Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wired 13.08: We Are the Web

Wired 13.08: We Are the Web:

"2005
The scope of the Web today is hard to fathom. The total number of Web pages, including those that are dynamically created upon request and document files available through links, exceeds 600 billion. That's 100 pages per person alive.

How could we create so much, so fast, so well? In fewer than 4,000 days, we have encoded half a trillion versions of our collective story and put them in front of 1 billion people, or one-sixth of the world's population. That remarkable achievement was not in anyone's 10-year plan.

The accretion of tiny marvels can numb us to the arrival of the stupendous. Today, at any Net terminal, you can get: an amazing variety of music and video, an evolving encyclopedia, weather forecasts, help wanted ads, satellite images of anyplace on Earth, up-to-the-minute news from around the globe, tax forms, TV guides, road maps with driving directions, real-time stock quotes, telephone numbers, real estate listings with virtual walk-throughs, pictures of just about anything, sports scores, places to buy almost anything, records of political contributions, library catalogs, appliance manuals, live traffic reports, archives to major newspapers - all wrapped up in an interactive index that really works.

This view is spookily godlike. You can switch your gaze of a spot in the world from map to satellite to 3-D just by clicking. Recall the past? It's there. Or listen to the daily complaints and travails of almost anyone who blogs (and doesn't everyone?). I doubt angels have a better view of humanity.

Why aren't we more amazed by this fullness? Kings of old would have gone to war to win such abilities. Only small children would have dreamed such a magic window could be real. I have reviewed the expectations of waking adults and wise experts, and I can affirm that this comprehensive wealth of material, available on demand and free of charge, was not in anyone's scenario. Ten years ago, anyone silly enough to trumpet the above list as a vision of the near future would have been confronted by the evidence: There wasn't enough money in all the investment firms in the entire world to fund such a cornucopia. The success of the Web at this scale was impossible.

But if we have learned anything in the past decade, it is the plausibility of the impossible.

Take eBay. In some 4,000 days, eBay has gone from marginal Bay Area experiment in community markets to the most profitable spinoff of hypertext. At any one moment, 50 million auctions race through the site. An estimated half a million folks make their living selling through Internet auctions. Ten years ago I heard skeptics swear nobody would ever buy a car on the Web. Last year eBay Motors sold $11 billion worth of vehicles. EBay's 2001 auction of a $4.9 million private jet would have shocked anyone in 1995 - and still smells implausible today.

Nowhere in Ted Nelson's convoluted sketches of hypertext transclusion did the fantasy of a global flea market appear. Especially as the ultimate business model! He hoped to franchise his Xanadu hypertext systems in the physical world at the scale of a copy shop or café - you would go to a store to do your hypertexting. Xanadu would take a cut of the action.

Instead, we have an open global flea market that handles 1.4 billion auctions every year and operates from your bedroom. Users do most of the work; they photograph, catalog, post, and manage their own auctions. And they police themselves; while eBay and other auction sites do call in the authorities to arrest serial abusers, the chief method of ensuring fairness is a system of user-generated ratings. Three billion feedback comments can work wonders.

What we all failed to see was how much of this new world would be manufactured by users, not corporate interests. Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site's long-tail selection usable. Owners of Adobe, Apple, and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer's forum Web pages, serving as high-quality customer support for new buyers. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organizing intelligence for a new economy. This bottom-up takeover was not in anyone's 10-year vision.

No Web phenomenon is more confounding than blogging. Everything media experts knew about audiences - and they knew a lot - confirmed the focus group belief that audiences would never get off their butts and start making their own entertainment. Everyone knew writing and reading were dead; music was too much trouble to make when you could sit back and listen; video production was simply out of reach of amateurs. Blogs and other participant media would never happen, or if they happened they would not draw an audience, or if they drew an audience they would not matter. What a shock, then, to witness the near-instantaneous rise of 50 million blogs, with a new one appearing every two seconds. There - another new blog! One more person doing what AOL and ABC - and almost everyone else - expected only AOL and ABC to be doing. These user-created channels make no sense economically. Where are the time, energy, and resources coming from?

The audience.

I run a blog about cool tools. I write it for my own delight and for the benefit of friends. The Web extends my passion to a far wider group for no extra cost or effort. In this way, my site is part of a vast and growing gift economy, a visible underground of valuable creations - text, music, film, software, tools, and services - all given away for free. This gift economy fuels an abundance of choices. It spurs the grateful to reciprocate. It permits easy modification and reuse, and thus promotes consumers into producers.

The open source software movement is another example. Key ingredients of collaborative programming - swapping code, updating instantly, recruiting globally - didn't work on a large scale until the Web was woven. Then software became something you could join, either as a beta tester or as a coder on an open source project. The clever "view source" browser option let the average Web surfer in on the act. And anyone could rustle up a link - which, it turns out, is the most powerful invention of the decade.

Linking unleashes involvement and interactivity at levels once thought unfashionable or impossible. It transforms reading into navigating and enlarges small actions into powerful forces. For instance, hyperlinks made it much easier to create a seamless, scrolling street map of every town. They made it easier for people to refer to those maps. And hyperlinks made it possible for almost anyone to annotate, amend, and improve any map embedded in the Web. Cartography has gone from spectator art to participatory democracy.

The electricity of participation nudges ordinary folks to invest huge hunks of energy and time into making free encyclopedias, creating public tutorials for changing a flat tire, or cataloging the votes in the Senate. More and more of the Web runs in this mode. One study found that only 40 percent of the Web is commercial. The rest runs on duty or passion.

Coming out of the industrial age, when mass-produced goods outclassed anything you could make yourself, this sudden tilt toward consumer involvement is a complete Lazarus move: "We thought that died long ago." The deep enthusiasm for making things, for interacting more deeply than just choosing options, is the great force not reckoned 10 years ago. This impulse for participation has upended the economy and is steadily turning the sphere of social networking - smart mobs, hive minds, and collaborative action - into the main event.

When a company opens its databases to users, as Amazon, Google, and eBay have done with their Web services, it is encouraging participation at new levels. The corporation's data becomes part of the commons and an invitation to participate. People who take advantage of these capabilities are no longer customers; they're the company's developers, vendors, skunk works, and fan base. "

The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century :: Joey deVilla's Weblog :: At Last, My Blog Lands Me in Hot Water!

The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century :: Joey deVilla's Weblog :: At Last, My Blog Lands Me in Hot Water!:

"At Last, My Blog Lands Me in Hot Water!
by Joey deVilla at 12:00AM (EDT) on July 29, 2005 | Permanent Link | Cosmos
It took over 4,000 entries and almost four years, but it finally happened: my blog has finally gotten me into trouble. I'm finally a player!

Yesterday morning, as I was working at my desk, I got a phone call:

Female voice with Eastern European accent: Hello, I have some questions about your web site.

Me: Go ahead...

FV: How do you create your website?

Me: With Blogware, our weblogging software. Is there anything in particular you'd like to know?

FV: And how are comments added to the website? Do they email you, and then you add them?

Me: No, that's handled automatically by Blogware. Every article has a link that you can click on to add a comment. You type it in, click a button, and it's there.

FV: And if there were a comment you wanted to delete, could anyone do that?

Me: No, only the owner and people the owner sets up as administrators can do that.

At this point, it was beginning to dawn on me that the person on the other end of the line wasn't a customer. What was going on?

FV: I am asking because I would like a comment removed. Someone left a comment that is not true.

Me: Not true? Which one?

FV: The one in the thing about movers. Someone left a comment about our company that is not true. They said we did things, but they signed a paper clearing us. If you do not remove this comment, we will send our lawyers after you.

I sighed. I needed to get a lot of work done, and dealing with non-work headaches, especially the threat of legal action, was the last thing I needed.

I decided the best thing to do for the time being would be to copy the comment, take it down and evaluate the situation when I had more time. I pointed my browser at the Blogware control panel, found the article and called up its comment-editing page.

Me: So which comment is it?

FV: The one about Quick Boys.

For the record, here's the comment:

Re: Anyone Know any Good Toronto Movers?
by Anonymous on 2005.06.27 02:00PM EDT | IP: 70.29.128.20

No good ones to recommend but two to avoid at all costs:

Moveworks
Hired them in 2001 to move between two units in the same building. They showed up 3 hours late, failed to bring wardrobe boxes, and sent two 16 year old kids with one of their girlfriends. They moved about four things into the service elevator and then took off, leaving two moving dollies behind and me to do the entire move without assistance. Thank god for friends.

Quick Boys Moving & Storage http://www.quickboysmoving.com/
Avoid like the plague. Hired in April to move my girlfriend into our place. They took seven hours to load a one bedroom apartment into the truck and drive about ten minutes (they were, of course, being paid hourly). Held her stuff hostage at this end until we paid for the full move. Damaged a substantial percentage of the furniture with scratches, etc. 'Forgot' to unload two boxes of crystalware and took three weeks to deliver it to us. The movers were surly, unpleasant, and stank of body odour.

Good luck! A lot of the companies out there really exist to rip you off so be careful. I've heard good things about El Cheapo and Two Small Guys With Big Hearts but have never used either. If I ever hire movers again, I'll just swallow my cost-saving needs and go with the big guys.

It was written by my friend Jay Goldman. I've known Jay for about three years and I've worked with him on a couple of occasions. He's always dealt straight with me.

Me: And you say that this comment is not true?

FV: It is a lie. Let me put my boss on the line.

Gruff Male Voice with Eastern European Accent: Remove that comment. That's all I'm going to say. (click)

Niiiiice. A real sweetheart, that one. There was a bit of an edge to the 'That's all I'm going to say' bit.

FV: So if you could remove that comment, it would be appreciated. I will check to confirm that they have been deleted.

And with that, she hung up."

Accordian guy refuses to back down from thuggish moving company which wants to censor his blog! Good for him! And shame on Quickboys movers, a moving company out of Toronto, that feels it's better business sense to call people and threaten them for voicing displeasure with their service on the internet, rather than doing a good job and taking care of the customer. Frankly, I could even care less what kind of movers they are. All they should know is that I, and many other people, will be damned before we let some company, or person, tell us what we can and cannot say on the internet. And those of us on the internet, tend to stick together. We have a much bigger gang than they do!

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Ice lake found on the Red Planet

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Ice lake found on the Red Planet:


"Ice lake found on the Red Planet
A disc of water ice in a Martian crater, ESA
The presence of water makes life a more likely possibility
A giant patch of frozen water has been pictured nestled within an unnamed impact crater on Mars.

The photographs were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board Mars Express, the European Space Agency probe which is exploring the planet.

The ice disc is located on Vastitas Borealis, a broad plain that covers much of Mars' far northern latitudes.

The existence of the water-ice patch on Mars raises the prospect that past or present life will one day be detected.

It also boosts the chances that manned missions could eventually be sent to the Red Planet - because they would probably need accessible water to survive."

Friday, July 29, 2005

World Tribune.com -- 'CyberBug,' can drop in and quietly gather intelligence

World Tribune.com -- 'CyberBug,' can drop in and quietly gather intelligence

"'CyberBug,' can drop in and quietly gather intelligence

Special to World Tribune.com
GEOSTRATEGY-DIRECT.COM
Friday, July 29, 2005

A U.S. company has begun marketing a stealth micro-unmanned aerial vehicle that can blend in with its surroundings.

The micro-UAV, dubbed CyberBug, weighs less than a kilogram and was designed for both military and security surveillance. The battery-powered UAV can fly undetected into a hostile environment, land on rocks or trees and relay video images and voice.

Cyberbug UAV.
The platform was developed by Proxity Digital Networks, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. Proxity's subsidiary, Cyber Aerospace, has marketed the platform to the U.S. military, law enforcement and state and federal agencies. Executives said the company also plans to market CyberBug abroad, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The CyberBug acts as the eyes and ears of the remote operator," Proxity said in a statement. "It can be flown into a problem area while a remote operator with a headset observes and listens. Running on battery power, it quietly gathers intelligence and can be used to replace humans that are in harms way."

The CyberBug can provide GPS coordinates of hostile or problem areas, facilitate line-of-sight communications as well as provide day or night surveillance of remote areas. The UAV could also help protect forests, pipelines, bridges or other vital facilities.

The UAV has been presented as a security solution for the U.S. military in Iraq. The Army and Marines have employed tactical, engine-powered UAVs to monitor insurgency strongholds.

Proxity said the CyberBug costs $5,500 per unit and can be acquired in bulk and used simultaneously in a range of operations.

"France ejects 12 Islamic 'preachers of hate'

"France ejects 12 Islamic 'preachers of hate'
By Colin Randall in Paris
:
(Filed: 30/07/2005)

The gulf between British and French treatment of preachers of hatred and violence was thrown sharply into focus yesterday when France announced the summary expulsion of a dozen Islamists between now and the end of August.

A tough new anti-terrorism package was unveiled by Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and a popular centre-Right politician.

Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy: 'We have to act against radical preachers'

His proposals reflect French determination to act swiftly against extremists in defiance of the human rights lobby, which is noticeably less vocal in France than in Britain.

Imams and their followers who fuel anti-western feeling among impressionable young French Muslims will be rounded up and returned to their countries of origin, most commonly in France's case to its former north African colonies.

Mr Sarkozy also revealed that as many as 12 French mosques associated with provocative anti-western preaching were under surveillance. Imams indulging in inflammatory rhetoric will be expelled even if their religious status is recognised by mainstream Muslim bodies.

Those who have assumed French citizenship will not be protected from deportation. Mr Sarkozy said he will reactivate measures, 'already available in our penal code but simply not used', to strip undesirables of their adopted nationality. 'We have to act against radical preachers capable of influencing the youngest and most weak-minded,' Mr Sarkozy told the French daily Le Parisien.

The first to be caught in the new round of expulsions is an Algerian, Rena Ameuroud, whose brother Abderraham was jailed in France earlier this year for his part in a jihadist training exercise in the Fontainebleau forest south of Paris. He faces immediate deportation for allegedly urging fellow-worshippers at a Parisian mosque to engage in 'holy war'.

At least seven French nationals are now known to have been killed while fighting with anti-coalition insurgents in Iraq, in some cases as suicide bombers, the minister said. A further 10 are believed still to be there. France, which has Europe's largest Muslim population with estimates varying from five to nine million out of a population of 60 million, has long prided itself on its stern approach to terrorism.

Mr Sarkozy's crackdown on those 'promoting radical Islamist polemic' was disclosed at the end of a week that began with French anger at Britain's failure to extradite the alleged financier of Islamist bombings in Paris in the mid-1990s. Rachid Ramda, 35, an Algerian, has been held for 10 years while fighting attempts to return him to stand trial. Survivors and victims' relatives who gathered this week at the St Michel station in the heart of Paris to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the worst attack, which killed eight, called on Britain to 'stop protecting' Ramda."

SPACE.com -- BREAKING NEWS: Object Bigger than Pluto Discovered, Called 10th Planet

SPACE.com -- BREAKING NEWS: Object Bigger than Pluto Discovered, Called 10th Planet:

Astronomers have discovered an object in our solar system that is larger than Pluto. They are calling it the 10th planet, but already that claim is contested.

The new world's size is not at issue. But the very definition of planethood is.

Announcement made in haste after discoverer's web site hacked

If it's a planet, it is not No. 10, other astronomers say

Next up: Mars-sized objects?

Amateur astronomers can observe 2003 UB313

It is the first time an object so big has been found in our solar system since the discovery of Pluto 75 years ago.

The announcement, made today by Mike Brown of Caltech, came just hours after another newfound object, one slightly smaller than Pluto, was revealed in a very confusing day for astronomers and the media.

The new object, temporarily named 2003 UB313, is about three times as far from the Sun as is Pluto.

'It's definitely bigger than Pluto,' said Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy. The object is round and could be up to twice as large as Pluto, Brown told reporters in a hastily called NASA-run teleconference Friday evening.

His best estimate is that it is 2,100 miles wide, about 1-1/2 times the diameter of Pluto.

One of many?

The object is inclined by a whopping 45 degrees to the main plane of the solar system, where most of the other planets orbit. That's why it eluded discovery: nobody was looking there until now, Brown said.

Some astronomers view it as a Kuiper Belt object and not a planet. The Kuiper Belt is a region of frozen objects beyond Neptune.

Pluto is called a Kuiper Belt object by many astronomers. Brown himself has argued in the past for Pluto's demotion from planet status, because of its diminutive size and eccentric and inclined orbit.

But today he struck a different note.

'Pluto has been a planet for so long that the world is comfortable with that,' Brown said in the teleconference. 'It seems to me a logical extension that anything bigger than Pluto and farther out is a planet.'

Offering additional justification, Brown said 2003 UB313 appears to be surfaced with methane ice, as is Pluto. That's not the case with other large Kuiper Belt objects, however.

'This object is in a class very much like Pluto,' he said.

NASA effectively endorsed the idea in an official statement that referred to 2003 UB313 as the 10th planet.

Yet in recent years, a bevy of objects roughly half to three-fourths the size of Pluto have been found.

No definition for 'planet'

Brian Marsden, who runs the Minor Planet Center where data on objects like this are collected, says that if Pluto is a planet, then other round objects nearly as large as Pluto ought to be called planets. On that logic, 2003 UB313 would perhaps be a planet, but it would have to get in line behind a handful of others that were discovered previously.

'I would not call it the 10th planet,' Marsden told SPACE.com.

Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, called the discovery 'a major step.' But Boss would not call it a planet at all. Instead, he said Pluto and other small objects beyond Neptune should be called, at best, 'Kuiper Belt planets.'

'To just call them planets does an injustice to the big guys in the solar system,' Boss said in a telephone interview.

The very definition of what constitutes a planet is currently being debated by Boss and others in a working group of the International Astronomical Union. Boss said the group has not reached consensus after six months of discussion."

inadaily.com Will a new, Syria-free government bring prosperity to Lebanon?

inadaily.com | Article service:

"Will a new, Syria-free government bring prosperity?
The Daily Star Middle East | Osama Habib

Beirut

BEIRUT: The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon were seen as a sign of change in a country gripped by numerous political and economic problems. For the first time in 15 years the Lebanese are, in theory, free from Syrian hegemony.

Many Lebanese, especially the anti-Syrian opposition, partially blame Lebanon's slow GDP growth and high public debt on Syrian meddling in local political affairs.

Now that the Syrians are out and the Lebanese are in full control of their destiny, the question everyone asks is: Will the new government be able to bring prosperity to Lebanon?

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a trusted friend of the late Hariri, is now in the driver's seat thanks to the landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections of Hariri's son Saad and the backing of the U.S. and France.

To encourage Siniora to implement ambitious economic reforms, the West promised to provide assistance to Lebanon if a viable plan is presented to donor countries.

The amount of assistance was never disclosed, but some sources said that Lebanon may get a soft loan similar to the one offered to the late Hariri during the November 2002 Paris II conference.

But Hariri, who received $2.5 billion in a soft loan to reduce debt servicing, failed to implement any of the promised reforms due to conflicts with Damascus-backed President Emile Lahoud and his supporters.

The U.S. and France will not accept any more excuses for delaying reforms now that the Syrians have left, and the two countries have made this clear to Lebanese politicians.

The other challenge the new government will eventually tackle is the remaining clauses of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 which call for the disarmament of Hizbullah and the Palestinian groups in the refugee camps."

KHON2 - The Team That Knows Hawaii | Home

KHON2 - The Team That Knows Hawaii | Home:

"Syria, Iraq link may have fueled insurgency
Fox News

WASHINGTON — Congressional lawmakers on Wednesday laid out a detailed and disturbing picture of alleged Syrian complicity with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

And because of that complicity, money funneled into Iraq may have gone to help fuel the insurgency currently targeting U.S. and coalition troops, as well as Iraqi civilians, said members of the House International Relations Joint Oversight Subcommittee.

Syria had a more than $3 billion role in funneling money and weapons to Saddam Hussein during the period of the scandal-plagued U.N. Oil-for-Food program, according to documents obtained by the congressional panel.

The Syrian government, led by President Bashir Assad, isn't saying what it has done with that cash. But Congress fears it may now be in the hands of terrorists not just in Iraq but around the world.

'We see the bloody consquences of the arming of Iraq even going on today,' Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said Wednesday during a subcommittee hearing. 'I wouldn't think that it would be irrational for us to conclude, madame chairman, that those funds are being filtered to those people who are financing this bloody insurgency that is going on in Iraq today.'"

Thursday, July 28, 2005

U.S.: Iranian Cadre Training Hezbollah

U.S.: Iranian Cadre Training Hezbollah:

"The State Department official reiterated the long-standing U.S. determination that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. The group is known to operate with weapons provided by Iran that are channeled to it through Syria, which borders Lebanon.

Asked by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., whether Iranian cadre were training Hezbollah in Lebanon, Welch replied, 'Yes.'

'There continues to be an Iranian presence in association with Hezbollah in Lebanon,' he said.

Welch said the Lebanese army should extend its authority to southern Lebanon and the militia groups should be disarmed.

But on Wednesday, the leader of Hezbollah said no one can uproot the Shiite Muslim group. 'The resistance in Lebanon is not an armed gang that can be hit or eradicated,' he told supporters in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora pledged to protect Hezbollah, saying the Lebanese government considers it 'an honest and natural expression' of resistance to Israeli aggression and threats.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., called the statement 'profoundly disturbing.' He said he was not aware of any Israeli threats to Lebanon.

Welch agreed. Challenging Saniora, whose government has the Bush administration's support, Welch said 'there is no part of Lebanon occupied by Israel.'

'I don't know what they would be resisting,' he said.

'Hezbollah admits its material support for Palestinian terrorist operations, which undermines the Palestinian leadership's goal of stopping violence in israel and the Palestinian territories,' Welch said."

Rumsfeld warns Iraq on charter - Africa & Middle East - International Herald Tribune

Rumsfeld warns Iraq on charter - Africa & Middle East - International Herald Tribune:

"BAGHDAD The U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has warned Iraqi political leaders to settle their differences and agree on a new constitution quickly, and to exert more influence with Syria and Iran to force them to end support for the insurgency.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Rumsfeld laid out a blunt prescription for what Iraqi leaders must do in the coming weeks and months to ensure that a stable, secure and popularly elected government takes root - and to allow U.S. troops to begin to withdraw"

Why Syria needs the US: India Monitor

Alternative & Independent Source of Indian Subcontinent News: "
Many in the Middle East are confused about whether to believe the Syrians or the Americans and Iraqis.

The Arabs have generally believed over the past two years that Syria was supporting the insurgency in Iraq out of conviction that so long as Iraq remains ablaze, the Americans will not be able to interfere with the behavior of the Syrians. The thinking goes they will have too much on their plate to criticize Syria for meddling in Palestinian and Lebanese affairs or interfere in Syrian domestics. The Syrians will play this game, everybody believes, until President George W Bush leaves the White House in another three-and-a-half years.

The counter-argument, however, suggests that if the Islamic insurgency continues in Iraq, it might spill over into Syria and create problems and chaos for the Syrians. This is the Syrian argument: if chaos prevails in Iraq, then it will also prevail in Syria. The Syrians were unable to bear a civil war in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, fearing for their own stability and safety. Likewise, they will be unable to bear civil war in Iraq.

The Syrians believe they have done their share in combating Islamic terrorism. On July 12, Syria's ambassador to Great Britain, Sami al-Khiyyami, pledged that his country would help the United Kingdom track down those involved in the terrorist attacks in London on July 7. He said: 'Anything that the UK asks for, we will respond to positively. Syria is fully ready to cooperate against terrorism.'

Assad even contacted British Prime Minister Tony Blair, offering his condolences and pledging his support to punish the London terrorists. Other indicators showing that Syria is cooperating with the US in the 'war on terrorism' is that Damascus arrested, in the past few months alone, more than 1,300 Arabs trying to cross the border into Iraq. In his recent newspaper interview, Assad said that the number was 1,500.

Syria on a recent day arrested 11 suspects trying to cross the border into Iraq. Syria is saying aloud that its cooperation is not only out of a desire to cooperate with the Americans but because it also feels threatened by Islamic fundamentalism. True, it did turn a blind eye to the fighters who crossed the border to fight in Iraq in 2003, but Syria soon realized the folly of such an action. When the fighters were defeated or deported back to Syria, a combination of frustration, anger and despair took over. Unable to strike at the Americans or the next-door Israelis, they unleashed their anger on their fellow Syrians.

Syria has repeatedly said since 2003 that chaos in Iraq does not serve its interests, since disenchanted warriors can leave Iraq where weapons are in abundance, return to Syria and create a nightmare for Syria's secular regime.

[...]

Thought control
Part of Syria's ploy to contain fundamentalism is to control the thought of potential terrorists through mosques and religious networks that are closely monitored by the state. This is being done by promoting reform-minded and moderate clerics within the Muslim establishments, such as the regime-friendly Islamic deputy Mohammad Habash, and more recently through the appointment of Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, a moderate cleric, as Grand Mufti of the republic.

His predecessor, Ahmad Kaftaro, had been at the post for four decades and encouraged Muslims to go to Iraq in 2003 and wage a holy war against the Americans, whereas Hassoun has voiced his rejection of all forms of violence. Yet Syria has specifically said that it will not allow Islamic political parties to operate once a multi-party law is issued, as decided by the Ba'ath Party Conference of June 2005. By turning a blind eye to the Islamists and banning them from political activity, the regime would actually be forcing them to become more aggressive, and go underground as they had done in the 1980s. Denying them political existence will not make them go away. Syria should, in order to contain them, permit the creation of moderate Islamic parties and keep tabs on all of their members. Having them operate under the watchful eye of the state is better than having them work in secret.

Syria does have a lot to fear from fundamentalism. Hundreds of fundamentalists roam the Middle East, and once disguised, it would be difficult to distinguish them from any other Arab. Syrian authorities have always welcomed all Arabs into Syria with no visas, to promote Arab brotherhood and unity. This has backfired since, with no visa record and no proper database of Arabs entering Syria, practically any person can enter. Using bribes, anyone can pay his way through the Iraqi border, through tribes and smuggling, and end up as a suicide bomber in Baghdad. Even worse, he might stay behind and become a suicide bomber in Syria.

And with time, it is becoming clear that many members of al-Qaeda, especially those stationed in Europe, are Syrians.
[...]

Meanwhile, religious involvement is increasing in Syria. Mosque attendance, head scarves and blind adherence to Islam is spreading throughout Syrian society. The reasons are many, but chief among them is that Arab nationalism has failed and the disgruntled masses have searched for an outlet to explain their suffering and find salvation. This has been topped by the continued atrocities in Palestine as well as the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And Muslim activists are seeing that political Islam works. In Palestine, Islamic parties like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have succeeded in inflicting heavy damage on Israel. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has done the same and was the only party in modern Arab history to force the Israelis to withdraw from occupied Arab land (the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000).

In Iran, the theocracy created in 1979 is strong, confident, and has managed to impose itself on the regional and international community. In Iraq, the Muslim fighters have also caused havoc for the Americans. They appear to be scoring more victories in post-Saddam Iraq than Bush. This is a threat the Syrians must combat immediately. To do that, they require US cooperation in as much as the Syrians need the US because the Americans and Syrians, along with the entire civilized world, have a common enemy in radical and political Islam.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst. "

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Japanese develop 'female' android

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Japanese develop 'female' android: "Japanese develop 'female' android
By David Whitehouse
Science editor, BBC News website


Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a 'female' android called Repliee Q1.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguru of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.

Repliee Q1 is not like any robot you will have seen before, at least outside of science-fiction movies.

She is designed to look human and although she can only sit at present, she has 31 actuators in her upper body, powered by a nearby air compressor, programmed to allow her to move like a human.

We have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her
Prof Hiroshi Ishiguru
'I have developed many robots before,' Repliee Q1's designer, Professor Ishiguru, told the BBC News website, 'but I soon realised the importance of its appearance. A human-like appearance gives a robot a strong feeling of presence.'"

What Do the Terrorists Want? - article by Daniel Pipes

What Do the Terrorists Want? - article by Daniel Pipes

In nearly all cases, the jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law, the Shari’a. Or, again to cite the Daily Telegraph, their “real project is the extension of the Islamic territory across the globe, and the establishment of a worldwide ‘caliphate’ founded on Shari’a law.”

Terrorists openly declare this goal. The Islamists who assassinated Anwar el-Sadat in 1981 decorated their holding cages with banners proclaiming the “caliphate or death.” A biography of one of the most influential Islamist thinkers of recent times and an influence on Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam declares that his life “revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah’s Rule on earth” and restoring the caliphate.

Bin Laden himself spoke of ensuring that “the pious caliphate will start from Afghanistan.” His chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also dreamed of re-establishing the caliphate, for then, he wrote, “history would make a new turn, God willing, in the opposite direction against the empire of the United States and the world’s Jewish government.” Another Al-Qaeda leader, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, publishes a magazine that has declared “Due to the blessings of jihad, America’s countdown has begun. It will declare defeat soon,” to be followed by the creation of a caliphate.

Or, as Mohammed Bouyeri wrote in the note he attached to the corpse of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker he had just assassinated, “Islam will be victorious through the blood of martyrs who spread its light in every dark corner of this earth.”

Interestingly, van Gogh’s murderer was frustrated by the mistaken motives attributed to him, insisting at his trial: “I did what I did purely out of my beliefs. I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted.”

Although terrorists state their jihadi motives loudly and clearly, Westerners and Muslims alike too often fail to hear them. Islamic organizations, Canadian author Irshad Manji observes, pretend that “Islam is an innocent bystander in today’s terrorism.”

What the terrorists want is abundantly clear. It requires monumental denial not to acknowledge it, but we Westerners have risen to the challenge.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Libya takes out a full page ad in the New York Times: Open for business!

Global Economies: Libya/ NY Times special advertising supplement

Roman ruins such as the ancient city of Leptis Magna could help make Libya highly marketable as a tourist destination.

INTRODUCTION
Privatization leads the way to take-off
The years of isolation are at an end following the lifting of sanctions and, as U.S. dollars flood back into the oil sector, Libya is liberalizing its economy in a bid to relaunch itself in the global marketplace.

PRIVATIZATION
Offloading state firms will broaden the base of ownership
Libyans get the chance to run their own businesses as public firms move to the private sector.

TOURISM
A land of ancient civilizations and desert
During the years of isolation, Libya was more or less closed to Western tourists. Today, visitor numbers although still relatively small are increasing rapidly, and tourism is the most promising sector outside the oil industry.

ìSteel is the future: we have good prices and a great export potentialî
A state-run enterprise attracting considerable interest as it awaits privatization is the Engineering Industries Company, which manufactures products ranging from steel structures and transmission line towers to barbed wire and nails.

TRANSPORT
Getting shipshape for expansion
shipping Libyaís maritime authorities are preparing for an increase in both cargo and cruise passengers now sanctions have been lifted.

Airport expansion will handle increasing traffic
LIBYAís airports are to be expanded and modernized. Tripoli International Airport is to get a new terminal, and a completely new airport is to be built at Libyaís second largest city, Benghazi.

INDUSTRY
Steelmaker moves from strength to strength
Lisco profits from rising demand at home and abroad and seeks partners with technological know-how to help it upgrade its facilities.

Major projects will build the economy
Boom times lie ahead for the construction industry as Libya builds the infrastructure it needs for a new era of economic expansion.

Delivery firm has the right prescription
Private companies have been allowed to import and distribute pharmaceuticals and medical equipment in Libya since last year, opening up a multi-million dollar market.

Libya has decided to join the world economy and reap the benefits, rather than cast his lot in with the Jihadis. Khadaffi's crazy, but not THAT crazy! Now that Khaddafi is taking concrete steps away from terrorism and seeking WMD's, the sanctions have been lifted, and Libya's economy is poised to grow.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

In wake of London bombings, more cities install cameras: My Way News

My Way News:

"While privacy advocates question their effectiveness, Sen. Hillary Clinton called for New York City subway officials to install more cameras, even though officials said some 5,000 cameras are already in use across all modes of city travel. In Stamford, Conn., Mayor Dan Malloy said it's time to revisit a 1999 ordinance that limited cameras to watching traffic.

In many other spots around the country, cameras already are in place.

'In general, I think we're getting used to cameras. Hey, that's just the way the world is,' said Roy Bordes, who runs an Orlando, Fla.-based security design consultant firm.

Consider these recent developments:

- Chicago now has at least 2,000 surveillance cameras across its neighborhoods, after leaders last year launched an ambitious project at a cost of roughly $5 million. Law enforcement says they've helped drive crime rates to the lowest they've seen in 40 years.

- In Philadelphia, where the city has increasingly relied on video surveillance, cameras caught an early morning murder which ultimately led to the capture of a suspect. Police say the accused is now a suspect in an unsolved murder from 1998.

- Homeland Security officials last week announced they would install hundreds of surveillance cameras and sensors on a rail line near the Capitol at a cost of $9.8 million, months after an effort by local officials to ban hazardous shipments on the line.

In most cases prior to the last few years, street crime - not terrorism - was the driving factor behind the cameras. There has also been a boom in traffic-monitoring cameras, and huge reliance on surveillance cameras in private business, especially in retail establishments like convenience and department stores.

Security experts say that technology hasn't yet caught up with hopes for the equipment, however.

They point out that despite London's huge network of cameras, the bombings weren't prevented. In those two cases, the cameras have only helped in the investigations.

One significant weakness is that the images caught by camera can't automatically link to a list of known terrorist suspects - not that that would have helped in London, as men identified as bombers weren't on any watch lists.

'I haven't heard of anything being successful that allows us to prevent something by flashing up on a screen somewhere a positive identification of someone on a terrorist database,' said Jack Lichtenstein with ASIS international, a Washington-based organization of security officials. Still, 'that's where we're headed,' he said.

Privacy advocates say the London bombings should persuade policymakers to stay away from surveillance rather than invest in it. It doesn't prevent terrorism, and at best only encourages terrorists to shift their target, they argue.

'Let's say we put cameras on all the subways in New York City, and terrorists bomb movie theaters instead. Then it's a total waste of money,' said Bruce Schneier, author of 'Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World.'

It's not much more likely to catch a terrorist than the random searches that New York officials have begun conducting on subways, he said. Better to spend money on intelligence resources to prevent attacks and emergency training to respond to them, he said.

But in Stamford, Conn., a city on a train line that runs to New York, Mayor Malloy said potential targets like trains, hospitals and water reservoirs should all be monitored, with regulations to guard against snooping on private homes, parks and other unlikely targets. "

House Endorses NASA Missions to Moon, Mars - Yahoo! News

House Endorses NASA Missions to Moon, Mars - Yahoo! News:

WASHINGTON - The House Friday overwhelmingly endorsed
President Bush's vision to send man back to the moon and eventually on to Mars as it passed a bill to set
NASA policy for the next two years.

The bill passed 383-15 after a collegial debate in which lawmakers stressed their commitment to not just Bush's ambitious space exploration plans but also to traditional NASA programs such as science and aeronautics.

There is some tension between Congress and the White House over the balance between Bush's vision for space exploration and other NASA initiatives. Originally, the measure would have shifted $1.3 billion in funds from exploration to other NASA programs. But after administration objections lawmakers added the money back to the budget for exploration during floor debate. That was done by adding to the bill's bottom line — now at $34.7 billion — not at the expense of science and aeronautics."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Corner on National Review Online: Australian PM Howard's response to reporter RE terrorism

The Corner on National Review Online:

"PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don't want to add to what the prime minister has said. It's a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. "

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Iraq war takes heavy toll on civilians -survey CNN News

News: "Iraq war takes heavy toll on civilians -survey


BAGHDAD, July 19 (Reuters) - U.S.-led forces, insurgents and criminal gangs have killed nearly 25,000 Iraqi civilians, police, and army recruits since the war began in March 2003, according to a survey by a U.S.-British non-government group.

Nearly half the deaths in the two years surveyed to March 2005 were in Baghdad, where a fifth of Iraq's 25 million people live, according to media reports monitored by Iraq Body Count.

Of the total, nearly 37 percent were killed by U.S.-led forces, the group said.

The U.S. military and the Iraqi government disputed the findings. The U.S. military said it did not target civilians.

'We do everything we can to avoid civilian casualties in all of our operations,' said Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, a spokesman in Baghdad.

'Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom until now, we have categorically not targeted civilians. We take great care in all operations to ensure we go after the intended targets.'

The Iraqi government said: 'We welcome the attention given by this report to Iraqi victims of violence but we consider that it is mistaken in claiming that the plague of terrorism has killed fewer Iraqis than multi-national forces.'
[...]

The group took its data, including figures showing more than 42,000 civilians were wounded in the same period, from an analysis of more than 10,000 press and media reports.

The death toll almost mirrors a U.N.-funded survey conducted last year, which found some 24,000 conflict-related deaths since the U.S.-led invasion.

Another survey, published in Britain's Lancet medical journal last October, found nearly 100,000 deaths in the 18 months after the invasion, more than half due to violence. These findings were contested by U.S. and British officials.

Since the media in Iraq is forced to focus on Baghdad for security reasons, it is likely that Iraq Body Count's death toll throughout the country is under-estimated.

GOVERNMENT DISPUTES FINDINGS

The survey found that almost a third of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion itself, from March 20 to May 1, 2003, when U.S.-led forces carried out their "shock and awe" bombing campaign on Baghdad.

In the first year after the invasion, around 6,000 civilians were killed, a number that nearly doubled in the second year, indicating a general increase in violence. The group said deaths caused by insurgents and criminals had risen steadily.

U.S.-led forces were found to be chiefly responsible for deaths, with criminals a close second at 36 percent, while insurgents accounted for a surprisingly small 9.5 percent.

That would not appear to tally with the situation on the ground, where insurgent violence is rife. The Iraqi government disagreed with the finding.

"The international forces try to avoid civilian casualties, whereas the terrorists target civilians and try to kill as many of them as they can," it said in a statement, which also provided some government statistics on recorded deaths.

Ministry of Health figures showed 6,629 civilians were killed between April 2004 and April 2005. Ministry of Interior figures, which include armed forces casualties, showed 8,175 Iraqis were killed between July 2004 and May 2005.

The Body Count survey would also appear not to capture the full extent of the devastation caused by insurgent car bombings. Over the past 18 months, hundreds of suicide car bombs have exploded around the country, killing well over 2,000 people. "

Monday, July 18, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Afghanistan Weighs Launching Truth Panel

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Afghanistan Weighs Launching Truth Panel:

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - After a quarter-century of fighting that left more than 1 million dead, Afghanistan's government is considering setting up a special war crimes court and a truth commission to document atrocities, an official said Monday.

The news follows a comprehensive report on human rights abuses, the first since the late 1970s, which blames some of the worst atrocities on several top officials and candidates in coming legislative elections.

Those named include Chief of Army Staff Abdul Rashid Dostum and Second Vice President Karim Khalili.

Bringing them to justice would be risky for U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai. It could inflame ethnic tensions and alienate powerful regional strongmen whose support the government needs as it struggles to contain an escalating Taliban-led insurgency.

The government is expected to decide in coming weeks on a proposal to deal with crimes committed during years of warfare - from the 1978 communist coup through the Soviet occupation, the ensuing fighting between warlords, the rise of the repressive Taliban, and its subsequent U.S.-led overthrow in 2001 - according to Ahmad Nader Nadery, a commissioner with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

The plan, drawn up by the state-sponsored commission and U.N. human rights officials, calls for an immediate ``vetting process'' to remove officials from government if there is war crime evidence against them, Nadery said."

The lipstick lesbian daring to confront radical imams - - Times Online

The lipstick lesbian daring to confront radical imams - Sunday Times - Times Online:

"The lipstick lesbian daring to confront radical imams
Irshad Manji has already been dubbed ‘Osama’s worst nightmare’ for her criticisms of Islam. Now she wants Britain’s Muslims to stand more firmly on the side of freedom
No wonder Irshad Manji has received death threats since appearing on British television: she is a lipstick lesbian, a Muslim and scourge of Islamic leaders, whom she accuses of making excuses about the terror attacks on London. Oh, and she tells ordinary Muslims to “crawl out of their narcissistic shell”. Ouch.

Manji is a glamorous Canadian television presenter whose book, The Trouble with Islam, has made her so famous in America that she won something called the Oprah Winfrey Chutzpah award. Even at a conference in Oxford last week she felt unsafe — despite extra security — with police sifting through “disgusting e-mails” and threats after her appearance on Newsnight.

Doesn’t the violent Muslim minority show Islam is flawed? “I ask myself the same question,” she grimaces. Far from regarding Muslims as oppressed they have a “supremacy complex — and that’s dangerous”. This, she contends, is true even among moderates. “Literalists” who consider the Koran the “perfect manifesto of God” have taken over the mainstream; and far from misreading Islam, as Tony Blair and the Muslim Council of Britain insist, terrorists can find encouragement for murder in the Koran.

The underlying problem with Islam, observes Manji, is that far from spiritualising Arabia, it has been infected with the reactionary prejudices of the Middle East: “Colonialism is not the preserve of people with pink skin. What about Islamic imperialism? Eighty per cent of Muslims live outside the Arab world yet all Muslims must bow to Mecca.” Fresh thinking, she contends, is suppressed by ignorant imams; you can see why she has been dubbed “Osama’s worst nightmare ”.

“The good news,” she insists, “is it doesn’t have to be like this.” She wants a reformation in Islam, returning it to its clever, fun-loving roots. “The world’s first ‘feminist’ was an 11th-century Muslim man. Baghdad had one of the first universities in the 9th century; the Spanish ‘Ole!’ comes from ‘Allah’; Islam even gave us the guitar.”"

The Australian: The ties that bound Iraq to bin Laden [July 18, 2005]

The Australian: The ties that bound Iraq to bin Laden [July 18, 2005]:

"The Senate Select Intelligence Committee's bipartisan report was released last year. Most of the attention at the time focused on the report's assessment of flaws in intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

The lengthy section on 'Iraq's Links to Terrorism' received considerably less attention. What emerges is a picture of an intelligence community with a woefully inadequate collection capability on the Iraqi target - and a lack of interest: 'The CIA did not have a focused human intelligence collection strategy targeting Iraq's links to terrorism until 2002. The CIA had no sources on the ground in Iraq reporting specifically on terrorism.'

It was not just reporting on Iraq that was inadequate. 'The CIA had no credible reporting on the leadership of either the Iraqi regime or al- Qa'ida, which would have enabled it to better define a co-operative relationship, if any did in fact exist.'

By some accounts, more than 1400 terrorists made their way to Baghdad in the final months of 1990 as Saddam prepared to face the coalition assembled by the US to oust him from Kuwait. He dispatched others to attack US interests around the world.

Iraq's use of terrorism was so widespread, in fact, that it became an issue in the 1992 presidential campaign, when Al Gore accused the first Bush administration of a 'blatant disregard for brutal terrorism' practised by Saddam and ignoring Iraq's 'extensive terrorism activities'.

Many Islamic radicals voiced opposition to Saddam after he invaded Kuwait. Sudan's Hasan al-Turabi was not one of them. Turabi's willingness to back Saddam gave the Iraqi dictator the Islamist street credibility he would exploit for years to come. In the debate over the former Iraqi regime's relationship with al-Qa'ida, it is often said that Saddam's secular Baathist regime could never have worked with bin Laden's radical Islamist organisation.

It is a curious argument since Turabi, one of Saddam's staunchest allies, also happened to be one of the most influential Islamists of the past two decades. One of the principal architects of Sudan's Islamist revolution in 1989, Turabi was also the longtime mentor, friend, and host of bin Laden during his stay in Sudan from 1992 until 1996.

Immediately after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, bin Laden approached the Saudi regime and offered to lead Muslim forces in driving Saddam out of Kuwait. Many who downplay the relationship between the former Iraqi regime and al-Qa'ida point to this as an example of the hostility between Saddam and bin Laden.

While bin Laden's first instinct may have been to oppose the secular tyrant, his soon-to-be host in Sudan did not share such sentiments. According to an interview at the time with Turabi's cousin, Mudawi Turabi, the Sudanese leader met Saddam twice before the Gulf War and 'had appeared to be designing his own Islamic empire even then'.

An internal Iraqi intelligence memo dated March 28, 1992, lists individuals Saddam's regime considered assets of the ISS. Osama bin Laden is listed on page 14. The Iraqis describe him as a Saudi businessman who 'is in good relationship with our section in Syria'.

The Iraqis were also cultivating a relationship with Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the current top deputy to bin Laden. According to Qassem Hussein Mohammed, a 20-year veteran of Iraqi intelligence, Zawahiri visited Baghdad in 1992 for a meeting with Saddam.

In 1993, at Turabi's urging, bin Laden came to an 'understanding' with Saddam that the al-Qa'ida leader and his followers would not engage in any anti-Hussein activities."

Syria’s Grand Mufti condemns kidnappings, suicide attacks in Iraq: Khaleej Times Online

Khaleej Times Online: "Syria’s Grand Mufti condemns kidnappings, suicide attacks in Iraq
(DPA)

17 July 2005


CAIRO - Syria’s new Grand Mufti has condemned kidnappings and suicide attacks in Iraq and said he intends to work with all Islamic sects to prevent the growth of fundamentalism, al-Hayat newspaper reported on Sunday.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmed Badr el-Dein Hassoun, Syria’s top Moslem cleric, told the al-Hayat daily following his appointment Saturday that “Islam does not permit kidnapping”. He said he was in contact with associations of Sunni and Shiite clerics in Iraq to urge them to discourage the practice “because it is a crime that harms Islam”.

Those contacts were aimed at “preventing (suicide) operations that impact negatively on the Iraqi people”, Hassoun said.

“I was the first to forbid (youths) from going to Iraq, because the country doesn’t need youths, but wise and rational people that will return it’s sense of self-respect,” he told al-Hayat.

He said a top priority on taking office was meeting with “all Islamic sects to unify their discourse and to together halt the spread of fundamentalism.”"

DallasNews.com | Changing role of Syria in the world

DallasNews.com | News for Dallas, Texas | Entertainment: Books:

Syria is usually to be found on the periphery of big events, close enough to cause trouble while rarely being helpful. In recent months, Syria has been a likely culprit in Lebanon's political assassinations, has provocatively tested Scud missiles and has presumably kept building its stockpile of chemical weapons. Syria has also provided American intelligence agencies with useful information about terrorist activities, but on balance it remains a strong contender for President Bush's axis of evil.
[...]



"The man more or less in charge of Syria is a 39-year-old physician who did postgraduate work in ophthalmology in Britain. An unlikely political leader, Bashar Assad inherited Syria from his father, the cunning Hafez Assad, five years ago, and it is difficult to determine exactly how much power he really has and what his intentions are.

The senior Assad was always concerned about Syria being marginalized, and so he opposed dealings between other Arab states and Israel. Syria, says Mr. Leverett, was also 'the leading violator of UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime' and sponsored terrorist acts against Israel and others.

Since becoming Syria's president, Bashar Assad has seemed to recognize that the world is changing. While his father's attitude toward globalization, says Mr. Leverett, 'was one of ignorance supplemented by vague suspicion,' Mr. Bashar has tried to build bridges to Turkey, China and Russia. He wants, writes Mr. Leverett, to establish a 'robust bilateral relationship' with the United States that would boost reform and economic growth within Syria.

The Bush administration's response, according to Mr. Leverett, has been to send mixed signals – mostly negative – accusing Syria of aiding Iraqi insurgents and undermining stability in Lebanon. Syria is also a significant barrier to a peaceful Middle East because it supports Hezbollah's attacks that are designed push Israel as far as possible without incurring, says Mr. Leverett, 'an overly punishing Israeli response.'

How much responsibility for this dangerous gamesmanship belongs to Bashar Assad? Despite Mr. Leverett's thorough analysis of available information, Mr. Bashar's role remains unclearly defined. In Mr. Leverett's judgment, Mr. Bashar is 'not an ideological fanatic like' Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar or a violent thug like Saddam Hussein. It may be that he does not have full control over the military, intelligence and administrative bureaucracies that his father built during his 30 years of rule. If that is the case, and Syria's leadership is weakened by diffusion, the country may become even more of a menace within the Middle East and perhaps farther afield."

Syria to Shift to Multi-party System: ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER

ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER (2005071921873): "Syria to Shift to Multi-party System
By Salih Boztas


Syrian Foreign Minister Faruk al-Shara told Zaman, 'Turkey has been confined to Anatolia, yet the Middle East needs its leadership.'

Syria, ruled by the Baath Party for a long time is preparing to adapt to a multi-party system. Al-Shara noting the region was in a democratization phase said his country would hold democratic elections in the near future. 'The Baath party has taken important decisions. Most important among these are the formation of free political parties, carrying out democratic elections of and promoting a vote cast. We will shift to the multi-party system through a new law. The process continues. We will not return from the path of democracy.' Al-Shara who has been directing Syrian foreign policy for more than 15 years said the bill to establish a democratic system would first be presented to the public for consideration. The Syrian minister said the new law was expected to be brought into effect within six months.

The abolition of a state of emergency and the implementation of the freedom of the press are the other two important steps al-Shara announced. He said, they could not characterize themselves as a democratic state, but: 'There is no ideal democracy in the world. The urge of a decisive resolution to become a democracy is present in Syria.

The Syrian Foreign Minister also pointed to Turkey's growing strategic importance. According to al-Shara, the region needs Turkey's leadership and Ankara should mediate in the Middle East Peace Process. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been accorded full authority during his visit to Syria, he related. The centuries-old relation between the two countries was at the moment at its prime and was being strengthened by reciprocal visits, he observed.

Syria is making efforts towards giving freedom of the press. The Beshar Asad administration which had allowed the broadcast of the first private radio channel was also considering the first private TV channel as well. Al-Shara summarized the changes that will be held. 'We strive to give freedom to the press. Private newspapers and radios will be able to continue their broadcast under the context of technology and international transparency.'"

Ebonics suggested for district: San Bernardino County Sun - News

San Bernardino County Sun - News: Ebonics suggested for district:

"Blacks make up the second largest racial group in the district, trailing Latinos.

A pilot of the policy, known as the Students Accumulating New Knowledge Optimizing Future Accomplishment Initiative, has been implemented at two city schools.

Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, commended the San Bernardino Board of Education for approving the policy in June.

Texeira suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students. Ebonics, a dialect of American English that is spoken by many blacks throughout the country, was recognized as a separate language in 1996 by the Oakland school board.

'Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. 'For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language.'

Texeira said research has shown that students learn better when they fully comprehend the language they are being taught in.

'There are African Americans who do not agree with me. They say that (black students) are lazy and that they need to learn to talk,' Texeira said.

Len Cooper, who is coordinating the pilot program at the two city schools, said San Bernardino district officials do not plan to incorporate Ebonics into the program.

'Because Ebonics can have a negative stigma, we're not focusing on that,' Cooper said. 'We are affirming and recognizing Ebonics through supplemental reading books (for students).'

Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate.

The pilot program at Rio Vista Elementary and King Middle schools focuses on second-, fourth- and seventh-grade classes. District officials hope to train teachers from other schools using the program as a model.

Board member Danny Tillman, who pushed for the policy, said that full implementation of the program at all schools may take years, but the pilot program is a beginning.

'At every step we will see positive results,' Tillman said.

Tillman hoped the new policy would increase the number of black students going to college and participating in advanced courses.

Teresa Parra, board vice president, said she worried the new program would have an adverse effect.

'I'm afraid that now that we have this the Hispanic community, our largest population, will say, 'We want something for us.' Next we'll have the Asian community and the Jewish community (asking for their own programs). When will it end?'

Parra said the district should focus on helping all students who are at risk.

'I've always thought that we should provide students support based on their needs and not on their race,' Parra said.

Tillman disagreed with Parra, saying programs that help Latinos already exist in the district. He cited the district's English- as-a-second-language program.

Texeira urged people not be quick to judge the new program as socially exclusive. She said people need to be open to the program.

'Everybody has prejudices, but we must all learn to control that behavior,' Texeira said. She said a child's self confidence is tied to his or her cultural identity.

She compared the low performance of black students to starvation. 'How can you be angry when you feed a family of starving children?'"

Andrew C. McCarthy on Valerie Plame on National Review Online

Andrew C. McCarthy on Valerie Plame on National Review Online

THE MEDIA GOES TO COURT ... AND SINGS A DIFFERENT TUNE
Just four months ago, 36 news organizations confederated to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. At the time, Bush-bashing was (no doubt reluctantly) confined to an unusual backseat. The press had no choice — it was time to close ranks around two of its own, namely, the Times's Judith Miller and Time's Matthew Cooper, who were threatened with jail for defying grand jury subpoenas from the special prosecutor.

The media's brief, fairly short and extremely illuminating, is available here. The Times, which is currently spearheading the campaign against Rove and the Bush administration, encouraged its submission. It was joined by a "who's who" of the current Plame stokers, including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, AP, Newsweek, Reuters America, the Washington Post, the Tribune Company (which publishes the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, among other papers), and the White House Correspondents (the organization which represents the White House press corps in its dealings with the executive branch).

The thrust of the brief was that reporters should not be held in contempt or forced to reveal their sources in the Plame investigation. Why? Because, the media organizations confidently asserted, no crime had been committed. Now, that is stunning enough given the baleful shroud the press has consciously cast over this story. Even more remarkable, though, were the key details these self-styled guardians of the public's right to know stressed as being of the utmost importance for the court to grasp — details those same guardians have assiduously suppressed from the coverage actually presented to the public.

Though you would not know it from watching the news, you learn from reading the news agencies' brief that the 1982 law prohibiting disclosure of undercover agents' identities explicitly sets forth a complete defense to this crime. It is contained in Section 422 (of Title 50, U.S. Code), and it provides that an accused leaker is in the clear if, sometime before the leak, "the United States ha[s] publicly acknowledged or revealed" the covert agent's "intelligence relationship to the United States[.]"

As it happens, the media organizations informed the court that long before the Novak revelation (which, as noted above, did not disclose Plame's classified relationship with the CIA), Plame's cover was blown not once but twice. The media based this contention on reporting by the indefatigable Bill Gertz — an old-school, "let's find out what really happened" kind of journalist. Gertz's relevant article, published a year ago in the Washington Times, can be found here.

THE MEDIA TELLS THE COURT: PLAME'S COVER WAS BLOWN IN THE MID-1990s
As the media alleged to the judges (in Footnote 7, page 8, of their brief), Plame's identity as an undercover CIA officer was first disclosed to Russia in the mid-1990s by a spy in Moscow. Of course, the press and its attorneys were smart enough not to argue that such a disclosure would trigger the defense prescribed in Section 422 because it was evidently made by a foreign-intelligence operative, not by a U.S. agency as the statute literally requires.

But neither did they mention the incident idly. For if, as he has famously suggested, President Bush has peered into the soul of Vladimir Putin, what he has no doubt seen is the thriving spirit of the KGB, of which the Russian president was a hardcore agent. The Kremlin still spies on the United States. It remains in the business of compromising U.S. intelligence operations.

Thus, the media's purpose in highlighting this incident is blatant: If Plame was outed to the former Soviet Union a decade ago, there can have been little, if anything, left of actual intelligence value in her "every operation, every relationship, every network" by the time anyone spoke with Novak (or, of course, Corn).

THE CIA OUTS PLAME TO FIDEL CASTRO
Of greater moment to the criminal investigation is the second disclosure urged by the media organizations on the court. They don't place a precise date on this one, but inform the judges that it was "more recent" than the Russian outing but "prior to Novak's publication."

And it is priceless. The press informs the judges that the CIA itself "inadvertently" compromised Plame by not taking appropriate measures to safeguard classified documents that the Agency routed to the Swiss embassy in Havana. In the Washington Times article — you remember, the one the press hypes when it reports to the federal court but not when it reports to consumers of its news coverage — Gertz elaborates that "[t]he documents were supposed to be sealed from the Cuban government, but [unidentified U.S.] intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them."

Thus, the same media now stampeding on Rove has told a federal court that, to the contrary, they believe the CIA itself blew Plame's cover before Rove or anyone else in the Bush administration ever spoke to Novak about her. Of course, they don't contend the CIA did it on purpose or with malice. But neither did Rove — who, unlike the CIA, appears neither to have known about nor disclosed Plame's classified status. Yet, although the Times and its cohort have a bull's eye on Rove's back, they are breathtakingly silent about an apparent CIA embarrassment — one that seems to be just the type of juicy story they routinely covet.

Frustrated Iraqis ready to take law into own hands: Netscape News/Reuters

News: "Frustrated Iraqis ready to take law into own hands


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis have begun barricading themselves in their homes and forming neighborhood militias in an effort to fend off relentless suicide attacks, residents in the capital said on Monday.

The measures come amid waning confidence in the Iraqi police and other security forces as they struggle to get on top of the two-year-old insurgency. In the latest attack, 98 people were killed by a suicide truck bomb south of Baghdad on Saturday.

A senior member of Iraq's parliament on Sunday called for popular militias to be created as an extra line of defense against the militants, and criticized the government for failing to stop the bombs.

'The plans of the interior and defense ministries to impose security in Iraq have failed,' Khudair al-Khuzai told parliament during a heated session following the latest blast. 'We need to bring back popular militias,' he said, without expanding.

While there was some backing for his proposal, there are concerns militias formed along sectarian lines could lead the country ever closer to civil war, with Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs already involved in tit-for-tat killings.

Despite that fear, local militias have already been formed in several Baghdad areas, and at least two Shi'ite political movements have their own powerful private armies.

In the Sadiya district in the south of the capital, residents have introduced a neighborhood watch program which involves men armed with pistols and AK-47s walking the streets from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on alert for attackers.

They carry a piece of paper signed by the Iraqi army granting them permission to carry out the patrols.

In several other districts residents have blocked off streets with the trunks of chopped-down palm trees, or with large concrete flower pots, to try to stop suicide car bombers. "

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Outsource your job to earn more! - The Times of India

Outsource your job to earn more! - The Times of India:

Outsource your job to get a new one! This is the new mantra doing the rounds in the US IT sector.

Programmers are outsourcing their software modules to cheap and efficient labour in India. This way they get the best of both worlds- more money and more time. They earn doubly - one from the outsourced job, other from the new job they undertake.

According to this concept the techie is able to give himself a promotion outsourcing the specific modules to one or more Indian techies . While he takes the charge as a overall project manager.

You can utilise the time in updating yourself to new technologies as well as learning a different domain thereby enhancing your market value considerably .

Says a programmer on Slashdot.org who outsourced his job: 'About a year ago I hired a developer in India to do my job. I pay him $12,000 out of the $67,000 I get. He's happy to have the work. I'm happy that I have to work only 90 minutes a day just supervising the code. My employer thinks I'm telecommuting. Now I'm considering getting a second job and doing the same thing.'

Smarter techies are working for three to four companies at the same time, outsourcing all the coding and just supervising them for few hours a day. This way they are able to earn four to five time more than what they used to.

This is called the principle of 'comparative advantage', whereby you concentrate on you core strengths outsourcing the non competitive areas.

The idea has given rise to firms named as micro multinationals. These firms hire a small number of sales and marketing people in the US. The software products are developed in Bangalore, Pune or Hyderabad. "

Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online

Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online:

"In a word, this version of events brings spiritual calm for millions of troubled though affluent and blessed Westerners. There are three sacraments to their postmodern thinking, besides the primordial fear that so often leads to appeasement.

Our first hindrance is moral equivalence. For the hard Left there is no absolute right and wrong since amorality is defined arbitrarily and only by those in power.

Taking back Fallujah from beheaders and terrorists is no different from bombing the London subway since civilians may die in either case. The deliberate rather than accidental targeting of noncombatants makes little difference, especially since the underdog in Fallujah is not to be judged by the same standard as the overdogs in London and New York. A half-dozen roughed up prisoners in Guantanamo are the same as the Nazi death camps or the Gulag.

Our second shackle is utopian pacifism — ‘war never solved anything’ and ‘violence only begets violence.’ Thus it makes no sense to resort to violence, since reason and conflict resolution can convince even a bin Laden to come to the table. That most evil has ended tragically and most good has resumed through armed struggle — whether in Germany, Japan, and Italy or Panama, Belgrade, and Kabul — is irrelevant. Apparently on some past day, sophisticated Westerners, in their infinite wisdom and morality, transcended age-old human nature, and as a reward were given a pass from the smelly, dirty old world of the past six millennia.

The third restraint is multiculturalism, or the idea that all social practices are of equal merit. Who are we to generalize that the regimes and fundamentalist sects of the Middle East result in economic backwardness, intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, gender apartheid, racism, homophobia, and patriarchy? Being different from the West is never being worse.

These tenets in various forms are not merely found in the womb of the universities, but filter down into our popular culture, grade schools, and national political discourse — and make it hard to fight a war against stealthy enemies who proclaim constant and shifting grievances. If at times these doctrines are proven bankrupt by the evidence it matters little, because such beliefs are near religious in nature — a secular creed that will brook no empirical challenge.

These articles of faith apparently fill a deep psychological need for millions of Westerners, guilty over their privilege, free to do anything without constraints or repercussions, and convinced that their own culture has made them spectacularly rich and leisured only at the expense of others.

So it is not true to say that Western civilization is at war against Dark Age Islamism. Properly speaking, only about half of the West is involved, the shrinking segment that still sees human nature as unchanging and history as therefore replete with a rich heritage of tragic lessons.

This is nothing new.

The spectacular inroads of the Ottomans in the16th century to the gates of Vienna and the shores of the Adriatic were not explainable according to Istanbul’s vibrant economy, impressive universities, or widespread scientific dynamism and literacy, or even a technologically superior and richly equipped military. Instead, a beleaguered Europe was trisected by squabbling Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians — as a wealthy northwest, with Atlantic seaports, ignored the besieged Mediterranean and Balkans and turned its attention to getting rich in the New World.

So too we are divided over two antithetical views of the evolving West — Europe at odds with America, red and blue states in intellectual and spiritual divergence, the tragic view resisting the creeping therapeutic mindset.

These interior splits largely explain why creepy killers from the Dark Ages, parasitic on the West from their weapons to communications, are still plaguing us four years after their initial surprise attack.
"

Ynetnews - News - Terrorist at journalists' party

Ynetnews - News - Terrorist at journalists' party

TEL AVIV - Top terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi made a “guest appearance” in a video prepared by the staff of Reuters news agency in Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a “going away” gift for a colleague, Ynetnews has learned.

Zubeidi, who heads Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, has been named by security officials as a key figure in organizing terror attacks on Israeli civilians. Zubeidi’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for more than 300 terror acts in the last five years.

A Reuters spokeswoman confirmed the video’s existence, but said the London-based news organization is “not associated with any group or faction in any conflict.”

The screening, which occurred in a Jerusalem restaurant last March, involved the showing of a video during a private party. “The video’s theme was what Israel would be like in 10 years,” said an Israeli government official who attended the party and viewed the video.

“All of a sudden, at the end, there is Zakaria Zubeidi, playing the head of Reuters. Zubeidi was sitting in Reuters’ Jenin office, saying he was Reuters’ chief,” the official said.

The party included guests from the BBC, ITN, the Independent newspaper, and French journalists. “They all thought the video was hilarious,” the official said. He added that only a few individuals did not seem amused during the screening. “They were laughing; they thought it was very funny, he said.”

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Support for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries - Yahoo! News

Support for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries - Yahoo! NewsSupport for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries

By Alan Elsner Thu Jul 14, 2:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Support for
Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings have fallen sharply in much of the Muslim world, according to a multicountry poll released on Thursday.

The survey by the Pew Research Center examined public opinion in six predominantly Muslim nations: Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan and
Lebanon. It also examined views in nine North American and European countries as well as in India and China. In all, more than 17,000 people were questioned either by telephone of face-to-face.

"There's declining support for terrorism in the Muslim countries and support for Osama bin Laden is declining. There's also less support for suicide bombings," said Pew Center director Andrew Kohut.

"This is good news, but still there are substantial numbers who support bin Laden in some of these countries," he told a news conference.

In Morocco, 26 percent of the public now say they have a lot or some confidence in bin Laden, down from 49 percent in a similar poll two years ago.

In Lebanon, where both Muslims and Christians took part in the survey, only 2 percent expressed some confidence in the Saudi-born al Qaeda leader, down from 14 percent in 2003.

In Turkey, bin Laden's support has fallen to 7 percent from 15 percent in the past two years. In Indonesia, it has dropped to 35 percent from 58 percent.

However, in Jordan, confidence in bin Laden, who took responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and many other attacks, rose to 60 percent from 55 percent. In Pakistan, it went to 51 percent from 45 percent.

A similar picture emerged when respondents were asked whether suicide bombings were justifiable. In Morocco, 13 percent said they often or sometimes could be justified, down from 40 percent in 2004.

MORE JORDANIANS SUPPORT BOMBINGS

In Indonesia, 15 percent expressed that view, down from 27 percent in the summer of 2002. Support for suicide bombings also fell in Pakistan and dropped dramatically in Lebanon. However, support rose in Jordan, to 57 percent from 43 percent in 2002.

Kohut noted there had been devastating attacks on civilians in Indonesia, Morocco and Turkey in recent years and a rash of assassinations and bombings recently in Lebanon.

Both in western countries and the Muslim world, respondents expressed fears about Islamic extremism.

Seventy-three percent in Morocco and 52 percent in Pakistan saw Islamic extremism as a threat to their country. The figure was 84 percent in Russia, 78 percent in Germany, and an identical 70 percent in Britain and the United States. The poll was taken well before last week's bombings in London.

When asked what caused Islamic extremism, 40 percent in Lebanon and 38 percent in Jordan blamed U.S. policies and influence; in Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, respondents were more likely to blame poverty, unemployment or poor education.

Despite terrorism fears, majorities in Britain, the United States, France, Canada and Russia and pluralities in Spain and Poland expressed favorable views about Muslims.

But in Germany and the Netherlands, opinion swung to an unfavorable view. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed in the Netherlands expressed an unfavorable view of Muslims. In Germany, 47 percent were unfavorable, compared with 40 percent who expressed favorable views.

Anti-Jewish sentiment was overwhelming in the Muslim countries. In Lebanon, 100 percent of Muslims and 99 percent of Christians said they had a very unfavorable view of Jews, while 99 percent of Jordanians also viewed Jews very unfavorably.

The Globe and Mail- Polio reaches Mecca, will soon spread throughout Islamic world, because Muslims don't believe in the vaccine!

The Globe and Mail
Officials fear polio outbreak in pilgrims

Polio apparently reached Mecca, Islam's holy city, just before the annual pilgrimage by two million Muslims last month, and World Health Organization officials fear the disease may be carried around the world by returning pilgrims.

In crowded nations with spotty vaccination coverage like Bangladesh and Indonesia, “there could be substantial consequences,” said Bruce Aylward, co-ordinator of the health organization's Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Muslims' boycott of polio vaccine in Nigeria allows almost eradicated disease to make a comeback

Vaccine boycott spreads polio:

Kano, Nigeria - Polio left Dauda Abdullahi with twisted limbs, unable to walk. But he refuses to allow his children to be immunised against the disease that crippled him three decades ago.

'Only Allah can save us. I don't trust medicine,' the 42-year-old roadside shoemaker said.

Immunising toddlers with mouth drops has reduced the number of polio cases from 350 000 children annually in the 1980s to fewer than 800 worldwide last year. Yet the virus is spreading again from Nigeria, where UN officials say a third of the world's cases are the result of a vaccine boycott.

Amid rising Muslim-Western tensions worldwide, Nigeria's Muslims are heeding allegations that the vaccine is a US plot to spread Aids or infertility.

Since October, three northern Nigerian states have banned door-to-door vaccinations until they are satisfied the vaccines do not contain harmful substances.

'Since September 11, the Muslim world is beginning to be suspicious of any move from the Western world,' said Sule Ya'u Sule, speaking for the governor of Kano, one of the states where the vaccine is banned. 'Our people have become really concerned about polio vaccine.'

UN and Nigerian federal government officials stress the vaccines have repeatedly been proven safe. But detractors don't believe it, and meanwhile polio strains are spreading from northern Nigeria's trading centre of Kano to at least seven nearby countries where the disease was previously eradicated, says the World Health Organisation's Bruce Aylward."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Weak Brits, Tough French - article by Daniel Pipes

Weak Brits, Tough French - article by Daniel PipesWeak Brits, Tough French
by Daniel Pipes

Thanks to the war in Iraq, much of the world sees the British government as resolute and tough and the French one as appeasing and weak. But in another war, the one against terrorism and radical Islam, the reverse is true: France is the most stalwart nation in the West, even more so than America, while Britain is the most hapless.

British-based terrorists have carried out operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Spain, and America. Many governments - Jordanian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Spanish, French, and American - have protested London's refusal to shut down its Islamist terrorist infrastructure or extradite wanted operatives. In frustration, Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak publicly denounced Britain for "protecting killers." One American security group has called for Britain to be listed as a terrorism-sponsoring state.

Counterterrorism specialists disdain the British. Roger Cressey calls London "easily the most important jihadist hub in Western Europe." Steven Simon dismisses the British capital as "the Star Wars bar scene" of Islamic radicals. More brutally, an intelligence official said of last week's attacks: "The terrorists have come home. It is payback time for … an irresponsible policy."

While London hosts terrorists, Paris hosts a top-secret counterterrorism center, code-named Alliance Base, the existence of which was recently reported by the Washington Post. At Alliance Base, six major Western governments have since 2002 shared intelligence and run counterterrorism operations - the latter makes the operation unique.

More broadly, President Chirac instructed French intelligence agencies just days after September 11, 2001, to share terrorism data with their American counterparts "as if they were your own service." The cooperation is working: A former acting CIA director, John E. McLaughlin, called the bilateral intelligence tie "one of the best in the world." The British may have a "special relationship" with Washington on Iraq, but the French have one with it in the war on terror.

France accords terrorist suspects fewer rights than any other Western state, permitting interrogation without a lawyer, lengthy pre-trial incarcerations, and evidence acquired under dubious circumstances. Were he a terrorism suspect, the author of Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe, Evan Kohlmann, says he "would least like to be held under" the French system.

OpinionJournal - Karl Rove, Whistleblower: He told the truth about Joe Wilson.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article Karl Rove, Whistleblower: He told the truth about Joe Wilson. : "
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Democrats and most of the Beltway press corps are baying for Karl Rove's head over his role in exposing a case of CIA nepotism involving Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. On the contrary, we'd say the White House political guru deserves a prize--perhaps the next iteration of the 'Truth-Telling' award that The Nation magazine bestowed upon Mr. Wilson before the Senate Intelligence Committee exposed him as a fraud.

For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real 'whistleblower' in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove.

Media chants aside, there's no evidence that Mr. Rove broke any laws in telling reporters that Ms. Plame may have played a role in her husband's selection for a 2002 mission to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking uranium ore in Niger. To be prosecuted under the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, Mr. Rove would had to have deliberately and maliciously exposed Ms. Plame knowing that she was an undercover agent and using information he'd obtained in an official capacity. But it appears Mr. Rove didn't even know Ms. Plame's name and had only heard about her work at Langley from other journalists.

On the 'no underlying crime' point, moreover, no less than the New York Times and Washington Post now agree. So do the 36 major news organizations that filed a legal brief in March aimed at keeping Mr. Cooper and the New York Times's Judith Miller out of jail.

'While an investigation of the leak was justified, it is far from clear--at least on the public record--that a crime took place,' the Post noted the other day. Granted the media have come a bit late to this understanding, and then only to protect their own, but the logic of their argument is that Mr. Rove did nothing wrong either.

The same can't be said for Mr. Wilson, who first 'outed' himself as a CIA consultant in a melodramatic New York Times op-ed in July 2003. At the time he claimed to have thoroughly debunked the Iraq-Niger yellowcake uranium connection that President Bush had mentioned in his now famous '16 words' on the subject in that year's State of the Union address.

Mr. Wilson also vehemently denied it when columnist Robert Novak first reported that his wife had played a role in selecting him for the Niger mission. He promptly signed up as adviser to the Kerry campaign and was feted almost everywhere in the media, including repeat appearances on NBC's 'Meet the Press' and a photo spread (with Valerie) in Vanity Fair.

But his day in the political sun was short-lived. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report last July cited the note that Ms. Plame had sent recommending her husband for the Niger mission. 'Interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife, a CPD [Counterproliferation Division] employee, suggested his name for the trip,' said the report.

The same bipartisan report also pointed out that the forged documents Mr. Wilson claimed to have discredited hadn't even entered intelligence channels until eight months after his trip. And it said the CIA interpreted the information he provided in his debrief as mildly supportive of the suspicion that Iraq had been seeking uranium in Niger.

About the same time, another inquiry headed by Britain's Lord Butler delivered its own verdict on the 16 words: 'We conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that 'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded.'

In short, Joe Wilson hadn't told the truth about what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission. The media and the Kerry campaign promptly abandoned him, though the former never did give as much prominence to his debunking as they did to his original accusations. But if anyone can remember another public figure so entirely and thoroughly discredited, let us know."