Archive for November, 2010

The Most Encrusted Name in News

CNN’s story:

The second Aya abu Mouwais opens her eyes she starts crying. The 3-year-old is in pain every waking moment and has been for two years.

She is suffering from oxalosis, a condition which occurs when the kidneys fail. Doctors in Israel say if the Palestinian girl doesn’t have a liver and kidney transplant she could die within months.

The round trip to the Israeli hospital of Rambam in Haifa is five hours. Each journey involves a 45-minute drive from their West Bank home to the border crossing where it can take up to an hour to enter into Israel. Then the family drives for another 45 minutes to the hospital for treatment.

Suhair has to carry her daughter as Aya can no longer walk. When they arrive at the hospital, the toddler undergoes four hours of dialysis, a treatment paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

Professor Israel Zelikovic, one of the Israeli doctors treating Aya said: “Simply, this dialysis treatment is life-saving for her, without daily dialysis therapy she would not live.”

But dialysis is not enough anymore. Her doctors say if she doesn’t have liver and kidney transplants she will not last a year.

Her parents are acutely aware of that. But only Israeli citizens are allowed organ transplants in Israel unless the patient sources organs themselves.

Now, before you start to strap that suicide vest on, take a second. Poor little Aya’s treatment is already being paid for by what is laughingly called the government, and is being given by Israel. Just for starters.

Then there’s this:

Instead of praising Israel for accepting Arab patients from terrorist-run Gaza, CNN leads the reader to think that Israel is the villain.

The article describes the family having to drive back and forth to a Haifa hospital every day, including a wait at the Gaza crossing. No mention is made that the passage point has been used by terrorists.

Last year, a sick woman in Gaza used the crossing on her way to Soroka Medical center in Be’er Sheva, where she planned to blow herself up in a suicide attack. She was stopped by attentive guards.

After CNN continues to describe the plight of the little girl, who undergoes dialysis treatments that have “made her bones brittle” to the point that she has a broken arm, the writer then points out the medical care is paid for by the Palestinian Authority but then adds the PA has no money for liver and kidney transplants in Belgium, at a cost of approximately $700,000.

Instead of noting the medical care the girl receives at Haifa, CNN implicitly blames Israel for not providing an organ transplant because “only Israeli citizens are allowed organ transplants in Israel unless the patient sources organs themselves.” The article fails to note that the policy is very common in many countries, who consider their own citizens a priority.

CNN also does not refer to the general shortage of organs in Israel, a small country where many Jewish patients have died waiting for a donor.

No questions are raised in the article why there is no organ transplants available in Gaza and why the Palestinian Authority has not asked for financial help from the United States European countries, which have channeled billions of dollars to the PA the past several years for new vehicles and for paying Arabs to takeover and build on Israeli government land in Judea and Samaria.

The author also igored the fact that despite the takeover of Gaza by Hamas terrorists, Israel each month allows hundreds of sick Arabs to receive care in Israeli hospitals, often at government expense, while forwarding humanitarian aid, much of which is confiscated by Hamas or sold at a profit.

You have to actively despise something to be so false about it. What did Israel ever do to CNN to earn such loathing?

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KGB, Easy as 1,2,3, Simple as Do-Re-Mi

Word of advice to Julian Assange: stay away from open windows.

American intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, outraged by their inability to stop WikiLeaks and its release this week of hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables, are convinced that the whistle-blowing website is about to come up against an adversary that will stop at nothing to shut it down: The Russian government.

National security officials say that the National Security Agency, the U.S. government’s eavesdropping agency, has already picked up tell-tale electronic evidence that WikiLeaks is under close surveillance by the Russian FSB, that country’s domestic spy network, out of fear in Moscow that WikiLeaks is prepared to release damaging personal information about Kremlin leaders.

“We may not have been able to stop WikiLeaks so far, and it’s been frustrating,” a U.S. law-enforcement official tells The Daily Beast. “The Russians play by different rules.” He said that if WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, follow through on threats to post highly embarrassing information about the Russian government and what is assumed to be massive corruption among its leaders, “the Russians will be ruthless in stopping WikiLeaks.”

Try it, Julian, and the only thing that will be leaking is your skull.

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Our Man in Damascus

So, when John Kerry dies (not for many years, Allah willing!), and he presents his credentials at the pearly gates, how do you suppose it will go?

St. Peter [flipping through pages in a massive tome]: Kerry… Kerry… yes here you are. Multiple terms as senator, very good… served in Vietnam. Honorable, though I see you fudged the medal-throwing incident. Small matter. Slandered your fellow soldiers, which is less forgivable, but let’s move on. Nice move with that yacht caper you tried. Too bad you got caught. Yes, I do see you were your party’s nominee for president in 2004, but you blew rather a sure thing, don’t you think?

And this Syria thing: what’s that all about?

According to one cable, Kerry told the emir of Qatar that he believes that Syria’s leaders are ready to try to make peace with Israel and take a friendlier stance toward the United States — an assessment that has not yet proved true. In another, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt tells Kerry that the Iranians are “big liars.’’

While the cables do not differ dramatically from statements that Kerry, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made publicly, they portray him as a statesman who is constantly seeking a middle ground and appearing to hold out hope that longtime foes of the United States — such as Syria and Iran — might be prodded into friendlier relations with the United States.

In Kerry’s case, there did not appear to be major embarrassments. The cables, written by State Department officials present at Kerry’s meetings, used a dry, diplomatic tone, and at times it is difficult to determine whether the full context was included. In most instances, Kerry signed off on the typed message.

Kerry dry? My world is shaken!

What does he say in response to St. Peter? I was for Syria before I was against it?

In the meeting last February with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Kerry said Syria should be involved simultaneously in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace,’’ according to the summary of Kerry’s remarks.

Kerry also said the United States knows that to the Palestinians, the establishment of their capital in east Jerusalem is “not negotiable.’’

Dink.

Syria has been involved in the war process—hosting Hamass leadership, backing Hezbollah—so I see no reason why it can’t get involved in the peace process, by its carpet bombing preferably.

But get a load of this nugget:

Several of the cables dealt with Iran. In the meeting with the emir, Kerry lamented that the Obama administration’s communications to Iran have been ignored by the Iranian government.

“The Supreme Ayatollah had met with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin, but seems not inclined to meet with other political leaders,’’ Kerry is summarized as saying. “Our instinct is that we need to find a way to talk to him.’’

“Your instinct is right,’’ the emir replied. “The US needs to talk directly with senior Iranian officials.’’

So, the same emirs who practically begged Obama to nuke Iran to a crater (he didn’t hear them because he had bowed so low) were playing Kerry for a sap by urging “dialogue”.

What a loser.

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Europe Calls For Jewish Boycott

Sound familiar?

The Europeans have the flattest learning curve on the planet.

‘Kauft nicht bei Juden’ will worsen the conflict
By DENIS MACSHANE
11/29/2010 23:39

The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe’s oldest political appeal.

Kauft nicht bei Juden – “Don’t buy from Jews” – is back. The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe’s oldest political appeal. Once again, as the tsunami of hate against Israel rolls out from the Right and the Left, from Islamist ideologues to Europe’s cultural elites, the demand is to punish the Jews. That the actions of the Israeli government are open to criticism is a fact. But what are the real arguments?

Firstly, that Israel is wrong to defy international law as an occupying force on the West Bank. But what about Turkey? It has 35,000 soldiers occupying the territory of a sovereign republic – Cyprus. Ankara has sent hundreds of thousands of settlers to colonize the ancient Greek owned lands of northern Cyprus. Turkey has been told again and again by the UN to withdraw its troops. Instead, it now also stands accused of destroying the ancient Christian churches of northern Cyprus.

Does anyone call for a boycott of Turkey, or urge companies to divest from it? No. Only the Jews are targeted.

Or take India; 500,000 Indian soldiers occupy Kashmir. According to Amnesty International, 70,000 Muslims have been killed over the past 20 years by these soldiers and security forces – a number that far exceeds the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the same period. But the Islamic ideologues focus on Jews, not Indians.

May we talk of the western Sahara and Morocco, or Algeria’s closure of the border there, making life far worse than that of Palestinians in Ramallah or Hebron? No, better not.

Voltaire – anti-Semite that he was – should be alive today to mock the hypocrisy of the new high priests calling anathema on the heads of Jews in Israel.

Second, the desire for peace in the Middle East is a global priority. But peace requires recognition of the Jewish state of Israel. There are 40 member states of the UN which have the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” in their names. No one challenges their right to exist or defend themselves.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Its reward was to have the territory turned into a new launch pad for rockets intended to kill Jews.

More rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza than V1 or V2 rockets at London in 1944. No one blamed Winston Churchill for responding with all the force he could, as cities like Hamburg or Dresden faced the wrath of the RAF. But if Israel takes the slightest action against the Jew-killers of Hamas, all the hate of the world falls on its head.

Third, it is hard to see how peace can be made with an Israel that so many seek to brand an “apartheid state.”

I worked in the 1980s with the black trade union movement inside South Africa. We lay in ditches as the apartheid police patrolled townships hunting for political activists. I could not swim at the same beach as my wife, a French-Vietnamese, because of the racist laws. Muslims and Jews swim off the same Tel Aviv beaches. They can stay in the same hotels, be elected to the same parliament, and appeal to an independent judiciary for justice.

BY DEFINITION, an apartheid state has no right to exist. It cannot be a member of the UN. The campaign to call Israel an apartheid state is a campaign to make it a non-state. How can peace be made with a state whose opponents say should not exist?

In Britain, there are calls by journalists and professors to boycott the Israeli media or universities. But Israeli writers, journalists and professors are the main opponents of the counterproductive policies of their government. To boycott them is to hand even more power to the haredi and Russian nationalists who now control Right-wing politics in Israel.

By any standard, the attacks on media freedom, on women, on gays or on lawyers is 1,000 times worse in Iran or Saudi Arabia. There is no democracy in Syria or Libya, limited democracy in Jordan, and open anti-Semitism displayed by the Muslim Brotherhood movements in the Arab world. Is there any call to boycott these states, their journalists or professors? No. The call – rightly – is for engagement, contacts, debate and discussion. Many even argue for talks with Hamas, although its charter, with its strident anti- Semitic language, could have been written by a Nazi.

But talks with Jewish politicians, lawyers or intellectuals must be boycotted. This policy of making the Jewish citizens of Israel into objects of global hatred will only make the Middle East crisis worse. If it was directed evenly at all states which occupy and oppress territories, it might have some basis in morality. If the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions movement also called for sanctions against the new anti-Semitism of the extreme Right in Europe, it might make sense. The openly anti- Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary parades in its fascist uniforms. Anti-Semitic politicians are elected to the European Parliament. The German politician Thilo Sarrazin can describe Jews as having “different genes” from other people. And now Europeans, of all people, once again cry Kauft nicht bei Juden.

Those who dislike Israeli rightwing policies must find other language than that of classical anti- Semitism. I am not Jewish. As a British MP, I work with thousands of Muslims in my constituency. I am more often in mosques than in churches. I am proud of my Muslim friends who are MPs, peers, municipal councillors or prominent as journaIists, lawyers, doctors and intellectuals. The 20 million European Muslims face new hates which must be combated. But there is no profit for them in joining the hate campaigns against Jews in Israel.

As Europeans we must reject the old language of boycott and economic campaigns against Jews. Israel, Palestine and Europe must all have a 21st century future, and not return to the hates of the past.

The writer, a former British Labor MP, also served as minister of state for Europe. He is the author of Globalizing Hatred: The New Anti-Semitism! (Weidenfeld and Nicolson).

I reprinted this in full because it is brilliant. And I feel for the writer. The issue is that his culture, the culture in which he is embedded, the mother’s milk of his youth, is antisemitic, always was and always will be. If Europe couldn’t learn from the Holocaust, then Europe cannot learn. He has been making rational arguments like this for years; he encourage the British government to research and publish a devastating paper on antisemitism in Britain a few years back. It will never change. He is in a position of being part of something that he abhors, but loves at the same time.

- Aggie

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NY Times To The Rescue!

Racing in to the wikileaks war on a shiny white steed, the NY Times protects the White House.

Just beautiful.

The business of diplomacy is often messy and when private communications become public, it can also be highly embarrassing.

But what struck us, and reassured us, about the latest trove of classified documents released by WikiLeaks was the absence of any real skullduggery. After years of revelations about the Bush administration’s abuses — including the use of torture and kidnappings — much of the Obama administration’s diplomatic wheeling and dealing is appropriate and, at times, downright skillful.

Obama may not have friends in Europe or the Middle East, but he can trust the NY Times to start kicking George Bush whenever he gets into real trouble.

Do you have good friends in your life? Friends who would go the extra mile for you, even when you embarrass them, even when you haven’t been loyal and true? Write and tell us your stories.

- Aggie

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It’s Unprecedented.

Finally, something meaningful that truly is unprecedented. This administration is more into spying than past administrations.

What a hoot! These guys really are open and honest, aren’t they?

Former State Department intelligence chief says spy orders unprecedented
By Jeff Stein

Carl W. Ford, a former head of State Department intelligence, says tasking U.S. diplomats to collect foreign officials’ credit card numbers and other personal data is unprecedented, despite the department’s assurances to the contrary.

“I can’t recall anything like this,” Ford told SpyTalk by e-mail on Monday, adding that in the past, American diplomats focused on the personalities and political views of foreign officials, leaving the collection of cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, credit card accounts and other personal data to the CIA, FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Such information was considered “operational materials not diplomatic reporting,” said Ford, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) from 2001 to 2003. Before that he was a senior Defense Department and National Intelligence Council official.

“I suspect much of that information was being passed by telephone and e-mail,” Ford said, “but even INR didn’t have access to it, the bureaus telling us that it was operational materials not diplomatic reporting.”

One of the documents surfaced by WikiLeaks Sunday is a July 31, 2009 State Department cable to U.S. diplomatic missions, entitled, “Reporting and collection needs: The United Nations.” that included a long list of targeted items.

It asked U.S. foreign services officers to collect foreign officials’ “numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories … e-mail listings; internet and intranet ‘handles,’ internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.”

Robert E. White, a U.S. ambassador to Paraguay and El Salvador during the Carter and Reagan administrations, said diplomats were not tasked with such snooping in his time.

“No. If I, as a delegate to the [U.N. General Assembly] had an invitation from a government with which we did not have diplomatic relations, I would show it to the State Department security team,” White said. “If I decided to attend I would naturally write a report on anything non-routine. I would send the report to the Department and they would take care of the routing.”

White said espionage or counterintelligence work was best left to the professionals.

“For example, diplomats in NYC tend to frequent a small number of restaurants. It would be a simple matter for the FBI to gain the cooperation of the management for credit card numbers, etc.,” he said by e-mail.

“Someone apparently has persuaded the secretary that the war against terrorism justifies the use of diplomats as spies. This is just another example of throwing away an important principle for an illusory gain.”

But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley maintained lied Sunday that tasking of diplomats for such information was nothing new.

“Our diplomats are just that, diplomats,” Crowley said in an interview with Foreign Policy columnist Josh Rogin.

There’s more. But I just love the way wikileaks has revealed the true Obama administration. Spoiler Alert: It is so like the Wizard of Oz, when we find out that Oz is just a nervous little guy hiding behind the curtain. Obama and the Left are weaselly. Remember all that sanctimonious nonsense during the campaign? This will be the most open, wide-open, truly open, honest, loyal, forthright, and true administration in history. The only thing wide open is your briefs going through airport security. Instead we read bills sometime after we pass them; their contents are secret. [Aside: I read something today which suggested that Germany was made to sign a surrender treaty after WWI that no one had read. That worked well.] The administration has requested that parents spy on their kids, then pulled back. They promised to put debates on C-Span. They were all about closing Guantanamo. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. They honestly don’t seem to know when they are lying. It just goes on and on and on.

Wikileaks has managed to humiliate them. And I admit to being amused.

- Aggie

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This House Filled With Bombs Is Unrelated To The Other House Filled With Bombs Just Two Miles Away

New California License Plates: Bombs Are Us

I was actually wondering what happened to the house in Escondido which was filled with plastic explosives, grenades, shrapnel, etc. I googled it and learned that another bomb factory has turned up just a few blocks away. I was interested in the original dwelling because it is apparently so dangerous that they can’t figure out how to clean it up. They are afraid to even enter the building because the explosives are so powerful and so unstable that if they are jostled, they could blow up the house and some of the neighbors’ homes. But fear not: they are unrelated.

Escondido police arrested Richard Hinkel on Sunday on suspicion of possessing explosives and using fireworks to make illegal bombs. Hinkel was taking the fireworks apart to turn them into explosive devices, police said.

On Monday, the sheriff’s department confirmed that Hinkel, 45, was released from the Vista Jail after posting bail. According to the department’s website, the bail amount was $25,000.

One resident in the gated community of Emerald Heights where Hinkel lives expressed surprise that the bail amount was relatively low, given the seriousness of the charges. A neighbor said Hinkel has a history of odd behavior, including urinating on his front lawn and throwing rocks at cars that drive by his house.

Police were called to Hinkel’s home in the 2300 block of Country View Glen after reports that a man was outside, possibly firing a weapon and shouting at 4:59 a.m., according to Escondido Lt. Craig Carter. The call prompted officers to search the home.

It must be very stressful to live in Southern California.

- Aggie

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Arab Leaders Really, Really Want Iran Stopped

They sound a whole lot like Israeli leaders. What will the leftist academics and media make of this?

Rather than prosecuting Julian Assange for what he calls his “outrageous, reckless, and despicable” action in leaking thousands of sensitive government cables, Joe Lieberman might want to consider praising the head of WikiLeaks. He might find a chorus of support from all the ardent Israel supporters, whether Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party, arch conservative or screaming leftist. For one thing that emerges from the latest WikiLeaks cache is that Israel is, as Jeffrey Goldberg notes, not alone in wanting decisive action to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Sure, we knew that Middle East governments were concerned about Iran. But we didn’t know to what degree. The cumulative impact of these cables is profound.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the largest, wealthiest, and among the most conservative Middle East nations, made “frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program,” the American embassy in Riyadh reported in April 2008. “He told you to cut off the head of the snake,” one of the King’s aides reminded the American ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus when they were in the kingdom for a two day visit.

From tiny Bahrain, King Hamid, in a meeting with Gen. Petraeus seven months later, said that Iran was the source for much of the trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary,” according to a leaked cable from the American embassy there. “That program must be stopped,” the King told Gen. Petraeus. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

This the same chilling language, which the American public is accustomed to hearing from hardline Israeli officials. Hearing it expressed by Muslim leaders in the Middle East might now have a profound effect on American public opinion.

And it goes on.

Invaded by Iraq in 1990, Kuwait is not stranger to threat from its larger neighbors. Its Interior Minister sounded the alarm about Iran, telling the American ambassador that Iran is intent on exporting Islamic extremism, “and will only be deterred from achieving its objectives — including a nuclear weapons capability — by force,” the embassy reported. “The U.S. will not be able to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it is serious in its intention to prevent Tehran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.”

Back during the Bush Administration, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, in a meeting with CENTCOM Commander General Abizaid, said he “was strongly in favor of taking action against Iran and its president sooner rather than later,” the embassy reported. “I believe this guy is going to take us to war …. It’s a matter of time,” the embassy reported bin Zayed said. He wanted action “this year or next year.” It didn’t happen, of course, at least not in a public way. (One assumes, and maybe even hopes, that the CIA is earning its pay these days, with covert programs designed to slow down, if not halt, Iran’s nuclear program).

In Iran on Monday, a nuclear physicist was killed and another badly injured in an attack by men on motorcycles. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promptly blamed “the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments.”

The attack was predictable — and prior to today, we’d have easily accepted Ahmadinejad’s explanation. But what we know now, after the WikiLeaks drop, raises the real possibility that it could have been Saudi Arabia, or UAE, or Kuwait. In many ways, those governments are more likely suspects: easier for one of those countries to have infiltrated, or recruited, and less likely to be caught, because they could be confident Iran would blame Israel or the United States.

So, what will the profs in all the Middle East Study programs have to say about this? Does the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians need to be solved urgently, despite the fact that Arab leaders don’t think so? Was any Israeli leader ever as adamant about Iran as these Arabs? Are we suckers or what? Everyone in the State Dept. and at the White House knew all of this, but they kept pounding away at tiny Israel, claiming that the fact that Jews are living in Jerusalem is the root cause of the world’s ills. And we, American citizens, are responsible for a lot of this, because we have the government that we hired.

- Aggie

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Meanwhile, Back at the War

I’m sure these have been a difficult couple of days for Hillary and Barack, what with the Wikileaks revelations and all. Real Hell.

Bet they’d even considering switching with these guys:

A gunman in an Afghan Border Police uniform opened fire on NATO-led service members Monday, killing six of them, the International Security Assistance Force said.

The incident happened during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan, ISAF said in a statement. A joint Afghan and ISAF team are investigating.

The suspect was also killed in the incident, the statement said.

All six were Americans, it has since been confirmed. And the shooter was a Taliban plant.

This has happened before, and there’ll be a fair bit more of it before we’re done. I’m not convinced Afghanistan is worth even one American life (as I’ve droned on about before), but I will admit their mission is noble:

It was a story about Afghan women, their oppression and their desperation.

For a few moments, some of these oppressed voices surface, enter our conscience, before sinking back into the social morass. They are absorbed and returned to the bosom of inhumanity, disappearing without trace, beyond reach, back to the isolated hell whence they came.

Afghan society is closed to outsiders. Even to neighbors. But if you are a woman here you risk entrapment, sealed off more completely inside the home than out.

No one will know your pain, few will hear your screams, and if they did, it’s unlikely they’d dare care.

In Afghanistan, Herat has a reputation for self-immolation, a regional trend, according to doctors, picked up by Afghan refugees in Iran. It may be an unfair label but the figures speak for themselves. In the next largest city there are six beds for burns victims; in Herat it’s 54, and they often have so many patients they are forced to double up.

On the steps outside I met Dr. Ghafar Khan Bawar, a warm, friendly Afghan who’d spent years in Canada practicing reconstructive surgery. He’d come home three years ago to run the burns clinic. Female self-immolation cases had doubled in the past year, he told me.

Sad Gul was 18; Zara, in the bed next to her, 17. Both swathed in bandages covering the arms, chest, belly and thighs. Tip a bowl of water from your neck on down, what’s wet is what was burned. It was a kerosene burn, although Zara and her mother insisted it was an accident.

Sad Gul was an orphan, married at 11 to an older man. She told me as she burned she finally felt relaxed, at ease, her stresses lifting. She told me she was so poor she could not afford bread. Her husband was older than her, a drug addict. She wanted him to stop but he couldn’t. Feeling hopeless, she set fire to herself.

Dr. Bawar’s own life is instructive. He learned his skills during the era of Soviet influence in Afghanistan. The country had no burns doctors and an American specialist from Wisconsin working for a Non-Governmental Organization took it upon himself to teach Dr Bawar.

It was a five-year course crammed into three. But the seed was planted. One man’s goodwill, transformed decades later into a generation of new hope.

And in Afghanistan’s awfulness, individuals can make a difference.

If you damn NGOs just stuck to this, and left out all the Jew-hating Israel-bashing, I might contribute a few more bucks to you.

And if I’m serious that the emancipation of women around the world might just be the salvation of all of us, then I might have to find a little more enthusiasm in my soul for our current mission in Afghanistan.

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Leave the Gun, Take the Salad

“I love you too, man. Go [bleep] yourself.

In “Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside Obama’s White House,” MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe, a writer sympathetic to the president, reports the prosaic backroom details of the White House struggles from early this year, but occasionally stumbles upon an off-the-cuff revelation that’s much more interesting.

One staffer was conspicuously overweight. The president, in an incident that Wolffe believes proves how caring the man is, took it upon himself to present the aide with a salad for lunch — “then listened to him protest that he could take care of his own health. ‘I love you, man,’ Obama said. ‘I want you to look after yourself. Eat the salad.’”

I love you, man. Eat the salad. That is the Obama presidency in a plastic see-through clamshell. (Hold the ranch dressing!) The president loves us. He knows what’s best for us. We should bow to his superior wisdom.

Jimmy Carter obsessed over the White House tennis court schedule. President Obama wants to be your life coach, guidance counselor and spouse, kicking your shins under the dinner table when you order chocolate cake instead of steamed celery.

Oh, come on. Obama just handed off the salad so he could replace it with a bacon double-cheeseburger and double fries.

A signature Obama line — economic policy “has less to do with big government or small government than it has to do with smart government” — amounts to proclaiming, “I must be right because I’m brilliant.” Obama evidently feels that his tireless brainwork tidied up the war-peace problem for the ages in his Nobel Prize speech (peace, we learned, is desirable but war is sometimes necessary) and that he wrought a profound new balance on civil liberties by largely retaining Bush anti-terror policies with the major fix being that, this time, he is the one in charge (a position Wolffe ably summarizes as, “In other words, trust me”).

Obama’s self-regard is at its most resplendent when he delivers a remark attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.” That the words are actually those of Ronald Reagan is an amusing but trivial detail.

What’s telling is that Obama set up the remark by saying he takes great pleasure in the White House library, and that he stumbled upon the remark in the process of searching out the wisdom of his predecessors. This was not a true statement. In fact Obama later admitted to Wolffe that he had found the quotation while reading one of his own diaries, in which he had mistakenly attributed the Reaganism to Lincoln.

So: In times of worry and strife, Obama looks for comforting inspiration in the sacred, timeless words of . . . Obama!

Presidents are often accused of surrounding themselves with yes-men and retreating from the world. This president doesn’t even need the yes-men. He lives in a hall of mirrors, and he’s awed by the view.

I guess we can call this unnamed aide a bitter clinger to buns and rellenos.

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Muslims Speaking Out Against Terrorism

They are out there and they are getting louder.

The case for profiling, as presented by a Muslim woman:

For all those holiday travelers negotiating the Transportation Security Administration’s new cop-a-feel strategy, there is a difficult solution we need to consider: racial and religious profiling.

Article – Nomani Profiling Passenger Angela Johnson talks to reporters about security and Thanksgiving holiday travel at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia on Nov. 24, 2010. (Photo: Chris Rank / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As an American Muslim, I’ve come to recognize, sadly, that there is one common denominator defining those who’ve got their eyes trained on U.S. targets: MANY of them are Muslim—like the Somali-born teenager arrested Friday night for a reported plot to detonate a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon.

We have to talk about the taboo topic of profiling because terrorism experts are increasingly recognizing that religious ideology makes terrorist organizations and terrorists more likely to commit heinous crimes against civilians, such as blowing an airliner out of the sky. Certainly, it’s not an easy or comfortable conversation but it’s one, I believe, we must have.

This past week, as part of a debate series sponsored by the New York-based group Intelligence Squared, I argued that U.S. airports should use racial and religious profiling. (Taking the opposite stand was a “debating team” that included the former director of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff; Columbia University scholar of Pakistan, Hassan Abbas; and Debra Burlingame, a former flight attendant whose brother was a pilot of one of the planes hijacked on 9/11.)

I realize that in recent years, profiling has become a dirty word, synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry. But while I believe our risk assessment should not end with religion, race and ethnicity, I believe that it should include these important elements, as part of a “triage” strategy that my debate partner, former CIA case officer Robert Baer, says airports and airliners already do.

Profiling doesn’t have to be about discrimination, persecution, or harassment. As my debating partner, conservative columnist Deroy Murdock put it: “We are not arguing that the TSA should send anyone named Mohammad to be waterboarded somewhere between the first-class lounge and the Pizza Hut.”

This is a fascinating article and well worth a trip to the link.

- Aggie

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China: Screw Kim?

Could this be the end of Rico?

WikiLeaks documents posted on the websites of the Guardian and the New York Times suggest China is losing patience with its long-time ally North Korea, with senior figures in Beijing describing the regime in the North as behaving like a “spoiled child.”

According to cables obtained by WikiLeaks and cited by the Guardian, South Korea’s vice-foreign minister Chun Yung-woo said he had been told by two senior Chinese officials (whose names are redacted in the cables) that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.

In a cable sent by U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stevens earlier this year, Chun said the North had already collapsed economically and would collapse politically two to three years after the death of leader Kim Jong-il.

CNN has viewed the cables posted on the newspapers’ websites.

Chun dismissed the prospect of a possible Chinese military intervention in the event of a North Korean collapse, noting that China’s strategic economic interests now lie with the United States, Japan and South Korea – not North Korea.

This would be news. But it does fit in with my theory that China doesn’t want too much trouble (but just the right amount). As a thorn in our side, North Korea serves China’s purposes. As a casus belli, North Korea is too much trouble.

But I can’t envision reunification without serious ructions. This revolution won’t be velvet.

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