Sunday, February 29, 2004

Full text: Pentagon's Global Warming document.
Breakdown of recent visitors:

TLD Country # % of total
.net Network 17580 64.5
.com Commercial 6402 23.5
.edu USA Educational 1531 5.6
.uk United Kingdom 409 1.5
.ca Canada 236 0.9
.org Non-Profit Organizations 174 0.6
.ch Switzerland 117 0.4
.us United States 91 0.3
.de Germany 64 0.2
.au Australia 57 0.2
.gov USA Government 56 0.2
.sa Saudi Arabia 54 0.2
.lb Lebanon 53 0.2
.be Belgium 43 0.2
.nl Netherlands 40 0.1
.jp Japan 38 0.1
.fr France 31 0.1
.dk Denmark 30 0.1
.sy Syria 25 < 0.1
.mil USA Military 25 < 0.1
.int International 16 < 0.1
.il Israel 16 < 0.1
.my Malaysia 15 < 0.1
.it Italy 15 < 0.1
.mx Mexico 12 < 0.1
.fi Finland 12 < 0.1
.se Sweden 11 < 0.1
.sg Singapore 11 < 0.1
.nz New Zealand 11 < 0.1
.jo Jordan 10 < 0.1
.qa Qatar 8 < 0.1
.ph Philippines 6 < 0.1
.at Austria 5 < 0.1
.es Spain 5 < 0.1
.br Brazil 5 < 0.1
.pt Portugal 4 < 0.1
.cz Czech Republic 3 < 0.1
.ee Estonia 3 < 0.1
.tr Turkey 3 < 0.1
.no Norway 3 < 0.1
.ie Ireland 3 < 0.1
.ae United Arab Emirates 3 < 0.1
.ar Argentina 3 < 0.1
.pl Poland 2 < 0.1
.pk Pakistan 2 < 0.1
.gr Greece 2 < 0.1
.arpa Old style Arpanet 2 < 0.1
.is Iceland 2 < 0.1
.za South Africa 2 < 0.1
.pf Polynesia (French) 2 < 0.1
.tt Trinidad and Tobago 1 < 0.1
.hr Croatia 1 < 0.1
.cr Costa Rica 1 < 0.1
.bn Brunei Darussalam 1 < 0.1
.in India 1 < 0.1
.uy Uruguay 1 < 0.1
.do Dominican Republic 1 < 0.1


It has been widely held that suicide attackers in Iraq are all foreigners, but recent evidence points to home-grown cells of religious extremists. (thanks Julie)
Just another street killing. (thanks Nir)
From the text of an interview with the widow of the Shah of Iran in today's New York Times Magazine: "Tell me about your day-to-day life in the United States.
At my office in the palace in Tehran I had 60 people helping me. Here I have two people. I have a lady who cooks for me and cleans up and also a driver. It is difficult for me. Sometimes I have asked friends for money."
...off to Univ of New Mexico. I will give my talk there on Monday afternoon. Will return on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Vagina Monologues performed in Cairo, despite ruffled feathers (thanks Nadya)
Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war
Press Watch: Floating With the Tide
Women in Iraq fear that the American occupation may have replaced one kind of tyranny with another
News from "liberated" Iraq: Kidnappers target youth of Baghdad
In Uganda's bloody civil war, a children's army is responsible for some of the worst atrocities.
US media sources (a FAIR study): "Out of 319 sources, 244 (76 percent) were current or former government or military officials. Of these, 225 were from the United States, and a further nine were from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. By allowing U.S. officials and appointees to make up 73 percent of total sources, the networks clearly promoted the official line on the war and minimized dissenting views."
Nearly Half of Black Men in New York City Found Jobless.
Haiti's Lawyer: U.S. Is Arming Anti-Aristide Paramilitaries
Israeli firm awarded oil tender in Iraq (thanks Hani)
UK Army chiefs feared Iraq war illegal just days before start; US generals had no such worries.
Peace may be at hand in the Middle East. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and George Costanza from the "Seinfeld" comedy series will be solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. In other news, Bugs Bunny is dispatched to Haiti to reduce tensions.
In reporting about his heroic brush with death today, Geraldo, who is searching for Saddam Husayn in Iraq (the way he searched for and captured Bin Laden in Afghanistan) told viewers about the attack on his convoy. I just noticed that he casually mentioned a security car in his "convoy." How reliable are the reports of those US reporters who "freely mingle" among the Iraqi people surrounded by "security cars"?
Finished Robert Dallek's biography of J.F. Kennedy on the plane yesterday. Incredible how much the cult of Kennedy continues. A group of historians have in recent years declared Kennedy the most overrated president in US history. The book is a very good read, but very uncritical of the man. When you know that the family was very cooperative with the author you understand why. And he did not mention Kennedy's brief interest in the Palestinian question and his correspondence with Nasser once. Not once in 744 pages. For that, either read Seymour Hersh's The Sampson Option or the more recent Warren Bass' Support any Friend. And what is with the title of Dallek's book (Unfinished Life)? How silly is that? Every person's life on earth is an "unfinished life" unless you are immortal.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Kerry defends security fence
US soldiers accused of raping 100 colleagues
Iraqi youth drowned 'when British soldiers forced him to swim across canal' after arrest
How Britain and the US listen to the rest of the world
That is what democracy needs: Pentagon to Offer Direct News Service
Imposing free-market democracy on Iraq has unleashed ethnic hatred in Iraq.
US colonial authority in Iraq publishes names and ages of some 8447 Iraqi prisoners in US custody in Iraq (list does not include all prisoners): Ages: 13-99
It is Hungtington, about The Hispanic Challenge
Is America an Empire? by Joseph S. Nye

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Amir and Me:
from London:
I did my AlJazeera's show on Tuesday night. I was not myself, and was not good, friends and family told me. I agree, despite a favorable review here riverbendblog.blogspot.com (thanks Rania and Leila). (Only S and my brother Maher disagreed). Host (of the ALjazeera show) was hostile, rude, and aggressive (if you are reading this Faysal, you were very rude), and the other guest started yelling and blustery, which is the recipe to make me withdrawn, disinterested, and very bored. I kept looking at my watch. I cannot say what somebody might expect me to say. And I also was (before the show) so aware of my need to resist the temptation to flatter the masses: especially when I saw that I was quite recognized (from AlJazeera not from the Bold and the Beautiful), and some would even ask for my autographs (especially Saudis, I have noticed). It became important to me to stress my independence. That was that.

The next day, I was in my Hotel Room (in fact, it was a nice suite with two bathrooms, two living rooms, one dining room, and two balconies), and the phone rang as I was sipping a beverage (green tea without saffron). I answered the phone and the caller immediately announced that "your appointment with His Royal Highness is at 12:30PM." To that I said: "what appointment"?. The question was ignored and he repeated the statement. I went back to my beverage, and then series of phone calls followed all announcing my appointment. Of course, I did not ask for an appointment, which explains my surprise. I was told that I need to go down at 11:50PM and a car would pick me up. I explained that I need to shower (my hair requires some 20 minutes of extra care and attention, you understand). Then another caller (a former minister and present-day advisor to the Amir of Qatar), called to tell me that His Royal Highness would like to meet me. I felt that now is the time to make my announcement: I explained to Mr. Qawwari that I do not wear suits nor ties. He said but for this occasion you will. I said: No, I will appear in my jeans, New Balance running shoes, and a shirt (the only one I brought with me and in which I had appeared the night before). I only bring t-shirts usually or short sleeves Polo shorts, in case you need to know all that. He said, no just put on YOUR suit. I said: I do NOT own suits or ties, and that I cannot. He said: that you cannot appear before him in jeans and running shoes. He was quite unhappy I could tell. I called a contact at AlJazeera and explained the dilemma: he said go the Mall next to the Hotel and there is a Pierre Cardin store and you can just buy a suit, at least if you insist on not wearing a tie. I said: that sounds reasonable, but hung up the phone and ignored the advise. Hopped into the shower, and put on my Angry Arab uniform (New Balance shoes, shirt, and jeans). The car came and I was told to wait for a Protocol escort. Once that person arrived, I was driven. The Royal Palace ground is so large, and you drive for a long time before you reach "the Royal Umbrella" as the entrance to the Palace is called--it should be the Emiral Umbrella as the Qatari king is known as Amir (prince). I was escorted in: a beautiful all-white marble palace with a huge central area. I had to stop and marvel. I wish it had large French windows although it had nice color glass windows and the place is Arab/Islamic architecture, which I like. The carpets were plain, or some of them. I was then taken to a waiting hall, where a Korean delegation was waiting. An advisor to the Amir came and as he greeted me he said (jokingly and in a less accented English than mine): "You are wearing the same shirt from yesterday?", to which I replied: "you are quite observant." The Korean delegation continued to talk with him, and I asked one of the members next to me (pretending some knowledge and familiarity with things Asian): "You are from Japan, right?". "Korea" he said. That was that. The Chairman of the Board of AlJazeera (a close relative to the Amir) whom I had not met before came in, and we talked for a while. He was a nice guy, and I liked his ability to resist pressures from East and West alike. I was then taken to meet the Amir: I entered his very very very large office (nicely done but I would like to see more French windows). He was very nice, jovial, and quite kind to me--I must say. He is quite big (height and weight). I pointed out that my attire is always as it is, and he did not seem to mind. As we sat down, he mentioned that he followed my contributions and that he appreciates my "nationalist sense." He also said that a few Arab leaders (especially Saudis) have complained to him me, and about my appearances on AlJazeera. I then proceeded to point out that I am quite critical of his government. I then observed to him: "I think that it is bad for your reputation to be seen with me." He laughed and said no. He said he knew (of my criticism) and asked me to elaborate on them, which I did with passion if not zeal. He listened and then said: Well, I really have respect for the opinions adn insights of Dr. As`ad AbuKhaill (that is me by the way), but I have to make decisions on the basis of what is good for my country. He explained to me some of the things they are doing in Qatar adn that he does not even have mukhabarat (secret police) like other Arab countries. We spoke some more, and then the Foreign Minister (whom I had scathingly criticized before on AlJazeera among other places and called him the Pleading Minister--because he once said that Arabs should plead with the US to achieve their goals) entered the room. The Emir then told me: Here he is, adn then told the Minister: "You know that Dr. As`ad does not like your policies and your normalization with Israel." The Minister shook my hand but was rather aloof. he talked to the Amir briefly and then left the room. I told the Amir, I have to take advantage of this meeting to ask him some questions about what is going on, foreign and domestic policy. The official coffee person then came, and poured me a cup of coffee. I normally do not drink coffee but noticed that it was yellow. I remembered that S. had wondered about saffron in coffee and thought I should try it. I did: it was more sweet and more dilute than regular coffee, which I liked. The Amir then said goodbye and I was driven back to my hotel. Segregation struck me as I did not see a single woman in the palace during the visit. Forget to say that I proudly managed throughout the meeting to avoid using any royal titles.

If I get corrupted, these are the signs: a) advertisements of Qatar Airways appear on the top of my site; b) I suddenly become the Happy Arab; c) my next book's title becomes "In the company of kings and princes;" and I insist on being called Prince Angry or Prince Arab.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Ultimate Betrayal
Democratic deficit
I do not understand this: is the Israelic racist separation barriet the only hitherto Israeli violation of international law? I read today that the Israeil postal service has volunteered to send free messages in support of the barriet on behalf of concerned Israeli. I love this Israeli "democracy" how it so blatantly ignores the presence of 18% of the population.
Immanuel Kant and the Iraq war (Tomorrow I will post an item on Hegel and the Laci Peterson case).
Ayman Adh-Dhawahiri toom time from his busy schedule to release an audio tape today. It was dinstinctive I felt: despite all the media reports about his near capture (or the near capture of Bin Laden), he went on and elaborated on world developments, from Bush's State of the Union speech to the French ban on conspicuous religious symbols. He was, typical of the fundamentalists of his ilk, scating in his attacking French secularism, and secularism in general. He invoked the values of chastity and modesty, of course. He said that France has the freedom to be nude (as if the freedom to be clothed is denied). What is that? He did not sound pressed or rushed: his hiding accomodations must be better than Saddam's hole (although Saddam had a fan and a neon light). I wonder if Saddam also used that hole as his private bathroom. Adh-Dhahiri also referred to Saddam as Tyrant, which is typical of Al-Qa`idah's idoelogy, but Dick Cheney still believes that Bin Laden was aligned with Saddam, Marx, and Mao. He must have evidence that we do not have. Dhahiri promised more attacks, and issued more threats, and denied that 2/3 of all Al-Qa`idah's top leadership is killed or captured (this 2/3rd business will become a mantra in Bush's re-election propaganda). I do not like it when AlJazeera and AlArabiyyah play background music to the voice of Bin Laden or Dhawhiri: it makes the silly tapes sound more dramatic than they are, I think. You can excellent Saffron in the old suq in Dawhah (in the shops run by Iranian immigrants). I discovered that in the last visit. It is the real Isfahani saffron at excellent prices, not like the very expensive Spanish saffron that you find in the US. And never buy Saffron in powder: it is a sign that it is mixed (with potato powder?), and becomes less potent.
The weather is great in Qatar. Last time I was in pain from the heat: it was around 130 or so. The motto of architecture here is big and huge: and no attempt is made to reflect local or regional styles or taste. But the royal court is very nice (from the outisde that is, and I would not know about the inside). Malls are very "in" around Gulf: I was thinking that Malls (outdoor Malls as in Stanford or Beverly Hills or Monterety) may have started in the Middle East. I am thinking about Isfahan during the Safavid Dynasty: how there were those specialized stores and people would stroll and shop, etc. From what I have heard, things have not changed much since I left in US: Bush is still making progress in Iraq, and the wars on terrorism continue. Ralph Nader is really angering a lot of Democrats: but is there not an irony when you hear liberal democrats pleading with Nader to maintain and perpetuate the two-party system of the US? Now, I know the arguments, and with this election I for the first time will say that an alternative to Bush will make a difference, domestically and internationally, but I will not be casting a ballot, unless Homer Simpson runs for office (he ran a few times, my favorite: when he was in charge of sanitation in the city). Globalization is when you see the same channels in your hotel in Qatar, London, and in the US.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

London (a great city of course) is quite a dirty city. One thing about the US: pretty clean. You can even count on the certainty that public facilities in Nebraska are quite clean.
Soldiers accused of another fatal beating
Officials: U.S. still paying millions to group that provided false Iraqi intelligence
Lawyer angry at Cuba releases
Is Bush's family dog getting more attention thant Iraqi civilians who are killed?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

...Off to London, and then to Doha, Qatar. I will appear next Tuesday live on AlJazeera's Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis. Will return next Thursday. Will try to update from UK and Qatar.
Operation Enduring Misery: The Afghanistan Debacle
C.I.A. Admits It Didn't Give Weapon Data to the U.N.
Now they admit the truth: Al Qaeda Rebuffs Ansar Al-Islam, U.S. Officials Say
PENTAGON PREPS FOR WAR IN SPACE: Ahmad Chalabi to be relocated to Mars, where US troops will be greeted with--you guessed--"sweets and flowers.".
Report says military distorts war deaths. Full text: The Idea of a "New Warfare."
Pentagon, contractors use revolving door for jobs
Artists from all over the world are being refused entry to the US on security grounds.

Friday, February 20, 2004

My article in As-Safir: "Any Objections to the US Violation of Lebanese Sovereignty?"
APARTHEID ENFORCERS GUARD IRAQ FOR THE U.S. (thanks S.)
This item appeared in today's issue of the Lebanese daily As-Safir (thanks Amer):
"The Permanent (Lebanese) Military Court sentenced the fugitives Fouad Ajami and Muhammad Ajami for 15 years of hard work in absentia after they were convicted of collaboration with Israel, and the latter with trafficking in arms."
Thus spoke the International embezzler: Ahmad Chalabi said his information about Saddam Hussein's weapons — even if discredited — achieved the aim of persuading the United States to topple Saddam, and make him a proud US puppet in Baghdad.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

No rights, no charges, no lawyers ... life in the Cuban camp beyond the law
U.S. Marines preparing for 'small war' in Fallujah
RICHARD PERLE, the former US Assistant Defence Secretary and Hollinger International board member, is under investigation for allegedly failing to disclose bonuses worth about $3 million (£1.6 million) which he received for running an investment scheme
CIA Struggles to Spy in Iraq, Afghanistan
You cannot accuse the US of not having a clue in Iraq. Between Iraqi insurgents, foreign jihadists and Ansar al-Islam, US-Iraqi authorites dispute who is reponsible for
attacks.
Duration of U.S. Presence in Iraq 'Unknowable,' Myers Says
American plans for Iraq still going smoothly: Plan for Caucuses In Iraq Is Dropped
Saudi gays flaunt new freedoms: 'Straights can't kiss in public or hold hands like us'
This is the question that the BBC correspondent posed to Paul Bremer today (thanks Brian for the transcript):
Q Stephen Sacker (sp), Ambassador Bremer, from the BBC. Just to pick up on that point, I just want to be clear about this. Just a couple of days ago you appeared to indicate quite clearly that in your view, it would not be acceptable for Islamic Shari'a law to be the basis of Iraq's transitional law. And my blunt question to you is, truly, what business is it of yours to define Iraq's future laws when it's a sovereign nation?
I will be on AlJazeera's Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`kis Show next Tuesday morning live (10:35AM Pacific Time). (The subject is Arab Media). I shall leave town to London and then Qatar on Saturday, and will return next Thursday. I will try to update from UK and Qatar.
That is why I love the European press. I was watching the press conference of US colonial administrator in Baghdad early this morning. So the American journalists were asking their typical questions: (Do you like potatoes?"; "At what time did you wake up today?"; "Why do you think that George W. Bush is so adored around the world,"?etc). You know these kind of penetrating questions that one comes to expect from US journalists. And then the BBC correspondent asked his question: "On the subject of your objection to designating Islam as a source of legislation in the new constitution, what business is it of yours to decide Iraq's future?"

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Israeli parliament's Finance Committee has approved $22 million in new funding for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In 2000, it was an election between Al Bush and George Gore. This year, it will be between George Kerry and John Bush. Kerry Lobbied for Contractor Who Made Illegal Contributions. In other news, Kerry loves, and is in love, with Israel.
"They believe that God sent them to Baghdad."
I love this irony. US fought two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan invoking freedom and democracy, and now the US is opposing elections in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
Pentagon Tight-Lipped as Self-Inflicted Military Deaths Mount
The neo-con philosophy of intelligence
60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, accuse White House of Distorting Facts
No, no way. Kofi Annan goes along with the US on Iraq? How can that happen?? Is he not the man who has asserted the independence of the UN vis-a-vis US bullying? UN to defy Shia clerics and call for delay in Iraq poll
I Was Kim Jong Il's Cook. No, not me. Not the Angry Arab.
This guy, on the other hand, declares the death of Freud, and of pyschoanalysis no less. I am no fan of Freud but recent research on dreams in fact proves Freud right, at least on the interpretation of dreams. But modern research on dreams suggests that they can be interepreted literally (for Freud it was metaphorically).
This guy is able to figure out Sartre. His large body of philosphical work simply seethes "with the pathologies of the far left, including an admiration for bloodletting, so long as it targets democrats and capitalists and Westerners generally." Voila. This is what passes as philosophical engagement in the US.
Haiti's Collapse
What did the Vice-President do for Halliburton?
Gouging the Poor by Barbara Ehrenreich , who is somebody who cares about the poor, unlike those Democratic candidates--not to mention George W. Bush.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

On Iraq's elections dilemma, By Robert Collier. (thanks Robert) His wise conclusion: "But given the intractable guerrilla insurgency and the poisonous lack of public trust in U.S. intentions, the Bush administration's current policy is an even greater gamble. The result could be intensified violence and chaos that traps the next president, be it Bush or a Democrat, in a virtually inextricable quagmire. To expect Iraqis to forego real self-determination and allow a handpicked government to be imposed on them -- at a time when their expectations for democracy have been raised sky high -- could invite more sacrifice of American blood and prestige." (But I do not think that the US has any prestige to sacrifice).
This speech by John Kerry may cause some of you to throw up. "The Cause of Israel is the Cause of America" (thanks Naseer)
Whatever happened to US favorite Iraqi war criminal?
Iraqi Kurds reject coalition's call to disband militia. Now let us ponder the future of Iraq, and the promises of Bush.
US to endorse Israeli plans for Gaza. No??? No way?? US supporting an unjust Israeli plan??
US is trying to overthrow me, says democratically elected Venezuelan leader.
US would like us to believe that its problems are confined to the "Sunni triangle." But Aljazeera observes that "Shia fume over Bremer sharia threat
This is incredible. A group of French intellectuals and artists sign a petition against the French government for its war on intellgience or intellect. (Appel contre la guerre à l'intelligence) If the French government is being accused of anti-intellectualism, what can we say about that Bush administration??????
A former Reagan speech writer gives a sober analysis of the messy Iraq situation.
It should not be surprising that some wealthy Arabs in the US are helping the campaign of George W. Bush. The rich of the wolrd often unite (unlike the workers, unfortunately). But it is surprising that the New York Times thinks that Pakistan and Iran are Arab countries. (thanks Leila).
In her book, Women and Gender in Islam, Leila Ahmed talks about "colonial feminism." It refers to those colonial officers who used and abused the issue of the plight of Muslim women when they were stationed in Muslim countries while those men fought against women's rights and suffrage in their home countries. Paul Bremer is a colonial feminist. He is being lauded by the New York Times and hailed as if he is a feminist. He is calling for a generous quota for women in Iraqi legislature. Would he dare propose that idea in the US which has one of the lowest percentages of women in legislature. US ranks no. 57 behind those countries: (listed in descending order in terms of percentages): Rwanda, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Cuba, Belgium, Costa Rica, Austria, Germany, Argentina, Iceland, Mozambique, South Africa**, Seychelles, New Zealand, Spain, Viet Nam, Grenada, Namibia, Bulgaria, Timor-Leste***, Turkmenistan, Australia, Switzerland, Uganda, Lao People's Democratic Rep., Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Mexico, Eritrea, Pakistan, United Rep. of Tanzania, Latvia, Monaco, Nicaragua, Canada, China, Poland, Bahamas, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Guinea, Slovakia, Senegal, Portugal, Dominica, Estonia, Bolivia, Burundi, Peru, The f.Y.R. of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Croatia, Philippines, Suriname, Dominican Republic, Botswana, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Luxembourg, San Marino, Ecuador, Singapore, Angola, Israel, Sierra Leone, and Andorra. Don't get me wrong: I am in favor of such quotas, and support the French parite movement. But the US has no credibility here. And then you have the horrible white-supremacist organization, known as the Feminist Majority, which urged the US to drop bombs and rockets over the heads of the people of Afghanistan--in the name of women's liberation, of course, and who still is obsessed with veiling, and is now urging for the US to exercise its colonial powers in Iraq, also in the name of women's liberation. You now see why the mainstream liberal "feminist" groups in the US have failed in attracting poor women, women of color, and women from around the world to their movement?
This dictionary of Army Jargon gives a definition of "relaxed grooming standards": "Requested when doing Special Operations type work to help soldiers blend in with their surroundings. Peculiar to US military as other militaries do not have stringent emphasis on haircuts and facial hair as we do." In fact, after reading about "relaxed grooming standards, I found myself adhering to it on many occasions in my life. When I want to sit back and relax, I adhere to "relaxed grooming standards." I also strongly recommend that you adhere to "relaxed grooming standards" when in bed.
Full text: Rumsfeld's speech in Miami on Guantanamo prison: "different rules have to apply." Now Rumsfeld explains that the enemy in Afghanistan fought in civilian clothes (which is a violation of the rules of war). He said: "The circumstances in which individuals are apprehended on the battlefield can be ambiguous as I'm sure people here can understand. This ambiguity is not only the result of the inevitable disorder of the battlefield, it is an ambiguity created by enemies who violate the laws of war by fighting in civilian clothes." But US own military rules also allow for soldiers to fight in civilian clothes, but it is called "relaxed grooming standards." And this article brags about US soldiers in Afghanistan following "relaxed grooming standards." Inconsistency? No. Of course, not. "Different rules have to apply" for the US.
This ABCNEWS/Primetime poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 6-10, 2004, among a random national sample of 1,011 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Field work was done by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.:
Bible Stories Are "Literally True"
Red Sea Creation Noah
All 64% 61% 60%
Catholics 50 51 44
Protestants 79 75 73
Evangelical Protestants 91 87 87
Non-Evangelical Protestants 59 55 50
No Religion 32 24 29


Monday, February 16, 2004

The Iraqi puppet council resolved the dispute over elections: they came up with a brilliant (and highly democratic) idea: Most members of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council no longer support the Bush administration's plan to choose an interim government through caucuses and instead want the council to assume sovereignty until elections can be held, several members have said.
News reports said: Gunmen ambush car of American civilians on road south of Baghdad, killing one and wounding three. But what were they doing in Iraq in the first place? The statement by the US military said the Americans were part of a ''religious group'' but did not identify it. Is that part of the campaign to win hearts and minds?
Iraqis today are free and democratic: they may do as they please now that Saddam is in custody. Or so goes the US tale of propaganda. But, Bremer will reject Islam as source for law.However, he will not object if Iraqis make Southern Baptism a state religion.
Lies of the Times: Judith Miller's faulty WMD reporting
Saddam's legacy of Horrors: Relatives of the missing dig up graves, cross the country on buses, plead with U.S. soldiers and ask prisoners the question: Have you seen him?
About 200 journalists briefly occupied the Palestinian legislative building in Gaza Strip to protest a series of attacks on reporters. Yasir `Arafat's response? It was firm and swift. He immediately ordered that millions (from Palestinian people's money) more be transferred to the private account of Suha `Arafat.
The Bribes of Saddam. I am in favor of exposing those who took bribes from Saddam, but wonder why none of the names include those Kuwaitis and Egyptians who were on Saddam's payroll in the 1980s, and who supported the recent Iraq war. Does that mean that support for the US war ensured the erasure of their names from those "lists"? Yes.
The United States' "war on terror" has been "extremely damaging" for human rights, and has been used as an excuse by totalitarian regimes to impose oppressive laws, a leading (conservative) think tank said yesterday.
Rifts widen in Bush's foreign policy team
Iraqi and US officials are voicing doubts about Iraq's ability to handle such hot spots as the volatile Sunni triangle west and north of Baghdad.
Who is NOT courting the US? Syria Courts a Cool U.S. Amid Threat of Sanctions
A plan floated by Israeli Transport Minister Avigdor Lieberman would confine the Palestinians to four isolated districts in the West Bank.
U.S. vs. Them
The voice of James Baldwin
Soviet general says Invasion was a big mistake: Says Americans opened the path for terrorists
Pentagon eager to wash hands of Iraq mess it created
Is this the Iraq promised by Bush? "...anti-Coalition forces in Iraq have given grim warning that they are growing in confidence, by upping the intensity of their campaign"...
So let us see: US pushed for war in Iraq and Afghanistan using the words of "democracy" and "freedom." Now, the US opposes elections in Iraq, and U.S. Aides Hint Afghan Voting May Be
Put Off. As Bob Dole used to say, Where is the Outrage??
Start-up Company With Connections: U.S. gives $400M in work to contractor with ties to Pentagon favorite on Iraqi Governing Council
(the embezzler A. Chalabi) (thanks Naseer)

Sunday, February 15, 2004

This person met Ayatollah `Ali Sistani last week (thanks H.): (I have removed the names)
"Yesterday, I went to visit Ayattollah Ali Sistani!!

Only six months ago, who would have believed that one day I might go and visit any clergyman of any creed? But there you are, the things one has to do for one's country!
The truth of the matter is that I, like everybody else, have been following this gentlemanيs stand on democracy and elections, and the whole thing had a rather comic tone to it: here was this old religious leader, supposedly living in the dark ages, making a stand for democracy while the US, the champion of democracy, was dragging it's feet!
The fact that members of our esteemed governing council were not enthusiastic about democracy, came as no great shock to me; most of them would become laughing stock in any democratic elections, and they knew it!
On the other hand, some circles in the sunni clergy started speaking against democracy. Now I found this really sad! Some people started circulating the idea that Sistani was for democracy because the Shiites were a majority. Well, I never bought that for the simple reason that Shiites were not a single political block!
To cut a long story short, I put on two hats hadnيt worn for a long time and that I am not usually fond of (one of a sunni and the other of a tribal chief) and joined a small delegation representing sunni tribes from the sunni hexagon (I don't see why we should have fewer sides than the Pentagon!) and went to see Sistani. My hats didn't fit, they had holes in them; I felt like a hypocrite, but I was not to be deterred!
It was a small delegation representing the Obaid (yours truly), the Janabeyeen, the Azza and Kurdish Sorchi tribe. A few other 'Shiite' friends tagged along for the honour of seeing "His Holiness".
So much for a rather long introduction!
We were an hour and a half late for the appointment (the traffic jams were something I have never seen the like of). Nevertheless, his staff, his son (and later, he himself) went out of their way to make us feel welcome.
We sat on the floor of a sparsely furnished room (very much like the reception room of a not-very-poor peasant), were served tea, had a pleasant chat with his son, a very bright (and obviously very ambitious), courteous young man of around 30.
He came in a few minutes later, didn't shake hands and squatted in that way only clergymen know how. We were introduced one by one, his eyes were alive and alert and very much like an earthly man, examining each closely!
Nazar Al.K. spoke first saying that his eminence was talking for all Iraqis when he wanted elections. As sunnis we were fully with him on that. Then he responded.
He had a heavy (and I mean really heavy) Persian accent which he didn't (and couldn't) hide. He used classical Arabic, but the structure of his sentences was not perfect.
He talked a lot, a lot! His response for 30 seconds of courteous pleasantries was a 10 minute monologue! That was when I was shocked!
The man was a secular! I have never heard a clergyman saying the things that we lot take to represent our secularism!
In response to Nazar's statement, he went on and on about sunnis and shia saying that these were doctrines differing on how to interpret Islam and they were all decent and good-intentioned. They were definitely no reason for bloody strife. He talked about the ancient pillars of the sunni doctrine and praised them all in detail and said how he respected them as men of faith and as scholars. The difference between the shia and sunna, he believed, was far less significant than the danger facing the Iraqi nation at present.
Well, personally that put him on my right side!
Then Omar S. sounded his fear that through democracy the shia would dominate Iraq, and consequently the Kurds.
He said that he didn't believe there was much danger of that happening. The shia were not a single political entity. Some are atheists, some are secular; even religious shia did not all follow the same leader.
He said that he firmly believed that the clergy should not interfere with the running of people's lives, with government or with administration. He had forbidden his followers from putting their noses into the state's affairs. He said that clearly and categorically (several times to stress the point!)
It was my turn and I said something like "As an Iraqi, I am grateful for Your Eminence's honourable stand on democracy and I think that the country is fortunate to have you in this position in this particular instant of history." (Yes I did!! And I meant it!!!!!!!)
I then asked him why he had requested the UN to examine the possibility of conducting elections. (I was partly moved by some fear I still have that the panel of UN experts may "conclude" that it is too soon or too unstable to have elections at present. Then we really would have a major problem in our hands!)
He denied that flatly and said that he never did and that my information was probably based on media reports (which was true!). He said he did not feel obliged to accept the UN ruling on elections. He thought the Americans wanted the UN involved because they were having difficulties! He was set on calling for elections as the only possible way for Iraq to regain its sovereignty.
Some of the other things he said (This is a rather loose translation!):
"The most important thing at this time is unity. Division of the people is treason! Even silence, in these turbulent times, is evil."
"Give my regards to your tribes and to the sunna clergy and tell them that Sistani "kisses their hands" and begs them to unite with all Iraqis, Shia, Kurds, Christian, Turkmen. You just unite, and count on me to stand up to the Americans! The worst that could happen is that I die! That doesn't worry me!"
He mentioned the late de Milo of the UN and said he was "a good man".
He mentioned "the one who was killed in Najaf" and said that he had "talked to him", meaning "advised him". I took that to refer to Al-Hakeem. This was the only disguised statement he made in more than an hour of talking.
He mentioned the "Arab Nation" so many times! He evidently viewed himself as an Arab. Being born Persian did not affect the fact that he was a Sayyed. He made that perfectly clear.
He does not believe in "Wilayat al Faqeeh" as the clergy in Iran do (as you know, this is the cornerstone of Khomeini's doctrine). He repeatedly stressed that religion has to be separated from government!
He was extremely humble in his talk, his attire and his mannerisms.
He was much younger than I had thought; looked like early seventies but quite agile and healthy-looking.
He talked so softly, almost in whispers, that I had to really stress myself to hear what he was saying. (Being the insolent person that I am, at one time during the meeting I said I wasnيt hearing him well !!!!! There were only three people between us! There was some space on either side of him which people left out of respect, and he invited me to sit next to him which I did!)
He didn't use any of the rhetoric clergymen usually wrap everything they say with. He was quite plain and direct. I found that really odd for a person in his position!
We were late for our appointment. We stayed there for about an hour and a half. Apparently someone else was waiting to see him. So, his son (who was apparently managing the old man's schedule) was obviously beginning to sweat, but was too polite to say anything. We finally took the hint!
There you are! I felt that I should share this experience with you and I have tried to reflect as much as I could of it in its true spirit, wil Abbas (non-Iraqis, this is a shite oath)!"
Iraq's False Promises By Slavoj Zizek : "...But when Bush said in his January 2003 State of the Union message, “The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity,” this apparent burst of humility, in fact, concealed its totalitarian opposite. Every totalitarian leader claims that, in himself, he is nothing at all: His strength is only the strength of the people who stand behind him, whose deepest strivings only he expresses. The catch is, those who oppose the leader by definition not only oppose him, but they also oppose the deepest and noblest strivings of the people. And does the same not hold for Bush's claim? It would have been easier if freedom effectively were to be just the United States' gift to other nations; that way, those who oppose U.S. policies would merely be against the policies of a single nation-state. But if freedom is God's gift to humanity, and the U.S. government sees itself as the chosen instrument for showering this gift on all the nations of the world, then those who oppose U.S. policies are rejecting the noblest gift of God to humanity."
Former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix calls Bush and Blair ''salesmen''.
Tutu tells Blair: Apologise for 'immoral' war
Bhutto says Khan made "Scapegoat", draws attention to Govt. ad
The Thief of Baghdad (by M. Dowd): "But even incestuous amplification could not have drowned out reality if Bush officials had not glommed onto the Chalabi flummery for their own reasons — to feed their fantasies about refashioning America's power, psyche and military, and making over the Middle East in our image. Swept up in big dreams, the foreign policy dream team became dupes in Ahmad Chalabi's big con." Of course, I do not buy her thesis; I do not believe that one should only blame Chalabi, or only the CIA, which will absolve Bush of responsibility. In all of this, he alone is (legally and constitutionally) responsible, his incompetence and limited intellectual powers notwithstanding.
Poor children with cancer 'left to die'
Int'l observer: IDF, settlers are 'cleansing' Hebron's H-2 area
The show is over, the play can now stop. IDF to collect gas masks from public. Israel will keep them for another show, regarding another US war in the ME.
Re-clash of civilizations
What about those who killed Iraqi civilians? Military investigators will interview former members of an elite U.S. Army platoon accused of killing unarmed Vietnamese civilians in 1967
Black women form backbone of Democratic Party support, and yet Democratic candidates never mention them. That may scare off the precious white male voter.
The Diminishing of John Ashcroft (how could he be reduced?)
Howard Dean has gotten into the annoying habits of listing wars that he had supported to make it very clear that he is not opposed to all wars. In tonight's debate, he did just that. Kucinich, for a change, mentioned--in passing--the Iraqi civilians who are killed by US troops. He has two delegates as of now and he insists on continuing the campaign. What egos men have. I understand that Al Sharpton wants to continue running because he wants to keep the others (and the Democratic Party) on their toes, and to stress certain civil rights issues. But Al looked really confused and ill-prepared in the last debate when he was asked about the Federal Reserve Board and its role. (Why dont they ask George W. that question, or anothe one about "what is the capital of the US"?) It reminded me of a calculus test I took in High School: I was very ill-prepared and had no clue regarding the specific questions, so I wrote some general stuff about why it is important to learn Calculus, and that it is essential for the learning the process. John Kerry reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, but he said that he supports the right of gay and lesbian couples to visit one another in the hospital. He said that; and he said it in a tone as if he deserved a medal for mercy and compassion. Mercy and compassion? For those dudes? Or for Bush? Nader, come back and scare everybody off.
US newspapers have become as independent from the US government as the North Korean daily is from the government: Palestinians are killed by Israeli forces daily, and US newspapers are worried that the prison conditions of dissidents in Cuba are not very good; they do not have running water. Pathetic.
In celebration of the Day After Valentine's Day, the loving husband, Yasir `Arafat, sent a few millions (from the money of the Palestinian people) to the private account of Suha `Arafat.
British Drawing Stirs Anti-Semitism Debate
Wings of Empire:A contingent of 700 U.S. Marines disembarked Sunday at the site of a former American naval base to take part in combat exercises intended to help the Philippines fight Muslim and communist insurgencies

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Of all the wars and injustices going on in the world, this mosque in San Fancisco has decided to devote its energies to protesting against same sex-marriage.
Fruits of liberation: Iraq's Hospitals in Ruins
Full text: A chronology of how the Bush Administration repeatedly and deliberately refused to listen to intelligence agencies that said its case for war was weak.
A confidential report prepared by the US-led administration in Iraq says that the attacks by insurgents in the country have escalated sharply, prompting fears of what it terms Iraq's "Balkanisation". The findings emerged after a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the top US general in Iraq, John Abizaid, on Thursday. "January has the highest rate of violence since September 2003," the report said. "The violence continues despite the expansion of the Iraqi security services and increased arrests by coalition forces in December and January."
How do the Democratic Candidates stand on the issues?
Enemies of peace: A joint British and American spying operation at the United Nations scuppered a last-ditch initiative to avert the invasion of Iraq, The Observer can reveal.
A UK newspaper's headline: No sex please, we're sensitive, says America
Results of last Angry Poll (vote on the new one):
A world without religion (any religion) is a world with...
Answers Votes Percent
1. less misery 10 10%
2. less hope 16 15%
3. less sexism 20 19%
4. less authoritarian men with funny head gear 9 9%
5. less fatalism 8 8%
6. more psycho-therapy 5 5%
7. more ornate bldgs and estates for homeless people 11 10%
8. more revolutions 6 6%
9. more international brotherhood/sisterhood 17 16%
10. less international brotherhood/sisterhood 3 3%
Total Votes: 105
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed support for Israel's need for nuclear weapons at a NATO meeting in Munich.
Iraqi Party Goes From Exiled to Electable
Iran's youngest female parliamentarian is facing an end to her days in government - and jail time.
It is Valentine's Day: Yasir `Arafat, the loving husband, sent a few more millions (from the money of the Palestinian people) to the private account of Suha `Arafat.
Five American soldiers have been accused of driving a 19-year-old Iraqi civilian to his death in the Tigris river in one of the main centres of resistance to the occupation.
An Empire of Kindness and Tenderness. Boy, 12, recounts days as terror inmate; youngest captive spent 17 months at Guantanamo. But the US military is very nice to children in captivity: "We recognize the special needs of juvenile detainees...Every effort was made to provide them a secure environment free from the influences of older detainees." During the days, they were allowed to run on the grass inside the compound. Sometimes, the soldiers would play football with them.
Afghan Women, Still in Chains. This liberal NYT columnist urges more bombs and rockets over their heads to liberate them.
Love is illegal in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's religious authorities have ordered Muslims to shun the "pagan" holiday of Valentine's Day so as not to incur God's wrath, the newspaper al-Riyadh reported yesterday.
American-led opposition among Britain's G7 partners is threatening to derail Gordon Brown's ambitious proposal for a doubling of global aid to $100bn (£55.5bn) a year, according to sources in Washington.
World Bank condemns defence spending
U.S. May Base Troops Long-Term in Kuwait. Please support US support for the corrupt, oppressive and polygamous dictatorship of the Gulf.
How far will the US go to maintain its illegitimate primacy in Iraq? That is easy: very, very far.
American plan for Iraq needs complete overhaul, United Nations envoy warns. (and he is a US stooge, mind you).
Two Wests
World Press Photo of the year 2003.
If you are wondering where your tax money is going: Bush wants to spend $270 million on abstinence-only education, compared with $100 million annually when he took office. In other news, in Minnesota, a study found that sexual activity doubled among junior high school students taking part in an abstinence-only program.

Friday, February 13, 2004

U.S.-government Propaganda TV station draws Arab fire even before its debut
Senior Defense Department officials said Thursday that they were planning to keep a large portion of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, there for many years, perhaps
indefinitely.
Surprise, surprise. The UN verdict is in. A UN official has said that elections can not be held in Iraq before the occupation US-led authorities hand power to an Iraqi government at the end of June. By the way, the US tool, known as Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi, met with Bush before leaving on his "independent" mission in Iraq. It was highly naive on the part of Sistani, who has not left his house in 6 years, to expect the UN to render an independent judgment on any matter.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Former Iraq administrator sees decades-long U.S. military presence
Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago said U.S. President George W. Bush is an "imbecile" for leading the war against Iraq.
The unseen cost of the war in Iraq:America's wounded.
Operation Sweatshop Iraq (thanks Kyle).
On its official website, the CIA is asking Iraqis for information on Iraqi WMDs.
Human Rights Campaign SHARPLY CONDEMNS BUSH’S ENDORSEMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT DISCRIMINATING AGAINST AMERICAN FAMILIES
Newspapers are saying that UN (through the envoy Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi) is supporting Ayatollah Sistani's call for elections. But I do not trust the UN under Kofi Annan: mark my words. The UN report will say that, yes, elections should be held but.. not now, sometime in the future.
American people may have become more alert: A majority of Americans believe President Bush either lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Israeli forces enage in their regular sport: A 10-year-old Palestinian boy, Bashir Abu Armana, was killed Thursday and another boy was lightly wounded after Israel Defense Forces troops fired at four Palestinian children on the border between Israel and Egypt. (and this account is from an Israeli newspaper).
The British government, concerned about the failure of British companies to win reconstruction work in Iraq, is making a behind-the-scenes effort to lobby Washington.
Human rights defenders in Turkey have been harassed despite Ankara's efforts to adhere to EU entry demands, the head of Amnesty International said yesterday.
No place for French Muslims on party list
Unemployment in Gaza Strip is around 70 percent, and Ms. Suha `Arafat comments on the millions transferred to her private account by `Arafat: What's strange about [`Arafat] sending money to his wife overseas,"she asks. I will tell you what is wrong: some Palestinians are near starvation in camps around the Middle East, and a French publication reported that some millions of that money was paid to an interior designer.
Yasir `Arafat's idea of charity for Palestinians? Sending millions to the private account of Suha `Arafat.
Arab women: some proposals to end discrimination
These are women who are not worthy of American-style liberation. (thanks Hani)
Notice how all US and Israeli media talk about Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan as the "evil scientist" or "Dr. Srangelove." This makes you wonder. What about all the American scientists (at MIT and other places) who have designed weapons that are far more lethal and devastating than whatever was produced by A.Q. Khan's labs. Are those "angel scientists"? Or is the designation a function of the ethnicity and religion of the scientist in question? Furthermore, the revelations about Pakistani covert activities, from the standpoint of US own rhetoric, should justify an invasion of Pakistan not Iraq. But who cares about logic or consistency.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings has prepared these Security Indicators for Iraq:
April June August October Junuary

Top 55 Baathists
Still at Large 40 23 16 15 12
Total Baathists
Killed or Arrested 500 1,000 1,000 750 2,000
(rough estimate)
U.S. Troops in Iraq 145 146 140 130 122
(thousands)
Non-U.S. Troops in Iraq 40 12 16 24 26
(thousands)
Typical No. of Daily
Attacks on U.S. Troops 5-10 6 15 30 18
U.S. Troops Killed,
Hostile Fire 10 15 14 43 44
U.S. Troops Killed,
Nonhostile Causes 12 14 22 10
Coalition Casualties,
Non-U.S. Troops 6 0 7 3 5
Iraqi Security Forces 0 25,000 48,000 85,500 207,000
Iraqi Forces by Type 0/0/0 20,000/ 34,000/ 55,000/
(police/military/other) 0/ 0/ 700/
5,000 14,000 29,800
Annualized Murder Rate
in Baghdad per 100,000 100 135 185 140 100
(District of Columbia rate:
46 per year)
Unemployment Rate 60+% 60+% 50+% 50+%
Electricity Produced
Nationwide 0 3,200 3,300 3,900
(in megawatts;
prewar level: 3,300)
Electricity Produced, 0 700 1.280 1,250
Baghdad
(in megawatts;
prewar level: 2,500)
Oil Production 0 0.7 1.4 2.1
(millions of barrels/day;
prewar: 2.5)
Diesel and Kerosene
Available to Iraqis 0 10 16 24
(millions of liters/week)

PS. Some of the figures in the Op-Chart that he helped prepare for NYT today do not match the figures on his website.
And in his website's chart he calls the Iraqis "killed or arrested" Ba`thists, while in the New York Times they are referred to as "insurgents." Which is which? I wonder if O'Hanlon includes the innocent Iraqis who are shot by US troops in the category of "insurgents" or "Ba`thists" killed. Why not call all Iraqis terrorists. It makes things easier for propaganda purposes, as it has for Israel.
Media knocked for Iraq war coverage: Experts say US too soft, foreign media often too hard.
US Iraq caucus plan questioned Why? Just because it allows for no elections and is based on the appointments of stooges?
If you replace Larry King with a baboon, Larry King Live (or Baboon Live) would be far more intelligent and insightful. In fact, CNN is considering the replacement as we speak.
Britain and the US said war on Afghanistan would liberate women. How nice?
Immanuel Kant's wild years.
British Military police investigate Iraqi PoW's death
Another matter about that draft of the provisional Iraqi constitution: it excludes from candidacy anybody convicted of a "crime that violates honor." What is that? Then it says that sessions of the new assembly will be public "unless necessity dictates otherwise." Why? Is that for the sessions when Bremer comes in to dictate to the members? Article 39, no. 2, talks about "guarantees of basic rights, both public and private." I do not want to bother the drafters, but could you be more specific. Could you define the "basic rights." But I have never read a more specific and rational solution to the Kurdish question: Article 39, no. 6 talks about: "organizing the present federal situation in Kurdistan and its relationship to the central authority." What was that? But the brilliant jurists went further in Article 39, no. 7: "the specification of decentralized prerogatives of the governorates that are not covered by federalism." Article 11: "The various nationalities are brotherly in the service of the homeland (which one?) within a unified Iraq." The last part of the last sentence has a tinge of Ba`thist phraseology.
Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi and Muhammad Al-Baradi`i are not some idependent UN or IAEA administrators; they are mere US designates.
President Bush gave a speech today (yes, he can read). He said: "Our message to proliferators must be consistent and it must be clear: We will find you, and we're not going to rest until you are stopped." In other news, Israel is to sign a $1.1 billion arms deal with India, having shared nuclear and missile technology with India before.
This is from the first page of Al-Quds Al-`Arabi: The picture on the right is of an Iraqi woman expressing her gratitude for George W. Bush for liberating her; the picture on the left is of Israeli democracy in action.
Why was €1m a month sent to Arafat's wife? French prosecutors are looking into alleged multi-million dollar transfers into the bank accounts of the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. In interviews with the Arabic press, she wonders about the big deal in money transfers from a husband to his wife (the amount is over $11 million, mind you).
The corrupt Palestinian Primeminister's company is supplying the equipment and materials for the racist Israeli separation barrier.
Sometimes you really wonder about the quality of US government's Middle East experts. You wonder if they have any who have more than 2 token years of Arabic. We know that according to the Ed Djerijian report's on US propaganda in the Muslim world, there are only 4 US experts who can speak Arabic on TV. I have only seen 2 personally. All this is to say a word about that famous Abu Mus`ab Az-Zarqawi's memo. Much has been made of it, and the New York Times led with a first page story about it a few days ago, and the news of its capture led to the increase of the bounty on Zarqawi's head. Al-Hayat has now published its full text. When you read it you realize that it could not have been written by Zarqawi, who is a street thug, no more. Its writer must have been somebody steeped in religious study with an advanced command of Arabic. It also reads differently from Al-Qa`idah political literature. It most likely is produced by a small Sunni cultish group in Iraq with adherence to Wahhabi doctrine. In the last section, its author actually said that fighting Shi`ites (referred to in the document by differnt perjorative terms) is more important than fighting the Americans. That sounds peculiar. Too overt to be publicly declared. Who knows if this document is authentic anyway.
A day before leaving town, and after plane and hotel reservations were made, Abu Dhabi TV abruptly canceled my invitation and appearance, citing financial reasons.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

As-Safir today obtained a copy of the new draft of the provisional Iraqi constitution. I mean: constitutions can often be meaningless (as it was in Saddam's Iraq): but this is such a generally and vaguely phrased document that it has no meaning.
Children's Defense Fund Analysis shows Bush Administration Budget Takes from Poor Children to Give to the Rich
A good (albeit partisan) rebuttal of Bush's Meet the Press appearance.
Full text: WMD IN IRAQ: Evidence and Implications
A Long, Nervous Wait Backlog at U.S. Agency Complicates Immigrants' Lives
Study of Rhetoric On Iraq Is Urged
The US government has been so reckless with the facts. Abu Mus`ab Az-Zarqawi has his own little gang, which is not the same as Al-Qa`idah. And we do not know the nature of the relationship, if any, between his gang and Al-Qa`idah. Similarly, Ansar Al-Islam is not Al-Qa`idah and is not the same as Abu Mus`ab's little gang. Just because they all are fanatic kooks does not mean that they are all the same group. The US government likes to mix things up and cofuse the matter; it makes deception and propaganda (and the scaring of the public) much easier.
N. Korea Documents Suggest Political Prisoners Are Gassed
A youth publisher moves away from propaganda in Iraq.
White farmer 'fed black worker to lions in South Africa.
Libya decided 10 years ago against developing WMD, Foreign Minister says
Saudi Arabia enrages Yemen with fence
French National Assembly voted to strengthen la laïcité
'We wait for peace. We wait for war'
This is an article on my dear friend Sinan Antoun. (thanks Nadya).
I am told to say that the Arab League did NOT leak the report. So there.
The Washington Times alleges that Islamic extremists are "invading" the US and hiding in sleepers' cells. (But if they are sleepers how could the Washington Times know about them?)
Advisors of Influence: Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors
Air France warns staff members that they might experience difficulties when entering and leaving the United States if they were born in one of 10 countries: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria or Indonesia.
Libyan dictatorship (the new close friend of US and UK) 'tortured doctors' into Aids confessions
Laurence Silberman, a retired judge nominated by the Bush administration as the co-chairman of the commission investigating pre-war intelligence on Iraq, was involved in a major cover-up during the Reagan era.
Doubts hold back rising star of Iraqi politics
Israel is close to finishing a decades-long effort to surround Jerusalem with Jewish settlements, walls, fences and roads that will severely restrict Palestinian access to the city and could reduce the chance of its becoming the capital of a Palestinian state.
Camus and Sartre.
That is what the world needed: Midland (Texas) evangelists shape US foreign policy.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Full text: The unpublished (and quite long--49 pages) official Arab League report on Iraq was leaked in full to As-Safir newspaper in Beirut. The leak is significant because it represents an attempt by somebody in the Arab League to bring the information out maybe because he/she feared the US pressures, and pathetic Arab official subservience to US Empire, may suppress the release of the report. Kudos for As-Safir for publishing it in full, and kudos for the leaker. This is without a doubt the most accurate and most comprehensive report about the Iraqi public mood and opinion since the Iraq war. It is important to note that Iraqi people report, and say, different things to Western reporters who are almost always accompanied by not only US soldiers but also interpreters (just as they were accompanied by Saddam’s forces and interpreters before the war). I notice that Iraqis tend to tell a different story to Arabic media than the one we get on US media. Western reporters are, due to the worsening security situation, more isolated than ever. They live in isolated compounds, and do not mingle freely with the population. Their lack of language skills, for US reporters—less for European reporters—also weaken their abilities to report accurately what Iraqi are asking and demanding. This League of Arab State’s report was based on a field trip to Iraq undertaken by an official delegation that toured the country (all its regions) in the last two weeks of December 2003, and met with over 600 personalities, leaders, clerics, party heads, etc. The picture that is drawn in the report is frightening and worrisome on several levels: a) the country is quite fragmented and divided that one can hardly speak of a restoration of an Iraqi national identity that came (perhaps by force) out after the formation of modern Iraq; the Iraqis and the report warn against sectarian seditions and yet the people who met the delegation spoke mostly about their sectoral and sectarian demands and aspirations while making an effort sometimes to shroud them in national Iraqi discourse; b) there is a clear division between Sunni political sub-culture and Shi`ite political sub-culture, not to mention the existence of separate Kurdish nationalism that aims in the long term to split off (but will suspend the demand due to “regional opposition” as one Kurdish leader put it—in reference to Turkey); c) the Arabs are quite insistent on their Arab identity and were enthusiastically welcoming of the (belated) but important Arab League visit (I could see that when I followed the visit on Arab media channels) while the Kurds are equally insistent on their Kurdish nationalism; d) there is an interesting difference in the attitude toward US occupation between Sunnis and Shi`ites (at least those who met with the delegation) and toward the issue of the puppet council (more on that later); e) the Kurds will not go back to where they were before the war in terms of political power and territorial gains—they have suffered enough, they feel—and who can disagree that the Kurds did suffer horrifically under the brutal and tortorous dictatorship of that pathetic dictator Saddam (I do believe that there is sometimes a tendency among Arabs to minimize Kurdish suffering and Shi`ite suffering under Saddam because they feel an acknowledgement may serve US interests—a silly reason in my opinion); f) Arabs will not be happy to notice that there is no consensus among Iraqis over the issue of the violent resistance to occupation; g) religious fundamentalism is here to stay as the most potent political force in Iraq, among Sunnis and Shi`ites alike, despite the expression of Kurdish displeasure toward that phenomenon—without elaboration in the report.

It was interesting that in the meeting with the puppet council there were criticisms of the occupation; members seemed in agreement that US dissolution of the army and government bureaucracy—long a Chalabi and Makiya and Wolfowitz idea—was responsible for the breakdown in order, and the rise of resistance and resentment. The delegation tried to meet with the 10,000 odd prisoners in crowded US-ran jails in Iraq but were not allowed. The council was also pleased with the role of the Arab League.

The monarchist (Sunni) movement of Sharif `Ali (who have drifted away from US patronage after the war because a) he was not included in the puppet council and b) he wanted to score political points with the Sunni population) maintains that there is a special SECRET appendix to the agreement that was signed between the puppet council and the US occupation to the effect that the term of rule of puppet council members will be extended almost indefinitely beyond the initial provisional period. This adamant US opposition to elections makes this claim credible.

The Sunni factor: the meetings clearly indicates that rise of Arab nationalist and Sunni fundamentalist organizations. The new Arab nationalist parties (they exist in different names) tells me that the Ba`th is not dead, and will most likely re-emerge among Sunnis, benefiting greatly from (at least perceived) anti-Sunni actions and policies of the US occupation. They will operate initially under general Arab nationalist banners, and when the chance will come they will emerge and they will strike. I have mentioned already that Al-Quds Al-Arabi has reported about the proliferation of flyers in Sunni areas warning collaborators and preparing for the withdrawal of US troops. The Ba`th Party in the underground, and in conspiracies, is as scary as the Ba`th in power. The Ba`th invented political and military conspiracies in the Arab world. Nasser hated them for it. I am no fan of the Ba`th, as you can tell, but do not believe that a sentence in an article by Michel `Aflaq (founder of the party) is sufficient to explain the horror of Saddam’s rule and tyranny (that is what Kanad Makiya does in Republic of Fear). The Sunnis are very adamant about the Arab identity of Iraq, and about a categorical rejection of occupation and its by-products (the puppet council for example). They also complain about the sectarian sedition of Arab media channels (they tend to reinforce the Sunni-Shi`ite divide and I have noticed an increase in anti-Shi`ite sentiments expressed on Arabic channels. Many Arabs seem to be angry that the Shi`ites are not resisting the occupation violently, and they seem to belittle their suffering under Saddam—not that anybody was spared suffering under Saddam, of course. The Sunnis seem to also be concerned about the possibility of elections under current voters’ sheets, and may be nervous about a gigantic rise of Shi`ite political power—unprecedented in modern Iraq. Sunnis in the north expressed concern over Israeli infiltrations into the region. Complanits about US occupation practices were also widley voiced.

You notice how different the political cultures of the different communities when you read the report about the meeting with Ayatollah `Ali Sistani and other Shi`ite leaders. They report this: Shi`ite are very concerned about lack of appreciation for their suffering (a point Kurds want to make too) and blame Saddam for whatever befell Iraq, including the war and occupation. They are not pro-occupation but they blame Saddam for the occupation and also said that occupation and the war were perhaps the only way to remove Saddam. This will not go well in predominantly Sunni Arab nationalist circles. They similarly concede that there are problems with the representativeness of the puppet council but accept to deal with it. They of course also want the occupation to end and insist on free elections and democracy, which is a matter of dispute with the same forces that launched the paradoxically dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom”—Freedom my potato. The Shi`ites also expressed opposition to Iraqi resistance activities and view them as terrorism. This is another issue that sets them apart from the Sunnis, or so it seems in present-day Iraq.

The Kurds as always lamenting, and rightly so, the lack of Arab understanding for their plight. I am glad that they took the delegation to the sites where Saddam committed his gruesome crimes: the so-called Anfal Campaigns. They also reject any reduction in their autonomy, and want “national federalism” and not simply “administrative federalism”—the latter being what Shi`ites and Sunnis are willing to accept. Kurdis denied news of Israeli infiltrations in their region.

I am furious at how the delegation seem to ignore women, and secular forces. Before the unfortunate Ba`ithis takeover of Iraq, the Iraqi Communist Party was one of the most powerful parties in the whole Middle East. Now it is splintered, with the main faction serving as tool for occupation and for that they got a seat on the puppet council. One of the reasons for my (many) objections to the US war and occupation is that it revived and rejuvenated the most traditional and religious and tribal and primordial ties, sentiments, and leaderships. Leadership in Iraq today resembles leadership in Iraq during Ottoman time. If you have been patient and read all the way through I want to assure you that Bush and company have carefully considered all these problems, and have ready solutions and remedies for all of them, if you only give them a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th terms in office. That is all.
For those of you who get Abu Dhabi TV: I shall appear on Abu Dhabi TV's program Al-Muwajahah this Sunday (11:00AM Pacific Time, 2:00PM eastern Time). I will be taping it live from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Leaving town in few days.
I spoke last Friday at the Berkeley City Club. It is a beautiful building: constructed and designed in 1929 by Julia Morgan (the pioneering architect) who also designed the Hearst's palace at San Simian. Some of her taste, however, can be similar to that of Albert Speer. Those in the Bay Area should visit the building: it is on Durant, two blocks down from Telegraph Ave. It is an elitist place, however; they may not let you in. Tell them I sent you, and they will surely kick you out.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Guantánamo boy: US stole a year of my life
Nothing makes the task of US Empire easier than those pathetic Middle East dictatorships: Syria frees dissident after 23 years.
Full text: Bush's interview with Meet the Press. Excerpts: "In Iraq I mean, in North Korea, excuse me," no, I mean Sudan, wait, is it Pakistan? No, it is Libya. Give me a second.....Oh, ya: It is Syria. OK: it is somewhere in those regions. Now uncle Cheney will be mad at me. I blew it, again. He will never let me appear on a Sunday show ever again.
The Imperial Imperative?
Australian police have arrested three U.S. Navy personnel on charges of raping two women while on shore leave in the northern port city of Darwin, Australia.
Drawing ideologically charged conclusions from raw data can be dangerous
Watching and reading all this, one is tempted to ask, where were you [the US news media) all before the war? Why didn't we learn more about these deceptions and concealments in the months when the administration was pressing its case for regime change—when, in short, it might have made a difference?
Full text: Spotlight on Subsidies: Cereal Injustice in UK.
Thus spoke a kook: Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon (National Union) asked Christian missionary groups last week to work to convert Muslims to Christianity in order "to show them the light."
Clerics go home: Anger grows among children of Iran's 25-year-old revolution
They should have been disillusioned with Arafat, some 3 decades ago, AT LEAST. Hundreds of members of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement resigned at the weekend in protest at the lack of political reform, corruption and the leadership's failure to challenge the Israeli occupation.
Swiss voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved a new law requiring that rapists and other violent criminals deemed incapable of reform be imprisoned for life without parole.
Get the bomb shelters ready: More liberation wars to come. The Bush administration has launched an ambitious bid to promote democracy in the "greater Middle East".
In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.
Pentagon: Eight deaths weren't reported; also, soldier reported killed in Iraq actually died in Afghanistan. And Baghdad is not the capital of China as was previously thought.
I am offering this verbatim translation from the pro-American, pro-Saudi Arabic daily, Al-Hayat (Monday, Feb. 9, 2004): "An American patrol unit broke into a house in the Ash-Sha`b City, north of Baghdad the other day, looking for two kids, one is 7- the other is 9- years old. They both had aimed their plastic toy guns at American members of the unit while passing through the area. The father of the two kids told Al-Hayat that after a lengthy search that lasted for a whole hour around the house, the soldiers could not find the kids who had snuck out through the neighbor's house. US soldiers confiscated the toy guns and destroyed them. Witnesses reported a similar incident two weeks ago when American soldiers arrested a child after he aimed his plastic toy gun at them."

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Timeline of official quotes on Iraqi WMD
PRESIDENT'S BUDGET CONTAINS LARGER CUTS IN DOMESTIC DISCRETIONARY PROGRAMS THAN HAS BEEN REPORTED. OMB Documents Not Made Widely Available Show Domestic Discretionary Programs to be Cut $50 Billion a Year by 2009
Not everyone got it wrong on Iraq's weapons
Fox News has a live webcam from Baghdad's Firdaws Square.
Full texts: the Ron Suskind's documents.
The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003
US newspapers insist that the Iraqi resistance is confined to the "Sunni triangle." Washington Post now insists it is confined to a street, in a quarter, in an area, within Fallujah.
The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is threatening the Iraqi and regional stability by empowering Kurdish and Shiite Muslim groups, according to an Arab League report
Islamic rappers' message of terror
Full text: the WSJ article on the adventures of Bernard Lewis.
Britain spied on UN allies over war vote. US would NEVER do such a thing.
I am not a liberal; and never played one on TV. So I may resort to banning the IP addresses of some people who go too far in resorting to crude, vulgar, and racist language in the comments' sections. I never thought that I would preach civility, but I guess I am (for the comments' section, at least).
Cheney Designs Commission to Evaluate Cheney
Hold Bush to His Lie by Naomi Klein
Re-United Nations
The Iraq threat: what the Bush Administration said
U.S. Offer To Amend Iraq Plan Is Rebuffed. Shiite Says Program Lacks 'Legitimacy'
Britons are more - not less - likely to be the target of terrorist attacks as a result of the war in Iraq, an influential group of MPs claims.
LATimes says: The Elimination of Sistani could throw Iraq and Mideast into bloody disarray, experts say. I say: Iraq will be a bloody mess with or without Sistani.
Bush, Aides Ignored CIA Caveats on Iraq
The mysterious world of Pakistan's Dr Strangelove
According to a new poll, only 15 per cent of Canadians would vote for Bush
In a memo signed Thursday, Rumsfeld noted concerns that some female soldiers have reported sexual misconduct but have been left in their units to serve with those accused of assaulting them.
With Clinton and Gore, it was never about principles. The Clark Papers.
Pretty Woman is one of the most sexist and silly movies of all time. It glomorized the miserable and tough lives of prostitutes. You would never know from that movie that prostitutes, on average, are raped 27 times in their life-time. Of course, the man was portrayed as the savior too. The new movie Monster is an excellent movie. Powerful and disturbing: about the life of a woman who was poor, homeless, abused, and was forced by society into prostitution. Prostitution is never a free choice. The director and writer of the movie is a woman. It made a difference in this case.

Friday, February 06, 2004

What language do your visitors (based on language of servers) speak?
Language Language code Language # % of total
en-us English (United States) 12935 91.1
de German (Germany) 404 2.8
en-gb English (United Kingdom) 300 2.1
en English 239 1.7
ar-lb Arabic (Lebanon) 92 0.6
ar-sa Arabic (Saudi Arabia) 47 0.3
en-ca English (Canada) 31 0.2
ja Japanese 16 0.1
nl Dutch (Netherlands) 14 < 0.1
ar-qa Arabic (Qatar) 14 < 0.1
en-au English (Australia) 12 < 0.1
da Danish 12 < 0.1
he Hebrew 11 < 0.1
it Italian (Italy) 8 < 0.1
fr French (France) 7 < 0.1
ar-sy Arabic (Syria) 6 < 0.1
ko Korean 5 < 0.1
ar-ye Arabic (Yemen) 4 < 0.1
ar Arabic 4 < 0.1
es Spanish (Modern Sort) 4 < 0.1
pt-br Portuguese (Brazil) 4 < 0.1
fi Finnish 3 < 0.1
ar-eg Arabic (Egypt) 2 < 0.1