From FoxNews: Abbas Threatens Militants With 'Iron Fist'.
[Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas has been under heavy pressure from Israel and the United States to rein in Palestinian militants, who had a relatively free hand under Abbas' predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat. But so far, Abbas has preferred to negotiate with the armed groups.
Abbas last month won the agreement of most militant groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to observe a truce with Israel. While there has been a sharp drop in violence, militants have fired several rockets at Jewish settlements in Gaza and an Israeli border town in recent days. ...
Abbas said such violence cannot be tolerated.
"Whoever wants to sabotage [the truce] with rocket fire or shooting must be stopped by us, even if that requires using force," Abbas said. "There is a national consensus regarding the calm, and whoever leaves this consensus will be struck by an iron fist." ...
The biggest militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have largely honored the truce. Hamas appears to be focusing its efforts on Palestinian legislative elections scheduled in July, though earlier this week it rejected Abbas' call to give up its weapons after the vote.
"Largely honored the truce"? Either they did or they didn't honor the truce. The "largely" indicates that they didn't. Charles Johnson notes articles about violence and attempted violence that has taken place just today: Cease Fire, Palestinian Style.
In an interview in Tel Aviv this week, a senior military source told United Press International that the militant Palestinian groups' leaders and operational commanders assume the calming-down period -- or tahadiyah in Arabic -- will not last long. ...
The source noted that in talks in Cairo, militants committed themselves to maintain quiet this year, but their plans say they must prepare for the day after.
Members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade "whose commitments are conditional" want to resume fighting, the source said. The groups are arming, recruiting, training and planning for the next round of fighting, the senior officer said. Thousands of guns, including Kalashnikov assault rifles and handguns, are smuggled from Egypt into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Prices have dropped, indicating some of the demand has been met. Other weapons include rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, anti-tank rockets and probably Strella anti-aircraft missiles, the source said. ...
Palestinian police released a Hamas rocket squad operative Tuesday, despite a pledge to get tough with those who break a non-formal cease-fire with Israel.
The release came after intervention by outraged Hamas leaders and Egyptian diplomats. The suspect was set free even though he and two other Hamas terrorists had fired at officers during Monday night’s arrest, and a rocket launcher and firearms were found in the gunmen’s car.
Israeli officials said the incident underscores the failure of Abbas’ attempt to confront the terror groups.
And Daniel Pipes has an excellent new editorial: Hamas vs. America.
The Bush administration’s push for quick democracy in the Middle East has an increasingly clear implication: if Islamist organizations such as Hamas are to be likely electoral winners, Western powers should stop classifying them as terrorists and instead come to terms with them.
This conclusion follows from such efforts as those led by Alastair Crooke and his Conflicts Forum; the European Union’s exploration of opening a dialogue with the Islamists; and an astonishing statement in which the White House spokesman referred to Hamas members as “business professionals.”
Before this whitewashing of Hamas proceeds, it bears noting that the organization has not just murdered over four hundred Israelis but also prepared itself for war with America.
As Charles says, read it all.
From FoxNews: Lawyer: Saddam in 'Good Health, High Spirits'.
Saddam turns 68 on Thursday [April 28]. His defense team, which is based in Jordan, still considers him the legal president of Iraq. It was Saddam's second meeting with a member of the legal team. U.S. forces have refused to allow family members to see him.
The above cartoon, from August 2003, was never posted on our site but appears on our latest book Black & White World II. It was inspired by a news story at the time: Saddam's daughters express love for dad.
"He was a very good father, loving, has a big heart," Raghad, wearing a fashionable white headscarf showing part of her light brown hair, told CNN. Asked if she wanted to give a message to her father, she said: "I love you and I miss you."
The story also notes that the big-hearted, loving father killed his two daughters' husbands in 1996.
UPDATE -- April 28: We didn't know it, but reader Jim Fuerstenberg informs us that Pyscho author Robert Bloch was well-known for having made a similar joke years ago when he said: "Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk."
From FoxNews: Social Security Reform Takes Center Stage.
As President Bush was finishing up his 60-day tour touting his Social Security reform plan, Congress prepared a flurry of its own activity to see if the administration's proposal will result in any substantive changes.
Bush declared during his State of the Union address in February that he wanted younger workers to be able to invest a portion of their payroll taxes. The Senate Finance Committee began its first hearing on the proposal Tuesday.
UPDATE -- April 28: This cartoon appears in today's Investor's Business Daily.
At the outset of a three-day visit to China, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he supported Beijing’s “anti-secession” law on Taiwan, and vowed to keep pushing for an end to an EU arms embargo that could open the door for Paris to sell weapons to the Asian giant.
We made this extra-large cartoon (more paper) to mark Earth Day, Friday, April 22. As we did last year, we'll also use the opportunity to plug our latest tree-based product: Black & White World II.
UPDATE -- April 27: This cartoon appeared in the April 26th The Detroit News.
FoxNew reports: China Denies Japan’s Request for Apology.
China on Sunday rebuffed Tokyo’s demands for an apology after sometimes violent anti-Japanese demonstrations, while new protests took place in several cities over perceived efforts by Japan to gloss over its wartime history and to gain a permanent U.N. Security Council seat. ...
Some have suggested that the Chinese government, which wields tight control over its population, permitted earlier protests to undermine Tokyo’s Security Council campaign. Beijing regards Tokyo as a rival for regional dominance and is unlikely to want to give up its status as the only Asian government with a permanent seat and veto power on the Security Council.
But Beijing last week called for calm, apparently afraid of causing more damage to relations with Tokyo or encouraging others to take to the streets to demonstrate against corruption or demand political reforms.
The Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily called in a front-page editorial Sunday for the public to “maintain social stability.”
Also from FoxNews: Japan’s Past a Leash on Its Future?
... China has a still-spotty human rights record, no free press, no true academic freedom and is not anywhere near becoming a democracy.
"If China is ready, then Japan is ready” for a permanent seat on the council, said Joshua Fogel of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Fogel pointed out that China is still so tightly controlled that what may appear to be a spontaneous political demonstration is likely much more. He also disputed the characterization of Japan as extremist, saying the right-wing, racist element there was about as dominant as it is in the United States.
China’s complaints, he said, were almost cartoonish in light of a substantial left-wing presence in Japanese culture and “the most meticulous scholarship” in the region on Japan’s wartime atrocities. (Indeed, Tokyo first acknowledged “comfort women” after a Japanese professor unearthed documents proving they were used.)
“The Chinese are constantly making demands that the Japanese apologize ever more prostrately,” Fogel told FOXNews.com. “A number of Japanese in the center say, ‘This is enough, already. They can’t dictate our foreign policy anymore.’”
This cartoon is based on the famous AP photograph by Jeff Widener taken during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
China's increasing anti-Japanese sentiments have spilled over into U.N. matters, too. Beijing rejected any Japanese bid for a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) seat under recently proposed reforms of the international body.
As a UNSC permanent member with veto rights, Beijing's opposition would block a Japanese bid. While supporting India, Germany and Brazil, China claims that Japan, the U.N.'s second largest donor, doesn't have the "moral qualifications" for a seat.
China's military buildup is also spurring an Asian arms race, pushing "pacifist" Japan to reconsider its defense policy. Many of the more than 750 Chinese missiles now aimed at Taiwan are capable of reaching Japan (and American forces stationed there) as well.
Persistent rumors that the French will sell China Mirage fighters with advanced air-to-air missiles, and maritime patrol aircraft (if the E.U. arms embargo is lifted) has gotten Tokyo's (and Taipei's) rapt attention.
UPDATE II -- April 19: This cartoon appears in today's (Tuesday's) The Detroit News.
UPDATE III -- April 20: From The New York Times: Chinese Official Orders End to Anti-Japanese Demonstrations.
"Cadres and the masses must believe in the party and the government's ability to properly handle all issues linked to Sino-Japanese relations," Mr. Li was quoted as saying. "Calmly, rationally and legally express your own views. Do not attend marches that have not been approved. Do not do anything that might upset social stability."
Mr. Li's comments, carried on national television, amounted to the first direct call by a top official to wind down the protests by tens of thousands of urban residents. The demonstrations have continued on three successive weekends, becoming China's most sustained street protests since the pro-democracy uprising of 1989.
Until now, the protests have enjoyed at least tacit approval from the central government. Although none of the major marches in Beijing, Shanghai and several other cities received formal permits, the police had not made consistent efforts to prevent them or to arrest people responsible for vandalizing Japanese diplomatic missions or private property in the marches.
UPDATE IV -- April 22: From ABC News: Japan PM Apologizes for WWII Aggression. Not surprisingly, China spokesman says more is needed.
UPDATE V -- April 25: This cartoon appears in today's (Monday's) Investor's Business Daily.
For more blog-related (and somewhat less silly) cartoons see:
From CNN: Senate committee delays Bolton vote.
A Senate committee delayed until next week a vote on John R. Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after Democrats asked for more time to consider the nomination.
Committee Democrats, who are united in opposing Bolton, want to question State Department officials in writing about the undersecretary of state, said Andy Fisher, spokesman for the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana.
Deferring a vote, which had tentatively been planned for Thursday, would give Democrats more time to try to persuade a moderate Republican, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, to defect to their side.
UPDATE -- April 18: This cartoon appears in today's (Monday's) Investor's Business Daily.
As CNN reported after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's vist to President Bush's ranch in Texas, Bush still wants to pursue the "roadmap to peace" and a Palestinian state. CNN also reported that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was happy with that, even though they've yet to prove they even deserve a state by disarming their own terrorist groups. But The Jerusalem Post followed up with coverage of the PA's change of heart and more threats from Palestinian terror gangs: PA: US jeopardizing peace process.
In a clear challenge to the PA, representatives of various armed groups in the Gaza Strip held a press conference in which they also denounced Bush and rejected his demand to dismantle terrorist organizations.
Abu Dajaneh, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, accused Bush of conspiring with Israel to kill more Palestinians. "Sharon and Bush met to renew their commitment to slaughter the Palestinian people," he said.
"The weapons of the resistance are legitimate and we won't give them up even after the settlers leave the Gaza Strip. We will lay our weapons only when all of Palestine is liberated."
Abu Muhammed, a representative of Fatah's armed wing, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, also rejected any attempt to confiscate the weapons of his group: "We won't give up our weapons until the settlers leave all the territories occupied in
A member of a group called the Nasser Eddin Brigades accused Bush of giving Israel a green light to build more settlements.
"These statements are very dangerous. He who gave permission to Israel to kill Palestinians is now giving it the right to live on our lands," the gunman, who identified himself as Abu Abir, said. "The enemy understands only the language of
force and we will continue to launch rocket attacks on the settlements, detonate bombs and dispatch suicide bombers until the occupiers leave all of Palestine."
As the CNN article noted: "... [H]ours ahead of Sharon's arrival in the United States, Israel Defense Forces said three Palestinian teenagers who were shot and killed by the Israeli military were involved in smuggling weapons from Egypt into Gaza."
TEL AVIV - A 15-year-old Palestinian boy carrying five pipe bombs was detained by IDF forces at the Hawara roadblock south of the West Bank town of Nablus.
The boy, identified as Hassan Hashash, was obviously sent by someone and terrified, a soldier involved in the incident told Ynet.
“You could see it’s a young child who was sent (by someone.) I looked into his eyes, he was on the brink of tears and scared to death,” said Muli, a paratrooper whose full name cannot be revealed for security reasons.
UPDATE II: From FoxNews: Mob Attacks Israeli Troops in West Bank.
TSURIF, West Bank — Dozens of Palestinians surrounded an overturned Israeli army jeep in a West Bank village Wednesday and stoned trapped soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber bullets, witnesses and the military said.
From FoxNews today: DeLay in Hot Water Again.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay came under more fire Friday for his comments suggesting that judges who refused to further consider the Terri Schiavo case could one day pay for their decisions.
The Texas Republican on Friday suggested an impeachment case could be made against judges who rebuffed Congress’ will in the Schiavo case. As the severely brain-damaged Florida woman faded, Congress passed a law allowing federal courts to review the decisions of state judges who turned down her parents’ efforts to resume her feeding. But state and federal judges all the way up to the Supreme Court upheld those decisions.
Arguing that federal courts had “run amok,” largely because Congress failed to confront them, DeLay said: “Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy.”
The comments came in a videotaped speech delivered to a Washington conference entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.”
DeLay pointed the finger of blame at the courts for what he said was their invention of abortion rights and prohibitions of school prayer. He argued that courts had blatantly ignored the intent of Congress. ...
On the day Schiavo died, DeLay said: “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has taken a much more conciliatory tone on the issue, saying only that he wants to maintain the current independence of the courts and hopes a compromise can avoid a fight to change the rules.
President Bush on Friday said he supports “an independent judiciary” and declined to endorse comments by DeLay that were critical of judges.
“I believe in proper checks and balances,” Bush said. ...
Few other Republicans have gone as far as DeLay in criticizing an independent branch of government. [Emphasis added]
The Courier-Journal noted in an editoral: Tom DeLay’s jihad.
The needlessly inflammatory and divisive name of the conference at which he [Rep. DeLay] spoke (one he helped organize) is revealing: “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.” There is no such war -- no evidence whatsoever that any court has set out to curb the rights of citizens to worship freely.
What Rep. DeLay is attempting to do is to inflame religious passions to further his reckless and destructive assault on the courts. He argued at the conference that federal courts have “run amok” largely because Congress has failed to control them. He said the proper response “is to reassert (Congress’) constitutional authority over the courts.”
But Congress doesn’t have that authority, beyond narrowly defined roles such as Senate confirmation of federal judges and impeachment powers in the case of criminal behavior. Otherwise, judicial independence is a cornerstone of the constitutional separation of powers that defines the American system of checks and balances. Conservatives should understand that.
The New York Times reported Friday: DeLay Says Federal Judiciary Has ‘Run Amok,’ Adding Congress Is Partly to Blame. (Via TIA Daily)
The organizers of the ["Confronting the Judicial War on Faith"] conference and Congressional staff members who spoke there called for several specific steps: impeaching judges deemed to have ignored the will of Congress or to have followed foreign laws; passing bills to remove court jurisdiction from certain social issues or the place of God in public life; changing Senate rules that allow the Democratic minority to filibuster Mr. Bush’s appeals court nominees; and using Congress’s authority over court budgets to punish judges whom it considers to have overstepped their authority.
UPDATE I -- April 11: Also in the news are allegations of ethics violations by DeLay. FoxNews reports: Shays: DeLay Should Step Down. Joe Gandelman has more on this aspect of the story (via InstaPundit).
UPDATE II -- April 14: From The New York Times: DeLay Asks House Panel to Review Judges.
Deflecting all questions about his ethical conduct and political future, Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, on Wednesday stepped up his crusade against judges, announcing that he had instructed the Judiciary Committee to investigate federal court decisions in the Terri Schiavo case and to recommend possible legislation. ...
Mr. DeLay was not specific about what legislative changes, if any, he would like to see emerge from the Judiciary Committee's review. But in announcing that he had asked Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and the committee chairman, to examine the actions of federal judges in the Schiavo case, Mr. DeLay said the House had previously passed legislation limiting the jurisdiction of the courts and breaking up the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a bill that died in the Senate.
"We set the jurisdiction of the courts," Mr. DeLay said. "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts."
From The Australian: Annan comes out fighting with rallying call to troops. (Via InstaPundit)
KOFI Annan has summoned all UN staff to a meeting today in an effort to shore up his crumbling leadership of the organisation. The UN Secretary-General will address several thousand officials crammed into the General Assembly hall, where world leaders meet every northern autumn, and thousands more by video link around the world.
Aides say the embattled UN chief will deliver a "pep talk" in an attempt to buoy the spirits of UN personnel after a series of scandals, including last week's oil-for-food report criticising Mr Annan and his son, Kojo. He is expected to tout his recently released reform agenda, In Larger Freedom, which calls for institutional changes to revive the organisation. ...
Mr Annan is facing widespread scepticism about his claim that an independent inquiry into the oil-for-food scandal "exonerated" him. Two members of the three-member commission of inquiry have publicly challenged the UN's spin on their report, noting that it faulted him for management lapses.
UPDATE I -- April 12: This cartoon will appears in today's (Tuesday's) The Detroit News.
(NOTE: We've updated our April Fool's Day post with a completed cartoon based on a reader's suggestion, which you can view by scrolling down or clicking here.)
The Sharon cartoon above was originally posted in February 2004 and is one of over 450 cartoons in our latest book Black & White World II.
Mr. Sharon's plans at least have a disillusioned quality to them, sparing Israel the wooly notions of a "new Middle East" that so harmed the country a decade ago. But in another way, Mr. Sharon's plans are worse than Oslo; at least that disaster was carried out by the clueless Left. A Right - led by Mr. Sharon – valiantly and staunchly opposed it. This time, it is the Right's hero who, allied with the far-Left, is himself leading the charge, reducing the opposition to marginality.
This cartoon originally appeared last July and can be found in our latest book Black & White World II. (As I noted in our most recent post, John and I are still taking some time off from cartooning. New cartoons will resume in less than a week.)
From Joseph Farah at World Net Daily: The Berger whitewash.
I knew it. You knew it.
When Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser to the president of the United States, was caught red-handed stealing highly classified documents from the National Archives more than a year ago, he was permitted to go free. He was allowed to go out and give speeches. He was even permitted to serve as a national security adviser to a presidential candidate and was talked about as a possible secretary of state for John Kerry, should he have been elected to the White House.
The investigation dragged on for more than a year.
The public has never received answers as to the specific papers taken by Berger, whose excuse for being in the National Archives at the time was preparing his former boss, Bill Clinton, for testimony before the 911 commission.
And, last week, confirmation came. Berger would be charged with one misdemeanor count of taking classified material. He copped a plea and would plead guilty, avoiding any jail time. His "punishment" would be a $10,000 fine and not being allowed to serve in a national security position in the federal government for a period of three years, which, of course, is meaningless since Republicans will be in control of the White House until 2008.
It was the proverbial slap on the wrist. It's worse than that. It's a shake of the finger with a wink and a nod. It's a joke.
UPDATE -- April 8: The Wall Street Journal criticizes some on the right for spinning conspiracy theories regarding the Berger case: The Berger File.
Some people won't let a bad conspiracy theory go. We're referring to those who loudly assert that former NSC adviser Sandy Berger was trying to protect the Clinton Administration when he illegally removed copies of sensitive documents from the National Archives in late 2003.
On Wednesday, we quoted Justice Department prosecutor Noel Hillman that no original documents were destroyed, and that the contents of all five at issue still exist and were made available to the 9/11 Commission. But that point didn't register with some readers, who continue to suggest a vast, well, apparently a vast left- and right-wing conspiracy. The Washington Times, the Rocky Mountain News and former Clintonite Dick Morris have also been peddling dark suspicions based on misinformation.
UPDATE -- April 2: Wow! We had a better response to this April Fool's Day cartoon than expected. There were many good caption ideas, and John and I will highlight our favorites later. In the meantime, I thought I'd explain what we had in mind for the cartoon. The short answer is: Nothing. We tried to think of a somewhat arbitrary scene to make it a challenge to fill in the blanks. But it wasn't completely arbitrary. As reader andrew pointed out in the comments, the "gorilla in a tutu" reference is from last year's April Fool's Day post (although that's not the first reference we've made to it). And the Elephant and the Donkey reappear from last year, too. The blank sign provided the opportunity to label the gorilla (e.g. social security), but we did not have anything specific in mind. That's it. The rest we left up to your imagination, and your comments prove you have a lot of it. We hope everyone enjoyed the break.
Speaking of which, John and I will be taking a break in the coming week. I may post some older cartoons, but don't expect anything new for a few days while we recharge the batteries.
UPDATE -- April 6: Above is an updated cartoon featuring the caption suggestion that John and I liked best overall. It was submitted by Joe Lederer. Since the April Fool's Day cartoon didn't really have a point to begin with, we thought it was extraordinarily clever to get "April Fools" into the cartoon in a way that actually made some sense (and with only three words!). Our hats are off to Joe. (Joe, send an e-mail with your address to contact -- at -- coxandforkum.com and we'll send you a signed book.)
Though this wasn't an official contest, there were many other good suggestions, including a few noting that both political parties often seemed to say nothing. However, there were some standouts. Honorable mentions go to:
inkboy ... For working the Donkey's rage and the tutu into a joke;
right ... For making it into an actual editorial comment on the lack of serious social security reform from both parties;
kelluman ... For "People for the Ethical Dressing of Animals"; and
Laurence Simon ... For his minimalist, purely visual solution (which you can see here).
Thanks to everyone who participated. That's it for gorillas, tutus and beanies. For now anyway...