Half Full
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

  WOW the Palestinian are wising up
GAZA (Reuters) - A group of 70 Palestinian intellectuals and officials urged restraint on Thursday over Israel's killing of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, calling for peaceful protests instead of bloody revenge.

In a newspaper advert, the group that included three ministers from Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, urged people to "restrain their anger and rise again in a peaceful large-scale uprising."

Signatories of Thursday's appeal for restraint said Palestinians would do better to adopt peaceful means.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
  Review of the Arab press
AMMAN, Jordan, March 24 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for March 24

Arab newspapers papers, for the second consecutive day, Wednesday focused their commentaries and analyses on Israel's assassination of Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Qatar's pro-government al-Watan daily said that Yassin's assassination was expected, and that it was just a matter of time before he was killed. The gulf paper said that by assassinating Yassin, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wanted to turn the next Arab summit to be held in Tunisia later this month into a "gathering to contain the rage of the Arab masses." The paper said Sharon wanted "to fire the mercy bullet at all plans to restore the peace process." It guessed that the Israeli leader also wanted to show the world that Israel's expected unilateral withdrawal from Gaza "comes from a position of power, not weakness, and that the scandal of pulling out of South Lebanon will not be repeated." The paper opined that "deep down," Sharon and his government were hoping that Hamas would respond to Yassin's assassination "outside the sphere of the Palestinian territories and Israel, to reach Israeli targets abroad." It said that in this way, the "Palestinian resistance will be labeled as terrorism and remove the characteristic of its national struggle, and the resistance will resemble those who carried out the Madrid explosions." The paper also predicted that Sharon's plan included confining a Palestinian state within the Gaza Strip and would stop the possibility of statehood in the West Bank by killing or expelling Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, "in order to dispel the Palestinian Authority and terminate it as a political entity."

A commentary in the London-based al-Hayat urged Hamas against "the temptation" of striking Israeli targets "outside the arena of confrontation," or abroad, when responding to its leader's assassination. The Saudi-owned daily called on Hamas to "invest" in the Arab and international sympathy it received over Yassin's assassination by avoiding retaliatory attacks outside the Palestinian territories. It said the group was expected to retaliate in a way "that will end Sharon's pride and to remind the Israelis of the price of living under his policies." The paper also called on the Islamic militant group to use its widespread grassroots popularity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to "consolidate national unity and to be more flexible with the Palestinian Authority." The daily insisted that it was Hamas' "duty to respond to Sheikh Yassin's assassination with more than a military reaction, with a political response, in order avoid falling into a serious trap," should it take its confrontation with Israel outside the territories.

The United Arab Emirates' al-Bayan daily blasted Arab and international denunciations of Yassin's assassination without punishing Sharon's government, which it described as "murderers and butchers who rule the Zionist terrorist entity." The pro-government daily said in its editorial that the international community should not allow "Sharon's crime" to pass without punishment, and urged for his trial as a war criminal. The paper said that while the Arab group in the United Nations was seeking a Security Council resolution against Israel, it did not believe that the international body would issue a resolution that would impose a punishment on Israel. It said the "least that the Security Council can do now is adopt a resolution condemning the Jewish state, especially that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan frankly denounced the crime." The paper added that it appeared as though "even a condemnation is not included in a resolution," noting that some of the Security Council members were seeking to exchange the word "condemnation" with "strong opposition" to avoid an American veto. The daily said that if a resolution appeared in this form, "then it is better for the U.N. to close its doors, or just be satisfied with turning into an international organization that only addresses humanitarian issues."

Meanwhile, the London-based al-Hayat quoted former European Union peace envoy to the Middle East, Miguel Angel Moratinos, as saying that Yassin's assassination was a "flagrant political and strategic mistake." Moratinos, who is expected to become Spain's new foreign minister this week, called on Israel to end its targeted assassinations, saying they "lead to vengeance and frustration in the Palestinian street, and therefore, to a great catastrophe whose repercussions cannot be predicted." On Spain's participation in the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, Moratinos said the presence of Spanish troops there was a "result of an illegitimate war." He said the foreign forces in Iraq were not there to "fight terrorism, as the outgoing Spanish Prime Minister (Jose Maria Aznar) and President (George) Bush tried to make us believe."

A brief news item in Kuwait's pro-government al-Qabas daily said the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority forces in Iraq decided to ban Libyans, Syrians, Iranians, Afghans and Kenyans from entering Iraq as employees of American firms with contracts in the country. The paper quoted unnamed sources in Baghdad as saying, however, that these nationals would be allowed to enter the country on an individual basis. They said the decision was taken for "security reasons."

Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International - republished without permission

What I find most interesting is the rejection of Al Queda style bombings. Despite the U.S. Media's insistence that everyone love Al Queda since we invaded Iraq. I also like the fact that they are asking for political responses not just more bombings. I think they realize that they are on the losing side of terrorism.

  Oregon county bans all marriage

It looks like someone has finally realized the ultimate conclusion to the marriage debate.
The three County commissioners had originally decided to start handing out gay marriage licenses this week but on Monday reversed that decision amid a growing firestorm of lawsuits across the country, and decided instead to put a temporary halt to all marriages.

Rebekah Kassell, a spokeswoman for Basic Rights Oregon, a pro-gay marriage group, told Reuters; "It is certainly a different way for county commissioners to respect their constitutional obligation to apply the law equally to everyone.

  Sad Story of Dick Clarke:

He truly believed that if he continued Clinton level action against Al Queda in the Bush Administration he could have prevented 9/11 despite the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were in America before Bush took office. I see a haunted man, decades of fighting terrorism and to see it end with 3000 Americans dying in one day. He needs to put the blame somewhere else. So he can sleep at night. It is very sad. 
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
  Life in occupied Iraq
"A lot of French journalists are shit," Wady, the sculptor, observed one afternoon as we shared a narghile filled with apple-flavored tobacco. "They come here and talk against the U.S. in a stupid way. They don’t care about the crimes of Saddam Hussein." And it’s not only the French, noted Esam Pasha, a painter and translator for the U.S. military: "European and Arab journalists talk to us, but they don’t care about our happiness in being liberated. They only want us to make anti-American comments." Even a cabbie who took me to the Shabander one afternoon weighed in. "Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia TV, no good," he said. "They only show pictures of bombings and killings of Americans -- always how things are bad in Iraq, never how they are getting better."

Worse, I heard many stories at the Shabander about foreign correspondents staging news events to discredit the U.S. One young man introduced me to a Spanish photographer who, he later reported, had just finished posing an Iraqi woman in a nearby pile of rubble looking plaintively toward heaven, as if seeking deliverance from U.S. bombs. Rasim, the painter, claimed he witnessed Arab TV journalists pay idle Iraqis to light a car on fire and throw rocks to create an "anti-American" demonstration. "These journalists come here with their minds already made up," he groused. "They’re not interested in anything that contradicts their anti-American viewpoint."


As Saddam’s role model Josef Stalin once noted, "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions a statistic." For that reason I hesitate now to recite the horrendous acts of Saddam: the hundreds of thousands killed in his wars; the thousands buried, sometimes alive, in mass graves; the barbaric tortures involving acid baths and wood chippers, electricity, power tools, and ravenous dogs. For what do they mean? Amnesty International reports how Ba’athist guards sliced chunks of flesh from the bodies of women prisoners and then force-fed them to the captives. Abady told me of seeing buildings in northern Iraq filled with captive Kurdish women: A man could go to these buildings, fill out a form, and take a woman away for his own pleasure. The mind resists contemplating such deeds -- and this resistance is the first step to denial, and then forgetfulness.


Exacerbating the pain of many Iraqis is a keen awareness of the world’s record of apathy toward their plight. "Where were the U.N. and our ‘fellow Arabs’ when we were suffering?" Hasan asked. "Where were the peace activists and leftists? How can they all accept the crimes of a dictator for so many years, then rise up in protest when a war begins to remove that dictator?
  Another Week Another tell all book
An angry - and dangerous - man takes aim at Bush

Comment by Marian Wilkinson in Washington
March 24, 2004

Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism czar, is a very dangerous enemy for George Bush.

Not only is he a first-hand witness to the events that took place in the West Wing on September 11, 2001, but also to indecision and infighting leading up to the terrorist attacks and the bitter debates in their aftermath.

His charges against Bush and his national security team are devastating. He says Bush failed to act before September 11 on the threat from al-Qaeda, "despite repeated warnings".

After the attacks, Clarke says, the President launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that has strengthened the Islamic terrorist network worldwide.

Because of repeated attempts to tie al-Qaeda and Iraq together in the war on terrorism, Clarke says, many soldiers fighting and risking their lives in Iraq believe they are avenging the almost 3000 dead from September 11.

"What a horrible thing it was, to give such a false impression to our people and our troops." he fumes.

Clarke is a very angry man. His new book, Against All Enemies, is one of the most savage critiques by a senior official of any political administration in recent memory. And it has set off a new round of recriminations about what the President knew before the September 11 attacks.

Clarke is also a skilled political infighter. He released his account the week that the independent commission of inquiry on the September 11 attacks is about to hear public testimony from senior Bush Administration figures, including the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld; his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; the CIA director, George Tenet; and officials from former president Bill Clinton's administration. Clarke, who served Clinton and Bush, will be a star witness.

Clarke's gloves-off account has rocked the White House. Officials were scrambling to attack his motives and credibility on Monday. The National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, led the charge to discredit him by implying that he was in part responsible for al-Qaeda's success.

"He was counter-terrorism czar when the al-Qaeda was strengthening in the '90s," Rice told reporters. "And he was the counter-terrorism czar as the plot was being hatched that ended up in September 11."

Driving home her point, she added: "We were in office eight months. Dick Clarke had been here a good deal longer."

Clarke is no doubt haunted by the fact that the attacks took place on his watch. But he argues that he and Tenet repeatedly warned Bush's senior staff of their fears. He scathingly criticises Wolfowitz for believing conspiracy theories that the first World Trade Centre attacks were linked to Iraq and for being obsessed with Saddam Hussein.

Clarke is still furious that the war on terrorism switched its focus from al-Qaeda to Iraq.

"Nothing America could have done would have provided al-Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country," he says.

"It was as if Osama bin Laden, in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting, 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq'."

More on the man and possible motivations.


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