Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Iraq is very different from Libya

Iraq is surrounded by assholes. Excellent writing by Fouad Ajami, as usual:

"The Iraqis should be envious. Their new order, midwifed by the Americans, had been delivered into a hostile environment. The neighborhood was treacherous. To the east bulked Iran, presumably a Shiite sister republic of the new Iraq but in truth a spoiler determined to thwart the American project there. Those in the know understood that the Shiite faith could never bridge the Arab-Persian divide, and that Iran would be a burden on post-Saddam Iraq and its leaders.

To the West, there was the Syrian regime. There but for the grace of God go we, the Syrian rulers thought. Syria presented an exquisite illustration of political cynicism—an Alawite tyranny providing a conduit into Iraq for Sunni jihadists from all Arab lands drawn by the thrill of battling and killing American soldiers and Iraqi Shiites. To divert attention from itself at a time of its own panic and vulnerability, Syria's regime did all it could to set Iraq ablaze.

Everywhere Iraqis looked there was trouble. The Turks had schemes of their own and proxies in Iraq (the Turkomen community), and they were keen to monitor and limit the aspirations of the Kurds. Jordan was hostile. Saddam had long been a hero in that country, and the Sunni pan-Arab doctrines had long held sway among Jordanians and Palestinians alike in that binational state.

Nor were the two most influential Arab states, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, favorably disposed toward the new Iraq. To the rulers in Cairo and Riyadh, the jumbled mix of freedom and tumult, and the defeat of the Iraqi Sunnis, were heralds of trouble. Iran was pushing ever deeper into Arab affairs, the balance of power in the region was being altered. There had been uncontested Sunni primacy in Arab lands, but Baghdad—a city of great meaning and consequence in Arab-Islamic history—had fallen to the Shiite stepchildren, and the Americans had brought it all about.

Libya is blissfully free of the poison of that primitive Sunni-Shiite schism."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Elderly man turns suicide bomber at Baghdad mosque

An elderly man?

"An elderly man swathed in bandages blew himself up in Baghdad's biggest Sunni mosque killing up to 29 people in a suicide attack blamed on al Qaeda.

The blast killed a member of Iraq's parliament and wounded 38 when it tore through a crowd of about 200 worshippers at the Um al-Qura mosque."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Al Qaeda in Iraq regrouping

'U.S. officials said al Qaeda's global second-in-command, Atiyah abd al-Rahman -- a Libyan who played a key role in managing ties between the leadership and al Qaeda in Iraq -- was killed in Pakistan last week.

But al Qaeda's resurgence, along with Shi'ite militias often funded and armed by neighbor Iran, represents a dangerous sectarian mix for Iraq as Syria seethes next door and U.S. forces aim to leave by year-end.

"There was a thought that al Qaeda has ended in Iraq. No, they regrouped and now the third generation of al Qaeda is working actively to reorganize itself with weapons and training," Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamal, Iraq's deputy interior minister for intelligence, told Reuters.'

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Will Qadhafi pull a Saddam?

'Like Saddam, Gadhafi is thought to have access to millions of dollars stashed away over the years. He has loyalists who benefited from his long rule and who, like the Iraqi leader's Baathist followers, believe they have nothing to gain and everything to fear from a new Libyan government.

"What we've learned is that finding one individual particularly in a tribal area is tough, despite all of technology we have, with our ability to collect intelligence sources together," said retired Lt. Col. John Nagl, who served in Iraq's al-Anbar province in 2003.

"The good news is Libya has a long coast line and the population is clustered close to the shore," said Nagl, who now heads the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. "The bad news is we have few, if any, Americans on the ground, and this is a society we don't understand very well." '

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Munich terrorists were trained in Libya

I'm watching "One Day in September" on Current TV, and I decided to read the Wiki article, which turned out to be timely:

"The documentary begins with an advertisement by the Munich Tourism Bureau with a beautiful young girl inviting the world to visit the city for the Olympics, then shows interviews with the wives of some of the murdered athletes, including Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer. The film also features the first known filmed interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, allegedly the only surviving terrorist. Al-Gashey, who is in hiding in Africa, wears a cap and sunglasses and his face is slightly blurred.

There are various shots of the Games getting under way, and attention is given to the lax security the Germans had at the Games. The terrorists are seen preparing for the assault; Al-Gashey claims that he and the other members were trained in Libya before going to West Germany to begin the assault."

Amazing how much terrorism Qadhafi funded.

PS: One Day in September is a MUST SEE documentary.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lebanese Shia want to know what happened to Musa al Sadr

"The Lebanese militant Hezbollah group has called on Libyan rebels to help uncover the fate of Moussa al-Sadr, a charismatic Shiite cleric who disappeared during a trip to Libya more than 30 years ago.

Many in Lebanon have blamed the disappearance on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The mystery of the missing imam remains a burning issue for Shiites in Lebanon, including leaders of the powerful Hezbollah. Framed photos of al-Sadr adorn the shops and homes of Lebanese Shiites, and the day he was last seen, on Aug. 31, 1978, is annually marked in Lebanon.

The Lebanese Shiite leader had flown to Tripoli for a week of talks with Libyan officials. He was never seen or heard from again, along with his two traveling companions."

Iran punishes Hamas for not supporting Assad

"Iran has turned off the tap of funds to Hamas after the Islamist movement that controls Gaza failed to show public support for the embattled regime of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported."

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/iran-punishes-hamas-for-not-backing-assad-20110822-1j6lb.html#ixzz1Vv4sMiMY

Monday, August 22, 2011

Juan Cole defends NATO action in Libya

He says people in the region were very happy to see somebody rescue the revolutionaries from being bombed to death.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Syrians inspired by Libya taunt Assad

"Taking inspiration from the rapid unraveling of the regime in Libya, thousands of Syrians poured into the streets Monday and taunted President Bashar Assad with shouts that his family's 40-year dynasty will be the next dictatorship to crumble.

Assad, who has tried in vain to crush the 5-month-old revolt, appears increasingly out of touch as he refuses to acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of people demanding his ouster, analysts say. Instead, he blames the unrest on Islamic extremists and thugs."

That would really suck if Islamic extremists and thugs actually take over Libya and Syria. The other day on fb Hayder al Khoei was "wondering how many of the Libyan rebels now fighting Gaddafi were once upon a time in Iraq killing innocent people with Gaddafi's blessings." I am still wondering, and I also wonder how many Syrians who oppose Assad were supporting the insurgency in Iraq at some point since 2003. In any case, I am with the people who want freedom and democracy, and I hope for peace between the Arab countries.

Iranian cult murdered Iraqis

In the 1991 uprising the Mujahideen e Khalq joined forces with Saddam! I just learned this after reading An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends:

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the group served as Mr. Hussein’s own private militia opposing the theocratic government in Tehran. For two decades, he gave the group money, weapons, jeeps and military bases along the border with Iran. In return, the Rajavis pledged their fealty.

In 1991, when Mr. Hussein crushed a Shiite uprising in the south and attempted to carry out a genocide against the Kurds in the north, the Rajavis and their army joined his forces in mowing down fleeing Kurds.

Ms. Rajavi told her disciples, “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.” Many followers escaped in disgust.

So the Rajavis then began preying on Iranian refugees and asylum seekers in Europe to fill their ranks. The Rajavis promise them salaries, marriage, family, freedom and a great cause — fighting the Iranian government. Then the unwitting youths arrive in Iraq.

What is most disturbing is how the group treats its members. After the Iran-Iraq war, Mr. Rajavi orchestrated an ill-planned offensive, deploying thousands of young men and women into Iran on a mass martyrdom operation. Instead of capturing Iran, as they believed they would, thousands of them were slaughtered, including parents, husbands and wives of those I met in Iraq in 2003.

After my visit, I met and spoke to men and women who had escaped from the group’s clutches. Many had to be deprogrammed. They recounted how people were locked up if they disagreed with the leadership or tried to escape; some were even killed.

Friendships and all emotional relationships are forbidden. From the time they are toddlers, boys and girls are not allowed to speak to each other. Each day at Camp Ashraf you had to report your dreams and thoughts.

If a man was turned on by the scent of a woman or a whiff of perfume, he had to confess. Members had to attend weekly ideological cleansings in which they publicly confessed their sexual desires. Members were even forced to divorce and take a vow of lifelong celibacy to ensure that all their energy and love would be directed toward Maryam and Massoud.

Mr. Hamilton and Generals Jones and Clark have been paid speakers’ fees by front groups for Mujahedeen Khalq and have spoken in support of the group in public conferences. They claimed ignorance of how the group treated its members.

“I don’t know a lot about the group,” Mr. Hamilton told me over the phone last week. But in 1994, when he was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Hamilton received a report describing the group as a violent cult with a distinct ideology synthesizing Marxism and messianic Shiism.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libyan rebels enter Tripoli

Libyan rebels enter Tripoli, arrest Gadhafi's son

"Libyan rebels moved into the capital Tripoli on Sunday and came within two miles of the city center, as Moammar Gadhafi's defenders melted away. The rebel leadership said Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam has been arrested."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

AQI killed Iraqis to avenge Usama bin Laden

That must make a lot of sense to them!

NYT: "One of the most powerful insurgent groups in Iraq, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, released a statement on Saturday, warning that it had launched a 100-attack campaign to exact revenge for the United States’ killing of Osama bin Laden.

The statement did not explicitly refer to a string of over 40 attacks on Monday that killed more than 90 people and was the most violent day in Iraq this year. But the statement said the campaign had begun in the middle of this month — Monday was Aug. 15 — and would continue until there had been 100 attacks.

“We began this stage with an invasion we have called the battle of revenge for Sheik Osama bin Laden and other senior leaders,” said a statement posted on the Internet.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has long claimed an affiliation to Bin Laden’s group, and has clearly been inspired by it. Bin Laden died in May in an American raid on his compound in Pakistan."

U.S. hikers sentenced to 8 more years in Iran prison

LAT: "Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, both 28 years old, were arrested along the Iran-Iraq border during what they insist was an ill-fated hiking trip in the scenic mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. Iranian officials allege that the two men were spies, but have yet to publicly present any evidence. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail last year and has been campaigning for her friends' release. All three are Berkeley grads."

Evidence? Evidence in Iran is whatever the top cleric wants it to be! It's how they win elections.

I wince every time I hear or read a Muslim praising the Iranian government. It is embarrassing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Iraq going in wrong direction

"It appeared Iraq was in a time warp, a nation still struggling with terrorists, sectarian gangs and militias at a time much of the Arab world is moving to replace extremism through revolutions for democracy. The violence seemed intent on disrupting the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki as U.S. forces are preparing to leave eight years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

There were more than 35 attacks nationwide, shattering the relative calm of recent months. The deadliest was in the southern city of Kut, where an explosion whirled through a marketplace. Minutes later, as onlookers gathered, a car bomb detonated, killing at least 33 people and injuring 77, according to a security official."

The "days of Zarqawi are going to return soon"

NYT: 'Insurgents across Iraq launched their most significant and wide-ranging attacks in months on Monday, killing 68 people and wounding over 300, marking the most violent day in Iraq this year.

The violence touched nearly every region of the country, except for Kurdistan, and appeared to be aimed at security forces in both Sunni and Shiite areas.

In all, there were 37 attacks, more than double the daily average this year, nearing the level of violence at the height of the sectarian conflict here in 2006 and 2007. The attacks included 11 car bombs, 19 improvised explosive devices and 2 suicide bombers.

Coming a little less than two weeks after the Iraqi government said it would negotiate with the United States about keeping some of its 48,000 troops here after the end of the year, the violence raised significant questions about the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks on Monday. But in a voice recording posted on a Web site for Al Qaeda in Iraq last week, the spokesman for the terrorist group said that they were preparing a wide-scale attack.

“I promise you that we are on the right path,” said the spokesman, Abi Muhhamed al-Adnani. “Thank God that we are doing very well here.”

“Do not worry, the days of Zarqawi are going to return soon,” he said, referring to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by American forces in 2006. “We have men who have divorced themselves from life and love death more than you love life and killing is one of their wishes,” he said.'

Friday, August 12, 2011

Corporations have too much influence in America

In light of Mitt Romney's claim that corporations are people, I am posting the short excellent video below. Thanks to a 2010 decision by five (douchebag) Supreme Court judges, corporations are now allowed to spend as much as they like to influence an election. Even before this bad decision, corporations had too much influence in America. It's time to put corporations back in their place.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CO2 traps energy in atmosphere

FOX News doesn't get. Or are they paid not to get it? Are they willfully stupid?

From Media Matters for America: August 09, 2011 4:42 pm ET by Jocelyn Fong:

'Those who watched Fox News over the weekend were treated to a brief but ambitious science lesson on "Why CO2 Can't Cause Warming":

Oh boy. Let's take these one at a time.

During the segment Fox's global warming expert, Joe Bastardi, who is employed by the WeatherBELL meteorological consulting firm, declared that the theory of human-induced climate change "contradicts what we call the 1st law of thermodynamics. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. So to look for input of energy into the atmosphere, you have to come from a foreign source."

It's not clear what to conclude from this except that Fox and Bastardi are not familiar with the greenhouse effect. Climate scientists aren't claiming that humans are creating energy. They're saying that humans are trapping more energy by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Duke University scientist William Chameides, who called Fox's claims "utter nonsense," explained via email:

It is true that global warming requires a source of heat. In this case it comes from the sun. What CO2 does is trap a larger amount of the heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping and thus driving up temperatures. To argue otherwise is to argue that the greenhouse effect does not exist. In fact the existence of the greenhouse effect was established by scientists more than a century ago. It would be impossible to explain the temperatures of Mars and Venus, as well as the Earth, without invoking this effect.

Bastardi went on to claim Le Chatelier's Principle "says that any system in distress, physical or chemical in the atmosphere, tries to return toward normalcy. And that is why you're seeing temperatures level off."

In fact the notion of a system moving toward "normalcy," or more accurately, toward a new "equilibrium," explains why greenhouse gases do cause warming, rather than "Why CO2 Can't Cause Warming." By preventing infrared energy from efficiently escaping to space, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make it more difficult for the earth to maintain its previous energy balance, and thus its previous temperature.

Kevin Trenberth, Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained via email that the system "re-creates equilibrium" by heating up, since the surface and atmosphere radiate more at a higher temperature. As a result, "it reaches a new equilibrium but at a higher temperature," he said, adding: "And of course we keep adding more CO2 so we have not reached that new state yet."

Though it appears that Bastardi cites Le Chatelier's Principle in a general sense and not in reference to any specific process, the principle does have implications for "the uptake of fossil fuel carbon by the ocean," according to David Archer of the University of Chicago's Department of Geophysical Sciences. He said, "Without Le Chatelier's principle, the climate crisis would be much worse than it is, but even with this buffering, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is rising and will continue to remain elevated for tens of thousands of years into the future. So to suggest that Le Chatelier's principle is going to save us is wrong." And the principle certainly doesn't establish that "CO2 Can't Cause Warming."

And that's not all Fox got wrong.'

Read more here. Why is FOX News trying so hard to disprove what 97% of scientists agree on?

I like Media Matters!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Western (Sunni Arab) Iraq is with Syrian majority

Predictably, Iraq is divided on Syria: "Along Iraq's western frontier, Syria's unrest is stoking local sympathies and security fears in a Sunni Muslim heartland where Iraqis share strong tribal loyalties with their Syrian kin."

Iraqi Sunni Arabs are with the right side this time, and the Iraqi Shia should be with them. I suspect many Iraqi Shia are with them and would like to see an end to Assad's regime.

The Arab states are clearly divided along sectarian lines with respect to Syria. It's embarrassing to see al Maliki not saying a word.

The Lebanese are also divided: "The new Lebanese government yesterday sent its foreign minister to support Bashshar's oppression and today it issued a statement supporting the statement by the Saudi King which condemned (in convoluted Wahhabi language) Syrian repression."

But: "Lebanon must denounce Syria ‘massacre:’ Hariri"

3 Sunni Kings recall their ambassadors to Syria

"Bahrain and Kuwait recalled their ambassadors to Syria on Monday as Syrian security forces continue a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour.

The recall followed Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal of its ambassador in Damascus on Sunday, when security forces backed by government tanks attacked Deir al-Zour killing 50 people.

Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah said the bloodshed in Syria is unacceptable while Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa said Damascus must “resort to reason.”

It sucks when the Gulfie douchebags look like the good guys.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

"Paradise Now" and "Rescue Dawn" on Current TV

Last night I watched two excellent movies (on Current) I had never seen before.

"Paradise Now (Arabic: الجنّة الآن‎) is a 2005 film directed by Hany Abu-Assad about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel. It won a Golden Globe for best foreign language film and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category."

Nominated for an Academy Award? The American Academy Award? America is changing. 20 years ago this film might have been portrayed by American media as sympathetic to terrorists. Maybe conservative Americans still believe this.

The film focuses on two days in the lives of two young men living in the West Bank. They are chosen to be suicide bombers, so they were made to look like westerners. It's amazing how white some Palestinians look when they shave, cut their hair, and wear suits. I wonder if the movie would have received as much attention if the would-be suicide bombers were dark-skinned. It's an great movie nonetheless, and I'm glad to see it on American TV!

Also I am looking forward to seeing One Day in September, "a 1999 documentary film directed by Kevin Macdonald examining the 5 September 1972 murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany." The documentary was featured in 50 Documentaries To See Before You Die and it was shown on Current TV, but I missed it. I hope they show it again.

Immediately after Paradise Now I watched Rescue Dawn, "a 2007 war drama film directed by Werner Herzog, based on an adapted screenplay written from his acclaimed 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly. The film stars Christian Bale, and is based on the true story of a German-American pilot named Dieter Dengler, who is shot down and captured by villagers sympathetic to the Pathet Lao during an American military campaign in the Vietnam War."

The beginning of Rescue Dawn is footage of US aircraft bombing targets (in a jungle village) in Laos. It's a secret operation, one in which a pilot crashes and survives. He is caught, ends up in a POW camp with other Americans, he escapes, is caught again. What an ordeal!

Friday, August 05, 2011

US govt's credit rating downgraded for 1st time

MSNBC: US government loses triple-A credit rating

"US debt now rated lower than some European countries'; rating agency says deficit plan doesn't go far enough

...U.S. Treasuries, once undisputedly the safest investment in the world, are now rated lower than bonds issued by countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France or Canada."

A bunch of socialist countries are doing better than we are economically? How'd that happen?

This comes at the end of a week in which stocks are down what, 4%? I wonder how this will affect mortgage interest rates.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Monday, August 01, 2011

Koran By Heart

Tonight I saw an excellent documentary on HBO called Koran By Heart, about an annual contest in Cairo for kids who can recite the Qur'an. These kids' skills (in memorization and music) are amazing.

PS: It was very interesting to watch the kid from Tajikistan being steered by the government into a school where he would learn how to read and write and study subjects other than the Qur'an. His room and board are paid for by the government. It's the only way his father could afford it. That's socialism, and it's for a good cause.

Also interesting was how the Egyptian boy won first place, even though the boy from Tajikistan, who received third place, was the best reciter, in my opinion, and the girl from the Maldives was a close second. The young boy Djamil from Senegal has a great voice, and he will no doubt have a future in some oratory or musical career. But Rifdha, from the Malives, is the smartest, and her dad wants her to be a housewife with no job!

"Iraq's government shuts down amid 120-degree temps - and no A/C"

CSM: "Even Iraqi government ministries can't keep air conditioning on amid a summer electricity crisis. With the start of Ramadan today, observant Muslims are facing 14 hours without water."

I have often wondered how some people can fast from sunrise to sunset in hot weather. You have to be healthy, and recognize if you need to break your fast. And why not take a drink of water? Even the poor have access to water.

PS: After posting I thought about fresh water availability throughout the world. See this list of water availability by country.

Conservative American blogger justifies Norwegian terrorist's attack

Think Progress: 'Popular hate blogger Pam Geller has received scrutiny in recent days as the public became aware that the right-wing terrorist in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, had praised her blog and thoroughly cited her writing in his political manifesto. After a number of blogs made the connection, as well as the New York Times, the Atlantic, and other major outlets, Geller became incensed and began lashing out at her critics.

In a post defending herself yesterday, Geller — who has called Obama “President Jihad” and claimed that Arab language classes are a plot to subvert the United States — reached a new low. Geller justifies Breivik’s attack on the Norwegian Labour Party summer youth camp because she says the camp is part of an anti-Israel “indoctrination training center.” She says the victims would have grown up to become “future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole.”

To get her point across, Geller posts a picture of the youth camp children Breivik targeted. The picture was taken on the Utøya island camp about 24 hours before Breivik killed over 30 children, so it is likely Geller is mocking many of the victims. Under the picture, Geller writes: “Note the faces which are more MIddle [sic] Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian.” '

Too see the pic and read more, click here.

84 killed in Hama in two days

"Syrian tanks shelled the city of Hama, the scene of a 1982 massacre, for a second day on Monday, killing at least four civilians, residents said, in an assault to try to crush protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

The killings in the city's residential Hamidiyah district brought to 84 the number of civilians reported killed in a tank-backed crackdown on the central Syrian city, where Assad's father crushed an armed Muslim Brotherhood revolt 29 years ago by razing neighborhoods and killing many thousands of people."