From FoxNews: Governor: Evacuate New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS — Rescuers along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast pushed aside the dead to reach the living Tuesday in a race against time and rising waters, while New Orleans sank deeper into crisis and Louisiana's governor ordered storm refugees out of this drowning city.
Two levees broke and sent water coursing into the streets of the Big Easy a full day after New Orleans appeared to have escaped widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina. An estimated 80 percent of the below-sea-level city was under water, up to 20 feet deep in places, with miles and miles of homes swamped.
"The situation is untenable," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. "It's just heartbreaking."
UPDATE II: An amazing series of photos that capture the extent of the damage: New Orleans floods.
From CNN: Sharpton, Sheen visit antiwar camp.
The Rev. Al Sharpton joined hundreds of war protesters camping near President Bush's ranch for an interfaith service Sunday, saying he felt compelled to meet Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who started the rally three weeks earlier.
Sheehan arrived in Bush's hometown August 6 and refused to leave until she could question the president about the war that has killed more than 1,870 U.S. service members, including her son Casey.
From The Rocky Mountain News: Tide Turning on Sheehan by Mike Rosen.
In spite of her glorified treatment in the liberal media, the tide of public opinion is turning against Cindy Sheehan. Her words and actions simply don't stand up to objective scrutiny. She's a veritable supermarket of rants, cliches and conspiracy theories about President Bush and the United States of America.
She opposed U.S. action against the Taliban in Afghanistan. She wants Israel out of Palestine. Because her son was killed in 2004 ("murdered" by George W. Bush, as she puts it), she's refused to pay her income taxes. She's severed relations with her in-laws as punishment for their voting for Bush in 2004. She believes the "mainstream media" (The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Newsweek, The Associated Press, ABC, CBS, NBC?) are "a propaganda tool for the government," and that were it not for left-wing bloggers on the Internet, "we would already be a fascist state."
She wants the president to be impeached, tried for war crimes and sent to jail. She brands the U.S. government a "morally repugnant system" and declares that "this country is not worth dying for."
From WorldNetDaily.com: Cindy: Terrorists 'freedom fighters' by Joe Kovacs.
Cindy Sheehan, the so-called Peace Mom seeking a second meeting with President Bush in connection with the Iraq War death of her son, says terrorists killing Americans are "freedom fighters."
She made the remark during her trek earlier this month to Crawford, Texas; but her equating the enemy with freedom fighters has not been highlighted by the mainstream media, despite her telling it directly to a reporter for CBS News.
From FoxNews": Shadowy Hamas Terror Chief: Eradicate Israel.
Hamas terrorists released a videotape Saturday purportedly showing a bombmaker believed to top Israel's most-wanted list celebrating the Gaza Strip pullout as a victory for armed resistance.
Senior Hamas commander Mohammed Deif, who masterminded the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings, also urged the destruction of the Jewish state. It was the latest call for continued violence by Hamas officials as the group refocuses its armed struggle on the West Bank, where most of Israel's 246,000 settlers live.
"You are leaving Gaza today in shame," Deif said in comments directed toward Israel, which finished evacuating the last of its 21 Gaza settlements Monday. "Today you are leaving hell. But we promise you that tomorrow all Palestine will be hell for you, God willing."
Twenty-one people were wounded Sunday, two seriously, in a suicide bombing at a central bus station in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, Israeli officials said.
It was the first such attack by Palestinian militants since Israel's historic pullout from Gaza and the West Bank.
From the CNN: Red Cross helped Iraqi rebels in 'hostage deal'.
The Italian Red Cross has said it treated four "presumed Iraqi terrorists" at its Baghdad hospital to secure the release of two kidnapped Italian aid workers, according to a media report.
Maurizio Scelli, the outgoing commissioner of the aid organization, is reported to have said the deal to free the two women -- Simona Pari and Simona Torretta -- was kept secret from U.S. officials.
"The mediators asked us to treat and save the lives of four presumed terrorists sought by the Americans, wounded in combat. We hid them and brought them to the doctors with the Red Cross, who operated on them," Scelli told La Stampa daily in an interview published Thursday. [Emphasis added]
From the New York Daily News: Another insult to America's heritage at Freedom Center (via Take Back The Memorial).
A global network of human rights museums is urging the International Freedom Center to downplay America in its exhibits and programs at Ground Zero, the Daily News has learned. ...
"Don't feature America first," the IFC has been advised by the consortium of 14 "museums of conscience" that quietly has been consulting with the Freedom Center for the past two years over plans for the hallowed site. "Think internationally, where America is one of the many nations of the world." ...
[T]he Freedom Center said on its Web site and newsletter that it had "drawn inspiration" and received "important practical advice" from the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience.
"We have many, many advisers who have given us lots of advice," Richard Tofel, Freedom Center president, said last week. "Some of it we've taken and some of it we haven't -- that's the nature of advice." ...
"No one in the civilized world would ever defend what happened on 9/11," said Sarwar Ali, the coalition's chairman and a trustee of the Liberation War Museum in Bangladesh.
"But what happened after 9/11 -- with restrictions placed on human rights and the cycle of revenge and the allegations of human rights abuses in prisons -- must also be explored," Ali said in a call from London. ...
Coalition members gathered for their annual conference at a Holocaust site in the Czech Republic in July 2004 -- and assailed the United States for "reasserting its power in an arrogant way," the conference report shows.
Among its suggestions for the place where the United States was attacked and nearly 3,000 innocents massacred: "The Freedom Center must signal its openness to contrary ideas."
Philip Kunhardt, the Freedom Center's editorial director, was in attendance at a session called Bringing Conscience to Ground Zero and was given this advice: ...
n "Use reports from human rights organizations to examine contemporary abuse of rights."
n "Involve the United Nations, UNESCO and other international bodies."
n "Use the museum as a venue for international meetings, where all views are welcomed and considered." [Emphasis added]
From a related Daily News editorial: Making a mockery of Ground Zero.
The coalition's annual report ... certifies that 9/11 families were right to warn that the Freedom Center was being taken over by bash-America propagandists. It also shows, again, that Gov. Pataki had no clue what he was doing in giving the Freedom Center and a second cultural group, the Drawing Center, a franchise at Ground Zero.
Take Back The Memorial continues its petition drive (which is over 40,000 signatures) and is staying on top of all developments, including the withdrawal of the Drawing Center and the withdrawal of backing for the memorial by the Uniformed Firefighters Association. In a New York Post commentary, UFA President Steve Cassidy wrote:
What we are seeking is that which is morally correct -- a fitting memorial erected at Ground Zero that reflects the memory and sacrifice of the victims, the rescuers and their families and all affected.
Tim Sumner of 9/11 Families For America also writes:
As I sit here watching the National Geographic documentary Inside 9/11 and once again hear the voices of firefighters -- including my wife's brother's -- on the FDNY audio tapes from the World Trade Center's South Tower, the anger rises once more.
I highly recommend Inside 9/11, which airs again on Thursday, Sept. 8 and is available on DVD. Also recommended: A&E will rebroadcast The Anatomy of September 11th on Sept. 1 and 7 -- it's a documentary I saw in 2002 and remember as being an excellent, detailed account of those who survived WTC attacks (and it is no longer available on video).
For other survivors' stories, The New York Times has posted over 12,000 pages of testimony from 503 firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians: Oral Histories From Sept. 11 Compiled by the New York Fire Department.
UPDATE I -- Aug. 24: Take Back The Memorial is holding a rally at Ground Zero on Saturday, Sept. 10. See their site for details.
UPDATE II -- Aug. 27: Here's an excellent overview and editorial by George Koch and John Weissenberger at the National Post: Remember The Victims (via Real Clear Politics and 9/11 Families for America).
As author Dennis Smith noted in The New York Daily News, if 9/11's victims can't claim this space, they won't have anything, as more than 1,000 of them left no physical trace. As one victim's father said, "A five-year-old can understand it."
There seem only two possible reasons for the IFC to attach itself to 9/11: to gain legitimacy by association, or to redirect how 9/11 is remembered. "Myths which are believed in, tend to become true," Orwell also wrote. At Ground Zero, the fight is about which "myth" captures the American people's imagination -- the simple facts of who died, how and at whose hand; or something darker, a "narrative" suggesting that perhaps, after all of America's ambivalent history, it was finally Americans' turn to suffer.
(Note: I am flattered that one of my comments is mentioned in the article. The National Post subscribes to our cartoons.)
From The Sunday Times Pope tells Muslims to fight 'new barbarism'.
UPDATE -- Aug. 26: From Jihad Watch: Islamic forum: Vatican has entered the war (via Tom Pechinski).
If a group of US researchers have their way, lions, cheetahs, elephants and camels could soon roam parts of North America, Nature magazine reports.
The plan, which is called Pleistocene re-wilding, is intended to be a proactive approach to conservation. ...
"Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators," said lead author Josh Donlan, of Cornell University. "There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realising predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions."
UPDATE -- Aug. 22: Small Wars Journal has thoughts on the war coverage (see 22 August 2005 entry).
From FoxNews: Bush Administration Watches Iraq Closely.
The Bush administration is staying in close contact with Iraqis as they seek to wrap up writing a draft constitution, and are putting on a brave face through difficult challenges.
On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Defense Department officials are confident that the remaining issues that delayed the completion of the constitution will still be resolved, saying all parties are still at the table. He characterized the process as one of compromise, cooperation and significant progress and said a one-week extension does not seem unreasonable. ...
Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish framers of the charter had reached a tentative deal late Monday, resolving issues ranging from oil revenues to the country's name but putting off decisions on the most contentious questions — including federalism, women's rights, the role of Islam, and possible Kurdish autonomy.
The Shiites are demanding that Islam be the main source of legislation. That could affect the civil code — because in Islamic law, or sharia, women might not receive the same share of inheritance and cannot initiate divorce.
Those demands are of concern to U.S. officials, who say they have made it clear that they expect women's rights to be protected in the constitution.
U.S. diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline to draft a constitution under intense U.S. pressure.
U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment.
Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish negotiators all said there was accord on a bigger role for Islamic law than Iraq had before.
But a secular Kurdish politician said Kurds opposed making Islam "the," not "a," main source of law -- changing current wording -- and subjecting all legislation to a religious test.
"We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi'ites," he said. "It's shocking. It doesn't fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state ... I can't believe that's what the Americans really want or what the American people want." [Emphasis added]
From Bloomberg: Talabani, U.S. Envoy Optimistic Iraq to End Deadlock.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said they're optimistic that Iraqi negotiators will complete drafting the country's permanent constitution before a week-long extension to the process expires on Aug. 22.
The deadline was extended because more time was needed to hammer out the language of the document, though a general agreement on key issues had been reached, Talabani said in a statement following a press conference. ...
Iraqi leaders have agreed on "the most critical issues," including the role of Islam, basic rights, and the structure of government, Khalilzad said. He didn't say what the obstacles are. Self-determination, the distribution of natural resources and women's rights have been among the contentious points.
UPDATE -- Aug. 17: From FoxNews: Talabani Clears Way for Executions.
President Jalal Talabani has paved the way for the first legal execution in Iraq since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, the presidential office said Wednesday. The case involves three men sentenced to hang for murdering three policemen.
Any death sentence must be approved by the three-member presidential council headed by Talabani, who has voiced opposition to capital punishment in the past. He still refuses to sign the authorization document, but his office said he had authorized one of his vice presidents, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to do so instead.
Abdul-Mahdi signed the order but it was unclear if the sentence had been carried out. Executions in Iraq are by hanging.
From FoxNews: Gaza Settlers Confront Israeli Soldiers.
On the first day of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip, some Jewish settlers weren't going quietly.
Many had evacuated their homes ahead of the official start of the pullout just after midnight Monday. But those who refused locked the gates to their settlements and clasped hands, forming human chains, to block soldiers from delivering dreaded eviction notices.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in a televised speech that the Gaza pullout was a painful step, both for the nation and for himself, but that it was essential for Israel's future.
A grim-looking Sharon said it is now up to the Palestinians to clamp down on militants and stop violence. "To an outstretched hand we will respond with an olive branch," he said.
... Hamas' founders and top political leaders gathered on the same stage for the first time in a decade, vowing to go on fighting Israel and claiming victory for the impending withdrawal.
UPDATE I -- Aug. 16: From CNN: Israeli forces arrest 50 at Gaza settlement.
As a midnight deadline to voluntarily leave Gaza approached, Israeli police arrested about 50 protesters Tuesday at the settlement of Neveh Dekalim, Israeli security sources said.
The demonstrators were trying to block vans that were coming to ferry out departing settlers.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned, "We will take action against anyone who violates the law."
Sharon won the prime ministry in early 2003 by electorally crushing an opponent who espoused unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Sharon declared back then: "A unilateral withdrawal is not a recipe for peace. It is a recipe for war." For unknown reasons, in late 2003 he adopted his opponent's policy of leaving Gaza, thereby reneging on his promises, betraying his supporters, and inflicting lasting damage on Israeli public life.
To Palestinian rejectionists, an Israeli retreat under fire sends an unambiguous signal: Terrorism works. Just as the Israeli departure from Lebanon five years earlier provoked new violence, so too will fleeing Gaza.
Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas said on Saturday it would fight to drive Israel out of the West Bank and Jerusalem after the Jewish state completes its withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip this year.
"Gaza is not Palestine," a masked spokesman for Hamas's armed wing told a news conference in Gaza City.
"As for Jerusalem and the West Bank, we will seek to liberate them by resistance just as the Gaza Strip was liberated," said the spokesman, surrounded by gunmen and militants with rocket launchers.
He did not explicitly say Hamas, committed to destroying Israel, planned to abandon a truce at the end of 2005.
Hamas is "committed to destroying Israel." Can't get any more explicit than that.
From Drudge Report: Bush Protesting Mom Calls for 'Israel Out of Palestine' (via Little Green Footballs who first noted this story last week).
Anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq, is calling for Bush's "impeachment," and for Israel to get out of Palestine!
"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism," Sheehan declares.
From The Washington Post: Cindy Sheehan's Pitched Battle.
Cindy Sheehan vaulted into national consciousness this month on the power of her story as the grieving mother of a fallen soldier.
But what began as a solitary campaign to force a meeting with President Bush by setting up camp along the road to his ranch has quickly taken on the full trappings of a political campaign. Sheehan is working with a political consultant and a team of public relations professionals, and now she is featured in a television ad.
Sheehan began her protest here last Saturday after crisscrossing the country for more than a year demanding answers on why Bush continues to wage what she calls an unjust war in Iraq. After her son Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed in Baghdad last year, she founded Gold Star Families for Peace, an antiwar organization that labored largely in obscurity -- until now.
In part, Sheehan's case has echoed as her grievances merged with what polls show is growing dissatisfaction with the war. But her cause has also been aided by political organizers who swiftly mobilized around her -- recognizing an opportunity to cause acute discomfort for a vacationing president and put a powerful emotional frame around the antiwar movement.
Trouble is Sheehan is not sincerely interested in meeting Bush for a private, heartfelt chat about her understandable anguish and lingering questions.
She wants to make a public splash by allowing critics of the unjustified war in Iraq to use her as a human bazooka against Bush, who got us into this war mess.
That Sheehan would allow her private grief to be plied for a public stunt seems unfathomable even if her underlying message about unnecessary blood being shed by American soldiers hits the mark.
Sheehan already got face time with the president, right here in Western Washington last year -- a fact that folks tend to ignore as Sheehan morphs into the celebrity du jour.
LGF also noted a comment at one leftist site offering P.R. advice for "anti-war" protesters using Ms. Sheehan:
We should call her "Mother Sheehan". We should never call her Cindy; I don’t know her. "Mother Sheehan" is her title, and expresses her ceremonial status as a bereaved mother, calling forth over the dead body of her son. ...
We should use the word “sacrifice”. She has sacrificed the most precious thing a mother has, the life and promise of her child. ...
We should not use the name of her son. Her son is a symbol of all sons who have been sacrificed for this useless and criminal war. ...
If there are any persons who are theatre professionals at the Sheenan vigil, they should arrange things much more theatrically.
UPDATE I -- Aug. 15: A May article at FrontPageMag.com featured more of Cindy Sheehan's opinions about America and Israel (via Lawrence Peck):
"They're not waging a War on Terror but a War of Terror," she said. "The biggest terrorist is George W. Bush." ... "We have no Constitution. We're the only country with no checks and balances. We want our country back if we have to impeach George Bush down to the person who picks up the dog sh-t in Washington! Let George Bush send his two little party animals to die in Iraq. It's OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons but we are waging nuclear war in Iraq, we have contaminated the entire country. It's not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. Hypocrites! But Israel can occupy Palestine? Stop the slaughter!"
UPDATE II -- Aug. 25: From WorldNetDaily: Cindy: Terrorists 'freedom fighters' (via Lawrence Peck).
From The Wall Street Journal: The Other War; The ACLU thinks cops are a bigger threat than terrorists.
A solemn handful of plaintiffs surrounded New York Civil Liberties Union head Donna Lieberman last week as she announced the agency's latest lawsuit--this one targeted at new procedures allowing for the random inspection of bags carried onto the subways. This will not come as a surprise--the agency has had an exceptionally busy few years, since 9/11, campaigning against expanding police powers, increased surveillance and other antiterror measures, all of which, the NYCLU and likeminded watchdogs regularly inform us, pose a greater danger than any that might come from the terrorists themselves. ...
The head of the NYCLU ... charged not only that the random bag searches didn't work but that they were also likely to lead to racial profiling. She explained how this would happen in a statement that would require, of those who read it, the deciphering talents of the Enigma codebreakers: "Although the NYPD claims that they are conducting searches that are purely random, the large number of people entering the transit system and the lack of control over that traffic result in people being selected for search in a discretionary and arbitrary manner, which creates the potential for impermissible racial profiling." ...
Ethnic/racial profiling may not, in fact, work very well as a security strategy--but the frenzy of the attacks it has excited tells more than we may want to know about our post-9/11 condition. Large numbers of citizens of every religion and ethnicity lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. Today, a strategy designed to help ensure that such a calamity will not again occur has been converted to a bizarre race-discrimination issue, subordinated to the concerns and ambitions of politicians. This won't, in the end, do much for the office-seekers and -holders now competing for the honor of delivering the most hysterical denunciations of ethnic and racial profiling. What, after all, can citizens (black and brown among them) think of leaders still prepared to argue that young Arab males receive no more scrutiny than the famous 80-year-old little grandmother--and that the people's security lies in measures clearly the least suited to assuring their safety?
UPDATE -- Aug. 13: Mark Jaquith has already noted an important aspect of the searches -- they're voluntary
From CNN: IAEA seeks solution to Iran issue.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to press Iran on Wednesday to reverse its decision to resume a uranium conversion program.
Iran restarted uranium conversion -- a step on the way to enrichment -- at its Isfahan nuclear facility Monday, saying it is for peaceful purposes only.
Iran has insisted it has the right to have a nuclear fuel recycling program in its quest for greater reliance on nuclear energy.
Western nations, however, fear this same uranium enrichment program could also be used by Iran as a front to develop atomic weapons. ...
Britain, France and Germany -- the so-called EU-3 -- have led attempts to negotiate a solution with Iran. The United States, which has no diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic, has remained largely in the background.
"Our strategy has been all along to work with Germany, France and Great Britain in terms of sending a strong signal and message to Iran," Bush, who once branded Iran as part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, said on Tuesday.
IF it looks like a duck, cackles like a duck and flies like one, could it be anything other than a duck? This is the question that some of those interested in Iran's nuclear program have been asking for some time.
The official line from Tehran has been that the program has solely peaceful purposes. Yet two events last week show that this Iranian discourse is the product of the old tradition of dissimulation known as "kitman." Put simply, this means hiding one's beliefs and practices in hostile environments and at hostile times.
UPDATE -- Aug. 12: From MEMRI: Chief Iranian Negotiator on the Nuclear Issue Hosein Musavian: The Negotiations with Europe Bought Us Time to Complete the Esfahan UCF Project and the Work on the Centrifuges in Natanz (via Little Green Footballs).
Our good friend and fellow cartoonist Chris Muir (Day by Day) has a sister named Cathy who is fighting cancer. The cartoon below explains how simply clicking on the Click 4 Cathy button below can help her.
Click the button below:
We send our best to Cathy and Chris.
UPDATE -- Aug. 11: Wow. Chris has declared "mission accomplished" (see cartoon below). Thanks to all the Cox & Forkum readers who helped make the campaign a quick success.
Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes that in the aftermath of Israel's upcoming departure, "Gaza will be transformed into a base for Islamic terrorism adjacent to the coast of the State of Israel."
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Netanyahu said the terror threat that would develop in a post-withdrawal Gaza would be a danger not only for Israel but for the Western world in general.
"This it isn't just our problem," he claimed.
"It's the West's problem as well because forces that are controlled, deployed and cooperate with Iran - and today Hizbullah and Hamas are controlled in a significant way by Iran - will receive an additional base of operations not only in close proximity to Israel's cities but also on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea not far from Europe."
I can't see any good coming from Israel's unilateral retreat, and Netanyahu is bringing attention to the issue. But for a critical perspective on Netanyahu's resignation, see David Frum (via TIA Daily).
[Netanyahu] timed his resignation not to make a difference, and torpedo the plan, but to make the maximum splash – and to best position himself to try again for Israel’s prime ministership. This is the second time he has attempted this trick. In the 1990s for example he won office by opposing Oslo – and then in office continued to follow the Oslo policy. Only he did it in the worst possible way: never daring to withdraw from Oslo but instead carrying the policy out so haltingly and grudgingly as to earn Israel all the blame for Oslo’s failure – without any of the putative benefits of actual escape from Oslo.
And Aaron's cc says the real credit should go to Natan Sharansky who resigned three months ago, stating:
"In my view, the disengagement plan is a tragic mistake that will exacerbate the conflict with the Palestinians, increase terrorism and dim the prospects of forging a genuine peace."
He also criticised Mr Sharon for pushing it through without demanding Palestinian security reforms in return. This is a refrain of the Israeli Right, which accuses Mr Sharon of weakness in promoting a "something for nothing" initiative.
From the FoxNews: Israel OKs 1st Stage of Pullout; Netanyahu Resigns.
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resigned from his post Sunday to protest next week's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, a ministry spokesman said.
Netanyahu, seen as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's biggest political rival within the Likud Party, submitted a letter of resignation during the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday. The resignation will take effect within 48 hours.
Netanyahu wrote that he cannot be part of what he described as a "process that ignores reality and proceeds blindly, creating a base for Islamic terror that will threaten the state."
"I am not prepared to be part of this irresponsible act that threatens the security of the Israel," he wrote.
Hamas launched a competition Saturday for the best design of a Gaza pullout poster, according to a statement posted on the Islamic group's web site.
The design must portray the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a victory for Palestinian groups -- in particular, Hamas. The design must also show Israel's "desperation and defeat."
In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been competing for credit for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, each preparing elaborate celebrations, commissioning thousands of flags and frantically sewing clothing with their trademarks.
A top Hamas figure in Gaza, Ahmed al-Bahar says "Israel has never been in such a state of retreat and weakness as it is today following more than four years of the intifada. Hamas's heroic attacks exposed the weakness and volatility of the impotent Zionist security establishment. The withdrawal marks the end of the Zionist dream and is a sign of the moral and psychological decline of the Jewish state. We believe that the resistance is the only way to pressure the Jews."
A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri says likewise that the withdrawal is "due to the Palestinian resistance operations. … and we will continue our resistance."
Others are more specific. At a mass rally in Gaza City last Thursday, about 10,000 Palestinian Arabs danced, sang, and chanted, "Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem." The commander of Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees, Jamal Abu Samhadaneh announced Sunday, "We will move our cells to the West Bank" and warned "The withdrawal will not be complete without the West Bank and Jerusalem." The Palestinian Authority's Ahmed Qurei also asserts, "Our march will stop only in Jerusalem."
From FoxNews: American Journalist Killed in Iraq.
BASRA, Iraq — An American freelance journalist, who accused Basra's police of being infiltrated by Shiite militiamen in a recent New York Times column and his Internet blog, was found shot to death in the southern city after being abducted by armed men driving a police car.
Steven Vincent, whose work also has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and his female Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint by five men Tuesday evening as they left a currency exchange shop, police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi said Wednesday.
Vincent's body was discovered Tuesday night on the side of the highway south of Basra. He had been shot in the head and body, al-Zaidi said. ...
In an opinion column published July 31 in the Times, Vincent wrote that Basra's police force had been heavily infiltrated by members of Shiite political groups, including those loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Vincent quoted an unidentified Iraqi police lieutenant as saying that some police were behind many of the assassinations of former Baath Party members that have taken place in Basra.
"He told me that there is even a sort of 'death car' — a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment," he wrote.
Vincent also was critical of the British military, which is responsible for security in Basra, for turning a blind eye to abuses of power by Shiite extremists in the city.
He was the author of "In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq," a recently published book that was an account of life in a post-Saddam Iraq.
His blog from Iraq — In the Red Zone — chronicled his experiences in Basra from late May to late July. The entries, written as letters to his wife, Lisa, were rich in detail and often humorous.
The quote in the cartoon is from Vincent's book. More of the quote can be read in this No Pasaran post, which also referred to a Dreams Into Lightning post containing many other informative links. For instance, in a FrontPageMag.com interview, Vincent elaborates on the "words matter" topic:
The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists “the resistance.” What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers -- the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour [an Iraqi woman who assisted him] -- they are the “resistance.” They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism—or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought—should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language.
On Tuesday evening freelance American journalist Steven Vincent was kidnapped and murdered in Basra. Vincent, who in pre-September 11 America earned his living as an art critic, set out to fight this war after he watched the Twin Towers explode from his rooftop in the East Village in Manhattan. And Tuesday he gave his life in the fight.
Vincent did not join the army. He took up his pen and he went to Iraq in the wake of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime by the US-led coalition in the spring of 2003. No one sent him there. He heard the call to battle from his rooftop that terrible morning and he answered it in the only way he knew. He became a chronicler of post-Saddam Iraq. ...
What came through clearly in his writings is that Vincent grasped that the global jihad, as it manifested itself in New York and Washington on September 11 and as it manifests itself on a daily basis in Iraq and indeed throughout the world, is rooted not in terrorism but in culture and religion. And the only way for the US and the rest of the free world to emerge victorious in this war is to expose and destroy the cultural base that spurs millions of Muslims throughout the world to kill and destroy and to support killing and destruction in the name of Islam.
UPDATE I -- Aug. 12: From: The Scotsman: US reporter killed 'because he was to marry a Muslim' (via Tom Pechinski and Dhimmi Watch).
AN American journalist who was shot dead in Basra last week was executed by Shiite extremists who knew he was intending to marry his Muslim interpreter, it has emerged. Steven Vincent was shot a week before the planned wedding to Nouriya Itais and had already delivered a $2,500 dowry to her family.
The disclosure casts new light on the grip of Islamic religious sects in the British-run south- east of Iraq - raising concern that they will take control once troops start to withdraw. Mr Vincent was abducted from his hotel three days after writing a piece in the New York Times accusing British officials of allowing religious parties to infiltrate the Basra police.
In America, his death was taken as retribution for his article. But in London yesterday, British officials pointed out that the police in Basra believed it was retribution for his affair.
UPDATE II -- Aug. 22: Murdock Online has a must-read defense of her husband by Lisa Ramaci-Vincent against charges from a left-wing blogger: "It's called courage" (via Tom Pechinski and Winds of Change).
"And yes, he was planning to to convert to Islam and marry Nour, but only to take her out of the country to England, where she had a standing job offer, set her up with the friends she had over there, divorce her, and come back to New York. He had gotten her family's permission to do so (thereby debunking the "honor killing" theory), but more importantly, he had gotten mine. He called one night to say that it had been intimated to him that Nour's life was essentially going to be worthless after he left; since he was an honorable man (a breed you might want to familiarize yourself with), he then asked what I thought he might do to help her. I told him to get her out of the country and bring her here to New York. However, the only way she could have left Iraq was with a family member or husband. Since her family had no intention of going anywhere, Steven was her only recourse, and it would have been perfectly legal for him to convert, marry her, then take her out of Iraq to give her a chance at a real life...."
UPDATE III -- May 9, 2006: David Paulin has written a tribute to Vincent in light of the Jill Carroll kidnapping and release: “Soldier with a Pen”.
Forgotten amid celebrations over Carroll’s release and the subsequent flap among bloggers over her alleged Chomskyesque political views is the legacy of another occasional freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor: Steven Vincent.
Five months before Carroll's abduction, Vincent, a 49-year-old New York art critic-turned war reporter, was kidnapped with his translator, Nour Itais, off a street in the southern port city of Basra. Vincent suffered the same fate as Carroll’s translator, Allan Enwiyah, after he and Nour were driven away: He was shot in the head and killed. Nour was shot and left for dead; but she survived.
A hawk on the war, Vincent left behind an extraordinary body of work in spite of his untimely death. He was at his best when writing for conservative magazines such as National Review, Front Page, American Enterprise, and Commentary.
Sadly, many obituaries about him failed to give a full picture of the California native, who was the first American journalist murdered in Iraq.
Media: Rush Limbaugh's prescription drug troubles were splashed all over the media. Yet a financial scandal rocking a leftist radio network rates no coverage.
The mainstream media, fixated on bringing down Karl Rove, have so far deemed apparent funding irregularities at Air America unworthy of note. But that doesn't make them any less of story.
Here's the gist, according to The New York Sun — which is giving the scandal the coverage it deserves — and a few others, mostly bloggers and columnists, who are providing a public service:
New York City's Department of Investigation is looking into charges that $875,000 from a Bronx nonprofit group and an affiliate whose budgets are generously stuffed with local, state and federal grants was inappropriately used to fund Air America, the left's counterattack on the colossal success of conservative talk radio. ...
Public funds used to prop up a business! Just the kind of scandal that left-leaning media would die for. Yet for some reason they're giving this one a pass.
Is it because there are no mean ol' conservatives to blame?
When Limbaugh's problems with painkillers came to light, the mainstream media could hardly contain themselves. They called him a "pill popper" and hypocrite and cheered for release of his medical records. And when he returned to the air, they couldn't talk enough about his stay in rehab. ...
Nothing wrong, mind you, with reporting on Limbaugh's woes. Nothing, that is, as long as the media cover flaws of those on the left with equal enthusiasm.
From AP: Islam Likely Main Basis for Iraqi Law.
CAIRO, Egypt - The framers of Iraq's constitution appear likely to enshrine Islam as the main basis of law in the country — a stronger role than the United States had hoped for and one some Iraqis fear will mean a more fundamentalist regime.
Arab constitutions vary widely over the role of Islamic law, ranging from Lebanon, where the word "Islam" never appears, to Saudi Arabia, which says the Quran itself is its constitution.
Culture weighs far more heavily than the constitution and law, particularly when it comes to women. In Gulf nations — where the constitutions spell out a slightly lesser role for Islamic law, or Sharia, than in Egypt — women are more segregated and wear more conservative veils covering the entire face.
Kuwait, for example, bans alcohol and only gave women the right to vote this year, in contrast to Egypt, where beer, wine and liquor are sold openly and women have been voting since the early 20th century.
Yet most Gulf nations' constitutions state that Sharia is "a main source" of legislation, while Egypt takes the more definitive phrasing of "the source" — a fine distinction taking on major importance in Iraq.
Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat amended the constitution during the 1970s, changing the language from "a source" to "the source" to beef up his Islamic credentials rather than to start implementing Sharia.
But in Iraq, some fear the Shiite Muslim leaders who want similar wording in Iraq's constitution hope to lay the groundwork for a more fundamentalist rule, at least in Shiite-dominated areas.
Already, Shiite leaders in some southern cities have tried imposing Islamic-based rules, pressuring women to wear headscarves and forcing liquor stores and music shops to close. [Emphasis added]
As Charles Johnson noted: "If Iraq does adopt the barbaric 14th century code of shari’a as the basis for their constitution, the terrorists truly will have won."
For years we've been criticizing the Bush administration for allowing even the possibility of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Iraq. For example:
Faith in Politics
Vote of Non-confidence
Contrary to reassurances from Colin Powell and Bush, some form of theocracy seems more and more likely.
Iraqi women took their fight for equal rights to American lawmakers yesterday, urging them to use their influence to see that women's rights are protected in the new constitution.
With just 10 days until delegates in Baghdad present the final draft of Iraq's basic law, it is still not clear how large a role will be given to Islamic Shariah law, which traditionally subordinates women to men.
"The [American] men and women, the brave people who went there to free [Iraqis] from Saddam [Hussein], they didn't free them to put them under another dictatorship; that is very clear to all of us," said Basma Fakri, president of the Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq.
During an appearance in Washington yesterday, she said it was entirely appropriate for President Bush, the Senate and House to let Iraq's constitutional negotiators know "that Iraq should be free."
"That was the mission. We don't want to go back in time, we don't want to create another dictatorship. That should be clear and loud to the Iraqi government and to the constitutional committee," she said.
From AP: Bush Appoints Bolton, Bypassing Senate.
President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology.
"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform," Bush said. He said Bolton had his complete confidence.
Bush put Bolton on the job with a recess appointment — an avenue available to the president when Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers' August break would last until a newly elected Congress took office in January 2007
Our previous editorial cartoons about Bolton: