Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Damascus bombing

All a Shi'a friend had to say about this is "The Sunnis will never stop attacking us. Never."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Plus ca change

Finland has a school massacre, and they review gun laws. We have many times more massacres, and we do nothing. And we have Katrina, and we let that happen again ( it took a very long time for Ike's victims to get what they needed). This country never learns.

Martial law in the U.S.?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Palin and Karzai

She sat down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Photographers and the TV crew were asked to leave after about a half-minute of recording Palin and Karzai, who discussed Karzai's son, born in January 2007.

Palin also asked former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for insights on Georgia. Today she'll see Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"What is his name?" Palin asked.

"Mirwais," Karzai said. "Mirwais, which means, 'The Light of the House.'"

"Oh, nice," Palin said.

"He is the only one we have," he said.

"How are Truck, Trick, Tramp, Trash, Truant, and Troglodyte?"

Limbaugh: Obama is Arab

LIMBAUGH: These polls on how one-third of blue-collar white Democrats won't vote for Obama because he's black, and -- but he's not black. Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood? He doesn't have any African -- that's why when they asked whether he was authentic, whether he's down for the struggle. He's Arab. You know, he's from Africa. He's from Arab parts of Africa. He's not -- his father was -- he's not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American. I guess that's splitting hairs, I don't -- it's just all these little things, everything seems upside-down today in this country.

Bush's approval rating has actually gone up in the past week

Four points!

Is there any people more stupid than the American people?

"We don't have the money to wipe out poverty. We can't do it. But all of a sudden, yeah, we do have $700 billion for a bailout of Wall Street."

From Democracy Now, a non-Ron Paul perspective :)

JUAN GONZALEZ: It’s being described as the largest government intervention in private markets since the Great Depression. The Bush administration has asked Congress to swiftly approve a massive $700 billion package to rescue the crippled financial institutions on Wall Street.

But Congressional Democrats have begun to draw up their conditions for the proposed bailout bill. Their terms include limits on the salaries and severance packages of executives at firms participating in the bailout. They also call for increased assistance to distressed homeowners across the country and greater congressional oversight of the Treasury Department. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned against giving Wall Street a $700 billion blank check.

The bailout plan was drawn up by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and would set up a fund that uses taxpayer money to buy out the bad debt on Wall Street. The plan would also give nearly unlimited powers to the Treasury Secretary.

Meanwhile, the last two major investment banks—Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley—have changed their status from investment banks to bank holding companies. This change, approved by the Federal Reserve Sunday, allows them to create commercial banks and also gives them access to the Fed’s emergency loans.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Paulson admitted he was humbled by the crisis but added Americans would “work through this.”

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sistani's website hacked, Bill Maher video posted

The Web site of Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric was hacked on Friday, with the attackers' messages saying they are Sunnis upset over fatwas, or edicts, issued on the site.

The Web site of Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was hacked Friday.

A entity called Group XP placed a video of comedian Bill Maher making fun of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and his advice to the Shiite faithful, as well as posting messages on the site.

The hackers said they are upset at the sexual nature of the advice given to faithful allegedly by al-Sistani through a spokesperson. Those who have studied the attack believe that the Maher video is meant to illustrate how such advice promotes mockery of Islam.

The communications said it was hacking this and other sites giving a "bad name" to Sunnis. The messages said Christian sites that insult Islam and sexually oriented sites run by Arab Christians out of Israel were also hacked. Watch what visitors to the Web site saw »

"We have hacked this site, the head of strife and division that many lost souls," the message said. "Farsis and their likes, depend on for guidance."

News reports link the hackers to Wahhabis, fundamentalist Sunnis who prevail in Saudi Arabia.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

No victory in Iraq, Afghan strategy not succeeding, says U.S. military

The outgoing commander of US troops in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, has said that he will never declare victory there.

In a BBC interview, Gen Petraeus said that recent security gains were "not irreversible" and that the US still faced a "long struggle".

The U.S. military conceded it was not winning the battle against an increasingly deadly insurgency in Afghanistan and said Wednesday it would revise its strategy for the region to include militant safe havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Iraqi MP seeks ties with Israel

An Iraqi parliamentarian has attended the Israeli Herzliya conference and called for diplomatic ties between Baghdad and Tel Aviv.

Mithal al-Alusi, who was speaking at the opening of the conference, said regional countries, including Israel, must cooperate and exchange intelligence with Iraq to fight terrorism.

Al-Alusi slammed Iran accusing the country of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.

This is the Iraqi parliament member's third visit to Israel. He, however, did not speak at the Herzliya conference on two previous occasions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why rednecks rule the world, from the BBC

Redneck beliefs:

Belief that no law is above God's law, not even the US Constitution.
Hyper patriotism. A fighting defence of native land, home and heart, even when it is not actually threatened: ie, Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Haiti and dozens more with righteous operations titles such as Enduring Freedom, Restore Hope, and Just Cause.
A love of guns and tremendous respect for the warrior ideal. Along with this comes a strong sense of fealty and loyalty. Fealty to wartime leaders, whether it be FDR or George Bush.
Self effacement, humility. We are usually the butt of our own jokes, in an effort not to appear aloof among one another.
Belief that most things outside our own community and nation are inferior and threatening, that the world is jealous of the American lifestyle.
Personal pride in equality. No man, however rich or powerful, is better than me.
Perseverance and belief in hard work. If a man or a family is poor, it is because they did not work hard enough. God rewards those who work hard enough. So does the American system.
The only free country in the world is the United States, and the only reason we ever go to war is to protect that freedom.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Islamic texts taken off websites after complaints from Jew

Muslim students are crying foul after the University of Southern California's provost took down historical documents that call for Muslims to kill Jewish people from a student group's site, the Daily Trojan reports. The documents come from a collection of scriptures known as hadiths, the words of Muhammad not included in the Quran. These hadiths, which include thousands of noninflammatory principles, were posted in their entirety on the school's server as part of the defunct Muslim Student Association's website.

The provost said that "the passage cited is truly despicable.... We did some investigations and have ordered the passage to be removed." But the Muslim Student Union, the dominant Muslim student group at USC, accused the university of censorship, calling the take-down "unprecedented and unconscionable."

"We are outraged at the censorship of a complete religious and classic text without consulting us or any religious authority first," the group said in the statement. "The 'compendium' is now incomplete. There are verses in many religious texts (be it the Torah or the New Testament) that when taken out of context can be taken as offensive."

Supporters of the move defend the provost's actions. "It may be part of the religious canon, but that doesn't make them less hateful," said David Horowitz, who has lobbied a number of schools to remove the "hadiths of hate," as he calls them, from their websites. Horowitz says this is the first he's heard of a university taking down documents after community members complained.

The Hadith that were removed:
Book 041, Number 6981:
Ibn 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me) ; kill him.

Book 041, Number 6982:

Ubaidullah has reported this hadith with this chain of transmitters (and the Words are):" There is a Jew behind me."

Book 041, Number 6983:

Abdullah b. 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You and the Jews would fight against one another until a stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.

Book 041, Number 6984:

Abdullah b. 'Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The Jews will fight against you and you will gain victory over them until the stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him.

Book 041, Number 6985:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

Censorship, of course. If they think Islam is so bad, don't they want people to be educated about it? And if they think it's inciteful, don't they think Muslims can get access to it other ways? And what if a Palestinian wanted the part of the Old Testament taken down where it talked about massacring the Canaanites?

Iranian women battle the system

Four more women in Iran have been sentenced to jail - six months behind bars - for campaigning for women's rights.

They were accused of "spreading propaganda" against the Islamic system here - specifically for taking part in the Million Signatures Campaign for equal rights for women.

One of those sentenced, Parvin Ardalan, was awarded the Olof Palme Prize this year - on her way to collect the honour, her passport was seized at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Teheran, and she was unable to travel.

An estimated 50 women have been detained since the signatures campaign began.

Women in Iran have severely restricted freedom of choice, and no equality with men.

A married woman must obtain her husband's permission before taking a job outside their home.

A man may have up to four wives. A woman may not have up to four husbands.

Women must observe the Islamic dress code - showing as little hair as possible, and their arms, their legs and their feet must be covered.

There is no protection against so-called honour killings for women who are raped; a husband - or a father - who kills the rape victim cannot be prosecuted and sent to jail for murder.

EGYPT: Risking death for new life in Italy

CAIRO, 7 September 2008 (IRIN) - Italy has long been a popular destination among young men in Nile Valley villages. Relatives save up money for each other and a transnational information and communication network facilitates the movement of migrants across the Mediterranean.

Because about 95 percent of Egypt's 74 million people live along the Nile Valley and in the Nile Delta on about 4 percent of the country's land, the pressure to emigrate is significant.

Soliman al-Alfy, editor of the local newspaper, the Voice of Menufiyya, said: "It is a story of poverty, small agricultural lands with increasing rent, low income, no job opportunities - all that alongside good education and a lot of ambition."

Hamdi Hamdy, a taxi driver in a village in Menufiyya Governorate, northern Egypt, who made the journey, agreed. "People who emigrate to Italy return rich. Some of them buy cars worth 100,000 Egyptian pounds [US$18,500], others get married and build multi-storey buildings," he said. Just opposite his run-down building is a new pastel-coloured villa, whose owners work in Italy.

Until recently, most would-be emigrants crossed Libya. There, they would be stripped of their passports and hidden by smugglers until it was deemed safe to move to the Mediterranean. Sometimes they would stay for days in abandoned warehouses - often with other Arabs, Asians and Africans, and with little food - before being packed into 7m-long "zodiacs" and taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Hamdy, however, took a different route. "We went to a town near Alexandria called Rashid, where we spent a night in a garden, then left at dawn. We were nearly 115 people. We got on a pick-up [truck], where they covered us with plastic and cloth, and it took nearly two hours till we reached the sea . Before reaching the ship, we ran for nearly half-an-hour on sand, till some of us fainted," he said.

The Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo is sponsoring research on irregular migration of Egyptians to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

Dr. Ray Jureidini, Associate Director, expounding on the imperatives of such work said: "Departures from the north of Egypt are not new, but this particular part of the Mediterranean coastline has been primarily used for smuggling migrants via Crete, Cyprus and Turkey. Now this year, the local Arabic press has reported a series of sinkings and rescue operations of boats en route from Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh all the way to Italy. This seems to suggest that, due to increased border control mechanisms, the journeys are getting longer, riskier and more expensive - but desperate people are still willing to take them."

The route to Lampedusa from Alexandria can take up to seven days, when it takes only seven hours from the Libyan coastal city of Zuwara.

Border closure

Ayman Zohry, president of the Egyptian Society for Migration Studies, said the increase in departures from the Egyptian coast was due to the closure of the border between Egypt and Libya. Before March 2007, it was as easy to travel from Aswan to Tripoli as from Aswan to Cairo; it was only a matter of a minibus ride, Zohry said. "But after March 2007, it became difficult to go to Libya from Egypt by road. New regulations have been introduced by the Libyan authorities," he said.

Instead of passports and ID cards, Egyptians now have to show an official work contract, with a stamp from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zohry said.

Earlier this year, 34 Egyptians were sentenced to one year in prison and fined 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($186) after being caught in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh trying to reach Libya through a desert valley.

Despite a crackdown on attempts to cross from Egypt to Libya, these journeys are still taking place. In June, a boat sank off the coast of Libya on its way to Italy killing 50 Egyptians.

When Hamdy reached the beach in Rashid, he was put on a motor boat. After a journey of about one-and-a-half hours they reached a big wooden fishing boat, which took them, three hours later, to the final "ferry". "The ferry was supposed to take us to Italy. It sailed for nearly four days, but we faced death till we reached it," he said.

However, Hamdy's dream did not pay off. He returned to his village, Mit Kha'an, after a few months of frantic job-hunting in Milan. He hopes next time he will be luckier.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's preacher says bulldozer attacks are because Jews haven't "embraced Christianity".

Yes, Sarah Palin sat in a church where this message was given. Two weeks ago.

Brickner described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"The End of the War on Terror and a new New World Order?"

by Ali Abunimah

In the shocking aftermath of September 11, the U.S. was still acknowledged as the sole superpower, and the president could get away with telling the World “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”6 This was in effect a demand that all other countries subordinate their own priorities to fighting America’s enemies as it alone defined them.

In 2008, the United States has come up against the limitations of this posture—a further built-in contradiction is that it has demanded absolute loyalty to its agenda from countries that increasingly felt much more victimized by American actions than by terrorism. This often put client governments on a collision course with their publics. A case in point is Pakistan where the only criterion for evaluating former President and military dictator General Pervez Musharraf was how much he served narrowly-defined U.S. interests. Unsurprisingly— except perhaps to Washington policymakers—he faced increasing domestic opposition from constituencies that felt their fundamental interests were being trampled, eventually forcing him from office. Similar dynamics are at play to a greater or lesser extent in countries across South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül recently observed that the era when the United States alone could set the world agenda had ended. “I don’t think you can control all the world from one center. There are big nations. There are huge populations. There is unbelievable economic development in some parts of the world,” Gül said and, returning to a familiar theme, he argued, “What we have to do is, instead of unilateral actions, act all together, make common decisions and have consultations with the world. A new world order, if I can say it, should emerge.”7

Monday, September 1, 2008

What If the Israel Lobby were the Islamic Lobby? (Part Two)

The Israel Lobby Juggernaut scares the hell out of people. It tries to crush those who stand up against them; some suffer but persist, and the pragmatics survive by changing their tune. Nobody is immune; reporters, editors, columnists, professors, academics, politicians.... Everyone is labeled “anti-Semite” when s/he criticizes the power of the Israel Lobby or talks about the misery of the Palestinian people. Even a greeting kiss upsets them! And enquiries are never allowed to be held into Israel’s crimes.

It’s not a new phenomenon; back in the 1950s, the frustrated Secretary of State John Foster Dulles unambiguously stated: “We cannot have all our policies made in Jerusalem.” To the owner of Time Inc. Henry Luce he said: “I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy not approved by the Jews. [But] I am going to try to have one. This does not mean I am anti-Jewish, but I believe in what George Washington said in his farewell address, that an emotional attachment to another country should not interfere.”

Happy Ramadan!

Libertarianism, Republicans, and Natural disasters

A recent report by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said that the FEMA has made only “limited progress” in the area of “mission assignments” — that is, in its ability to coordinate the response to a crisis. So FEMA still isn’t up to carrying out its principal task.

That’s no accident. FEMA’s degradation, from one of the government’s most admired agencies to a laughingstock, wasn’t an isolated event; it was the result of the G.O.P.’s underlying philosophy. Simply put, when the government is run by a political party committed to the belief that government is always the problem, never the solution, that belief tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Key priorities are neglected; key functions are privatized; and key people, the competent public servants who make government work, either leave or are driven out.

Yasmin and Abe, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this Ron Paul's philosophy as well?

the wheel of life held by the Buddhist demon of impermanence