to discuss the project. Kharrazi said India’s recent approval for the pipeline had created ‘‘an encouraging atmosphere’’ to take forward this ‘‘highly important project’’, which would have positive impact on ‘‘regional convergence’’.

Further, Kharrazi urged Indian investors to explore opportunities in Iran. In fact, he offered three-year multiple entry visas to Indian investors while highlighting IT, engineering, biotechnology and tourism as potential areas for investment.

The Iranian Foreign Minister also said the initiative taken by Iran, Russia and India to create a north-south transport corridor and an east corridor till Uzbekistan would considerably reduce costs and time of movement of merchandise between the two countries.

BostonHerald.com: Study finds strenuous exercise can cut Parkinson's risk in men

BostonHerald.com - Local/ Regional News: Study finds strenuous exercise can cut Parkinson's risk in men:

BOSTON - A new study suggests men who engage in strenuous exercise can cut their risk of developing Parkinson's disease in half.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say previous studies have shown that physical activity helps protect a neuron that degenerates in people with Parkinson's disease. But they say this is the first comprehensive study of exercise and Parkinson's. "

Pak will be failed state by 2015: CIA

Intelli Briefs : Pak will be failed state by 2015: CIA

NEW DELHI: Pakistan will be a 'failed' state by 2015 as it would be
affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for
control of its nuclear weapons, premier US intelligence agencies have
said in an assessment report.

Forecasting a 'Yugoslavia-like fate' for Pakistan, the US National
Intelligence Council (NIC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a
jointly prepared Global Futures Assessment Report have said 'by year
2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed,
inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear
weapons and complete Talibanisation'.

'Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of political and
economic mismanagement, divisive policies, lawlessness, corruption and
ethnic friction,' said the report quoted by former Pakistan High
Commissioner to United Kingdom Wajid Shamsul Hasan in an article in
the ' South Asia Tribune '.

Titled 'Will Pakistan Army invade Balochistan as per the NIC-CIA
Plan', the former senior diplomat said 'in the context of Balochistan,
one would like to refer to the 2015 NIC report. It forecast a
Yugoslavia-like fate for Pakistan.

'The military operation that has been put in motion there would
further distance the Baloch people from rest of the country. That
perhaps is the (NIC-CIA) Plan,' Hasan said."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents

Yahoo! News - Report: U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq (news - web sites)'s Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon (news - web sites) and other sources.

The Bush administration has said it would not negotiate with Iraqi fighters and there is no authorized dialogue but the U.S. is having 'back-channel' communications with certain insurgents, unidentified Washington and Iraqi sources told the magazine.

The magazine cited a secret meeting between two members of the U.S. military and an Iraqi negotiator, a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency.

A U.S. officer tried to get names of other insurgent leaders while the Iraqi complained the new Shi'ite-dominated government was being controlled by Iran, according to an account of the meeting provided by the Iraqi negotiator.

'We are ready to work with you,' the Iraqi negotiator said, according to Time.

Iraqi insurgent leaders not aligned with al Qaeda ally Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi told the magazine several nationalist groups composed of what the Pentagon calls 'former regime elements' have become open to negotiating.

The insurgents said their aim was to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis.

The White House had no immediate comment on the report."

Sunnis Seek Place in New Iraqi Government

Yahoo! News - Sunnis Seek Place in New Iraqi Government



Gathering in a central Baghdad hotel, about 70 tribal leaders from the provinces of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Salaheddin, Diyala, Anbar and Nineveh, tried to devise a strategy for participation in a future government. There was an air of desperation in some quarters of the smoke-filled conference room.

"When we said that we are not going to take part, that didn't mean that we are not going to take part in the political process. We have to take part in the political process and draft the new constitution," said Adnan al-Duleimi, the head of Sunni Endowments in Baghdad.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Northwestern’s Resident Terrorist

Northwestern’s Resident Terrorist


Although the controversy over University of
Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s pro-terrorist ravings has captured national headlines recently, the flirtation between America’s institutions of higher learning and radical, left-wing activism is hardly a new phenomenon. U.S. colleges and universities are rife with Marxist holdouts like Churchill and other relics from the Sixties. And while many, like Churchill, have openly supported America’s terrorist enemies, a dubious few have actually held prominent positions in terrorist groups. One of the most notable examples of this disturbing phenomenon is Bernardine Dohrn, an Associate Professor and the Director of the Children and Family Justice Clinic at the Northwestern University Law School.

Although it is conveniently absent from her biography on Northwestern’s website, Dohrn was one of the leaders of the Weathermen (a.k.a: the Weather Underground), a band of radical students and student-aged activists who emerged from the antiwar group, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The Weatherman won the SDS elections in 1968 and then dissolved SDS, saying, “We've smashed the pig.” The Weathermen are responsible for multiple terrorist acts, including the bombings of the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, Ft. Dix and office buildings in various U.S. cities. In fact, the group claimed credit for 12 terrorist bombings between 1970 and 1974 alone; and while no innocent civilians were killed:

1. They planned to blow up a social dance at Fort Dix. The bomb went off and blew three of the bomb builders up.

2. The police are investigating the bombing murders of two policemen attributed to Weatherman.

In other words, if no innocents were killed, it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort on the Weathermen’s part.

The Blogs Must Be Crazy!

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "The Blogs Must Be Crazy
Or maybe the MSM is just suffering from freedom envy.

'Salivating morons.' 'Scalp hunters.' 'Moon howlers.' 'Trophy hunters.' 'Sons of Sen. McCarthy.' 'Rabid.' 'Blogswarm.' 'These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people.'

This is excellent invective. It must come from bloggers. But wait, it was the mainstream media and their maidservants in the elite journalism reviews, and they were talking about bloggers!

Those MSMers have gone wild, I tell you! The tendentious language, the low insults. It's the Wild Wild West out there. We may have to consider legislation.

When you hear name-calling like what we've been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don't have a serious case of freedom envy.

The bloggers have that freedom. They have the still pent-up energy of a liberated citizenry, too. The MSM doesn't. It has lost its old monopoly on information. It is angry.

But MSM criticism of the blogosphere misses the point, or rather points.

Blogging changes how business is done in American journalism. The MSM isn't over. It just can no longer pose as if it is The Guardian of Established Truth. The MSM is just another player now. A big one, but a player.

The blogosphere isn't some mindless eruption of wild opinion. That isn't their power. This is their power:

1. They use the tools of journalists (computer, keyboard, a spirit of inquiry, a willingness to ask the question) and of the Internet (Google, LexisNexis) to look for and find facts that have been overlooked, ignored or hidden. They look for the telling quote, the ignored statistic, the data that have been submerged. What they are looking for is information that is true. When they get it they post it and include it in the debate. This is a public service.

2. Bloggers, unlike reporters at elite newspapers and magazines, are independent operators. They are not, and do not have to be, governed by mainstream thinking. Nor do they have to accept the directives of an editor pushing an ideology or a publisher protecting his friends. Bloggers have the freedom to decide on their own when a story stops being a story. They get to decide when the search for facts is over. They also decide on their own when the search for facts begins. It was a blogger at the World Economic Forum, as we all know, who first reported the Eason Jordan story. It was bloggers, as we all know, who pursued it. Matt Drudge runs a news site and is not a blogger, but what was true of him at his beginning (the Monica Lewinsky story, he decided, is a story) is true of bloggers: It's a story if they say it is. This is a public service."

Kyoto protest beaten back by inflamed petrol traders

Times Online - Britain - Kyoto protest beaten back by inflamed petrol traders

WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail. What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Another said: “I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot.” Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: “Sod off, Swampy.”

Greenpeace had hoped to paralyse oil trading at the exchange in the City near Tower Bridge on the day that the Kyoto Protocol came into force. “The Kyoto Protocol has modest aims to improve the climate and we need huge aims,” a spokesman said.

Protesters conceded that mounting the operation after lunch may not have been the best plan. “The violence was instant,” Jon Beresford, 39, an electrical engineer from Nottingham, said. “They grabbed us and started kicking and punching. Then when we were on the floor they tried to push huge filing cabinets on top of us to crush us.”

When a trader left the building shortly before 2pm, using a security swipe card, a protester dropped some coins on the floor and, as he bent down to pick them up, put his boot in the door to keep it open. Two minutes later, three Greenpeace vans pulled up and another 30 protesters leapt out and were let in by the others.

They made their way to the trading floor, blowing whistles and sounding fog horns, encountering little resistance from security guards. Rape alarms were tied to helium balloons to float to the ceiling and create noise out of reach. The IPE conducts “open outcry” trading where deals are shouted across the pit. By making so much noise, the protesters hoped to paralyse trading.

But they were set upon by traders, most of whom were under the age of 25. “They were kicking and punching men and women indiscriminately,” a photographer said. “It was really ugly, but Greenpeace did not fight back.”

Mr Beresford said: “They followed the guys into the lobby and kept kicking and punching them there. They literally kicked them on to the pavement.”

Last night Greenpeace said two protesters were in hospital, one with a suspected broken jaw, the other with concussion.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

CIA head Goss fears WMD attack in U.S. 'a matter of time'

Goss fears WMD attack in U.S. 'a matter of time' - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - February 17, 2005:

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III testified that he is 'very concerned' about the lack of data on a network of al Qaeda 'sleeper' cells in the United States.
'Finding them is a top priority for the FBI, but it is also one of the most difficult challenges,' he said.
'Because of al Qaeda's directed efforts this year to infiltrate covert operatives into the U.S., I am also very concerned with the growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al Qaeda's clear intention to obtain and ultimately use some form of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear or high-energy explosives material in its attacks against America,' Mr. Mueller added.
In a related development, a National Intelligence Council (NIC) report made public yesterday stated that terrorists have targeted Russian nuclear weapons storage sites.
In 2002, Russian authorities twice thwarted terrorist efforts to monitor nuclear-weapons storage sites, the report said. Chechen terrorists also have conducted surveillance of Russian rail stations and a train used to move nuclear bombs, said the report from NIC, an analysis group under Mr. Goss.
The report noted that Russian authorities could not have recovered "all the [nuclear] material reportedly stolen."
"We assess that undetected smuggling has occurred, and we are concerned about the total amount of material that could have been diverted or stolen in the last 13 years," the report said.

U.S. Aides Cite Worry on Qaeda Infiltration From Mexico

The New York Times > International > Americas > U.S. Aides Cite Worry on Qaeda Infiltration From Mexico: "The warnings from Mr. Goss and other top officials came as part of a stark presentation that described terrorism as the top threat to the United States despite what they described as successes in the last year. Mr. Goss said that the war in Iraq had served as a useful recruiting tool for Islamic extremists, and that both the low Sunni Muslim turnout in elections there and the violence that followed demonstrated that the insurgency remained a serious threat.

He warned that anti-American extremists who survive the war were likely to emerge with a high level of skills and experience, and could move on to build new terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.

Intelligence that 'strongly suggests' that Al Qaeda operatives have considered using the Mexican border as an entry point was cited in written testimony by Adm. James M. Loy, the deputy secretary of homeland security. But he wrote that there was 'currently no conclusive evidence' that this had succeeded.

In the past, law enforcement officials have said Al Qaeda might try to use the Mexican border, but the testimony on Wednesday seemed to suggest increasing concern. In response to questions from the senators, Admiral Loy described it as a 'very serious situation,' while Robert S. Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, listed first among his current concerns what he said might already be 'the threat from covert Al Qaeda operatives inside the United States.'

'Finding them is the top priority for the F.B.I., but it is also one of the most difficult challenges,' Mr. Mueller said. He said covert operatives could include 'a true sleeper operative who has been in place for years,' or someone who entered the country recently.

In his written testimony, Admiral Loy cited recent information from investigations and detentions as the basis for his concern about the Mexican border. He added, 'Several Al Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous than legal entry for operational security reasons.'"

Loss of Loved One Really Can Cause Broken Heart

Loss of Loved One Really Can Cause Broken Heart: "Loss of Loved One Really Can Cause Broken Heart

Confirming the wisdom of the poets and philosophers, doctors say the sudden death of a loved one really can cause a broken heart. In fact, they have dubbed the condition 'broken heart syndrome.''

In a study published just in time for Valentine's Day, doctors reported how a tragic or shocking event can stun the heart and produce classic heart attack-like symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath and fluid in the lungs.

Unlike a heart attack, the condition is reversible. Patients often are hospitalized but typically recover within days after little more than bedrest and fluids, and suffer no permanent damage to their hearts.

In their study, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, doctors at Johns Hopkins University gave a name to the condition, demonstrated through sophisticated heart tests how it differs from a heart attack, and offered an explanation for what causes it.

For centuries, doctors have known that emotional shocks can trigger heart attacks and sudden deaths. Broken heart syndrome, technically known as stress cardiomyopathy, is a different phenomenon.

The Johns Hopkins doctors documented how a dayslong surge of adrenaline and other stress hormones can cause a decline in the heart's pumping capacity. The researchers theorized that the hormones probably cause tiny heart blood vessels to contract, but other explanations are possible."

Central U.S. Warned of Larger Earthquakes to Come

Central U.S. Warned of Larger Earthquakes to Come

A moderate earthquake that rattled parts of Arkansas and Tennessee Thursday should serve as a wake-up call to the central United States about the potential for much stronger events, experts said.

The temblor, preliminarily put at magnitude 4.1, shook eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee early in the morning. It was centered 47 miles north-northwest of Memphis."

The Moon- Next Stop for Space Tourism?

How to Make the Space Vison Work (Hint: It's the Moon!)

How to Make the Space Vison Work (Hint: It's the Moon!):

"To create that permanent beachhead, we must focus on the Moon. The Moon can be reached; the base there can grow incrementally and return benefits -- all in a more conceivable time frame. The most attractive feature of making the Moon the first permanent off-world human outpost is its proximity to Earth. The

Moon is close, a couple of days away; Mars is many months farther.



That proximity has many advantages. As far less rocket power is required to reach the Moon than is required for Mars, larger payloads can be sent or smaller, more affordable vehicles can be used.



Close proximity means more frequent trips, more people sent, and infrastructure more quickly established. Because of the shorter trip times, a focus on the Moon also is less risky than Mars. There is continuous access to a lunar outpost, whereas Mars is reasonably accessible only once every two years. With unexpected discoveries or dangers, new equipment or scientific instruments can be sent from Earth to the Moon relatively quickly.



A growing lunar facility would enable, decades sooner than a Mars base, a long list of desirable outcomes:



* Lunar Resources: Finding, mining and developing the techniques to use local resources (including energy, oxygen and metals) to evolve toward self-sufficiency and produce fuels to reduce the cost of space operations.



* Off-Earth Industrial Base: Development of infrastructure and test facilities to support the industrialization / commercialization of space and exploration of the solar system.



* Visibility: A lunar base overhead every night would provide a tangible reminder of our space achievements and an inspiration to further progress.



In addition, space tourism is more likely to develop quickly with a nearby destination like the Moon.



A Moon base also would provide a low-gravity, isolated, stable, vacuum environment with no magnetic field. Such an environment makes it possible to conduct cutting edge physics research, including nuclear materials experiments we might prefer done off-planet, medical and geriatric research, biological and genetic investigations that might be dangerous to conduct on Earth and astronomy from the far side of the Moon.



The Moon phase of the Moon-Mars Initiative can be done in digestible steps that can, as funding or interest fluctuates, be speeded up or slowed down with less risk of total cancellation than a Mars-oriented program.



An early module could be a habitation module, allowing extended crew stays. Later deliveries could be rovers, building cranes, mining equipment, kilns for metallurgy, telescopes for astronomy, medical labs and other scientific modules, and more habitation modules. This staging would allow for both short visits by scientific specialists and the gradual building of a permanent outpost.



All these activities on the Moon will set the stage a quarter-century from now for continuing on to Mars. By then we will have developed vastly improved propulsion technologies, greater experiences working in space and on other worlds, better technology for harsh off-world climates and a space infrastructure with many startup costs amortized, so that the incremental cost of taking that long next step to Mars would be much less daunting.



Most of all, unlike after Apollo, we will have established a beachhead in space from which there can be no retreat."

Arizona wants to build prison for illegal immigrants... in MEXICO!

YumaSun.com > News: "Proposal would house prisoners in Mexico

PHOENIX (AP) -- Some lawmakers want to explore the possibility of the state contracting to have a private prison built in Mexico to house illegal immigrants now incarcerated in Arizona.

The idea was promoted as a way to reduce the state's heavy costs in imprisoning the 3,600 to 4,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona prisons who have been convicted of crimes. Opponents questioned whether the state has the legal authority to move the foreign prisoners to Mexico.

In any event, a proposal (HB2709) to have the state seek proposals for such prison cleared its first hurdle Wednesday at the Arizona Legislature in a 4-2 vote by a House committee.

The bill is one of many moving through the Legislature that tries to confront the problems caused by illegal immigration.

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More than any other state in recent years, Arizona has been dogged by a heavy flow of illegal immigrants after the government tightened enforcement in El Paso, Texas, and San Diego during the mid-1990s.

Several Arizona lawmakers have said the federal government hasn't done enough to confront illegal immigration and therefore has dumped massive costs on the state.

Gov. Janet Napolitano has recently billed the federal government for nearly $118 million in unreimbursed costs for imprisoning illegal immigrants.

The Mexico prison idea was proposed in the 1990s but shelved, partly due to legal concerns. It was revived in 2003 to help cover budget shortfalls but was rejected by a key legislative committee."

As the noose tightens...

My Way News - Iran, Syria to Form 'United Front':

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran and Syria, who both are facing pressure from the United States, said Wednesday they will form a 'united front' to confront possible threats against them, state-run television reported.

'In view of the special conditions faced by Syria, Iran will transfer its experience, especially concerning sanctions, to Syria,' Mohammad Reza Aref, Iran's first vice president, was quoted as saying after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otari."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Sunnis admit poll boycott blunder and ask to share power

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Sunnis admit poll boycott blunder and ask to share power

Iraq's Arab Sunnis will do a U-turn and join the political process despite their lack of representation in the newly elected national assembly, Sunni leaders said yesterday.

Many Sunnis protested that the election was flawed and unfair, but in the wake of Sunday's results, which confirmed the marginalisation of what was Iraq's ruling class, their political parties want to lobby for a share of power.
"Our view is that this election was a step towards democracy and ending the occupation," said Ayad al-Samaray, the assistant general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic party. He said unnamed Sunni leaders blundered in depicting the election as a deepening of the occupation.
[...]
Secular Sunni leaders yesterday accepted the victors' invitation to participate, potentially draining support from the insurgency.

"We can't say it was wise or logical to not participate; it was an emotional decision," said Mr Samaray. "Now the Sunni community faces the fact that it made a big mistake and that it would have been far better to participate."

His party, the main Sunni group since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, was in talks with Kurds and Shias. He added: "The Sunni community will accept to share this country with others. They do not need to dominate."

Sunnis admit poll boycott blunder and ask to share power

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Sunnis admit poll boycott blunder and ask to share power

Iraq's Arab Sunnis will do a U-turn and join the political process despite their lack of representation in the newly elected national assembly, Sunni leaders said yesterday.

Many Sunnis protested that the election was flawed and unfair, but in the wake of Sunday's results, which confirmed the marginalisation of what was Iraq's ruling class, their political parties want to lobby for a share of power.
"Our view is that this election was a step towards democracy and ending the occupation," said Ayad al-Samaray, the assistant general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic party. He said unnamed Sunni leaders blundered in depicting the election as a deepening of the occupation.
[...]
Secular Sunni leaders yesterday accepted the victors' invitation to participate, potentially draining support from the insurgency.

"We can't say it was wise or logical to not participate; it was an emotional decision," said Mr Samaray. "Now the Sunni community faces the fact that it made a big mistake and that it would have been far better to participate."

His party, the main Sunni group since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, was in talks with Kurds and Shias. He added: "The Sunni community will accept to share this country with others. They do not need to dominate."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Taqiyya and kitman: The role of Deception in Islamic terrorism

Home - ci-ce-ct.com Taqiyya and kitman: The role of Deception in Islamic terrorism

Tradecraft. Persona. Deception. Disinformation. Cover: Western operational terms and techniques. But, Islamic terrorists have their own terms: taqiyya (pronounced tark-e-ya) : precautionary dissimulation or deception and keeping one’s convictions secret and a synonymous term, kitman: mental reservation and dissimulation or concealment of malevolent intentions...

Taqiyya and kitman or ‘holy hypocrisy’ has been diffused throughout Arabic culture for over fourteen hundred years since it was developed by Shiites as a means of defence and concealment of beliefs against Sunni unbelievers. As the Prophet said: 'he who keeps secrets shall soon attain his objectives.’

The skilful use of taqiyya and kitman was often a matter of life and death against enemies; it is also a matter of life and death to many contemporary Islamic terrorists. As so often in the history of Islam, a theological doctrine became operational.

During the Spanish inquisition, Sunni Moriscos attended mass and returned home to wash their hands of the ‘holy water’. In operational terms, taqiyya and kitman allowed the ‘mujahadeen ’ to assume whatever identity was necessary to fulfill their mission; they had doctrinal and theological and later jurisprudential sanction to pretend to be Jews or Christians to gain access to Christian and Jewish targets: ‘the mujahadeen can take the shape of the enemy’.

Taqiyya is common to both Shiite and Sunni Muslim discourse and has significant implications for understanding Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist operations. The theory and practice of counter terrorism would be counter productive, indeed pointless, and even harmful, without reference to taqiyya and kitman and the crucial role of deception ranging from Islamic jurisprudence to Al Qaeda training manuals, which carry detailed instructions on the use of deception by terrorists in Western target countries.

According to Christian ethics lying is a sin; In Islamic jurisprudence and theology, the use of taqiyya against the unbelievers is regarded as a virtue and a religious duty.


"Verily the most honourable of you in the sight of God is the most pious among you; verily, God is knowing, aware!" 49:13


Shi'a interpret the phrase above as "he among you who exercises Taqiyya most"



Like many Islamic concepts taqiyya and kitman were formed within the context of the Arab-Islamic matrix of tribalism, expansionary warfare and conflict. Taqiyya has been used by Muslims since the 7th century to confuse and split 'the enemy’. A favored tactic was ‘deceptive triangulation’; to persuade the enemy that jihad was not aimed at them but at another enemy. Another tactic was to deny that there was jihad at all. The fate for such faulty assessments by the target was death.

The Counterterrorism Blog: Likely Culprits Behind Bombing of Former Lebanese Prime Minister

The Counterterrorism Blog: Likely Culprits Behind Bombing of Former Lebanese Prime Minister: "Likely Culprits Behind Bombing of Former Lebanese Prime Minister

by
Larry C. Johnson

Today's bomb blast in Lebanon, which killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is a harbinger that a peaceful, democratic transition of Governments in the Middle East is a foolish pipe dream. Hariri, aka Fatso, has been a long time pawn of Saudi Arabia and a favorite of both Washington and Paris. His murder comes against the backdrop of increased pressure by the United States and France to force Syria to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon. This car bombing was probably designed to send an unambiguous message to both Lebanese and the international community that Syria will not stand idly by and surrender to pressures from Washington, Paris, and the United Nations. Hariri, who had been staying on the sidelines in recent months as political parties in Lebanon jockeyed for position in upcoming parliamentary elections, was a convenient and potent symbol of a Lebanese power broker perceived as too close and too accommodating of Western desires. His killers are providing a simple message, Syria will not leave Lebanon without a fight and Damascus is willing to destroy Lebanon in order to save itself.

The road to today's bombing was built starting last September when Damascus changed the Lebanese constitution to extend the mandate of President Emile Lahoud. According to press reports, 'the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, had stunned the Lebanese politicians he summoned to Damascus by telling them: I alone have the right to choose the president of Lebanon.' Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri resigned in protest."

Nerf-Coated World: Fair use

Nerf-Coated World: Fair use

Fair use

Ace points out that newspapers are starting to warn bloggers against excerpting material from their work.

Do they have a case? Well:

Section 107 of the Copyright Law outlines the general principles of the fair use provision:

The fair use of a copyrighted work … for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, … scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered … include:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

So basically, bloggers, this boils down to a few simple principles:

1. Excerpt. Don’t cut-and-paste. We’re in the business of commenting and criticizing – we’ve got to post part of the original work in order to do what we do. But posting six or seven parpagraphs at a time is pushing it. If you’re “excerpting” half the article, that’s not really excerpting. And it might be copyright infringement.

2. The more of your own original material, the better. The law says that courts have to consider the “amount and substantiality” of the copyrighted work in relation to your work – which basically means that they’re going to look at how much of your work is comprised of other copyrighted material. There’s no set rule-of-thumb for how much is too much, but you don’t want to leave yourself open to the charge that you’re ripping anyone off without contributing anything of your own. Look at your blog – how much is your own work, and how much have you cut-and-paste from articles? Is it 80/20? 50/50? 5/95? The more of your own work, the better.

3. Always link to the original article. When hearing a case, courts will consider the economic damage you’ve presumably done. Well, not only is it good etiquette to link back to the original article, but it also shields you from the charge that you’re depriving a newspaper of its just revenue. If you link to the article (and drive visitors to their site), it weakens their claim of economic damage. It costs you nothing, so you might as well.

Oh, and that “you can’t link to our site without our permission” business? As far as I understand copyright law, that’s utter nonsense and a total stretch. They cannot tell you what you can and cannot link to on your own website. If they really wanted you to stop linking to their site, they could always set up their servers – which are under their control – to deny traffic coming from your site, or any particular site. It is ridiculously easy to do so, from a technical standpoint. But you won’t see them doing that. They know that traffic is good for business. This is just a case of the big media guys trying to strongarm their critics into submission and getting them to do the dirty work. It’s rotten, and it stinks.

To sum up: there is nothing wrong with excerpting articles for commentary or criticism under current copyright law. Just don’t be a parasite.

I want to stress that this is not legal advice, and that if you have any specific legal questions – especially if you’re, say, being sued right now – talk to your IP attorney.

Update: This whole issue seems to have gotten the blogosphere’s attention. Michelle Malkin, radio host Kevin McCollough, and Michael Bates himself have all linked here. Welcome, all!

Great blogpost from Nerf Coated World