Saturday, July 31, 2010

War v Ilegal Immigration

Gary Wills had a column a few days ago. He wrote of a luncheon President Obama held with a group of Historians invited to give him advice on his Presidency. To a Historian, the guests warned him about becoming another LBJ because of the War in Af-Pak.

Which got me thinking maybe the Feds lawsuit against Arizona intended to whip up the Democrat Progressives over something other than last weeks supplemental war funding bill, and Afghanistan in general really for the next few months. Maybe longer... Chicago Democrats hardly beyond that kind of cynical manipulation of their own. Especially the ones they consider dolts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Plight of Afghan Women: A Disturbing Picture

Time's Richard Stengel on his decision to print this weeks cover picture.
Our cover image this week is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years. Her picture is accompanied by a powerful story by our own Aryn Baker on how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival.

Read more:,8599,2007269,00.html#ixzz0v5LDouXn

Targeting Civilians

The Dawn's Editorial on the murder of Mian Rashid Hussain by the Pak Taliban, HT Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum
Monday’s suicide attack in Peshawar near the home of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain comes on the heels of the gunning down of his only son, Mian Rashid Hussain, outside his house in Pabbi.

The tragedies are further evidence of the fact that, increasingly, it is innocent civilians who find themselves in the cross-hairs of the terrorists. The deadly attack on Mian Rashid Hussain left another person injured while the suicide bombing, which appears to have targeted the mourners who had gathered at the minister’s house, left at least eight people dead, among them two children and three policemen. Responsibility for the suicide attack was claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. The group had also claimed responsibility for the fatal attack on the son of the ANP minister who has been amongst the most outspoken voices in the campaign against terrorism.

The TTP-led militant nexus has frequently claimed that it does not target civilians. This blatant lie is exposed with every new attack launched in areas where civilian casualties are bound to occur, where the ones to die and be injured are ordinary people. There is no shortage of examples, amongst the grimmest being last October’s bombing in Peshawar’s Meena Bazaar which killed well over 100 people, and the bombing of Lahore’s Moon Market in December. Across the country we have seen attacks on educational institutes, places of worship and commercial areas. Responsibility for many of these incidents of terror and murder has been claimed with impunity by TTP-led militants. Battling the Pakistan military in its strongholds in the north-western parts of the country, the terrorist network is evidently turning its guns increasingly towards ‘soft’ targets. Therefore, every effort must be made to protect the people. While law-enforcers cannot seamlessly secure all potential targets, more effort must be made towards creating coordinated response networks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pak Taliban: 3,000 terrorists for India battle

via Rediff
Pakistan's Taliban [ Images ] claims it has organised 3,000 terrorists for its declared battle against India [ Images ], the Taliban spokesperson tells Tahir Ali in Islamabad [ Images ].

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has declared it is training terrorists to launch an attack on India.

The TTP is the Pakistan counterpart of Afghanistan's Taliban and has been blamed for several terror attacks in that country.

TTP spokesperson Azam Tariq told this correspondent in a telephone interview that the TTP has vowed to capture "Hindustan".

"India is our jageer (domain)," Tariq said, "and we will attack to take possession of it. We are training lots of fighters and suicide bombers who will be used for this purpose."

He added the Taliban would fight a "decisive' battle" in India before proceeding towards the Middle East, presumably to evict Israel from that region.

After taking control of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the TTP spokesperson said the Taliban would move towards India.

Tariq said Islamic scriptures have predicted a victory over "non-believers".

Long War Journal: Mullah Omar orders Taliban to attack civilians, Afghan women

Omar reportedly issued his latest order in June. NATO announced that it had recovered a copy of the directive in July. Since then, Afghan press outlets have published a translation of Omar’s five-point order.

The Long War Journal has received a translation of Omar’s order, as it appeared in the Afghan press, from US intelligence sources. Senior US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal say the order is most likely genuine.

According to the translation, Mullah Omar’s five-point directive reads:

1. Fight coalition forces to the death without withdrawing or surrendering; attempt to capture coalition forces whenever possible.

2. Capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and/or working for coalition forces or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

3. Capture and kill any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces.

4. Recruit anyone that has access to coalition force bases and have the ability to collect detailed information about coalition forces.

5. Purchase or obtain more heavy weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and anti-aircraft machine guns.

Read more:

Khmer Rouge executioner found guilty, but Cambodians say sentence too light

vis CSM
Khmer Rouge chief executioner 'Duch' was found guilty today by a UN-backed court. He could be out of prison in 19 years, even when many Cambodians say he deserved life in prison for his role in the Pol Pot regime.
Recall Sen George McGovern,
Do we sit on the sidelines and watch a population slaughtered, or do we marshal military force and put an end to it?" -- Senator George McGovern, August 21, 1978
America sat. Some called that sitting Peace.

Awami National Party: loses 485 diehard activists in ‘war on terror’

A good first step for UUs to live the Creating Peace SOC would be to voice our Solidarity with these brave followers of Gandhi and Gaffer Khan (the Frontier Gandhi) in Pakhtunkhwa. via The International News
ANP loses 485 diehard activists in ‘war on terror’
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) lost about 485 diehard activists during the ongoing ‘war on terror’ for its tough stance against militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas over the last many years.

Most of the casualties were from Malakand division where the party leaders and workers remained on the hit list of terrorists since 2006. The latest blow was the assassination of Mian Arshad Hussain, the only son of the Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who had been declared by the militants as their “enemy number one” for his harsh statements against them.

The nationalist party suffered another blow when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the residence of the information minister in Pabbi when hundreds of women were there to offer condolences to the family and men were offering Fateha in the nearby mosque.

Mian Iftikhar is not deterred but ready to sacrifice even his own life. “We all are to die. I am proud of the martyrdom of my son,” the outspoken minister told journalists on Tuesday. “Two of our MPAs have been killed in the bomb attacks. Alamzeb, MPA from Peshawar, was killed in January last year in a roadside blast. Another was Dr Shamsher from Swat, killed in a suicide attack three days after Eidul Azha last year,” said Zahid Hussain, a former nazim of Landi Arbab and the ANP Peshawar chapter office-bearer.

Several were lucky to escape unhurt in terror attacks. They include ANP head Asfandyar Wali Khan, who escaped a suicide attack at the family house, Wali Bagh, in 2008. Four people were killed and several wounded in the attack.

Afzal Khan Lala proved to be the main source of courage for his party activists. The elderly politician survived rocket attacks on his house and hujra and bombings and firing on his car when he refused to leave Swat at the time when the elite of the valley shifted to safer places.

Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour has survived two suicide attacks. The first one was outside Qayyum Sports Complex when he along with Mian Iftikhar Hussain was coming out of the stadium after attending the closing ceremony of the Inter-provincial Sports Gala in 2008. Four people including gunman of the senior minister were killed in the explosion.

Another attack occurred in Namakmandi in Peshawar when he was inspecting the site of development projects. Two bombers and six locals were killed in that attack. Bilour’s house near the US Consulate had also been damaged in a rocket attack.

ANP Provincial President Senator Afrasiyab Khattak survived a suicide bombing at his rally in Charsadda during the campaign for the 2008 general elections. Brothers of two Swat MPAs, Wajid Ali Khan and Waqar Ahmad Khan, were among those killed during the violence for almost three years in the district.

“Two of our MPAs from Peshawar, Aurangzeb from PF-1 and Alamgir Khalil from PF-6, survived separate bomb attacks for being leaders of the ruling nationalist party. There are a large number of MNAs, MPAs and nazims, who have experienced bombings and firing in Malakand division,” said Naseer Khan, secretary of the ANP, Hazarkhwani-II.

There were reports that threatening letters were sent and phone calls made to a large number of nationalist leaders and activists all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, many leaders of the party are still firm that they will continue fighting the militants. Bashir Bilour termed this ‘war on terror’ as the “Third World War” during the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly session on Monday.

Don Berwick's Left Knee

At left a picture of Dr. Don Berwick giving his Don's Left knee speech at the IHI conference Spring of 2003 in New Orleans. Delivered with Don's usual evangelistic style that brought tears to the eyes of the Docs present (present as was I, but without tears and just startled scientists falling for this sort of thing from salesman Don).

Below the chart of Obama Care the Administration entrusting to this fellow from Harvard who's never managed more than five or six direct FTE at IHI maybe?

Oh we're in for a fine mess here. Except no fat contracts for giving speeches that Don cleaned up with from UK's Nat Health System. No wonder he sung NHS's praises... what vendor doesn't praise its prime contract.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Analysis: Drone attacks: challenging some fabrications —Farhat Taj

H/T Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum
The people of Waziristan are suffering a brutal kind of occupation under the Taliban and al Qaeda. Therefore, they welcome the drone attacks

There is a deep abyss between the perceptions of the people of Waziristan, the most drone-hit area and the wider Pakistani society on the other side of the River Indus. For the latter, the US drone attacks on Waziristan are a violation of Pakistani’s sovereignty. Politicians, religious leaders, media analysts and anchorpersons express sensational clamour over the supposed ‘civilian casualties’ in the drone attacks. I have been discussing the issue of drone attacks with hundreds of people of Waziristan. They see the US drone attacks as their liberators from the clutches of the terrorists into which, they say, their state has wilfully thrown them. The purpose of today’s column is, one, to challenge the Pakistani and US media reports about the civilian casualties in the drone attacks and, two, to express the view of the people of Waziristan, who are equally terrified by the Taliban and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. I personally met these people in the Pakhtunkhwa province, where they live as internally displaced persons (IDPs), and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

I would challenge both the US and Pakistani media to provide verifiable evidence of civilian ‘casualties’ because of drone attacks on Waziristan, i.e. names of the people killed, names of their villages, dates and locations of the strikes and, above all, the methodology of the information that they collected. If they can’t meet the challenge, I would request them to stop throwing around fabricated figures of ‘civilian casualties’ that confuse people around the world and provide propaganda material to the pro-Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the politics and media of Pakistan.
Read the rest of her column here, and the AIRRA-Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy here.

Update: via the BBC Mapping US drone and Islamic militant attacks in Pakistan

Count Me In – Iran!

Count Me In – IRAN is a coalition of organisations that galvanise opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran and political Islam and mobilise solidarity with the people of Iran. The objectives of Count Me In - Iran are to highlight and raise awareness on the human rights situation in Iran or those pertaining to Iranians abroad by:

a) Monitoring discrimination and abuses of human rights;
b) Obtaining redress for the victims of human rights abuse;
c) Researching into human rights issues;
d) Relieving need among the victims of human rights abuse;
e) Providing advice human rights matters;
f) Raising awareness of these human rights issues;
g) Promoting public support for these human rights;
h) Promoting respect for universal human rights and citizenship rights;
i) International advocacy of these human rights;
j) Eliminating infringements of these human rights.

Count Me In - IRAN is a member of Iran Solidarity
To Donate visit here.

Aghdashloo Cries Out Against Iranian Stoning

To all those working to save the life of Sakine Mohammadi-Ashtiaani

Message of Gratitude from Mina Ahadi:

Not just Sakine but the whole humanity needs your endeavors!

How magnificent it is to see hundreds of thousands of people across the world have their heart set on the fate of a woman languishing in a prison in Iran. How delightful it is to see that within the short span of only three weeks Sakine Mohammadi-Ashtiaani, an unknown woman, has become one the most famous women in the world with a renewed glimmer hope in her heart – all thanks to the endeavors of the innumerable people who represented humanity in this matter.

Dear friends,

Here I would like to, firstly, thank each and every one of you on behalf of the International Committee against Stoning and the International Committee against Execution for your invaluable efforts and, secondly, touch upon a few points regarding the significance of your magnificent work and its achievements.

1- Sakine was saved from being stoned to death thanks to a global effort triggered off by her children. I hope it will continue until Sakine is released from prison.

2- International pressure on the Islamic Republic has already forced it into caution as far as the execution of stoning and hanging sentences is concerned. Although it needs murder, in general, and the death penalty, in particular, as essential prerequisites for its survival, efforts such as yours do limit the quantity of its crimes.

3- The regime has been considerably more disgraced and despised. We have been trying our utmost for the past three decades to relate to the people of the world what it is doing to the people in Iran, and today, more than ever, the world sympathize with them and their struggles to get rid of it. This is extremely valuable and helpful as far as the Iranian people are concerned.

4- Thanks to your efforts the regime has been extensively exposed. That parameter has made it harder for the governments that had been on its side all along, actively as well as passively with their silence about its crimes, to carry out their wheeling and dealing. The latter has a direct, positive bearing on the struggles of the Iranian people.

5- The total abolition of capital punishment is one of the most vital demands of the people in Iran. Since its inception in February 1979, the Islamist regime has summarily tried about one hundred thousand loved ones of ours in a fashion that no honorable person can possibly call “trial” and then executed them – by firing squad, hanging and stoning – for political opposition, for being free thinkers, for believing in other faiths, for atheism, apostasy, heresy, adultery, and so on, and so forth. Execution is a central pillar of this regime, and fighting execution is therefore a central pillar of the people’s struggle against it. By raising the banner of the abolition of stoning and execution in the past few weeks you rose up, indeed, in defense of this humanist demand of the people of Iran.

6- Most importantly, vast networks of activists were formed as a result of your work. One can hope that in future they will stand up to each case of stoning or execution more strongly and proficiently and that by doing so they will help the Iranian people more effectively in their on-going humane struggle to rid themselves of this regime of religious savagery. I assure you that you have strengthened the hope and the possibility of this tremendous task for the people in Iran as well as around the world. You took this totally humane struggle aimed at the overthrowing this regime and building a free, equal and humane society in its place a great step forward. So treasure the networks you created and strengthen them ever more!

I shake the hand of each and every one you and hope that your struggles increasingly grow in strength and organization so that they can play an ever more effective role alongside those of the oppressed people of Iran.

Mina Ahadi


International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution

July 19, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bumper sticker Religion

A Theology school transforming itself into a school to train others from many faiths yet only able to attract interest from one UCC seminary, and theology reduced to bumper sticker advocacy, seem like very bad portents for a collection of Churches about to go through some very tough financial times in the coming years.

Just sayin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Captain Thomas R. Beall, USN (ret.): Are You Prepared To Do So?

He writes,
If you truly believe that a war is necessary, I ask you to do this before you ask a young man or woman who may have volunteered for our armed forces because it was the only place in our society that offered him or her a chance to get ahead to do the same. If a war is truly necessary and truly just, we should all be prepared to make this sacrifice.

Are you prepared to do so?
Well, I reply the problem with Pacifists isn't that their naive or foolish. They just slickly pass the moral-buck onto the backs of those who would act, and deny any consequence on those who wouldn't act. Why isn't the question directed to the pacifist?

Are you prepared to do nothing in the face of aggression? Or maybe write a Gandhi like "Dear Friend" letter to the aggressor? Do nothing and let another suffer?

There is no escaping the consequences of not acting just as there is no escaping the consequences of acting.

For some reason Pacifists of the Beall sort can't quite figure out they're in the muck with the rest of humanity. Otherwise they'd ask the question of all.

Update: I'll get back to you Skipper but for starters I've never asked about your past 25 years, nor do I have a clue what it speaks of when you say it speaks for itself. You tell me. This is what I mean by passing the buck. I've worked with O6s all over the world of all sorts. If you're claiming your experience as authority, don't leave it to the blogsphere to speculate.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Andrew Alexander: Why the silence from The Post on Black Panther Party story?

Wapo finally catches on to the story. Maybe if Eric Holder belonged to a Tea Party it would have happened sooner.

For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn't been covering the case. The calls increased recently after competitors such as the New York Times and the Associated Press wrote stories. Fox News and right-wing bloggers have been pumping the story. Liberal bloggers have countered, accusing them of trying to manufacture a scandal.

But The Post has been virtually silent.

The story has its origins on Election Day in 2008, when two members of the New Black Panther Party stood in front of a Philadelphia polling place. YouTube video of the men, now viewed nearly 1.5 million times, shows both wearing paramilitary clothing. One carried a nightstick.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Petition: Free Sakine Ashtiani, No Stoning, No Execution, No more, Nowhere

We demand:

* Dismissal of stoning or execution sentence of Sakine Mohamadi Ashtiani; her immediate and unconditional freedom
* Abolishment of stoning and execution worldwide as they are state murder
* The heads of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be arrested and
prosecuted for 31 years of stoning, execution, and torture.
* Immediate and unconditional freedom of all political prisoners in Iran

We call:

* Upon all freedom lovers of the world for their solidarity with the people of Iran in their efforts to overthrow the Islamic regime and to establish a free and equal society
Sign it here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Naghma new song - Norye Na wranawoo

Tea Party Candidate Cedra Crenshaw Fights Illinois Democrats to Get on Ballot in Will County

Blagojevich buddy Wilhelmi of all people, getting picky on legal details.

UU's and the Serene Center

Oh how so many UU's yearn for the Caldwell's serence center here. Via the Toronto Sun
Theo Caldwell: One person matters Dither on world issues if you must — but realize stoning a woman to death is wrong

Let’s call it tepid progress.

Last week, I wrote about Sakineh Ashtiani, a woman who has been imprisoned, beaten, and sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for the crime of “adultery.”

Recently, Iranian authorities announced they probably won’t stone Ashtiani after all. But she may yet be hanged and at least 15 other people await stoning deaths in that nation.

Mine is one of many voices calling for Ashtiani’s release, and I am encouraged her supporters include folks from various countries, cultures and backgrounds, spanning the political spectrum from right to left. I am fascinated, however, by those who insist on staying in the middle.

For example, I participated in a BBC radio program about Ashtiani and the brutality of the Iranian regime. Bafflegab was thick on the ground, and at one point the host mused that Iran’s death penalty for homosexuals is a moral judgment akin to the United States banning gay marriage.

Equating two obviously unequal situations is not clever or nuanced. It is idiotic and irresponsible. Similarly, asking the insipid modern question, “Who are we to decide?” only serves to evince moral vacuity but, if you must pose the query, let me help you with the answer.

You are a human being, born with the capacity to determine right from wrong. Further, if you are reading this column, chances are you have the magnificent good fortune to live in a part of the world that allows freedom of thought and expression.

If you grew up in western society during the last generation or so, you have likely been browbeaten into believing there is no absolute right and wrong and even if there were, you have no business deciding which is which, since your ancestors probably owned slaves or didn’t recycle.

There is evil in the world, uncomfortable as that is for people who yearn to reduce any situation to a contest of two extremes, placing themselves in the serene centre.

Certainly, there are issues where the line between right and wrong seems blurry, but bashing people’s brains out with rocks should not be one of them. If it is, though, on what other topics would you demur to pass judgment? Child slavery?

The logical extension of this approach is that folks become open-minded imbeciles, incapable of making a decision.

Or, people want to make a case like Ashtiani’s about something else.

Let’s suppose, for example, you strongly disagree with the State of Israel and consider their treatment of Palestinians to be criminal. That does not mean everything happening in the world, or even the Middle East, pertains to that issue.

Ashtiani’s predicament has nothing to do with Jerusalem settlements, and even if a peaceful two-state solution were achieved in Gaza and the West Bank today, she could still be killed tomorrow.

One person matters. It is easier to love mankind than to love your neighbour, as author Eric Hoffer opined, but if you remember that each person is the most important in the world to someone, it becomes less difficult.

As you read this, Ashtiani is sitting in a cell, not knowing if she is about to die. You have the privilege to be as philosophical as you like, but if you care about what’s right, this woman’s fate really ought to be enough.

— Caldwell is author

of Finn the half-Great

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Al-Hayat Editorial Board Director: Fatwas Banning Soccer Reflect Crisis in Islamic World

From MEMRI's translation of a recent Al-Hayat Editorial: Fatwas Banning Soccer Reflect Crisis in Islamic World
"...These fatwas, and the attempt to forcibly hijack the religion in Somalia and other places, prove that the Islamic world is in a crisis that does not end with a ban on soccer or with the extremism of a single group – but that the problem now is much more profound, because there are extremist minds that are trying, in the name of the religion, to destroy the minds of simple folk, 'superficial minds' that are incapable of waking up and thinking when presented with 'booby-trapped' fatwas based on prohibitions, accusation of apostasy, and murder. And the governments and the legitimate Islamic organizations remain silent."
Muslims aren't the only religous remaining silent either. Silence won't let us escape this hijack. Looking the other way no help.

United States at the UN: ....killed because she was a protester, not because she was a woman

via U.S. Mum During Iran Vote to U.N. Women's Commission HT Ann.
High off its success in keeping Iran from joining the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, the U.S. appears to have missed its chance to object to Iran's selection to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which was affirmed during a so-called U.N. vote this week.

No gesture of disapproval came during an acclamation vote affirming the Islamic nation's appointment to the 45-nation group.

A senior official with the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told that "there is no opportunity" to object. "That is not how the procedure works," the official said.

The official said that the United States was powerless to stop the selection because Iran faced no competition -- a scenario that Iran took advantage of in the 2005 election too.


Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Right and Oversight, blasted the silence of the U.S. to Iran's selection, saying it is the U.S official position "to be pleasant with gangsters."

"Iran is the best example. This is yet another example of that strategy. It's part of the theory of hug-a-Nazi-make-a-liberal. If you treat gangsters in a pleasant way and watch out for their sensitivity, they'll reform their ways," he told

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the U.S. should leverage its contributions to the U.N. "to help produce effective, transparent, and accountable U.N. programs which can help women and others around the globe."

"The U.N.'s apologists must have thought that since Iran withdrew, under pressure, from the Human Rights Council race, we would not notice this latest abomination. They were wrong," she said in a written statement.

"That an Iranian regime that shoots and stones women would be 'elected' to a U.N. body supposedly dedicated to women's rights adds a whole new disgusting twist to the ongoing saga of Iran exploiting the U.N," she said.

A high-ranking State Department official told that Iran's selection to the commission isn't as bad as it appears.

"We're not going to stand up and cheer," the official said. "By the same token, that is less onerous than the Human Rights Council because women in Iran, relative to other countries in the region, actually have greater rights."

"You don't have women placed in head-to-toe burkas in that country," the official said. "You have women elected to the legislature in the country."

The official acknowledged the death Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian woman who was killed during a post election anti-government protest.

"She was killed because she was a protester, not because she was a woman," the official said. "I'm not saying we can take Iran and compare them to the human rights record of any country in the developed world. But in that region, women in Iran have a greater opportunity for education, for business and to participate in politics."
Wonder what the UUs and the UN said? Not much I gather.

Hasan Nuhanovic: 15 years after the Srebrenica massacre, a survivor buries his family

I hitch hiked around Bosnia the summer of 1971. People would just take me in for the night. Very kind and friendly people. I was stunned Europe and the United States just sat back and watched this all unfold in 1995 and imagining those folks were now caught in this. From Nuhanovic,
I held the remains of my brother's jeans. Metal buttons. Part of the inside of the pockets. Everything that was made of cotton had fallen apart. Only the synthetic material was left.

There was another tag, just a little dirty, that survived among the fragments of cloth.

It said "Made in Portugal."

All day I saw that "Made in Portugal" before my eyes. And for my whole life, I think, I will see that. I'm going to hate everything that was "Made in Portugal," just like I hated the Heineken beer that the Dutch U.N. soldiers were guzzling in Potocari, on the base, less than an hour after they drove all the Muslims off -- right into the Serbs' hands. Or maybe I will love everything that has "Made in Portugal" on it, everything that will remind me, for the rest of my life, of my murdered brother.
Worse than watch really. Europe stood back and sort of helped.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When Axelrod saved Blagojevich

From Obama and Blago Blog. What's also ignored by MSM is this crew was the face of Illinois Progressive Politics for more than a decade. This was good, progressive, Liberalism in my State.
Barack Obama and his coterie of top aides now act as if they barely know Rod Blagojevich. What isn’t widely absorbed is that David Axelrod played a key role in Blagojevich’s rise in politics. He guided his election to the U.S. Congress in 1996 and, at a critical juncture, deflected a Chicago Tribune investigation that could have derailed his career years before the U.S. Attorney did.

The story included evidence that Blagojevich was a ghost payroller on the Chicago City Council payroll and that he was illegally moonlighting as a lawyer in cases opposing the city.

Before the Chicago Magazine explored this episode last year, a Tribune reporter not associated with the 1996 story told me that Axelrod worked furiously to tone it down. He may have succeeded, according to the Chicago Magazine account.

Axelrod was also a fierce protector of his client. He brought in his friend Carol Ronen, a progressive state representative and vocal gay-rights activist, to be campaign manager—a move intended to put a good-government face on Blagojevich, who was seen by many as simply a Machine hack. And when Axelrod got word that a team at the Tribune was working on an investigative series on Mell (and, by extension, his young protégé, Blagojevich), the ex-Trib reporter complained vociferously. He argued, as the former city editor Hanke Gratteau recalls today, that the paper was “conducting the equivalent of a proctology exam” on Blagojevich. When the Tribune finally ran its story—a probing but not particularly hard-hitting portrayal of Mell that extolled Blagojevich as the “perfect candidate” with “good looks a soap opera star would envy”—some inside the newsroom suspected that Axelrod’s aggressive pushback had killed a tougher version. Gratteau told Crain’s Chicago Business, “The only thing he killed at the Tribune was his good name and reputation.”
Despite its lack of impact, the story should have served as a red flag for Illinois voters when Blagojevich sought the Governor’s office. Sadly, it didn’t.
Maybe 'cause way too many of us in Illinois were a little mixed up about red flags with too many wacky ideas left from our youth.

Update: Via The Real Barack Obama,

Below: Axelrod “explains” why POTUS Obama made a recess appointment for Donald Berwick to head Medicare/Medicaid and bypassed the hearing process — completely. Guess why? Urgency — to avoid a political circus. He talks about General David Petraeus’ demotion from CENTCOM to Afghanistan to replace General Stanley McChrystal. Finally, watch Axelrod squirm dithers about Tom Balanoff, Valerie Jarrett, and the Rod Blagojevich trial.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

RFE: Tehran Bazaar Dispute May Herald New Regime Crackdown

H/T Iran News... Robert Tait writes,
If ever an institution typified the blend of social and religious conservatism wrapped up in Iran's Islamic Revolution, it is the Tehran bazaar -- home to an array of carpet sellers, textile traders, and food merchants instinctively suspicious of the alien values of Western commerce.

Yet now this sprawling "city within a city" -- which is also home to several mosques, in keeping with its close ties to the Islamic clergy -- is in open revolt against President Mahmud Ahmadinejad as he tries to impose swingeing tax rises to compensate for budget shortfalls.

This week, the bazaar -- situated on the southern tip of Tehran's vast city center -- forced the government to backtrack on a plan to increase income tax on traders by 70 percent after many vendors closed their doors, slowing trade to a crawl and prompting the authorities to dispatch security forces.

After gold and jewelry stores closed on July 6, traders throughout the bustling market followed suit. A hastily arranged meeting between merchants and Finance Ministry officials was followed by an announcement that measures to collect the new tax would be "suspended" until "necessary guidelines are issued." In the meantime, taxes would remain at their current levels of between 6 and 15 percent -- thus depriving the government of an estimated $20 billion it hoped to raise in revenues.
But following the ongoing rift with former establishment figures like Rafsanjani and Mir Hossein Musavi over Ahmadineajd's 2009 presidential election, alienating it has huge symbolic importance and will leave Ahmadinejad politically isolated, Assadi believes.

"It means that sociologically, the institutions you would expect to be supportive of the government of Ahmadinejad are against it," he said. "Sociologically there is a big change. Institutions that are supposed to be supportive of the Islamic republic of Iran, they are more and more against it."

While that may render the government politically weaker, it is also likely to make it more ruthless, Assadi added.

"The bazaar is symbolically very significant, so Ahmadinejad is highly isolated," he argued. "Unfortunately one of the outcomes of that isolation is that, to keep the government in power, the Pasdaran are going to increase repression and control over the society."
I hope the Administration is watching and doesn't bungle supporting a Green Revolution against an increasingly more ruthless and desperate regime. The alternatives to that revolution are dreadful.

Session 358 - Blagojevich home: A Progressive Dem's burden: Wives, Richie Daley, and Tony Rezko

Amazing tape Fran Eaton called out because of the Guv's bizarre speculation on Michelle hen pecking Obama over the Valerie Jarrett Senate appointment. Quite a chat from Illinois' foremost advocate for Women's issues.

I thought the sentence at line 8, page 4, on how appointing Rahm would be good for Obama's politics with Mayor Daley a stunner. Obama's just been elected President of the United States. Shouldn't the bunch be worried about their politics with the new President of the United States instead?

And then there's the burden of Rezko all over the last half of the transcript. As Anita Dunn says here, WTF...

This is Illinois Progressives at their best.

Listen while you read to get the full effect of it.

Friday, July 09, 2010

David Paul Kuhn: The Establishment's Chicken Little Consensus

I don't know if most UU's establishement, but I'm betting most of them follow the establishment Cassandras in Kuhn's column today. Feeling a Little Creepy posted here an excellent example.

No Mr Wooden, the Arizona Law is no way near America's version of the Nuremberg laws. We will not soon see signs like Latino's Raus everywhere, or don't buy from my favorite Tacaria 'cause its Mexican owned.

Kuhn concludes,

Through it all, Americans have proven resolutely positive about their own lives. And taken together, those personal views constitute an American view. At the bottom of this recession, in May 2009, Pew notably found that more Americans still saw themselves as "haves" than "have-nots."

Elites exaggerate American anxiety. They often turn cyclical trends into cataclysmic ends. Someday, the pessimists might be right. But, it's worth recalling, they've been wrong about America's decline so far.

Be resolute, reflect a bit on what we have, and one of our biggest "haves" a welcoming spirit found all over America. Tough times require resolute spirit and staying connected to historical reality.

Zainab Jalalian: Enmity against God

Lawyer Fears Kurdish Prisoner Faces Imminent Execution In Iran

July 01, 2010
A prominent Iranian lawyer says he fears a female Kurdish activist imprisoned in Tehran is in danger of imminent execution, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Lawyer Khalil Bahramian told Radio Farda on June 30 that he wants to represent Zeinab Jalalian, but Iranian officials will not let him.

Jalalian was sentenced to death in 2009 for "enmity against God" because of her alleged ties to a Kurdish nationalist group, the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK). Her trial lasted only a few minutes and she was not allowed to have a lawyer represent her.

"Only a few days ago I found out that Zeinab is detained in section 209 of Evin prison," Bahramian told Radio Farda. "[On Wednesday] I went to Evin prison but they didn't let me visit her or draw up power of attorney papers."

Bahramian had previously represented Farzad Kamangar, one of four Kurdish activists executed in Iran in May. Those death sentences, carried out without prior notice to the lawyers and families, drew international criticism.

Jalalian, 28, was arrested in 2008 in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah. She was first held in Sanandaj prison and then transferred without explanation to the notorious Evin prison.

Jalalian's death sentence has been confirmed by the Supreme Court and the case passed on to the Sentence Enforcement Bureau.

Faraz Sanei of Human Rights Watch told Radio Farda that it is unimaginable that a prisoner held for as long as Jalalian has not had access to a lawyer.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)has called on the judiciary to immediately halt plans to execute Jalalian. Like Bahramian, HRW said that Jalalian is at "great risk of imminent execution."

The HRW statement added that Jalalian is one of 17 Kurdish prisoners currently on death row.

ICAE Press Release: Keep the pressure on until we end stoning and save Sakine

via Abbas Goya's facebook

Keep the pressure on until we end stoning and save Sakine

Mina Ahadi’s rebuttal of the press release issued by the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in London on the stoning case

8 July 2010

With regards to the 8 July 2010 press release issued by the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in London on the stoning sentence of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani:

1. The Islamic Republic of Iran has retreated to some extent due to international pressure and widespread coverage received by the international campaign to save Sakine’s life. The main aim of the embassy’s press release, however, is to create doubt and detract from the campaign to save Sakine and others sentenced to death by stoning and execution.

2. Still the press release is a clear confirmation of the barbaric act of stoning saying only that the regime rarely carries out such sentences! The International Committee Against Executions and the International Committee Against Stoning has a list of 13 people languishing for years in prison awaiting death by stoning. The real numbers are much higher.

3. The embassy’s press release says Sakine will not be stoned but it does not say what fate awaits her. They may execute her instead. The regime has retreated from stoning on a number of occasions in the past but has executed the accused instead. The execution of Abdulla Farivar in Sari prison for the alleged crime of sex outside of marriage is a case in point. Therefore, Sakine’s life is still in danger.

4. The aim of the campaign to save Sakine Ashtiani Mohammadi is for an official rescinding of her stoning and execution sentence and her unconditional release. Sex outside of marriage and the sexual relations of adults is their private affair. It is not a crime and must never be prosecuted.

5. The Islamic Republic of Iran must officially rescind the stoning and execution sentences of Sakine and all those facing stoning and execution and end the inhuman and barbaric punishment of stoning and execution.

6. Even this limited retreat is a success for Sakine and her children Sajjad and Faride as well as all the activists of the campaign against executions and stoning and decent people everywhere. Our campaign has shown that we can force the regime to back down. The embassy’s press release will not stop us from intensifying our powerful campaign. The retreat, however limited, has shown that the regime is under pressure.

I congratulate all those who have joined and supported our campaign for this limited success. I ask however that you step up your efforts for Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani, Mohammad Reza Hadadi (juvenile offender awaiting imminent execution), Zeinab Jalilian (sentenced to death for ‘enmity against God’) and others awaiting execution and stoning. Our pressure is working. We must intensify it until we secure a victory for the people of Iran by saving the lives of Sakine and others. We mustn’t stop until we deprive the regime in Iran of this tool for suppression and murder.

International Committee against Stoning
International Committee against Execution

Mina Ahadi

8 July 2010

Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum: VIEW: Pakistan for the 21st century —Shahid Ilyas

Shahid Ilyas writing over at FaceBook on the Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum,
The Pakistan that belonged to the previous century, which sought legitimacy on the basis of Islam, in which dictators had a free ride, and in which the province of Punjab virtually meant Pakistan at the cost of the other component units, is no longer feasible

The world is changing fast. If resurrected, a man who died a hundred years ago will be shocked at how different the world looks from the one he had left behind. The economic, political, social and technological advances have been enormous. People are enjoying the fruits of unprecedented economic growth, technological innovations and democratic plurality. Gone are the days when feudal lords exploited the common man and dictators in centralised states violated people’s rights on one pretext or another. Ours is a world of a fast growing middle class that seeks economic and political rights. States can no longer sustain themselves by virtue of grand ideologies. They are left with a grave choice: either deliver on economic growth and political freedoms or vanish.

Pakistan is an example of this. The Pakistan that belonged to the previous century, which sought legitimacy on the basis of Islam, in which dictators had a free ride, and in which the province of Punjab virtually meant Pakistan at the cost of the other component units, is no longer feasible. It faces the proverbial choice between ‘to be or not to be’. Therefore, a process towards forging a new Pakistan for the 21st century is an urgent need of the day and it requires attention by both the leadership of Pakistan and the international community.
Read the whole thing, but note his call to the international cocmmunity.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Lindsey Lohan on cruel and inhuman punishment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtianif

Via MSNBC. Regardless of Lohan's motives, the Judge ought to knock 30 days off her time for at least being aware of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

The Iranian Embassy in London on Thursday denied reports by media and human rights groups that a convicted adulterer would face death by stoning for her crime.

The execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, who has already spent five years in prison and received 99 lashes for alleged adultery, would "disgust and appall the watching world," the British Government declared, according to a report Thursday in U.K. newspaper The Times.

Later Thursday, the Iranian Embassy took issue with those comments, releasing its own statement that "according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment." It was uncertain if Ashtiani would face death by another means.

"It is notable that this kind of punishment has rarely been implemented in Iran and various means and remedies must be probed and exhausted to finally come up with such a punishment," the statement said.

The Iranian government has been under growing international pressure to revisit the case of Ashtiani.

Celebrities signing up to campaign for Ashtiani's release include Sir David Hare, the playwright, actress Emma Thompson, actress Juliette Binoche, fashion designer Katherine Hamnett and actor Colin Firth, The Times said.

Even American jail-bound actress Lindsay Lohan got in on the act. On Twitter, she posted a series of messages about the "cruel and inhuman" punishment and linked to a Wednesday Newsweek story about Ashtiani.

A Progressive's F-Bombs

Via Feds: Jackson Jr. at meeting on Senate seat/fund-raising trade
In one recording, Blagojevich is heard criticizing Jackson as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had called the then-governor to lobby against a Jackson appointment:

"If I'm so f------ repugnant to them, take Jesse Jackson Jr. F--- them. ... Why the f--- should I send f------ Lisa Madigan who gets zero support among African Americans, piss off my base. ... And I don't get anything? F--- you, Harry Reid."
For reasons I can't quite fathom, many Chicago Progressives speak just like the Guv here...all the time, at least when they don't think they're being recorded. It's startling when you have feet in both camps. You quickly notice it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The combination of State and Islam, a carnal idea: Seyed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi- June 2010

The greetings of the tormented captive in Evin prison to the Creator who created nothing, but beauty, grace and kindness.

Greetings to the messengers who have no mission, but broadcasting love, kindness and friendship.

With respect for dear Iran that is suffering under the most severe forms of discriminations, oppressions and criminality. Iran’s current history registers all disgraces and scandals inflicted upon the holy presence of God by barbaric religious authorities.

Indeed, monotheistic religions are free from the possession, control, and distortions of worldly irreligious men. You will never witness any pressures, threats and physical and psychological tortures committed by leaders of these religions. Under these religions, even the sentence of eternal hell is transformed into heaven by the grace and intercession of God. We see the kindness and tenderness of our Lord in the stories of the prophets as He caresses His people in His great and kind embrace.

When religion and politics are combined, opportunities for deceit, ruse and, crime will appear. The Lord of purity, goodness and happiness will change to the ghoul of torture, torment and violence. This principle is in accordance with this verse of holy Quran which says: (“و یخرجون الناس من دین الله افواجا” means the people leave Allah’s religion in crowds) will become certain. I wish I were dead and I had never seen such these deplorable and lamentable days.

The religion whose Prophet maintained friendship and honesty with the followers of other religions, as he went to visit his Jewish neighbor who was sick! The Prophet who forgave the murderer of His uncle who was His supporter and the leader of his army. At the time of the capture of Mecca, His slogan was “today is the day of mercy”. While the residents of Mecca had repeatedly killed many of His family and followers in war, He treated them in a friendly and kindly way. In His mercy, He even turned the house of the leader of the pagan community of the Hejaz into an embassy building. He also gave Abu-Sofyan (the pagan leader) the freedom and independence to continue his plots and sabotage against the Muslims!

The religion whose Leader asked people at pulpit to forgive Him and punish Him if he had oppressed anyone inadvertently! Now how do we accept that this Islam has become an executioner which torments its followers severely and strangles the whole society by horrifically punishing everyone who protests against even the lowest level of governmental agents even the low grade one, will be punished horribly?!!

I have asked the leaders and the theoreticians of state-controlled religion to present their arguments in a live debate on TV and let me present my clear arguments and decisive reasons too. This debate would allow the world to judge better the validity of the concept of state-controlled religion. Our merciful God would be cleared of this accusation that is result of the actions of this regime during thirty one years.

Yes, mixing governance and Islam has always been a carnal idea. This worldly approach to Islam has always led to numerous forms of sin and degenerations. As we see in the history of Bani-Umaya and Bani-Abbas, huge group of Muslims left Islam and became heretics or joined other religions. Today if the pressures and suppression of religious despotism were removed from this country, you will see that the result of combining religion and politics has been nothing, but depriving all the people of monotheism and spirituality.

Seyed Hosein Kazemeini Boroujerdi


Monday, July 05, 2010

Object stoning sentence of Sakine Ashtiani اعتراض به حكم سنگسار

A welcome to all of my Farsi readers today. Abbas Goya's message here,

ميدونم كه بسياري از شما امكان شركت در آكسيون هاي امروز را نداريد۔ اجازه بديد كه حضورمان را رر فيس بوك افزايش دهيم۔

شما را تشويق ميكنم كه عكس پروفايل فيس بوك خود را با عكس سكينه آشتياني براي امروز يا هر مدت كوتاهتري كه ميخواهيد عوض كنيد۔ كافيست كه عكس گروه را با عكس پروفايل خود عوض كييد۔ در ضمن دوستان خود را به گروه
دعوت كنيد۔ ما بايد بيشتر از اين مورد ديد عموم قرار بگيريم
در ضمن براي آخرين اخبار در مورد آكسيونها به صفحه "رويداد" اين گروه مراجعه كنيد

BTW- Please invite your friends to the group.!/group.php?gid=55479797684 We need to be heard and seen more widely

For the latest update on protest actions visit the Event page of the group.


Maryam Namazie: What isn't wrong with Sharia law?

From Namazie's editorial in today's The Guardian.
The demand for the abolition of sharia courts in Britain, as elsewhere, is not an attack on people's right to religion; it is a defence of human rights, especially since the imposition of sharia courts is a demand of Islamism to restrict citizens' rights.

Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not for beliefs and parallel legal systems. To safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no religious courts.
Our USAmerican traditions are to be a little more deferential to Religious Customs although we UU's came down hard on polygamy and the Mormons in the 1800s.

Reconciling any Faith's Sharia with a Life of Faith in a modern world seems once a Unitarian, Univeralists, and Liberal Christians goal. Seems we've forsaken that though for fear of coming-down-hard perhaps.

El Jardin Mexian Cafe after the Cubs Game, May 2010

El Jardin Mexican Cafe, Chicago, Illinois

Danny's Deli, Melrose Park, Illinois: Italian Fried Steak Sandwich


Why another Obama blog?

The first post from a pair of guys who know Illinois and Chicago: Dan Curry and John Pearman.

Because, charitably, there’s a force field around Barack Obama that seemingly prevents the mainstream press from exploring in any depth the relationship between Rod Blagojevich/Illinois corruption and Obama. As steller Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass once put it, “it’s no secret that some in journalism get offended when anyone dares mention that the president was involved in Chicago politics.”

When a narrative emerges that harms Obama, the local and national press go into energetic defense mode, explaining in great detail why the meme is not valid. That same energy dissipates when legitimate avenues of inquiry are raised. Bill Ayers, anyone? I talked to many a Chicago reporter who yawned when John McCain raised that association as a campaign issue.

That point was dramatically illustrated two years ago when a conservative researcher pointed out that Obama had once chaired a board that gave away $115 million in education grants, a position that amounted to Obama’s only executive experience. Despite millions of words about Obama’s past, not one Chicago or national media outlet reported the chairmanship, which lasted nearly five years.

So we do not trust the mainstream press to relay the full story as the Blagojevich corruption trial unravels ingloriously at 219 S. Dearborn St. during the next several months. Consider our offering as a supplement to what you’ll find here and here. Our qualifications to add something meaningful are here. I hope you find our analysis helpful. And if you have an angle we are neglecting, please contact us here.

Norman Thomas: Why I am a Socialist

Chicago's Democratic Socialist of America posts the classic. Timely since many UUs and others tossing the word about losely. It's worth a glance back on a classic.

Chicago's Lutheran Churches

Wonderful website to find the histories of Chicago's many Lutheran Churches. We UUs have a good database of U and U leaders, preachers, and personalities, but nothing I know of that collects together our Churches.

Frog Legs

Phil Smidt's was a south sider's spot for Chicken, Perch, and Frog Legs. I loved it as a kid when my Grandparents took me because I could watch the Pennsylvania Rail Road pass by out the window.

Frog Leg's Phil Smidt's style via the Chow Hound.

Phil Smidt & Son frog's legs and tartar sauce
Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 5 minutes Makes: 8 servings

From 1910 until it closed in 2007, Phil Smidt & Son of Hammond, Ind., was the place Chicagoans went for frog's legs and parsleyed tartar sauce. At its heyday, Smidt's served 2,000-plus pounds (35,000 pairs) of the legs and 12 gallons of tartar sauce a month. A little history: Original owner Smidt bowed out of the business in 1976 and bequeathed the restaurant to Calumet College. For four years, Mike Probst managed Smidt's for Calumet. Probst then bought the restaurant in 1980 and operated it through 2000. With Phil Smidt's closing, the name and rights to the restaurant went back to Probst who is talking to potential buyers about relaunching the concept in the Chicago area. To satiate many readers' frog's-leg cravings in the interim, Probst agreed to share Phil Smidt's original recipe. Order frog's legs from your local fish store.

Tartar sauce:
1 small bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup sweet dill pickles
1/2 onion
2 cups mayonnaise

Frog's legs:
Butter-flavored cooking oil, for frying
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons potato flour, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
2 pounds frog's legs, the smaller the better

Combine parsley, sweet pickles and onion in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a piece of cheesecloth; wrap. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine parsley mixture and mayonnaise in a bowl; mix well.

Pour 1 inch of oil into a cast iron skillet; heat to 375 degrees over high heat. Mix flours and seasoned salt in a shallow dish. Place frog's legs in flour mixture; coat thoroughly, shaking off any excess. Fry in hot oil, turning once, until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with tartar sauce.

Nutrition information
Per serving: 496 calories, 69% of calories from fat, 37 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 10 g carbohydrates, 28 g protein, 571 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Nacy Pelosi on the Word

Deconstruct this...
May 6 Catholic Community Conference on Capitol Hill, the speaker said: “They ask me all the time, ‘What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that? What is your favorite that?’ And one time, ‘What is your favorite word?’ And I said, ‘My favorite word? That is really easy. My favorite word is the Word, is the Word. And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the biblical reference, you know the Gospel reference of the Word.”

“And that Word,” Pelosi said, “is, we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word. The Word. Isn’t it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers everything. The Word.

“Fill it in with anything you want. But, of course, we know it means: ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ And that’s the great mystery of our faith. He will come again. He will come again. So, we have to make sure we’re prepared to answer in this life, or otherwise, as to how we have measured up.”

Read more at the Washington Examiner:
I'll stick with Secular Humanism and an occasional bow to Athena thank you.

Afghanistan: Reconstruction work without Security

To UU Peace Makers advocating Military withdrawal couple with Civilian Reconstruction. You first, I say. If UUs and others want the Military out, then everyone should come out. Not to know Military withdrawal means total withdrawal is foolish. Note the Afghan security guys slugged it out for five hours. Via RealClearWorld.
Taliban suicide attackers stormed a four-story house used by an American aid organization in north Afghanistan on Friday, killing four people before dying in a fierce, five-hour gun battle with Afghan security forces.

The pre-dawn attack appeared part of a militant campaign against international development organizations at a time when the U.S. and its allies are trying to accelerate civilian aid efforts to turn back the Taliban.


Attacks on U.S. contractors, construction companies and aid organizations have been rising just as the United States pushes faster development of one of the world's poorest countries — a priority in its strategy to counter the insurgency. Many of the recent attacks have occurred in Kandahar province in the south where Afghan and NATO forces are ramping up security to wrest control of the area from insurgents and criminals.

In April in Kandahar, a suicide bombing on a fortified guesthouse shared by Western contracting companies killed four Afghans and injured several Americans; a gunman killed an 18-year-old woman working for DAI as she left her job; and the vice mayor of the city was shot and killed as he prayed at a mosque.

Also in April, five Afghan workers for the U.N. Office of Project Services were taken hostage in Baghlan province, west of Kabul, but were later freed unharmed.

Earlier this week, the Afghan driver of a U.N. vehicle was shot and killed in midday traffic in central Kabul, and militants rocketed a base for South Korean construction workers in Parwan province, north of the capital, but caused no casualties

Iran's radar sale to Syria

Bill Roggio on the gathering storm: Iran sells advanced radar system to Syria
Iran: The radar transfer benefits Tehran in a number of ways. First, it provides Iran with a forward operating radar system on Israel's border, effectively preventing an IDF sneak attack against Iran's nuclear program. Second, it diverts American and European attention away from Iranian nuclear ambitions by creating a more immediate security concern between Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Finally, it strengthens Iran's ability to launch yet another sophisticated proxy war against Israel via Hezbollah and Hamas. Since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, Israeli intelligence officials believe that Hezbollah's rocket and missile cache has grown to over 40,000. Any hint of a preemptive attack on Iran by Israel or the US is sure to light a dangerous fuse in the Levant.

Read more:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Assumption of Command General David H. Petraeus Commander, ISAF/US Forces-Afghanistan 4 July 2010

Via Michael Yon,
Salaam Aleikum.

Good morning to you all. Ministers Wardak, Khan, Spanta, other Ministers, Ambassadors, General Ramms, General Karimi, and our other Afghan Partners, distinguished guests, members of the International Security Assistance Force and US Forces-Afghanistan, thank you all for being with us.And General Ramms, thank you for presiding at today’s ceremony and for your great support of this mission throughout your tenure over the past several years as Commander of NATO’s Joint Forces Command-Brunssum. And special thanks to the great 101st Airborne Division and Afghan bands and the superb color guard here this morning.

Up front, I also want to recognize the enormous contributions of my predecessor, General Stan McChrystal. We have all worked hard together over the past year-and-a-half to get the inputs right in Afghanistan – to build the organizations needed to carry out a comprehensive, civil-military counterinsurgency campaign; to get the best individuals possible in charge of those organizations; to ensure that we have our plans and concepts right; and to garner and deploy the forces and other resources needed to implement those plans and concepts. No one did more in helping to get the inputs right than General McChrystal. And the progress made in recent months, in the face of a determined enemy, is in many respects the result of the vision, energy, and leadership he provided during his time as COMISAF.

This morning, as I look at the representatives of the organizations engaged here in Afghanistan, I feel privileged to be joining this critical effort at such a pivotal time. As each of you knows well, we are engaged in a tough fight. After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment. We must demonstrate to the Afghan people, and to the world, that Al Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which they can launch attacks on the Afghan people and on freedom-loving nations around the world. And with the surge in ISAF forces and the growth of our Afghan partners, we have a new opportunity to do just that.

We are engaged in a contest of wills. Our enemies are doing all that they can to undermine the confidence of the Afghan people. In so doing, they are killing and maiming innocent Afghan civilians on a daily basis. No tactic is beneath the insurgents; indeed, they use unwitting children to carry out attacks, they repeatedly kill innocent civilians, and they frequently seek to create situations that will result in injury to Afghan citizens.

In answer, we must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and ISAF forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people, and that we are in this to win. That is our clear objective.

As President Obama and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen have noted, my assumption of command represents a change in personnel, not a change in policy or strategy. To be sure, I will, as any new commander should, together with ISAF, Afghan, and diplomatic partners, examine our civil-military effort to determine where refinements might be needed. But our military objectives will remain the same. Together with our Afghan partners, we must secure and serve the people of Afghanistan. We must help Afghan leaders develop their security forces and governance capacity so that they can, over time, take on the tasks of securing their country and see to the needs of their people. And, in performing these tasks, we clearly must pursue the insurgents relentlessly.

To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilians of ISAF and USFOR-A: I pledge to do all that I can to provide the best leadership, direction, and example that I can muster. Your accomplishments this year have been impressive. You have helped achieve progress in several important areas. Predictably, as we have sought to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and take away insurgent safe havens, the enemy has fought back. Recent months in Afghanistan have seen hard fighting and tough casualties.

As we press on in our vital mission, we must continue our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilians to an absolute minimum. But as those on the ground strive to achieve that intent, we will not hesitate to bring all assets to bear to protect you and the Afghan forces with which you are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, SHONA-BA-SHONA.

Beyond that, I want to thank each of you – and each of your families – for the sacrifices you are making as you serve in this critical endeavor. Thanks, as well, for the skill, courage, determination, and sheer force of will that you have demonstrated – and on which we will rely heavily in the months to come.

To our diplomatic and international civilian partners here today: We are all – civilian and military, Afghan and international – part of one team with one mission. Indeed, we all recognize the grave threat that the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the associated “syndicate” of extremists pose to this country, to this region, and to the world. We cannot accomplish our mission without working together. Each of your organizations brings tremendous commitment and unique skills and attributes to the team of teams at work in Afghanistan – and I look forward to what our organizations will accomplish together as we reinforce a culture here that recognizes that cooperation is not optional.

To our Afghan partners: We will do all that we can to help you build a country free of the fear of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a country in which all citizens can live in peace with one another and provide for themselves and their families. I salute each of you for your courage and for your dedication to Afghanistan and to the Afghan people. I told President Karzai yesterday that I applaud his commitment to inclusivity, transparency, integrity, and accountability. I look forward to working with each of you in making his watchwords reality as we work together to achieve our common goals. Nothing has been easy in Afghanistan; however, we can all take heart from the progress that has been made on the security front and beyond. Indeed, seven million Afghan children are now in school, as opposed to less than one million a decade ago. Immunization rates for children are now in the 70 to 90 percent range nationwide. Cell phones are ubiquitous in a country that had virtually none during the Taliban days, though the Taliban seeks to deny their use. Kabul is a bustling, busy city, as are Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Jalalabad. Roads and bridges and other infrastructure have been built. And the future holds even greater promise, if we can resist those who want to turn the clocks back in Afghanistan rather allow the march of progress to continue.

To the many Afghan partners in uniform who have joined us this morning: Thanks for your tremendous courage and commitment. You and your comrades have made great strides, and you should be proud of what you have accomplished. Indeed, Afghan forces are now in the lead in Kabul and in a number of other areas. In such cases, Afghan units are the “supported” forces, operating with assistance from ISAF to be sure, but already shouldering the responsibilities of leadership. ISAF forces will continue to partner with you as your ranks grow and as you take on increasing responsibility for securing the Afghan people. It is a privilege to serve with you.

Finally, to the people of Afghanistan: it is a great honor to be in your country and to lead ISAF. I want to emphasize what a number of our country’s leaders recently affirmed – that our commitment to Afghanistan is an enduring one and that we are committed to a sustained effort to help the people of this country over the long-term. Neither you nor the insurgents nor our partners in the region should doubt that. Certainly the character of our commitment will change over time. Indeed, Afghans and the citizens of ISAF countries look forward to the day when conditions will permit the transition of further tasks to Afghan forces. In the meantime, all of us at ISAF pledge our full commitment to help you protect your nation from militants who allowed Al Qaeda sanctuary when they ruled the country. Moreover, we see it as our solemn duty to protect the innocent people of Afghanistan from all violence, whether intended by the enemy or unintended by those of us pursuing that enemy. And we stand with you as we all work to defeat the enemies of the new Afghanistan and to help create a better future for you and your families.

Working together, we can prevail in this endeavor.

It is an honor to serve with each of you and those you represent. Thank you for your commitment to Afghanistan and your courage in meeting the challenges we face.

Manana, tashakor, thank you very much.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Emil Jones under the Bus

Via The Telegraph's Barack Obama's 'politics as usual' revealed by Rod Blagojevich trial

I always thought Jones was the the Guv's first choice to replace Obama. Picture is of Jones with Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi.
It has also become clear from the trial that Obama wanted to make sure that Emil Jones, then President of the Illinois State Senate and the man Obama referred to as his "political godfather", out of the seat.

The former sewer inspector had taken Obama under his wing when he was a callow state senator but he had apparently now outlived his usefulness. Perhaps Obama did not want such a reminder of his past in Washington.
That kind of ingratitude to a mentor not very Chicago in my book. At least the Chicago I know. Even scoundrels show some loyalty.

Pakistan: The crisis of Punjab

From The Guardian's Editorial,
The attack on the Data Ganj Baksh shrine in central Lahore was the second assault against a religious group in just over a month, after the Ahmadi sect was targeted in late May, when 94 people were killed. Popular reaction yesterday blamed America for stirring up the jihadis with drone attacks in the tribal belt. But suicide attacks against Sufis have more to do with the sheer intolerance which the Wahhabi and Deobandi sects have for expressions of Islam they consider heretical. These puritans have found willing agents in the emergence of so-called "Punjabi Taliban" who co-ordinate their attacks with their counterparts in Waziristan and are formed from the same groups that Pakistan's army cultivated in the 1990s to attack Indian troops in Kashmir. Thursday night's attack was the second on Sufis, and will enrage ordinary Pakistanis, the majority of whom identify with that tradition of Islam.

No one in Pakistan, let alone Nawaz Sharif, who hopes one day to return to national power, can tolerate a policy of accommodating jihadis, or keep them as backroom allies in the mistaken belief that this is the best way of containing them. After the last two attacks, his brother Shahbaz cannot claim to have the situation under control in the Punjab. It is not and it needs a concerted police and intelligence operation (the army, too, needs to get off the fence) against all jihadis to settle the point of who runs the country's most populous province.

Friday, July 02, 2010

41 killed in triple suicide attack at Sufi shrine in Lahore

via must-read Bill Roggio,

Suicide bombers have again struck a religious site in the capital of Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab.

Today three suicide bombers detonated vests at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in Lahore, killing 41 people and wounding more than 170. Of those wounded, 24 are said to be in critical condition.

The three bombers entered the compound undetected and detonated their vests at the Sufi shrine just minutes apart. The suicide vests were packed with ball bearings to maximize casualties. One of the suicide bombers threw hand grenades at worshipers before detonating his vest. The attack took place on a Thursday, when the number of visitors at the shrine is highest.

Today's attack is the first major terrorist strike outside of Pakistani's tribal areas since the May 28 armed assaults on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore. On that day, two squads of heavily armed Taliban fighters from the so-called Punjabi Taliban entered the two mosques in the provincial capital of Punjab during Friday prayers and opened fire and hurled grenades at worshipers of the Ahmadi sect of Islam. The Ahmadis are banned from calling themselves Muslims by the Pakistani government, and the group is widely discriminated against in the country.

Sufi's... Ahmadis... Islam's versions of we UUs, but nary a word of solidarity for them or the comrades of the Awami National Party.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Obama On Unemployment At 9.6%: At Least It's Not "12 or 13 or 15" Percent

The old stumbling bumbling Obama from Springfield...yeah it's not "12 or 13 or 15" Percent but Alderman Beals says its 40% in his ward. What a gd mess with no end in sight.

PS Odd thing's Obama said this in Racine where the unemployment rate is 14%. The highest rate in Wisconsin.