Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sunday Roundup

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[Roundup, western style.]

I can’t believe it’s going to be close to 60 degrees today (Fahrenheit, not Celsius). While that may not seem warm to my west coast readers, it is positively balmy for the end of November here in NYC. I can think back to years past when it had already snowed a few times by now.

Since it’s so pleasant outside I am thinking about busting out the bbq and grilling some ahi tuna steaks. Some pineapple and bell peppers with a little jasmine rice on the side…makes me hungry just thinking about it. Get out and enjoy the day before it gets to cold. But read these posts first:

Kellie (Airforce Amazons) on Afghanistan

Bob from Brockley debates anti-Zionist numbskulls here.

Contentious Centrist on “Jew Flu

Elder of Ziyon debunks the myth of the starving Gazans.

Flesh is Grass on bloggers and the comments we leave.

Congratulations to Roland (But, I am a Liberal!) Dodds for getting a Normblog profile.

Martin in the Margins discusses education

Mod remembers the Mumai Attacks

Poumista on Kronstadt

Snoopy (Simply Jews) on Hugo Chavez’ Support for Carlos the Jackal

Sultan Knish critiques the dead-end quest for peace

Added Safed-Tzfat, a nice mixture of arts and politics, to my blogroll. If you can read Spanish–or even if you cannot–definitely check this blog out.

I’ll post something on the elections in Honduras soon, in the meantime here are some reports from around the web:

The U.S., Peru, Panama and Costa Rica and Israel have announced they will recognize the results of the election. At this time, Porifirio Lobo of the conservative National Party holds the lead in most polls. The Liberal Party candidate, Elvin Santos, trails by double-digits.  Santos resigned his post as vice president in protest of Manuel Zelaya’s policies. When asked if a coup had occured in Honduras he replied, “It can’t be qualified that way.”

Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela remain behind Zelaya whose supporters have called for a boycott of the elections. The Miami Herald reports, “members of what has been dubbed the ‘Resistance Movement’ have taken to placing small explosive devices at courthouses and media outlets to menace voters, but not injure them.” But what happens after the elections? Will they increase the frequency of their attacks and the potency of their devices?

One can find a fairly predictable “liberal” perspective on the elections from George Vickers (Open Society Institute) who gets taken to task in the comments section of his post at Foreign Policy. Unfortunately, I have many friends and even more associates who agree with Vickers.

Regardless of who wins, I hope things improve for Hondurans and they do not find themselves as isolated as they have been since the end of June.

Thankful

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We are off to a good friend’s for Thanksgiving this year. It is the first time in close to a decade that I have not cooked the meal and my wife and I have not had friends or family over. We usually have over the folks my mom calls “strays”, those who are not traveling to visit their relatives or are otherwise stuck in town.

I like making the whole spread–turkey, stuffing and gravy (tofurkey for wifey), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, cranberry sauce, all of that. My wife bakes the pumpkin pie. This year it will be nice to sit back and relax, not have to cook, and, even better, not have to do the dishes!

So what am I thankful for this year? Family, by blood and by marriage, friends–old and new found–perhaps most essentially life, and the gifts life offers. I know that sounds hackneyed, but after reading this account by someone whose wife and two children were murdered in the Mumbai attacks, it really put things into perspective for me.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you all, American or not.

Remembering the Mumbai Attacks: The Lessons Learned One Year Later

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One year ago today (November 26) Mumbai, India experienced its worst terrorist attack. Ten jihadists with small arms and grenades killed over 173 people and wounded over 308. They managed to hold the police and armed forces at bay until November 29.

While there have been some changes made in the hopes of preventing another attack, Karan Singh Tyagi laments:

Sadly, not much has changed. A year down the line no individual has been held accountable or punished for such a heinous act. It was only yesterday that the Pakistan Anti-Terrorism Court formally charged seven suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with planning and helping execute the Mumbai attacks. It is better late than never, but one only hopes that this indictment will be taken to its logical conclusion without any further delay.

In India itself, the trial of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone jihadi captured alive, has been turned into a prolonged circus that is serving no one. Kasab initially pleaded not guilty, but later, on July 20th, admitted his guilt. The court accepted his plea and placed the confessional statement on record, but dubbed the admission of guilt as a partial admission and let the trial proceed.

By all reckoning, Kasab’s is an open and shut case. So why not get on with it and reach the inevitable end? I am not suggesting kangaroo courts and summary trials, but delays like this don’t translate into justice. It is especially distressing to see such problems continue to emerge after the discomforting maze of the Indian judicial system was so badly exposed to the whole world when the Trial Court took thirteen years to bring down curtains to the 1993 Bombay Bomb Blast case.

Kasab claims he was recruited for the attacks by an Islamist faction in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan initially denied he was Pakistani but they were forced to admit his citizenship as more and more evidence emerged about how and where the plot was hatched. Rhys Blakely reports (July 21, 2009):

Kasab said he had decided to confess and face a possible death sentence in India after learning that Pakistan intended to prosecute five men accused of being linked to the attacks. “I have heard that Pakistan has now admitted I am Pakistani. My wish is to end the trial and for you to punish me,” he told the judge. He had previously pleaded not guilty to 86 offences, including murder and waging war against India, claiming that a confession had been beaten out of him.

Yesterday, however, he detailed how the Mumbai strike had been masterminded by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a senior member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist faction.

A recent AP story disclosed Italian police arrested two Pakistani men involved in financing aspects of the operation:

The day before the attacks began on Nov. 26 they allegedly sent money using a stolen identity to a U.S. company to activate Internet phone accounts used by the attackers and their handlers, said Stefano Fonsi, the head of anti-terror police in Brescia.

The transfer was just $229 but gave the attackers five lines over the Internet, which are difficult to trace and allowed militants to keep in touch even during the rampage, Mr. Fonsi said.

Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Mr. Fonsi said…

The two suspects in Brescia, identified in a police statement as 60-year-old Mohammad Yaqub Janjua and 31-year-old Aamer Yaqub Janjua, are accused of aiding and abetting international terrorism as well as illegal financial activity. Their agency, which operated on the Western Union money transfer network, was seized by police.

Transferring funds using the identity of other people was a common practice at the Madina Trading agency in Brescia, and the Italian probe broke up a ring of people who used the system, Mr. Fonsi said.

Two more Pakistanis were arrested in Saturday’s raids for allegedly committing fraud, money laundering and other crimes through the masked transfers, but they were not linked to the Mumbai attacks. A fifth Pakistani man escaped arrest and was still being sought.

An additional 12 people were flagged to prosecutors for possible investigation but were not arrested, Mr. Fonsi said.

Just by using the stolen identity, the suspects had transferred some €400,000 ($590,000) between 2006 and 2008 to various countries. The network also used its contacts in Pakistan to help illegal immigrants enter Italy, Mr. Fonsi said.

What are the lessons we can learn from the Mumbai terrorist attacks? The first is recognizing the mayhem and destruction that can be accomplished with hand-held weapons. Bombs or other high explosives are not necessary. This was sadly made apparent by Major Malik Hasan’s recent rampage at Fort Hood. The second is realizing the extent of the global connections and networks established by these jihdists rather than narrowly focusing on South Asia. The third lesson regards the wisdom of trying people responsible for warlike acts in civilian courtrooms. While our system of jurisprudence is not as labyrinthine as the Indian courts, the delays in Kasab’s case are what we can likely expect in the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other Gitmo detainees.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those killed and wounded in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Remember what happened on this day one year ago.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be Tried in NYC, Lynne Stewart Off to Jail and Other News

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[KSM: Coming soon to a NYC courthouse near you]

Attorney General Holder announced he is bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) from Guantanamo to NYC to face a criminal trial instead of allowing his case to continue in front of military tribunal. Holder claims the courts have a better chance of convicting KSM than the tribunals, which is crazy given the defendant was prepared to plead guilty and said he wants to receive the death penalty. Holder also thinks the criminal court system will move at a faster pace.

Conservative critics of Holder’s decision point to the length and delays in the Jose Padilla case as well as the real possibility that much of the evidence pointing to KSM’s will be thrown out due to the methods used to extract that evidence, in particular water boarding. They are also concerned a criminal trial will lead to important intelligence falling into the hands of Islamist extremists.

One defense attorney who knows these extremists intimately is Lynne Stewart. Stewart was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for passing information for her client, Omar Abdel Rahman.

Another defense attorney who is finding himself in the hot seat is Paul Bergrin. Better known for his role in Abu Ghraib trials, Bergrin is being tried in a New Jersey court for the murder of a witness and informant who was preparing to testify against one of his clients. Bergrin is “also accused of trying to hire a Chicago hit man to kill a witness in another federal drug case. The assassin recorded their conversations and is cooperating in the case, prosecutors said.” The federal prosecutor added prostitution, drug and bribery charges earlier this month. Given his harsh condemnation of the Bush administration, the Bergrin case is viewed in some (loony left) quarters as an attempt to silence the voice of dissent.

In other news, I was contacted by a reporter in the Bay Area for a story he is writing on the political cult, NATLFED. He wanted to ask me a few questions about the organization regarding recruitment and other matters. At first I was flattered but after doing a bit of searching on the Internet I became concerned that the journalist was less interested in writing a serious critical piece than producing a snarky article about kooky bay area left-wing organizations. That’s all well and good but he doesn’t require me for that.

Another thing I noticed after typing out my answers to his questions was I may as well post some of that information here at my blog. So expect another post on NATLFED a few weeks after his article is published. I will make sure to post a link to his piece as well. I am very interested in reading it and hope I am wrong about my assumptions.

The blog, Spanish Security World added me to their blogroll and I was glad to reciprocate.

Posted RKL’s “It’s a Beautiful Feeling!” 7″ and Anthrax’s “Capitalism is Cannibalism” 7″ at Roland’s new music blog. Next post, Rudimentary Peni‘s “EPs of RP”.

Bill Jones has finally posted some of the videos he did for mutant trumpeter Ben Neill on Youtube. The music is from Ben Neill’s Automotive album. They take a while so be patient.

“Bug Funk”

When I heard this song, I thought a woman was singing. I can’t believe a man is:

“Nite Nite” (lyrics and vocals by Andrew Montgomery)

Cuban Bloggers Attacked by State Security Agents and Pro-Government Mob

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Last Friday, November 13, Cuban bloggers Yoani Sanchez and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo were on their way to a march in downtown Havana when they were forced into an unmarked car by plainclothes police agents and beaten up. Juan O. Tamayo of the Miami Herald notes:

Blogger Claudia Cadelo and another woman were detained in the incident, but without violence.

“The U.S. government strongly deplores the assault,” said a State Department statement issued late Monday. “We have expressed to the Cuban government our deep concern . . . and we are following up with inquiries to [the three bloggers] . . . regarding their personal well-being and access to medical care.”

Sánchez’ husband, Reynaldo Escobar, told El Nuevo Herald she’s walking with a crutch and taking medicines for a backache, the result of being thrown head-first into a car and punched in the back by the three men in plainclothes who detained her for 20 minutes. There was no word on Pardo’s health.

Cuba’s government-controlled mass media has made no mention of the incident, which received wide coverage abroad because of Sanchez’s fame as the prize-winning author of the blog Generación Y, which regularly criticizes the ruling system.

“The Cuban authorities are using brute force to try to silence Yoani Sanchez’s only weapon: her ideas,” said José Miguel Vivanco, head of the New York-based Americas section of Human Rights Watch. “The international community must send a firm message to Raúl Castro that such attacks on independent voices are completely unacceptable.

“This brazen attack makes clear that no one in Cuba who voices dissent is safe from violent reprisals,” Vivanco added.

The Human Rights Foundation, an independent group also based in New York, decried the “blatant attempt by the Cuban government to silence independent thought and speech” and added: “Does the Cuban government realize the preposterous irony of violently assaulting citizens who were on their way to protest violence?”

Seven U.S. senators from both parties, meanwhile, issued statements Tuesday condemning the incident, with New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez calling it “yet another indication that despite all the hoped-for change on the island, the regime continues to rule with an iron fist that crushes any seed of free speech or human rights.”

The Cato Institute’s Ian Vasquez opines:

It’s the 490th anniversary of Havana today and the Cuban government has arranged for celebratory activities. Ordinary residents of Havana and all Cubans who cherish their civil and human rights have less to celebrate, however, as Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez regularly reminds us. Sanchez has become a major irritant of the regime because of her penetrating posts about the absurdities and injustices of everyday life in communist Cuba. You can see her blog in Spanish here, and in English here.

Just over a week ago, in an incident that was widely reported in the international press and that reveals the threat to the Cuban regime of the growing Cuban blogger movement, Sanchez was assaulted in Havana by plain-clothed government agents. Though she was forcefully beaten, she and her friends managed to fight back and get away. More than that, they took pictures of their assailants and of the incident for posting on the blog, prompting the government thugs to leave the scene. One photo of an agent features the caption “She is covering her face…Perhaps afraid of the future.” Another photo features Sanchez pursuing her assailants with the caption: “They have watched us for decades. Now we are watching them.” Very smart.

Now her husband has been attacked. Reuters reports:

The husband of Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said he was attacked by government supporters as he waited on Friday to confront state security agents accused of detaining and beating his wife two weeks ago.

Sanchez, whose writing about the hardships of Cuban life were praised this week by President Barack Obama, said men believed to be government agents forced her into a car and hit her repeatedly in a brief detention on November 6.

Reinaldo Escobar, also a blogger, said he had gone to a Havana intersection hoping that state security agents would respond to a challenge he issued earlier to meet there for a “verbal duel” about his wife’s incident.

He said he was speaking to reporters when, in what appeared to be an orchestrated event, several hundred people gathered and began shouting “Viva Fidel” and “Viva la Revolucion.”

About 20 of his supporters began shouting back and the situation turned violent, he said.

“They pulled my hair, hit me with a shoe, tore my shirt, pulled away my bag of books. I lost my glasses,” Escobar, aged 62, told Reuters.

His wife, who was not with him at the attack, wrote on Twitter: “Until when will the language of force, of intolerance and disrespect for the opinion of others be the one that prevails in my country?”

The Cuban government responded quickly to Escobar’s accusations, emailing to foreign journalists a story published in the website laRepublica.es with the headline “The Cuban people are tired of Yoani Sanchez.”

“Your blog provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba. It is telling that the Internet has provided you and other courageous Cuban bloggers with an outlet to express yourself so freely,” Obama wrote.

“The government and people of the United States join all of you in looking forward to the day all Cubans can freely express themselves in public without fear and without reprisals,” Obama said.

Sanchez, 34, has won several international awards and was named by Time Magazine last year as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Obama’s response added to her international stature as Cuba’s leading dissident voice, but she is little known on the island where Internet access is limited.

The Cuban government has made no secret of its distaste for her, but she is among a growing group of young Cubans who have taken to the Internet to express their desire for change on the island.

Back Again: Updates, Rants and Invitations

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Updates:

I tried to stay away yet I felt a need to keep posting. Not sure why exactly beyond a desire to keep in touch with some of you who I have grown to get attached to. I don’t know about you but there are not of people in my life who I can bounce my ideas off of. Or, to put it another way, not a lot of people who respond in the prompt, critical, and constructive manner you do.

This post is a grab-bag of various emotions, material, information I have read and/or been exposed to since my last post. Yes, there has been lots of great things to check out at my regular reads, but I want to do things a bit differently this time around.

My brother would have been 43 on October 31. Many of you know he passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2006. This time of year is especially difficult for my mom. I wish I was in town for her.

I recently discovered an old post I wrote was cited in a report published by NGO Monitor, “Experts or Ideologues? A Systematic Analysis of Human Rights Watch’s Focus on Israel.” They also have a blog which I added to my blogroll.

I am somewhat familiar with the journal Telos (a quarterly of Politics, Philosophy, Critical Theory, and the Arts) but I was not aware they had a blog, TELOScope which has been added to my blogroll. Here is an article by Fred Siegel that is well worth reading, “Taking Communism from the Communists: The Origins of Modern American Liberalism.”

Alan Johnson of Democratiya has moved on to be an editor of the journal Dissent. Congratulations to Alan. Democratiya book reviews and other material are now archived at the Dissent website.

My homeboy Antonio started a blog. Looks like mostly creative writing at this point. Keep it up, Tony.

And check out this interview with Saad Eskander, director-general of the Iraq National Library and Archives.

Rants:

oreo pitbull

[Oreo: Image by Hiroko Masuike for NYT]

I appreciate the work done by the ASPCA, I really do. But I got sick to my stomach when I heard they killed Oreo the pitbull. In case you haven’t been following the story as close as I have:

Oreo, a dog that was nursed back to health after surviving being thrown off the roof of a six-story building, was killed Friday by lethal injection.

A 2-year-old pit bull, Oreo was euthanized in the New York City headquarters of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after the organization rebuffed last-minute pleas to spare her life. The organization called the dog a danger to the public.

On Friday morning, Oreo received a last meal of “premium quality” kibble and canned dog food. She was then given a sedative, though she appeared “content, alert and panting,” according to an organization spokesman. Oreo was injected in the leg with an overdose of sodium pentobarbital and was pronounced dead shortly after 3 p.m.

The organization has euthanized 107 dogs this year, through October.

Oreo’s case came to public attention in June, when her owner, Fabian Henderson, threw her off the roof of his apartment building at the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn. Mr. Henderson was convicted of animal cruelty and was scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Oreo broke two legs in the fall. News reports of the incident, accompanied by photos of the brown and white dog with her front legs in casts, triggered a flood of adoption offers and financial donations to help pay for the medical care.

It makes my blood boil reading about people who abuse pitbulls. Any dog really, but pits in particular since I lost mine to old age recently and he was my first dog. People ask me, “when are you going to get another dog?” And honestly, I don’t know. Maybe when my son grows a bit older.

President Obama held a “town hall style” meeting for Chinese students where he discussed U.S. policy and relations between the two countries. The audience was hand-picked by the Chinese communist party. No dissent allowed.

After that experience he probably wishes the audiences for the town hall meetings here at home were organized in the same manner. But in all fairness, at least he called on the Chinese government to accept “universal rights.” Now if he would only make the same demands of the Iranian government.

On the subject of Iran, the Israeli navy intercepted an Iranian boat loaded with arms for Hezbollah. A blatant violation of international agreements, international law, the UN, etc. etc. etc. but nobody in the “international community” cares because the target is Israel.

And on the subject of Israel, the U.S. Congress passed a measure condemning the Goldstone Report. 344 members voted for the resolution, 36 against and 22 voted “present”. Here are the last names of those in the latter two groups:

Nays: Baird • Baldwin • Blumenauer • Boustany • Capps • Carson (IN) • Clarke • Clay • Davis (KY) • Dingell • Doggett • Edwards (MD) • Ellison • Filner • Grijalva • Hinchey • Johnson, E. B. • Kilpatrick • Kucinich • Lee (CA) • Lynch • McCollum • McDermott • McGovern • Miller • George • Moran (VA) • Olver • Pastor (AZ) • Paul • Price (NC) • Rahall • Snyder • Stark • Waters • Watt • Woolsey

Present: Becerra • Cooper • Dahlkemper • DeFazio • Delahunt • Duncan • Eshoo • Farr • Heinrich • Hirono • Honda • Johnson (GA) • Jones • Kaptur • Loebsack • Lofgren, Zoe • Lujàn • Obey • Speier • Tierney • Welch •Wu

Like clockwork, the left-wing lunosphere has gone nuts. For them, yet more evidence that Jews “Zionists” control the government.

Invitations:

The good folks at Center Movement.org have invited me to join their team or at least write a guest post. They describe themselves as an Internet journal and are in process of organizing a grassroots centrist lobby. A bit on the journalistic aspect which aims to:

  • Become the voice of Centrism in the United States
  • Put bold, new, non-ideological public policy ideas before the American people
  • Articulate citizens’ reformist agenda
  • Umpire the debate between left and right and discuss various Centrist alternatives
  • Establish an information hub linking visitors to other Centrist sites and reformist organizations

Roland has a new music blog, Some Lost, Some Found. He asked me to post some tunes and I gladly obliged. While my tastes are certainly not as unique as his, I listen to an eclectic mix of music and hope to add something to the mix. [ADDED: My first post on Stäläg 13’s “In Control”  E.P. is up here]

On the topic of music: Bob, I know you remember these Metalheadz tracks:

Far Away (Doc Scott)

Unofficial Ghost (Doc Scott)

Made up Sound (Source Direct)

The Nocturnal (Peshay)