Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Sunday, August 31, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Interesting Fatwa


Question: "Should a Muslim obey the laws of a non-Muslim country while living there?"

Answer:

First of all, it is well known that as long as one lives in a certain country as a citizen or a legal resident, he or she certainly must abide by the laws of that country. This fact needs no proof, as by having citizenship, a residence permit or a visa, one agrees to abide by the laws of the country.

While abiding by the laws of the country of residence, a Muslim must try his best to comply with the rulings of Shari`ah whenever possible and be eager not to be liable to those laws that contradict the clear-cut Islamic rulings agreed upon by all Islamic juristic schools. However, when a non-Muslim law agrees with the ruling of at least one school, then there is no harm if a Muslim abides by such a law.

ntodd 
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Is This An Article About Kerry, Or Dean?


WaPo:

As the make-or-break fall campaign season commences for the Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. John F. Kerry -- once considered by many the front-runner for the nomination -- is struggling to catch fire in early voting states and adapt to the sudden and race-altering surge of rival Howard Dean.
...
The fall campaign begins with Dean as the dominant force in the race -- the clear front-runner in New Hampshire, battling Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) in Iowa and building the biggest and best-funded operations in other states holding early contests.

Dean, a former Vermont governor, is pulling way ahead in raising money, projecting he will rake in at least $10 million this quarter. Many Democrats think it will be closer to $15 million. Kerry and Gephardt, who along with Dean make up the top tier of the early campaign, will have a hard time raising half that much, their aides say.
...
Dean is also setting the tone and pace for what is shaping up as the most competitive Democratic primary in decades.
...
Dean's summer surge not only has put Kerry in serious trouble in New Hampshire, a state Kerry must win next year, but also has resulted in a fundraising bonanza that guarantees Dean will have as much or more money than any rival to help weather the inevitable attacks and setbacks he will encounter.

"Obviously, the path to the finish line is a lot easier with a New Hampshire win," Jordan said. The most recent poll shows Dean blowing by Kerry in New Hampshire with a 21-point lead.

"They underestimated the message of this campaign from the beginning," said Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager.

Even in an article about Kerry, Howie gets good press. That's some serious Mo...

ntodd 
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Absolutely The Most Important Update You'll Ever See


Grandma/Grandpa done brung my dog back home! I got the expected enthusiastic greeting yodel, complete with her ignoring her benefactors of the past week. But then Cairo decided that the aforementioned caretakers would take her back to the camp for more swimming and thus tried to leave home with them. Imagine her disappointment when she realized that she was stuck with Daddy in her landlocked domicile. It's so nice to be home and loved unconditionally...

ntodd 
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Psych Experiment



President Bush repeatedly presses a feed button in the hopes of getting a pretzel treat. Scientists observing his behavior are hidden behind a blind camouflaged as a US flag.

ntodd 
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Ayn Clouter Is Such A Turn On


Check out her latest outrage:

Let me throw a bone to the mealy-mouthed moderate mutts nipping at my well-turned ankles. They've accused me of violating Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment -- "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican". I have nothing but good words for one Republican who is the true unsung hero of the fight over the Ten Commandments monument in Alabama. That man is Tony Scalia. The Justice for Opus Dei, who didn't let the precedents of his own decisions stand in the way of his picking the President of the United States, has struck another mighty blow against liberals. Think of him like Charlton Heston: he has brought down for us a new Zeroth Commandment.

She's so much sexier than Ann Coulter. Rock on, Ayn.

ntodd 
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Buzz Kill


Ed Offley over at Soldiers For The Truth must be fun at parties:

Nearly two years after 9/11, the federal government's response to those attacks is still a prominent ongoing story, but the absence of any major new terrorist incidents within the United States has helped foster an illusion that the danger has passed.

Three seemingly unrelated events this month should dispel that illusion.

First, Canadian officials on Aug. 14 arrested 19 South Asian immigrants on suspicion of terrorism activity following a lengthy investigation. Canadian officials voiced concern over allegations that one of the arrested men had been enrolled in a flight school where training involved flying over the Pickering nuclear power plant in Ontario. Moreover, two other men in the group last year were once found loitering outside the nuclear power plant.
...
The second event occurred this week in Fredericksburg, Va., where three northern Virginia residents pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges following their arrest by the FBI. All three admitted that they had trained by the Muslim terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which operates in India-controlled Kashmir. Federal authorities had accused the trio of obtaining AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons and training in military tactics outside the central Virginia city.
...
The third event that prompted me to reflect on the forgotten war against terrorism - or, better phrased, the forgotten ongoing terrorist war here at home - occurred in Las Vegas, Nev., over the past two weeks. The U.S. Northern Command, preparing for its formal launch as the Pentagon's newest multi-service military command headquarters on Oct. 1, 2003, sent 500 members of the Joint Task Force - Civil Support to Nevada to train alongside another 4,500 federal, state and local emergency-response officials.

The scenario? The massive release by terrorists of bubonic plague spores on the Los Vegas strip.

So as you enjoy the quiet of the beach or mountains or some National Park, take time to hoist a brew in appreciation for those who are carrying on the grim, unyielding duty of deterring or responding to the continuing terrorist threat.

That's not peace you are enjoying this weekend - it's merely a lull.

Happy Freaking Labor Day.

ntodd 
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Four Out Of Five Dentists Agree: It's A Recovery


Reuters reports the good news:

Growing signs of strength in the U.S. economy have convinced analysts the long-awaited decisive recovery is at hand. And they really mean it this time.

Often burned but never shy, economic forecasters have ramped up predictions for growth for the rest of 2003 and into 2004, certain -- once again -- that America has turned the corner on the 2001 recession.

I hate that this news could give Bush a chance at re-election given his prosecution of his various wars, his dreadful enrivonmental policies and his abhorrent stances on social issues, but I'm honestly glad that we might have finally turned the corner in the economic arena. Far too many people have been hurt by this jobless recovery, and I want nothing more than for them to have fresh opportunities to succeed. I still reserve judgement on this, but I'm happy to think that "prosperity is just around the corner". Hope it's not more of the same foma.

ntodd 
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New Blog


BTW, Atrios' renowned guest bloggers, Leah, Lambert, Tresy and the Farmer, have gone out on their own. Check out what they're up to at corrente!

ntodd 
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Home Sweet Home


Made it back to the bucolic splendor of Vermont. It's a little lonely right now, though: Stef is staying in Minneapolis for an extra 9 days to help out with projects around there, and Cairo was dognapped by her grandparents/dogsitters, who have taken her up to the camp for some fun in the water. Just me and the grumpy cat. Even the damn blog is quiet this Labor Day weekend. Sigh.

ntodd 
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Conspiracy


Uh-oh, word is starting to leak out about the super secret project I'm a part of. I categorically deny everything.

ntodd 
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Shorter Gaza


From Financial Times:

Israel's defense minister on Sunday raised the specter of an Israeli invasion in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian militants already face a deadly air campaign.

Israeli military commentators say a ground offensive in the densely populated Gaza Strip, home to more than one million people under Palestinian control, would cause heavy Israeli and Palestinian casualties.

"We always have the option of a ground operation in Gaza," Shaul Mofaz said. "We will exercise it when we decide it is right to do so, at the appropriate time."

Israel has killed 13 Palestinians, including 10 militants, in helicopter missiles strikes since a Hamas suicide bomber killed 21 people on an Israeli bus in Jerusalem on August 19.

So much for the Iraq war bringing peace to the Middle East, eh?

ntodd 
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Shorter Shia


Uh-oh:

Beating their chests and calling for revenge, more than 300,000 Muslims began a two-day, 110-mile march Sunday to the holy city of Najaf to mourn a cherished Shiite leader assassinated in a car bombing.
...
[M]any Shiites blame the cleric's death on Saddam loyalists and the U.S.-led coalition, which they say has failed to provide adequate security in the country since the dictator's fall.

ntodd 
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On My Way Home


The house/cat/dog sitters will be getting relief soon. Right now I'm in Atrios' home city--I'm pretty sure I saw him over by the B Concourse.

ntodd 
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Saturday, August 30, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Yehaw!


DM just broke 5000 visitors today at 6:31PM Eastern, a mere 10 weeks into the adventure. Thanks all!

ntodd 
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Shorter Punk Fish


I thought punk was dead:

Scientists studying an unspoiled jungle river wilderness in Venezuela on Thursday announced the discovery of 10 new fish species, including...a variety of tentacled armored catfish, whose tangle of spiky protuberances on its mouth and forehead -- looking like a punk rocker's hairstyle -- has earned it the name of "punk" fish.

Guess I was wrong. Does that mean I'm no longer hip?

ntodd 
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Shorter Israeli Precision


Ha'aretz reports:

Israeli troops, meanwhile, killed an 8-year-old girl and wounded seven other Palestinians with submachine gun fire in the Gaza Strip's Khan Yunis refugee camp, witnesses and hospital officials said. They said the girl, Aya Fayad, was shot in the chest by soldiers firing at the camp from a nearby military base.

Great, more innocent kids being killed. Back in July I blogged about Israeli attacks on kids in Gaza. And for those of you keeping score at home, ICT has the casualty count for the current intifada through August 28. This is just insane.

ntodd 
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Shorter Economic Improvement


According to the Fed:

The Federal Reserve expects economic activity to strengthen later this year and in 2004, in part because of the accommodative stance of monetary policy and the broad-based improvement in financial conditions. In addition, fiscal policy is likely to be stimulative as the provisions of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 go into effect and as defense spending continues to ramp up. Severe budgetary pressures are causing state and local governments to cut spending and to increase taxes and fees, but these actions should offset only a portion of the impetus from the federal sector. Moreover, the continued favorable performance of productivity growth should lift household and business incomes and thereby encourage capital spending. Given the ongoing gains in productivity and the existing margin of resource slack, aggregate demand could grow at a solid pace for some time before generating upward pressure on inflation.

I guess I'll reserve judgement until I see the "prosperity is just around the corner" foma finally come true, but it is really nice to see that maybe things are on the upswing.

ntodd 
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Shorter Iraqi Resistance


From Power and Interest News Report:

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq is maintained, U.S. forces will become increasingly involved in political, religious, and ethnic conflicts not directly related to the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime or the fertilization of his ravaged country with the potential for an economically globalized and democratic society. Such conflicts -- which ostensibly present themselves to the United States as "security" issues -- are a natural result of a diverse and oppressed people suddenly emerging from the shadow of autocratic rule and into a new environment created by a foreign occupation of questionable intent and effect.
...
[N]ot only does the United States have to succeed in the traditional categories of a foreign occupation, but also in areas that have remained unsolved for centuries. This may prove to be the Achilles' heel of the U.S. occupation efforts: even if all of the military goals are met, the old and ideological issues surrounding much of Iraq's fragmentation must still be overcome if Iraq is going to become an independent state capable of carrying out the wishes of Washington without constant scrutiny.

Translation: it's as messy as we said it would be.

ntodd 
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Shorter Mystery Illness


From Soldiers For The Truth:

Sporadic reports of a severe respiratory illness attacking our soldiers in Iraq and surrounding countries have been trickling through peripheral media channels during the past several weeks.
...
According to published reports, more than 100 cases of pneumonia have been reported among our troops serving in the Iraqi theater of operations since March. That number by itself is not remarkable considering the number of troops deployed in the area.

What is remarkable is that seventeen soldiers were sick enough to require mechanical ventilation (a “breathing machine”) and two died. A representative of the Army Surgeon General’s office said that ten of the twelve serious cases occurred in Iraq, and others came from Kuwait, Qatar and even Uzbekistan. Two of the seriously ill soldiers were put on ventilators just within the past couple of weeks.
...
The Army dispatched two teams of investigators to look into the matter more than two weeks ago. Either these teams have so far failed to discover any significant information, or the details of whatever they have discovered are not being shared with the public (or even the rest of the military health care community). Nobody seems to have a clue yet about what is actually going on. Even the infectious disease experts at the Army’s flagship hospital, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, say that they aren’t getting any real information.

Oh yeah, let's support our troops...

ntodd 
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Shorter Taliban


Or maybe that should be "shorter victory":

Afghan soldiers swarmed over remote mountain peaks in an ongoing battle with hardcore Taliban holdouts Saturday, killing and capturing several enemy fighters, a provincial intelligence chief said.

For the first time, the U.S. military confirmed Afghan government claims that dozens of insurgents had died in the week of fighting in or near southern Zabul province. A military spokesman also said two U.S. soldiers had been wounded in the area in the past three days. A U.S. special operations soldier's death was announced Friday.

'member when we had that war won?

ntodd 
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Oy


Got some writing done, sans monkey assistance. Now back in the MSP area, and we'll see if I can get some blogging in before more family obligations intrude. Crazy crazy crazy scene.

ntodd 
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The Plan


A few more sights in Duluth, then Stef will drive us back to Minneapolis while I pound on my laptop keyboard. I've got some subversive writing to finish before certain people involved with our sub rosa blogging project get annoyed with me. Anyway, my theory is if I hit enough random keys, eventually an interesting post will result.

ntodd 
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Shorter AQ In Iraq


'member when we were told AQ was in Iraq before the war? Whatever, they're there now:

American officials believe militants from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran are infiltrating Iraq to attack Western interests.

Mr. President, are we winning the "war on terror"?

ntodd 
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Dean's Wonderful Problem


A problem the other Dems would love: having the lead. But being the frontrunner is tough:

Howard Dean, who sells himself as the presidential campaign's straightest shooter, is starting to throw voters some curves.

As he transitions from insurgent to the man to beat in the Democratic primary, Dean is modifying or switching his positions on several political issues.
...
Dean said what differentiates him is his willingness to speak his mind, change his positions and admit when he's wrong. "They won't beat me by claiming I switched positions," Dean said in an interview Wednesday. "They better come out with better ideas." Dean said he has no qualms about "changing his mind" when facts warrant it.

I'm shocked, shocked, to find a politician alters his positions!

ntodd 
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Friday, August 29, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Duluth Pics


No Ed Fitz, of course, nor the mockups from the Maritime Museum. Just some of the Canal Park and environs, including the Aerial Lift Bridge (c. 1905):











ntodd 
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Night Sky


New Yorkers reportedly "discovered" the night sky during the blackout. Here's a sat pic of the US at the time:


[This pic is so popular that the site I linked to has restricted downloads, so it may or may not appear. See comments for more.]

ntodd 
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Shorter Blaster.B


They nabbed the kid:

An 18-year-old high school student suspected of creating a version of the "Blaster" Internet attack was described by a neighbor Friday as "a computer genius," but not a criminal.

Federal agents arrested Jeffrey Lee Parson of Hopkins, a suburb of Minneapolis, on Friday morning. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Susan Nelson in St. Paul, who was expected to approve his transfer to Seattle.

Good.

ntodd


 
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The Tune In My Head


Can't get Gordon Lightfoot's song Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald out of my head.

ntodd

 
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Old Home Week


Stef and I will be tooling around Duluth the rest of the day, so I'll be back online this evening. I do also have some other super secret blogging stuff to work on that you'll learn more about soon.

ntodd 
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Terrorism In Iraq


Made in the USA:

The fisherman had just decided to take up arms, and he shook with fear as the American convoy approached his hiding place. As he later told it, he fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a Humvee and ran away as fast as he could.

Nobody gave chase, he said, and in the time that has passed since that April attack, his band of seven guerrillas has slipped into an easy rhythm of attacking American convoys every few days.

"I catch fish in the morning and Americans at night," he said. "Catching Americans is easier than catching fish."
...
"We are not doing this for the sake of Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein is finished," he said.

He said he joined the resistance in late April, after U.S. troops searched his neighborhood one night. He said they handcuffed innocent men, touched women inappropriately and hit a widow with a rifle butt. He also claimed they stole money.

"The Americans always say they are against terrorism, but they are conducting terrorism right here in Iraq," he said. "If they would not come into our houses, we wouldn’t have anything to do with them. Can’t they occupy us without humiliating us?"

Whether he's right or not doesn't matter. Fact is, many Iraqis view us as terrorists and their resistance to our occupation grows. Let's get the heck out of Dodge.

ntodd 
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Security In Iraq


Ain't none:

Arab satellite broadcasters reported a car bombing during Friday prayers in Najaf at the Imam Ali mosque, the holiest shrine for Shiites in Iraq. The reports said as many as 17 people were killed and dozens injured.
...
There has been considerable unrest among the Islamic factions in the holy city, 110 miles southwest of Baghdad.

The latest report of a bombing in Najaf came one week after a bomb exploded outside the house of one of Iraqi's most important Shiite clerics, killing three guards and injuring 10 others, including family members.

How are we going to quell such violence? We aren't, even with international help. Let's get the heck out of Dodge.

ntodd 
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Smelling The Coffee


'bout damn time:

Ashcroft has always been one of the Bush administration's most controversial figures, particularly among liberals and Democrats who fiercely opposed his nomination. But now the attorney general finds himself at odds with some fellow Republicans from Idaho to Capitol Hill who are troubled by the extent of his anti-terrorism tactics and angered by his unwillingness to compromise.

The rise of opposition within his own party could threaten Ashcroft's bid to secure even greater powers for the Justice Department's war on terrorism.

Even if this war on terror stuff weren't bogus, Ashcroft has taken things wayway too far. Nice to see that even his own party is starting to jump on the clue train.

ntodd 
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Thursday, August 28, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


All In The Family




ntodd 
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They May Be Allies, But They're Not Crazy


McPaper says:

U.S. diplomats said Thursday that they are making little or no progress in their push for a United Nations resolution that would persuade reluctant allies to commit new peacekeeping troops to Iraq.
...
But the countries that can provide the tens of thousands of troops the Bush administration is seeking continue to demand a shift in U.S. policy that would give the United Nations wide authority over political, military and humanitarian issues in Iraq. There is no sign the Bush administration would agree to that, and negotiations appear to be stalemated.

Captain Obvious says: BushCo's arrogance before the war is costing us dearly. Oh, their current arrogance is, too.

ntodd 
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Drawbridges Are Cool


Okay, so I lied about blogging soon. Stef and I walked around Canal Street after dinner, and watched the drawbridge go up and down twice (we were caught in the restricted area both times).

Quote of the day: "Don't hang on the bridge!"

- Bridge operator

ntodd 
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Back In The Saddle Soon


In the Duluth, going to grab some Vietnamese food then some blogging...

ntodd

[Update: dinner was nice. Visited with the restaurant owners, as Stef worked there when she lived in Duluth. Old home week!]

[Update: forgot to mention that these folks were refugees. Stef's mom helped them resettle in Duluth and get their business started.] 
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Rain Delay


Multiple storms rolling in, so I should suspend blogging for now. Leaving the Boundary Waters in a couple hours anyway--should be snug in a Duluth hotel, making up for lost time, by early afternoon.

ntodd 
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Trip Report: Last Day In The Wild


a storm rushes by:
rain hides the far shore. sudden
calm, distant thunder.

ntodd 
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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Catching Up


I see there are a lot of comments for me to catch up on! Tomorrow I'll be back in civilization and will get back on track when I have faster, less-costly Internet access.

ntodd 
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Sigh


Looks like we're going to have an overcast night, so no Marsgazing. Fortunately I took a peek yesterday--I swear it was so bright it cast a shadow. If you have clear weather, go look for a big bright red thing in the southeastern part of the sky

ntodd 
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Laying Down The Law


"It is a sad day in our country when the moral foundation of our law and the acknowledgment of God has to be hidden from public view to appease a federal judge."

- Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore regarding the removal of his Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama state judicial building

It is a sad day in our country when a judge doesn't recognize that the foundation of our law is a little document called the Constitution.

ntodd 
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Pathological Musings


Marmadork is annoyed with me again:

The ever-sensitive prick NTodd is very, very upset over the Israeli army's alleged lack of precision in its missile strikes against terrorists. Oddly, NTodd is silent about the terrorists' precise placement of precise bombs on precise buses that precisely murder 20 precise Jews.
By the way, NTodd is currently on vacation. His precise GPS co-ordinates are 48° 10 Min. 18 Sec., -90° 53 Min. 45 Sec. We wouldn't want any errors in precision.

It's great to have a sociopath for a fan! Oddly, Marduck failed to notice my advocacy of Palestinian non-violent direct action.

ntodd 
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Moose Hunt


Canoe trip at dusk yielded no moose, but we did hang with a beaver over by its lodge. Earlier in the day:


Yay! Finally got a pic of a common loon. Never got especially close, but this is good enough for government work.


Over in Fish Gut Bay we saw a few vultures picking on this bird. Our friend here was about the same size as the bullies, and though it's hard to tell in the photo, I think the coloration and shape, combined with size, indicate an immature bald eagle. Anybody have a better guess?


It's really hard to compose a picture when you're trying to steer a canoe. This is a fragrant lily in Fish Gut Bay.

Okay, I guess we're due for some real blogging sometime...

Cheers,
ntodd 
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Experiments In The Woods


A few more pics, just for fun. BTW, I'm looking at these with my LCD screen and the colors look fine, but I'm guessing I'll need to do some color adjustment when I can look at them with a CRT. Hopefully things don't look too trippy.











Still no loon or eagle pics. Hope people enjoy seeing the woods. I guess even if you don't, I'll still post my pics! :-)

ntodd 
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Thanks


Hey folks, just wanted to say thanks for the nice discussions and your continued readership even with my haphazard posting. Keep talking while I go looking for loons (I hear one now, in fact...).

Rock on,
ntodd 
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Mo Mo For Ho-Ho


Kicking butt in NH according to Zogby:

Former Vermont Governor Dr. Howard Dean has surged into a wide lead in polling of 501 likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, according to a new poll released today by Zogby International as part of its "Road to Boston" series.

Nearly two in five (38%) supported Dean, giving him a substantial lead over Massachusetts Senator John Kerry at 17%. In February polling in New Hampshire, Kerry led Dean, 26% - 13%. In June, the gap had narrowed to Kerry 25%, Dean 22%.

All other Democratic presidential hopefuls remained in single digits...

On top of his $1M take this weekend, this is sounding pretty darn good! Some folks over at Eschaton are peddling the "peaking too soon" meme now that the "unelectable" meme's lifeless body has been found lying in a ravine. What the heck kind of stupid talk is that?

ntodd 
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Oklahoma Taking MCI To The Woodshed


NYTimes:

The Oklahoma attorney general Wednesday filed the first criminal charges against former WorldCom Inc. chief Bernard Ebbers, part of a wider complaint that also named the telecommunications company now known as MCI and other one-time top executives.

The complaint accuses Ebbers, the executives and the company of violating state securities laws by giving false information to investors.
...
The charges come as MCI is trying to move on from the accounting scandal. A report Tuesday from court-appointed monitor Richard Breeden, a former SEC chairman, set down a new framework for MCI's future governance and said the company is expected to emerge from bankruptcy shortly.
...
Although MCI reached a $750 million settlement with the SEC, the company has been under investigation from several states. It also faces a federal criminal investigation and was recently barred from signing new contracts with the U.S. government.

MCI emerging from bankruptcy worries many competitors who expect the company to be "lean and mean". Without the ability to pick up government contracts, and a pall still hanging over them even with a name change, I wonder if they really will be competitive. Rest assured the company will survive as they are considered "too big to fail" with all their existing government contracts--MCI won't disappear with the Feds so reliant on their infrastructure.

ntodd 
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Trip Report: Day 47



Looks like a little more canoeing in my future. Hopefully I'll finally get some digital pics of a loon or two--I do have some from Monday, but they're on (gasp!) film and thus not ready for prime time. We saw another bald eagle yesterday while paddling over in Fish Gut Bay, but we were fighting some fierce wind and I couldn't grab the cam. Maybe I'll stake out the bay to get a snap.

Probably the same amount of blogging as yesterday, although I do need to get cranking on some writing for the secret project I'm participating in, too. All will be revealed soon. In the meantime, a few more pics of inanimate objects around here:







ntodd 
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Fuzzy Math



Bush pauses during a speech to do a quick calculation: "Okay, that's 8, carry the 1...$480 billion?! Uh-oh, Poppy's going to take away my credit card..."

ntodd 
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Those Precise Israeli Assassinations


I think it was Bird Dog over at Eschaton who insisted that Israeli assassinations are legitimate and precise methods of carrying out justice. I disagreed. Here's info on their latest attempt on Hamas:

Israeli helicopters fired three missiles in a failed assassination attempt in Gaza City on Tuesday evening, according to Palestinian sources quoted by news agencies.

One bystander, identified as Hassan Hamlawi, 65, was killed and more than 20 people were wounded in the attack.

Yeah, real precise.

ntodd 
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Dean Rocks




Broke $1,000,000 before 10PM Eastern. $58.64 per person. Wow.

ntodd 
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Folkbum Rocks


Go congratulate Folkbum for getting ink in USA Today.

ntodd 
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Just For Dom


No pictures of loons today, but in your honor I ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir from the Smoking Loon vineyard for our table. FYI, the loons are calling right now as the sun has dipped below the treeline...

ntodd 
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Healthy Budgets Initiative


Having met with great success with his Iraq war strategy, in which progress is clearly demonstrated by escalating violence, President Bush unveiled a similar approach to the federal budget. Dubbed the "Healthy Budgets Initiative", the plan redefines the entire idea of national fiscal health. "The more money we owe foreign investors, the better off our nation will be," Mr. Bush announced at his Crawford ranch today.

Pointing to a chart (shown left), the President observed that despite the harm done by fiscal responsibility during the Clinton years, his Administration has been working feverishly to achieve the goal of complete insolvency by 2006. Admitting he misspoke in his State of the Union address, Mr. Bush indicated that he would in fact pass on a huge debt to future generations "for the good of the country". "The more successful we are at running up huge deficits, the more desperate our political opponents become," he said. "When we completely run out of money, we will be able to declare victory in this struggle. I will not falter, I will not tire, I will not fail to cut taxes and spend money we do not have."

ntodd

[Update: changed the title from "Deficits" to "Budgets". I spaced and put the wrong word in there.] 
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Speaking Of War


Don't forget that Mars, Bringer of War, will be the closest to Earth in 60,000 years tomorrow night!

While reading about the plans for Hubble to take some snaps of the planet, I discovered this little tidbit:

Hubble does not make color pictures directly. Rather, it collects at least three grayscale images that are later combined and colorized in the popular Photoshop software program. For each the two historic Mars pictures, Hubble will make 10 separate observations, using different filters, over a 45-minute period.

Who knew that Hubble pics were "photoshopped" just like many on this blog?

Peace out,
ntodd 
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If You Lose The Shia, You Lose Iraq


Thousands join demonstrations in Iraq:

Angry members of Iraq's Shiite majority staged major street demonstrations in Baghdad and in the holy city of Najaf on Monday, a day after a bomb went off in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate a major religious leader in Najaf.
...
But the demonstration of several thousand well-organized Shiites in Baghdad -- one of the largest such marches in the capital since the war -- focused on other issues and had a distinctly anti-U.S. tone.

"Down with America!" the demonstrators, almost all young men from a poor Shiite neighborhood, chanted as they marched past the palace now used by the U. S.-led coalition that runs Iraq. "Down with the ruling council!" they added, referring to the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council, which Washington views as a transitional body to a democratic government.
...
Occupation officials were quick to play down the notion that the recent spate of violence resembles the scenario of sectarian upheaval that some predicted once the iron-fisted rule of Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Hussein was ruthless in repressing Kurds, Shiites, ethnic Turks and other groups with aspirations for greater representation in this ethnically and religiously diverse nation.

If it quacks like a duck...

ntodd 
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Shorter Liberia


IRIN reports:

Thousands of civilians were displaced by renewed clashes between Liberian government troops and rebel fighters at the weeekend. The fighting took place less than a week after the signing of a peace agreement that was supposed to end 14 years of civil war.

Is this stuff even being reported in our media any more? That's a serious question--I haven't been reading much news the past few days.

ntodd 
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Questions For The Iraqi Resistance


In Iraq Today, Sarmad S. Ali asks the folks resisting our occupation some important questions:
Do you think that your operations against innocents, humanitarian organizations and Iraqi bystanders can be called "resistance" or "jihad"? Who told you that, when you murder Christians, that you are killing "unbelievers"? Muslims and Christians lived in peace and brotherhood under the tent of the Prophet Mohammed long ago.

Why can't you follow the Prophet's example? Will there come a day when even Christian Iraqis are to be liquidated? Haven't you considered that those Americans you have been killing have families waiting for their return home, just like yours wait for you?

The Quran tells us that murder in cold blood is as if all humanity was murdered. Yet you call yourselves "mujahideen"...

Shortly before the UN bombing, attackers ruptured a water main and left hundreds of thousands of desperate Baghdadis without water for two days. Do you think you hurt the Coalition forces? The Coalition has their own supply of sterilized bottles; the water you spilled from the pipeline is your own. Or were you trying to turn Iraqis against the Coalition? You failed, because your responsibility for the dry taps and parched throats was clear with every gallon that spilled onto the street, and with every drop of blood is spilled on the soil of this great nation.

I wonder if anybody's listening.

ntodd 
   |


Another Fatwa


From IslamOnline:

Islam's most revered authority of Al-Azhar issued a fatwa banning Arab countries from dealing with the Iraqi Governing Council, saying the U.S.-backed body is "illegitimate".

"The council lacks religious and secular legitimacy, as it had been imposed on the Iraqis under the power of occupation and does not conform to Islam's established principle of Shura (counseling)."

The fatwa, dated August 1, called on Arab or Islamic countries not to give support to the interim body - whose 25 members were selected by the U.S. occupation forces in July 2003.

Lest anyone think the Muslim world is monolithic:

On August 11, Jordan's Islamic Labor Front (ILF), the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood, issued a similar edict calling on Muslims not to join the council.

The calls provoked the ire of the council's Islamic member Slaheddin Mohamed Bahaeddin, who said that situation on the ground should be taken into consideration and "such political issues as Iraq should not be tackled through fatwas and exporting them".

From what I've read, it does seem that most of the Arab/Muslim world views the Governing Council with skepticism. It is nice to see that not everybody, however, believes that political issues ought to be resolved by religious means. I wonder if we just showed a little more sensitivity to cultural and religious values folks in the region hold, and if we perhaps gave Iraqis more automony and authority, how far would that go in terms of the "hearts and minds" thing? Would that buy us more time, or at least more support in our ever-shrinking window of opportunity?

ntodd 
   |


Shorter Taliban


ATimes on How the Taliban builds its army:

Progress in science and technology has a direct impact on battlefields, where missile technology, supreme aircraft, nuclear bombs, chemical weapons and the like have changed the dynamics of fighting over the years.

However, despite such advancements in technology, the human element, notably inspiration, remains a decisive force in any struggle. The Taliban, perhaps, realized this a long time ago, and in their period in power in Afghanistan from 1996-2001 they placed much emphasis on generating the human resources that would be committed to their cause.

Are we seeing a rise of an Islamic dialectic? Perhaps they are patiently waiting for the historical inevitability of the US being booted out of the region. With enough human resources committed to a cause, a movement can endure for quite a long time. Just ask the Vietnamese: their struggle against colonial powers lasted 10,000 days, and in the end they were victorious.

ntodd 
   |


What Is It With These People?


Cheney is a recalcitrant man:

Vice President Dick Cheney's lack of cooperation hindered the General Accounting Office from conducting a thorough investigation of how the Bush administration crafted its proposed energy policy, according to an agency report released yesterday.

"The office of the vice president's persistent denial of access to certain [National Energy Policy Development Group] records, which led us to take the unprecedented step of filing suit to enforce our access rights against a federal official, precluded GAO from fully achieving our objectives and substantially limited our analysis," said David M. Walker, U.S. comptroller general and head of the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.
...
The Bush administration refused to release information on the group, saying that to do so would hamper its future decision-making processes.

What decision-making process might that be? Which oil-rich country to invade for your energy company cronies?

So lemme get this straight: you refuse to cooperate with an official investigation into something that is a public, not private, matter, and that doesn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense? I'm waiting for the "it would be a distraction from the war of terror" excuse. Drunk with power, these people are.

ntodd 
   |


Trip Report: Day 29




loon calls greet the sun
light stretching over the trees
rise to meet the day

mist crawls on water
a tired lake is stirring
hungry fish leap high



This isn't a great photo, but it illustrates a story. I'd gotten up as soon as I heard the first loons calling. It's been an absolutely beautiful morning, and I've just been walking around and taking snaps. At one point I heard a thump over to my right, but saw nothing so thought nothing of it. Then I heard another. I looked: nothing. Another. I noticed a tree limb was moving and there I saw a teeny red squirrel scurrying about. The picture above is my attempt at capturing the little guy running about the branches, removing pinecones and dropping them to the ground for later collection--what you see here is my friend looking down as his quarry just left my camera's field of view on its trip down.

Today is going to be a nice day. More blogging than yesterday, punctuated by canoe trips, hikes and sitting around doing nothing (which sounds a lot like blogging, but isn't).

ntodd 
   |

Monday, August 25, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Undisclosed Location


Rumor has it that my current undisclosed location is about an hour away from a vacation home owned by none other than Ahnold. I'm skeptical, but will attempt to confirm. BTW, I'm at roughly (total eyeball estimate since I'm without my GPS): 48° 10 Min. 18 Sec., -90° 53 Min. 45 Sec. Don't disclose that.

ntodd

[Update, 10:29 local time: Sounds like the Ahnold thing is a rumor:

The longstanding rumor that California gubernatorial hopeful Arnold Schwarzenegger has purchased property in Lake County along the North Shore remains just that. But he has kept in touch with his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Superior."We've got a Schwartz and a Schwartzbauer, but we don't have any Schwarzeneggers," said Dick Sigel, Lake County land commissioner. However, Sigel noted there may be something to the old rumor.

I can't tell you more because the Duluth News Tribune wants me to pay $2.95 for the rest of the article (which is dated 8/16).]
 
   |


Good Discussions!


I'm not sure I can post anything of real import or value tonight, but that doesn't seem to matter. Looks like there have been some good debate on the I/P thing, and an informative discussion about Wesley Clark. I'm also curious if anybody has other thoughts in response to matt's re: church/state stuff and Greek gods. So maybe it's a good time to not post and instead let these threads get spun out a bit more...

ntodd

PS--Sorry I haven't been able to respond to everything yet. Things are just running a bit too slowly right now, and this connection is fairly pricey so 'net time must be rationed. 
   |


Sign Of The Times


We saw evidence of the Bush economy yesterday on a sign in a small town:

10,000 unemployed worms want to go to work for you!

ntodd

PS--More content to come shortly. First, a gin and tonic with the other members of the expedition. 
   |


Shorter Dean


Can he get any shorter? Heh. From The Likely Story (via A Rational Animal):

[Dean has] had several private conversations with retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander who some Democrats see as an attractive running mate for Dean if Clark does not join the race himself.

Too cool for school.

ntodd 
   |


Trip Report: Day 3


Just a couple quick pics from yesterday for now, more real content to come...





Rock on,
ntodd 
   |

Sunday, August 24, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Trip Report: Day 2, Final Entry


We passed several thousand lakes on our trip north, including a lake superior to Champlain. An eagle was sighted, indicating we were on the right path. The border officials examined our documentation while troops in berets anxiously fingered the triggers of their automatic weapons. Okay, I made that last part up, but everything else is true. Pics of our new undisclosed location and other posts tomorrow. Too tired for anything else right now.

Rock on,
ntodd 
   |


This Time I Mean It


Heading north now. Wish me luck.

ntodd 
   |


US Intervention Overseas Breeds Terrorism


In his weekly radio address, Bush said:

[T]errorists are testing our will, hoping we will weaken and withdraw. Yet across the world, they are finding that our will cannot be shaken. Whatever the hardships, we will persevere. We will continue this war on terror until all the killers are brought to justice. And we will prevail.

I disagree pretty much with all of Bush's conclusions (and assumptions), and have stated many times that I think we're not doing enough to address the root causes of terrorism. Interestingly enough, I found a paper by Ivan Eland, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute. It's a few years old, but I think it's even more important today:

The Defense Science Board's 1997 Summer Study Task Force on DoD Responses to Transnational Threats notes a relationship between an activist American foreign policy and terrorism against the United States:

As part of its global power position, the United States is called upon frequently to respond to international causes and deploy forces around the world. America's position in the world invites attack simply because of its presence. Historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States.

...
[P]roponents of America's current interventionist foreign policy...ignore the new strategic realities and criticize...military restraint as "preemptively capitulating to the terrorists."

Adopting a restrained foreign policy has nothing to do with appeasing terrorists. Terrorist acts are morally outrageous and should be punished whenever possible. Reducing the motive for terrorists to attack the United States with weapons of mass destruction is not the only reason to adopt a policy of military restraint overseas, although it is a sensible one. In the more benign environment of a post-Cold War world, promiscuous military intervention by the United States--which can result in lost lives, high financial costs, and open-ended commitments--is no longer needed. It is common sense, rather than appeasement, for the United States to adapt its activist Cold War foreign policy to the new strategic environment that requires more restraint overseas.

Compare and contrast to what William Blum (and I) have said before. I'm not advocating that we become totally isolationist, but we do need to be significantly more sensitive to other cultures and points of view, the rights and dignity of other people, and the sovereignty of other nations. Not sure if this means giving up on humanitarian missions like Liberia, which can unfortunately worsen the situation as we saw in Somalia. I am sure that means not going around imposing regime change, which has clearly created more impetus and opportunities for terrorists.

There's a lot of talk about "draining the swamp" to reduce terror. I firmly believe all we are doing is creating new swamps. Time to find a new way.

ntodd 
   |


Operational Pause


Convoy departure delayed, so...

The NYTimes tells us: Rumsfeld Seeking to Bolster Force Without New G.I.'s. Rummy also reportedly is planning to cut the costs of supplying food to our troops by asking Jesus perform a miracle with loaves and fishes. No word on whether their bottled water will be turned into wine.

ntodd 
   |


Trip Report: Day 2, Supplemental


Convoy ready to roll soon. Radio silence will be enforced for the near term, possibly until tomorrow, as circumstances dictate. Will keep you advised.

ntodd 
   |


Wellstone Action!


Saw a flier near my undisclosed location advertising a WELLSTONE ACTION! Family Supper. I'd heard something vague about the group before, but this spurred me to look online for information. The Wellstone Action website has a message from David and Mark Wellstone:

Paul and Sheila Wellstone can never be replaced. But others can be taught to walk in their footsteps. That's the first order of business for Wellstone Action.
...
Our aim is nothing less than to jump-start a new generation of professional organizers and grassroots leaders who will run for office themselves.

One of the biggest lessons Dave and I learned from our parents' lives is that hard work and faith in the possibility of change can conquer despair. Certainly, there is little in the current national political climate to suggest that change will come easily, or soon. There is no indisputable progressive leader or any easy way to reverse America's relentlessly misguided course in the world. As Paul and Sheila's sons, the only practical response is obvious to us: organize, organize, organize.

I'll repeat my admonition from yesterday to give your time and money and passion so in the end, we have new hope that we can repair the damage Bush has done to our country. And allow me to amend my suggestion to donate to the Dems, Moveon and/or your candidate, and encourage you to consider joining Wellstone Action.

ntodd 
   |


Punctuating God


Loyal readers might recall a sign I saw on a Church of the Nazarene in Middlebury, VT, a couple weeks ago:

Don't put a questionmark where God put a period.

Today I saw the trump to that, which is attributed to Gracie Allen and apparently is the slogan of the United Church of Christ:

Never place a period where God has placed a comma.

He ain't done talking yet.

ntodd 
   |


Dean And The I/P Conflict


Diane, someone I've agreed with in dicussions about Israeli-Palestinian issues over at Eschaton. She asked some really good questions in comments in response to yesterday's Regime Change post, but the thread is "below the fold" and I didn't want it to get lost, so I'm posting here:

I share your opinion that nothing good can come of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Bush at the helm. For a brief moment, I thought he might just have a real plan for Middle East peace, after all it was his Dad that managed to drag Israel to the Madrid Conference; plus he has his Saudi connections which mean he can't be totally deaf to Arab needs, and he does uses the forbidden word - "Palestine" - in his speeches, which shows some independence from the Israeli line.

When he launched the Road Map just before invading Iraq, I was (despite my intense opposition to the invasion) tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt. My reasoning was that maybe having flattened Iraq for allegedly violating UN resolutions on WMDs, he was then going to turn to Israel and say "Look, we got rid of the regime that was the greatest threat to you, so how about you obey a few UN Resolutions too?". Suddenly, his foreign policy, which to the untrained eye looked like a bewildering pile of crap, would turn out to be a well-thought-out work of genius! Which just goes to show how utterly gullible some of us can be...

Anyway, my question to you is this: do you have any expectations that Howard Dean will perform any better on the Middle East? I'm glad he opposed the invasion of Iraq, but I find it ominous that he says he sees eye-to-eye with AIPAC on the Palestinian-Israeli question. I am an American who believes that the key to fighting terror is not in invading Iraq, or Syria or wherever, but in brokering a non-violent, negotiated solution to the Palestinian question, based on the implementation of international law. (And in maybe showing a little repect for international law in our own foreign policy, though that's another issue). What is Dean going to do for the Middle East that is any different from Bush, if he turns out to be just one more US President who doesn't want to offend AIPAC?

My reply:

I do not have great expectations that Dean will solve the intractable problems over there. Quite frankly, I don't think any US President really can do much because in the end, it's the Israelis and the Palestinians who must take responsibility for their actions and their future. That said, while Dean's leaning more toward AIPAC and further from APN does concern me, from a political POV I'm not sure he can move too far toward my views (which are in line with APN).

But here's the deal: Dean is smart, reasonable, and has shown that he will reconsider his positions and adapt them if there's good reason to. While I disagree, for example, with his change in attitude wrt capital punishment, I think his explanations show he has approached the issue thoughtfully (and admittedly, politically--duh). So this at least leads me to believe that it is possible to lead him closer to the "right" path. I certainly think amongst the current field of candidates, including Bush, he would be the most likely to learn from our previous failures and rethink his stand vis-a-vis AIPAC.

One more thing. I often "take the side" of the Palestinians as the oppressed people in this conflict. However, I also believe that there is a greater responsibility on their part to take the moral high ground and stop armed resistance. They can take a position of strength and engage in non-violent direct action to achieve greater results. That would certainly give any President the opportunity to lean more on Israel.

I wrote this relatively late (for me) last night after a day of travel, so I hope it's coherent--reproduced here without editing. I also hope that my response answers her questions, and maybe yours too. Perhaps it raises more questions, so let's discuss. I, of course, don't have all the answers, nor does Howard Dean. In fact, one thing I like so much about him is that he admits it.

ntodd 
   |


Newsflash! American Public Buys Clue


Newsweek poll released yesterday:

SIXTY-NINE PERCENT of Americans polled say they are very concerned (40 percent) or somewhat concerned (29 percent) that the United States will be bogged down for many years in Iraq without making much progress in achieving its goals. Just 18 percent say they’re confident that a stable, democratic form of government can take shape in Iraq over the long term; 37 percent are somewhat confident. Just 13 percent say U.S. efforts to establish security and rebuild Iraq have gone very well since May 1, when combat officially ended; 39 percent say somewhat well.

Sorry, just another short post with no deconstruction or other value. Read, be thankful that people are coming around, and let's hope we can stop the madness before we get more Americans, Iraqis, or other fine people killed.

ntodd 
   |


For Those Of You Keeping Score At Home


According to Iraq Democracy Watch, there are now 28 Iraqi resistance groups:

1. Al-Faruq Brigades
2. Ansar al-Islam
3. Armed Vanguards of the Second Mohammed Army (claimed resp. for UN bombing)
4. Army of Right
5. Black Banner Organization
6. General Command of the Armed Forces, Resistance and Liberation in Iraq*
7. Iraqi National Islamic Resistance
8. Iraqi Resistance Brigades
9. Iraq's Revolutionaries
10. Islamic Armed Group of al-Qaida, Fallujah branch
11. Jihad Cells
12. Liberating Iraq's Army
13. Mujahideen Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq
14. Muslim Fighters of the Victorious Sect (aka, Mujaheddin of the Victorious Sect)
15. Muslim Youth
16. Nasserites
17. National Iraqi Commandos Front
18. New Return*
19. Patriotic Front *
20. Political Media Organ of the Ba‘ath Party * ( Jihaz al-Iilam al-Siasi lil hizb al-Baath )
21. Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq *
22. Return*
23. Saddam's Fedayeen* +
24. Salafist Jihad Group
25. Snake Party
26. Sons of Islam
27. Wakefulness and Holy War
28. White Flags

* Ba'athist or probably Ba'athist
+ Apparently the same as the Iraqi Liberation Army, previously listed separately; also known as Muhammad's Army.
NOTE: Does not included references to additional, anonymous groups who have contacted Arab press outlets.

When it hits 50, sell.

ntodd 
   |


Dream Redux


Yesterday I mused that maybe "we've from gotten out of 'the quicksands of racial injustice', but haven't gotten onto 'the solid rock of brotherhood'". I also wondered if I gave America too much credit. The latest Gallup Poll seems to bear out my thoughts:

Forty years after King's speech -- an anniversary commemorated this weekend in Washington, D.C., -- most blacks say civil rights for blacks have improved over the course of their lifetimes. Also, blacks tend to be upbeat about black-white relations, saying that relations between the two groups are generally good, and perceiving that racial animosity is confined to only a few Americans. These are the more encouraging findings from Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations survey, conducted June 12-18.

On the downside, blacks are generally dissatisfied with society's treatment of their racial group. Many blacks report being discriminated against on a routine basis, and a majority of blacks say it happens to them at least a few times a year. Four in five blacks believe that racial minorities do not have the same job opportunities as whites do.

Lots of work still to be done, but I'm glad we've apparently made progress toward a more civil society.

BTW, in case you didn't pick up on it, the "quicksand" and "solid rock" quotes are from King's I Have A Dream speech. Sorry to be pedantic, but I am a teacher, plus many times people don't get what the heck I'm alluding to.

Speaking of King's work, one of the most important letters ever is his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, written a few months before his "Dream" speech. What I really love about this letter is that he expresses self-doubt while expressing the reasoning behind a powerful movement. And one other speech I'd like to draw your attention to is King's 1967 "Beyond Vietnam" address--I briefly blogged about that in July because I think his words about Vietnam ring true today in the context of our current conflicts.

Peace out,
ntodd 
   |


A Sign Of Things To Come


WaPo:

U.S. troops trying to quell the violence between Kurds and ethnic Turkmens killed three of the people in Tuz Khurmatu and three in Kirkuk, the U.S. military said. By dusk, Tuz, as the Iraqis call the town, was calm, although Apache attack helicopters made a series of air patrols at sunset. In Kirkuk this evening, however, a couple of explosions of unknown origin rocked the city.

Mounting attacks on U.S. troops have overshadowed simmering ethnic tensions among Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs in the north. But the eruption of communal violence and the speed with which the problems spread beyond Tuz Khurmatu was a stark reminder that the issue has not disappeared. Formerly displaced Kurds and resident Arabs continue to tussle over property in and around Kirkuk. Turkmens, a small minority in Iraq, accuse Kurds of trying to terrorize them out of their homes in Kirkuk and surrounding areas. Kurds claim that the Turkmens form a fifth column for Turkey, which opposes Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in the north.

First, the "I told you so": many anti-war people observed that viewing Iraq as a cultural monolith, as BushCo appears to have done, was foolish, and any occupation would be incredibly ugly because of pent-up ethnic tensions. Not unlike in the former Yugo, removing Saddam has enabled such violence, and we should have anticipated that. Would a larger force have been better able to deal with this? Dunno. But it seems that with the current security situation rapidly spiraling out of control, a larger force might have been a good idea: perhaps we could have imposed order sooner, which might have mitigated tensions to a degree. Alternately, we might have considered not invading. Call me crazy.

Looking ahead, I've heard many people in the media, in the blogosphere and right here in comment threads say we can't leave Iraq until we establish a stable democracy that will guarantee all ethnic groups civil rights; if we go, there will be civil war. I agree that there will be bloodshed if we leave, but I observe that we can't prevent it even if we stay, and in fact we will be the cause of much of it, as we see above. No good can come of our being drawn into a civil war.

ntodd 
   |


Quote Of The Day


"Terrorists commit atrocities because they want the civilized world to flinch and retreat so they can impose their totalitarian vision."

- George W. Bush, in his weekly radio address on August 23.

Project much?

ntodd 
   |


US Re-education Camp A Success


CNN reports:

Three "juvenile enemy combatants" being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may be released soon, if the general in command of the prison gets his way, an army spokeswoman has told CNN.
...
The youths are 13 to 15 years of age and were "taken from the battlefield" in Afghanistan and transferred to the Guantanamo facility in February...
...
Unlike others held in the facility, the three receive counseling, they study daily and exercise with soldiers, Hart said. One senior enlisted soldier assigned to the young detainees "is an eighth-grade teacher back home," Hart said.

The decision to recommend they be repatriated is based on a determination that they are "no longer deemed a threat to the U.S. and our allies"...

In a joint press conference, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld AG John Ashcroft said this demonstrates the viability of re-education camps, and they will be lobbying for expanding the Gitmo model in the US itself. Rumsfeld exclaimed, "golly, this idea is real horrorshow". "All the malenky little hairs on my plott are standing endwise," Ashcroft said in agreement.

ntodd

PS--Seriously, I'm glad these kids are "no longer deemed a threat" and are being released. Yet somehow this still evokes Clockwork Orange for me. 
   |


Trip Report: Day 2


Our expedition prepares to head north into terra incognita. After some final planning sessions, acquiring victuals, and loading the other gear, the convoy will depart the safety of our undisclosed location. Communications are expected to be spotty, but not impossible.

ntodd 
   |

Saturday, August 23, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Ho-Ho On Tour


From CNN:

Looking to get a jump on the traditional post-Labor Day presidential campaign season, Democrat Howard Dean is promoting himself like a rock star with an eight-city road trip that began Saturday.

The trip is called the "Sleepless Summer Tour," but not because Dean won't get any sleep during its four days. He will. The name is a swipe at President Bush's policies and his monthlong vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
...
T-shirts promoting the tour are being sold to add to the concert-like experience, and some stops will feature loud music and cameras broadcasting the events live on Dean's Web site.
...
His campaign hopes the tour will help keep him in the headlines and maintain his strong position this fall. He's also hoping to raise money -- during the tour the campaign will try to raise $1 million with donations at the events, over the Internet and during at least three fund-raisers along the way.

The fund raising began Friday; before Dean began his trip he was a third of the way to his goal. More than 6,000 people contributed $330,272 as of 2 p.m. Saturday, according to Dean's Web site.

The rock star has raised $371k by 10PM on the strength of more than 6600 contributors. That's $56.24 per person. Still amazes.

ntodd

PS--In contrast to Howie, I do not wish to remain sleepless. G'nite. 
   |


I Have A Dream


Quick question: are we celebrating MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech today because the 28th falls on a weekday? Whatever, I think we have made progress since that day, but we still have a long way to go. Maybe we've from gotten out of "the quicksands of racial injustice", but haven't gotten onto "the solid rock of brotherhood"? Or maybe I'm giving us too much credit.

Regardless, I'm so sick of the Republicans mislabeling things as "quotas" and such. They are so good at manipulating language, it makes me mad. We need more eloquent people like King on our side.

ntodd 
   |


Arrival


I'm at my super secret undisclosed location in central Malawi. I need to settle in, then maybe I'll get some real blogging done. Otherwise, I'll post some stuff tomorrow.

ntodd 
   |


Shorter SoBig


From CNNmoney:

Internet service provider Easynews.com of Phoenix, Arizona, said it had been contacted by investigators by telephone Thursday and the company was issued a subpoena Friday.

"It looks like the original variant was posted through us to Usenet on the 18th (of August)," Michael Minor, the Internet service provider's chief technology officer, told Reuters.

An FBI spokesman said that the organization was working with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate who was responsible for the e-mail attacks. He declined to comment further.

In the post-9/11 world, you don't mess with the Internet. It's finally recognized to be critical infrastructure, and DHS is always going to get involved. I'm glad.

ntodd 
   |


Shorter I/P


From Ha'aretz:

A senior Hamas official said Saturday the militant group was ready to discuss a new truce despite Israel's killing of a senior political leader which he said had led to the collapse of the three month cease-fire declared by militants on June 29.

I won't hold my breath, but it's good to see such overtures so soon after things fell apart. One can only hope that folks are recognizing the cycle of violence is not helping anybody. Sometimes the most obvious truths are the hardest to see.

ntodd 
   |


A Little Japanese Perspective


Asahi Shimbun reports:

Like all loyal soldiers, they say they will answer their nation's call, but Self-Defense Forces troops are also honest enough to admit a possible deployment to Iraq has them on edge.

Precipitating concern among the rank-and-file and a major rethink by senior Defense Agency officials was the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday.

With pictures of the carnage splashed over newspapers and television screens, one senior agency official expressed what everyone now knows: ``The situation is far more serious than expected.''
...
The attack on the former hotel that housed the U.N. office killed more than 20 and forced the government to postpone the SDF mission. If it ever gets off the ground, the dispatch will be next year at the earliest.

Right now it isn't even clear when a fact-finding team can be sent to Iraq.

"That's up to the government to decide. We simply follow orders,'' said a senior GSDF official.

But some Defense Agency officials were even more pessimistic, with one saying, "The prerequisite (recent legislation allows SDF activities only in noncombat areas) for the mission has been lost.''

The suicide bombing shocked agency officials who expected the security situation in Baghdad to gradually improve.

The agency planned to have troops do humanitarian work, including providing water and electricity to hospitals, until the security situation stabilized.

Officials hoped the low-profile, helping-hand approach would avoid inciting an Iraqi backlash.

The destruction of the U.N. facility was a wake-up call for many, including U.N. officials themselves and nongovernmental organizations, who believed their "good works'' inoculated them against Baathist holdouts and Islamic terrorists.

An officer assigned to the agency said, "We will have to redraw our plan on the premise that even humanitarian and reconstruction projects could be targets of terrorism.''

What might inoculate them is operating outside "coalition" authority. Since that's probably not going to happen, given our obstinant position on the subject, I think any troops who go to Iraq are going to be identified with the occupation and hence, legitimate resistance targets. This shows that pretty much everybody ignored Arab/Islamic perceptions, history and media. It seems the folks in charge still have a tin ear, and have not really "woken up" to reality yet.

ntodd 
   |


Natural Evolution


Finished C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair on the plane this AM. I started re-reading the Narnia Chronicles a while ago to take a little escapism break from world events. One sly little line that stuck out on the penultimate page:

[T]he Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

ntodd 
   |


Verizon And Unions Getting Closer


From Reuters:

Verizon Communications Inc. and two unions pushed through round-the-clock negotiations to finalize details of a labor contract for 80,000 technicians and telephone operators from Maine to Virginia, union representatives said on Saturday.

That sounds good, although earlier in the week, the CWA:

...filed a lawsuit in New Jersey U.S. District Court against Verizon. Our complaint charges two Verizon executives with violations of the Omnibus Crime and Safe Streets Act by unlawfully and secretly accessing a private CWA conference call that was by invitation only.

Verizon then used the information they illegally obtained to file a contempt of court action against CWA Executive Vice President Larry Cohen because in this private connection, they allege he said: I hope Verizon can hear us now.

But this appears to be a side show. One hopeful sign: Verizon appears to be gearing up to do more training, which is good news for my company and shows the confidence Verizon management has that an positive end is in sight.

ntodd 
   |


Market Research


So we got a phone call last night from a market research company (forget which). Since I was the male in household who most recently had a birthday, I got to answer the 10 minutes of questions. They ranged from household debt to Internet usage to awareness of frozen Mexican entrees to attitudes on teen sex to the usual income questions.

The debt questions in particular were I thought pretty stupid. Example: "in the past 3 months have you a) gone into much greater debt, b) a little more debt, c) paid off a little debt, d) paid off a lot of debt?" What about a "no debt" option? And there was no level-setting question on how much debt the household currently has. I mean, if you don't know how much I'm in debt, what the heck does it tell them when I say I paid off a little? And what does all that have to do with what brands of frozen Mexican entrees I am "neither likely nor unlikely" to buy?

The teen sex questions were interesting. Clearly getting at whether the public wants more focus on abstinence in sex ed or more on contraception. I kept saying "more of both". Also some strange questions about stuff like what I thought the appropriate age difference is for teens to be dating.

The guy was funny though: every so often he would say something like "these are ridiculous questions, aren't they?" Yes, yes they were.

ntodd 
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Heading Out


Okay, I've got to go to my undisclosed location now. One clue for you bloodhounds: I'll be stopping for a little while in Atrios' area. I'll be sure to say hi to him.

ntodd

[Update, 12:37PM: In Atrios' state, but on the opposite end. Forgot I was going through Pitt outbound, and return via Philly. And now, due to crappy flight availability, I have 3 hours to kill in the USAirways Club. Wahoo!] 
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SoBig


Poor Amy T. The latest Internet baddy indirectly caused her a bunch of grief yesterday. Go to blogAmY and empathize, sympathize, or whateverize. Fortunately, the Internet has weathered the storm pretty well overall, as Network World reports:

The Internet was quiet as the clock ticked past the scheduled start time for a massive, coordinated action by Microsoft Windows machines infected with the Sobig.F virus.
...
Regardless of the outcome of the Sobig attack Friday, future worms may well learn from the successes of the worm and incorporate that knowledge into future viruses, he said.

Make sure you've updated your antivirus software! If you don't have AV software, get some.

ntodd 
   |


Nuanced Iraqi Opinion


As this editorial in Iraq Today illustrates:

So many things have changed in our lives since the war. Some are for better, but some are for worse. Employees' salaries have improved notably, if the employees ever get them. There is freedom of speech, if you are secure enough to actually speak. And there is a dream of a better day, if we can get past the crime and violence that has overtaken Iraqi streets.

Freedom wasn't mean to taste so bittersweet. Either we are abusing our newfound freedom, or we are misunderstanding America's concept of freedom. If freedom is intended to mean falling foul of the law, being imprisoned at home in a curfew, pillaging and sabotage, and numbing our nerves with false promises, no one can applaud.
...
Till his day, Iraqis are asking the same question-Saddam, under UN sanctions, was able to put Iraqi expertise to work and supply the country with electricity. He even exported electricity to Jordan. So why can't the world's greatest superpower come close? Don't be mistaken. I am happy to be rid of the nightmare of Saddam and appreciate what America did to get rid of him. But a more significant question still looms over the Coalition, the CPA and the Governing Council: can they find real solutions for trivial problems, so that we can trust to find real solutions for the really major ones?

Echoes of anti-war folks like me: yes, we're glad Saddam is gone; no, that's not the point.

ntodd

[Update, 12:36PM: Added the link to Iraq Today. I guess it was a little early when I posted.] 
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Quote Of The Day


Okay, it was yesterday, but the Boston Globe quotes Al Franken on the Faux suit that made this blog become "fair and balanced":

"In addition to thanking my own lawyers," Franken said, "I'd like to thank Fox's lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I've ever seen in my life."

God bless America.

ntodd 
   |


Brits Killed In Basra


Independent reports:

Three British servicemen were killed and one seriously injured in an attack today in Iraq's southern city of Basra.

Eyewitness accounts said a bomb was thrown at a British military vehicle as it was driven down one of the city's main streets.

This morning's attack came as, nearly 300 miles away, British diplomats left their Baghdad embassy following a "credible threat" of attack.

I ordinarily don't like to report Iraqi deaths, but the fact that Basra is becoming bloody again is disturbing.

ntodd 
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Dean's Big Mo Redux


WaPo:

Howard Dean, who had planned to run as an insurgent on a shoestring, is adjusting his campaign to befit his new lot in life: the well-funded, emerging front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Recent polls show the former Vermont governor leading [in New Hampshire] and in Iowa, the first two stops on the road to the 2004 nomination, running strong in vote-rich California and surging nationally.
...
The race remains far too close and volatile to consider any of the nine candidates a true front-runner in a contest much of the public is ignoring, but several rival campaigns now privately talk of the Vermont Democrat as the man to beat. Several challengers are adjusting their campaigns to prepare for a one-on-one showdown with Dean.
...
Growing popularity is forcing Dean to shift gears. He's expanding his fundraising and political operations to profit from the surge...At the same time, Dean is trying to expand the appeal of his message.

On Friday Howie made $286,000+ online in response to his "A Million Against Bush" challenge. Have you donated yet?

ntodd 
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Friday, August 22, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Parting Shot




Okay, now I'm really going to go pack.

ntodd 
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Smoking Them Out


I've figured out the US method for finding all the bad guys from Saddam's regime. It's on the front page of the CPA website:



I am not making this up. The Arabic version of the site does not appear to have this incredibly helpful tool, but I don't read the language so am not 100% sure.

ntodd 
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My Declining Alma Mater


Good old Colby College was ranked much higher than #17 when I went there. Now our arch-rival Bowdoin beats us out. But we still are masters over Bates! Ahem.

Yeah, yeah, I know these rankings are silly, but they do help in terms of recruitment. And one component that I'm most interested in, since I'm on my class giving committee, is the alumni donations. That's traditionally seen as an indicator of how good a college experience alumni feel they had, which again boosts the perception of the school's quality and helps attract good students.

ntodd

PS--I did consider Bowdoin, as well as Bucknell, Haverford, Swarthmore, and Middlebury. But once I visited Colby, my mind was made up and I only applied there. Trivia: the same architect who designed Colby's buildings also did Bucknell's, my parents' alma mater; Colby's new president was formerly president of Bucknell. Weird, huh? 
   |


Hangin' With Cheney


I'm getting ready to head out to an undisclosed location to play golf with Dick Cheney. I think I might be able to convince him that this whole Iraq thing is a big mess. Anywayz, I have a million things to do here before I go, so I need to stop my obsessive blogging three hours ago. Please note that my Internet access will be spotty at best over the next several days, particularly early next week, so things will be quieter than normal at DM. I'm also getting ramped up for a special sub rosa project that I can't tell you more about until after Labor Day. However, I'm still going to blog daily, just with lower frequency and quantity of entries. Don't change that dial! You must come back often to see if I have posted anything witty, wise, or wacked. Consider this an experiment in intermittent reinforcement.

ntodd 
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Another Bat


Just got an e-mail from Joe Trippi (yeah, we're buds). He told me:

Yesterday George Bush took time off from his vacation to go fundraising again, this time in Portland, Oregon. At just one event he brought in $1 million from 500 of his biggest contributors. Outside the fundraiser more than 2,000 Americans gathered to speak out against Bush's failed policies, which have ruined our economy and damaged our standing in the world community. Yet pocketing $1 million dollars was enough for George W. Bush to thank the people of Portland for their "warm welcome."

We can't let George W. Bush continue to rack up millions while the American people are left out in the street. Today, we're bringing out the bat on the Dean for America website - and putting it up against George W. Bush. Our goal is to raise $1 million against George Bush by the end of the Sleepless Summer Tour - midnight this Tuesday, August 26th.


You know what to do.

ntodd

PS--Emma at Notes on the Atrocities was at the protestsBush's warm welcome and has a couple reports.

[Update: Dean Troll Tax has been sent to the Dean campaign] 
   |


Amazon Peddles Soft Pr0n


I've always said Jeff Bezos is brilliant. Now Amazon.com has the exclusive on Anna "I Can't Win A Tennis Tourney So Give Me $15M In Endorsements" Kournikova's new line of sports bras:



The reported tagline for the ad campaign: Only the ball should bounce.

Oh my.

ntodd 
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Interesting Gambit By Chief Justice Moore


Briefly saw Alabama's Chief Justice on Today this morning. I'd like to see the transcript, which isn't available yet, but here's one thing that struck me: Moore claimed that Alabama's constitution requires him to acknowledge god; acknowledging god isn't about religion, but following the law. He specifically cited the preamble to the constitution:

We, the people of the State of Alabama, in order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution and form of government for the State of Alabama.

First of all, I find it funny that conservatives often decry use of the US Constitution's preamble as justification for laws, and here's one using the Alabama preamble. And yes, the preamble does mention "Almighty God", which doesn't appear to compel anybody to acknowledge this particular god on government property. Further, here's Section 3 of the state constitution:

That no religion shall be established by law; that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination, or mode of worship; that no one shall be compelled by law to attend any place of worship; nor to pay any tithes, taxes, or other rate for building or repairing any place of worship, or for maintaining any minister or ministry; that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state; and that the civil rights, privileges, and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected by his religious principles.

Seems pretty clear to me. I also note that Moore condemned the idea that a Federal court could tell him to remove the monument. However, his own State Supreme Court has ruled against him as well. When Matt Lauer pressed him on his defiance of the courts and the law, he said basically "no court can tell somebody what to believe". Funny, I believe that's the whole point, isn't it?

ntodd 
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UN A Tool Of Occupation


Asia Times observes:

The Pentagon line of "remnants of Saddam's regime", now composed with "international terrorists", is supposed to explain the actions of all those anti-American "evil doers" on the loose in Iraq. It's much more complex than that. During the Saddam era all sort of crypto-Wahhabi groups were more or less tolerated - as long as they did not meddle in politics. Obviously, these groups were all of them anti-Saddam. Post-Saddam Iraq finally offered them the perfect cause: resistance against foreign occupation. This has absolutely nothing to do with al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Islam. Al-Qaeda - which was never tolerated inside Iraq - or the enclaved Ansar al-Islam could never have organized such a disciplined resistance in two or three months.

As the Iraqi resistance is so multi-faceted, there's every possibility that the UN bombing was perpetrated by elements of this Wahhabi network, already in existence in the Saddam era. And as unfortunate as it may seem, the UN for them is a pretty legitimate target. Human rights groups have extensively documented how UN Resolutions 661 and 687 may have been responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 Iraqi children in the 1990s, due to entirely preventable diseases. For many strands of the Iraqi resistance, the UN is just a tool of the occupying power.

Compare and contrast to what I wrote on Wednesday. It appears more and more to me that the UN is viewed as just another cog in the occupying machine. The fatwas calling for resistance to the occupying powers do not bode well for this adventure to have a happy ending.

ntodd 
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MIFTAH Speaks With Reason


The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) has this to say about the current cycle of I/P violence:

Even though it is impossible to control the actions of revengeful Palestinians with nothing to lose, it is time to rise above the Sharon provocations and to become united under one leadership regardless of the continued Israeli violations. When Palestinians react in a way that empowers Sharon, they are only dehumanizing and hurting the just Palestinian cause.

One can only hope that sanity will prevail during these chaotic times and that Hamas and Islamic Jihad will reconsider their actions and fumble Israel’s attempts to unleash a new cycle of violence that threatens to be more lethal than anything endured thus far.

One can only hope.

ntodd 
   |


Regime Change


WaPo observes:

The wave of violent death this week in Iraq, Israel, Gaza and Afghanistan brought to the fore a reality that President Bush has been reluctant to discuss: Peace is not at hand.

A confident Bush stood in the Rose Garden less than a month ago, saying, "Conditions in most of Iraq are growing more peaceful," boasting of "dismantling the al Qaeda operation" and pronouncing "pretty good progress" toward Middle East peace and a Palestinian state within two years.

Those sunny characterizations may yet prove true, but Bush allies and foes alike are coming to the conclusion that the progress may not be noticeable by the time Bush faces the voters again in 15 months. For a president who has staked his reputation on making "a tough decision to make the world more peaceful," this could be a big problem.

Could be a big problem? I think that qualifies as understatement. He has made an objectively bad decision to make the world less peaceful. Everything that was predicted about his Iraqi folly has come true with a vengeance. Blinded by ideology, he has caused the death of many thousands of people, wasted many billions of dollars, and has done nothing to improve our security. Nothing. For that alone, he should be tossed out of office, nevermind his cynical domestic policies that threaten our jobs and our health. Bush is a security disaster.

Here's the deal: I desperately hope that the crisis in Iraq will be resolved quickly, with no more loss of Iraqi or American or other lives, and will result in a vibrant democracy; I desperately hope that the Road Map will lead to a peaceful end of the intifada, with no more loss of Israeli or Palestinian lives, and will result in a secure Israel and viable Palestinian state; I desperately hope that all of this will reduce the threat of terrorism at home and abroad, and will rehabilitate our country's image as defender of liberty and a good member of the community of nations so we can once again put our energies toward good works for all. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening under Bush's watch. I see no good coming from the Bush administration at all. I'm glad to see that maybe the American people are waking up and recognizing the danger he represents to us and the entire world.

You know I'm an independent supporter of Howard Dean. I don't care who your candidate is--let's just work to get rid of George W. Bush. Give to the Dems, give to Moveon, give to your candidate. Just give your time and money and passion so in the end, we have new hope that we can repair the damage Bush has done to our country.

ntodd 
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June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 April 2007

FAIR AND BALANCED

Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards

A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.

For more about me, go to www.pritsky.net. You can also e-mail me at blog@pritsky.net.

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