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651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amnesty Int'l redefines 'war crimes' on: August 31, 2006, 12:46:20 PM
Amnesty Int'l redefines 'war crimes'
The two principal "human rights" organizations are in a race to the bottom to see which group can demonize Israel with the most absurd legal arguments and most blatant factual mis-statements. Until last week, Human Rights Watch enjoyed a prodigious lead, having "found" - contrary to what every newspaper in the world had reported and what everyone saw with their own eyes on television - "no cases in which Hizbullah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack."

Those of us familiar with Amnesty International's nefarious anti-Israel agenda and notoriously "suggestible" investigative methodology wondered how it could possibly match such a breathtaking lie.

But we didn't have to wait long for AI to announce that Israel was guilty of a slew of war crimes for "widespread attacks against public civilian infrastructure, including power plants, bridges, main roads, seaports, and Beirut's international airport."

There are two problems with the Amnesty report and conclusion. First, Amnesty is wrong about the law. Israel committed no war crimes by attacking parts of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon.

In fact, through restraint, Israel was able to minimize the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon, despite Hizbullah's best efforts to embed itself in population centers and to use civilians as human shields. The total number of innocent Muslim civilians killed by Israeli weapons during a month of ferocious defensive warfare was a fraction of the number of innocent Muslims killed by other Muslims during that same period in Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Algeria, and other areas of Muslim-on-Muslim civil strife. Yet the deaths caused by Muslims received a fraction of the attention devoted to alleged Israeli "crimes."

This lack of concern for Muslims by other Muslims - and the lack of focus by so-called human rights organizations on these deaths - is bigotry, pure and simple.

AMNESTY'S EVIDENCE that Israel's attacks on infrastructure constitute war crimes comes from its own idiosyncratic interpretation of the already-vague word "disproportionate." Unfortunately for Amnesty, no other country in any sort of armed conflict has ever adopted such a narrow definition of the term. Indeed, among the very first military objectives of most modern wars is precisely what Israel did: to disable portions of the opponent's electrical grid and communication network, to destroy bridges and roads, and to do whatever else is necessary to interfere with those parts of the civilian infrastructure that supports the military capability of the enemy.

That's how the American and Britain militaries fought World War II. (In fact, Israel shows far more restraint than Britain did during World War II. Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed the Royal Air Force to bomb the center of towns with the express purpose of killing as many civilians as possible.) Had the Allies been required to fight World War II under the rules of engagement selectively applied to Amnesty International to Israel, our "greatest generation" might have lost that war.

The strategy of destroying some infrastructure was particular imperative against Hizbullah. Israel first had to ensure that its kidnapped soldiers would not be smuggled out of the country (as other soldiers had been and were never returned), then it had to prevent Hizbullah from being re-armed, especially given that Hizbullah damaged a ship using advanced radar technology provided by the Lebanese army and rockets provided by Iran.

Hizbullah was being armed by Syria and Iran - as those countries themselves admitted - and the president, government, and population of Lebanon overwhelmingly supported the militia's indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilian population centers. The Lebanese army actively supported Hizbullah's military actions. Israel was, in a very real sense, at war with Lebanon itself, and not simply with a renegade faction of militants.

HERE'S HOW law professor David Bernstein answered Amnesty's charge:

The idea that a country at war can't attack the enemy's resupply routes (at least until it has direct evidence that there is a particular military shipment arriving) has nothing to do with human rights or war crimes, and a lot to do with a pacifist attitude that seeks to make war, regardless of the justification for it or the restraint in prosecuting it [at least if it's a Western country doing it], an international "crime."

In other words, if attacking the civilian infrastructure is a war crime, then modern warfare is entirely impermissible, and terrorists have a free hand in attacking democracies and hiding from retaliation among civilians. Terrorists become de facto immune from any consequences for their atrocities.

THE MORE troubling aspect of Amnesty's report is their inattention to Hizbullah. If Israel is guilty of war crimes for targeting civilian infrastructure, imagine how much greater is Hizbullah's moral responsibility for targeting civilians! But Amnesty shows little interest in condemning the terrorist organization that started the conflict, indiscriminately killed both Israeli civilians (directly) and Lebanese civilians (by using them as human shields), and has announced its intention to kill Jews worldwide (already having started by blowing up the Jewish Community Center in Argentina.) Apparently Amnesty has no qualms about Hizbullah six-year war of attrition against Israel following Israel's complete withdrawal from Southern Lebanon.

As has been widely reported, even al-Jazeera expressed surprise at the imbalance in the Amnesty report:

During the four week war Hizbullah fired 3,900 rockets at Israeli towns and cities with the aim of inflicting maximum civilian casualties.

The Israeli government says that 44 Israeli civilians were killed in the bombardments and 1,400 wounded.

AI has not issued a report accusing Hizbullah of war crimes.

Amnesty does not even seem to understand the charges it is making. Take, for example, this paragraph from its report:

Israeli government spokespeople have insisted that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was incidental or resulted from Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield". However, the pattern and scope of the attacks, as well as the number of civilian casualties and the amount of damage sustained, makes the justification ring hollow.

But the issue of human shields and infrastructure are different. The first relates to civilian casualties; the second concerns property damage. Of course Israel intentionally targeted bridges and roads. It would have been militarily negligent not to have done so under the circumstances. But it did not target innocent civilians. It would have given them no military benefit to do so.

The allegations become even more tenuous, as when Amnesty writes, "a road that can be used for military transport is still primarily civilian in nature." By this reasoning, terrorists could commandeer any structure or road initially constructed for civilian use, and Israel could not touch those bridges or buildings because they were once, and still could be, used by civilians. This is not, and should not be, the law.

Consider another example: "While the use of civilians to shield a combatant from attack is a war crime, under international humanitarian law such use does not release the opposing party from its obligations towards the protection of the civilian population."

Well that's certainly nice sounding. But what does it mean? What would Amnesty suggest a country do in the face of daily rocket attacks launched from civilian populations? Nothing, apparently. The clear implication of Amnesty's arguments is that the only way Israel could have avoided committing "war crimes" would have been if it had taken only such military action that carried with it no risk to civilian shields - that is, to do absolutely nothing.

For Amnesty, "Israeli war crimes" are synonymous with "any military action whatsoever."

The real problem with Amnesty's paper is that its blanket condemnations do not consider the consequences of its arguments. (It doesn't have to; it would never advance these arguments against any country but Israel.)

Amnesty International's conclusions are not based on sound legal arguments. They're certainly not based on compelling moral arguments. They're simply anti-Israel arguments. Amnesty reached a predetermined conclusion - that Israel committed war crimes - and it is marshalling whatever sound-bites it could to support that conclusion.

Amnesty International is not only sacrificing its own credibility when it misstates the law and omits relevant facts in its obsession over Israel. It also harms progressive causes that AI should be championing.

Just last year, for example, Amnesty blamed Palestinian rapes and "honor killings" on - you guessed it - the Israeli occupation. When I pointed out that there was absolutely no statistical evidence to show that domestic violence increased during the occupation, and that Amnesty's report relied exclusively on the conclusory and anecdotal reports of Palestinian NGOs, Amnesty stubbornly repeated that "Israel is implicated in this violence by Palestinian men against Palestinian women."

This episode only underscored AI's predisposition to blame everything on Israel. Even when presented with an ideal opportunity to promote gender equality and feminism in the Arab world, it preferred to take wholly unrelated and absurd shots at Israel.

Amnesty International just can't seem to help itself when it comes to blaming Israel for the evils of the world, but rational observers must not credit the pre-determined conclusions of a once-reputable organization that has destroyed its own credibility by repeatedly applying a double standard to Israel.

The writer is a professor of law at Harvard. His most recent book is Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways.
652  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Alcald?a Metropolitana decreta ?adquisici?n forzosa? on: August 29, 2006, 09:44:30 PM
No hab?a encontrado esta noticia en espa?ol antes:

Alcald?a Metropolitana decreta ?adquisici?n forzosa? de campos de Golf de Valle Arriba y del Caracas Country Club

Seg?n aparece en la Gaceta Oficial del Distrito Metropolitano de Caracas correspondiente al jueves pasado, y publicada el viernes, se decreta la ?adquisici?n forzosa? de los campos de Golf de Valle Arriba y del Caracas Country Club.
Informa el diario vespertino El Mundo que la medida incluye un lote de tierras de 15.538,90 metros cuadrados en la avenida Intercomunal de Montalb?n-La Vega y otro que pasa de los 466 ,mil mts2 en la urbanizaci?n La Arboleda, carretera Caracas- El Junquito.
Se ordena la ?ocupaci?n temporal? y ?se instruye a la Polic?a Metropolitana para que custodie de forma permanente? las ?reas a las que hace referencia la publicaci?n oficial.
La semana pasada, el alcalde Juan Barreto hab?a declarado que en los terrenos de los campos de golf se pueden construir complejos habitacionales para sectores medios. Los terrenos afectados est?n ubicados en los municipios Chacao y Baruta (este), de los cuales son alcaldes los opositores Leopoldo L?pez y Henrique Capriles.
En la capital hay un tercer campo de golf, en otra zona exclusiva del sureste, el Lagunita Country Club, que no fue expropiado.
Caracas est? dividida en cinco municipios -tres controlados por la oposici?n-, con importantes niveles de autonom?a, pero sobre los cuales ejerce autoridad Juan Barreto en su calidad de alcalde metropolitano.
La semana pasada, en un foro sobre seguridad ciudadana, Barreto arremeti? contra los alcaldes L?pez y Capriles a quienes insult? y agredi?, a la vez que amenaz? con impulsar la expropiaci?n de tierras y propiedades para entregarlas a quienes no tengan vivienda.
"Si tenemos que expropiar un municipio completo, lo haremos (...) no le seguiremos el juego a la clase media putrefacta a quienes L?pez y Capriles representan", dijo en aquel momento.
653  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Chifla en guerra y paz on: August 29, 2006, 07:37:28 AM
Recientemente Juan Barreto, alcalde mayor de Caracas, tom? el micr?fono durante la instalaci?n de un acto municipal para agredir a los alcaldes de la oposici?n, para agredir a la clase media en masa, para amenazar la expropiaci?n de municipios enteros usando las palabras mas soeces que brotaban a su sucia boca. Lo pudo hacer porque fu? un acto organizado y controlado por ?l en un sal?n abarrotado por hinchas del chavismo.

En la vida real encontr? que las cosas son diferentes:

Chifla en guerra y paz?
El alcalde mayor organiz? un concierto en que no pudo usar el micr?fono

[28-08-2006 4:02 ]? Esta vez no hubo encerrona sino entrada libre. La ocasi?n fue m?s inocente que la instalaci?n de un consejo metropolitano: el Concierto contra (precisamente) la Guerra y (precisamente) por la Paz.
El alcalde mayor prepar? su mejor camisa para comunicarse con los j?venes que respondieron a la atractiva oferta de ska y hip hop; incluso, esper? el mejor momento: justo antes de que subiera a escena el invitado especial y m?s esperado, Bersuit Vergarabat, de Argentina.

Subi? a la tarima rodeado por un s?quito de guardaespaldas, aclar? la garganta y tom? el micr?fono. Al principio el alcalde metropolitano no atin? a comprender que el bullicio no era ovaci?n sino chifla. Tard? en captar que no le ped?an otra sino ?c?llate?, ?b?jate? o, peor, ?asesino?. Fue cuando las latas de cerveza comenzaron a llegar al proscenio por el aire y no en bandeja, que Barreto aplic? la de Melqu?ades y tras ?l salieron todos sus protectores. Al parecer no se puede monopolizar el micr?fono ante todos los p?blicos.
654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gaza caught in anarchy and thuggery on: August 28, 2006, 08:42:24 AM
Gaza caught in anarchy and thuggery'
"When you walk in the streets of Gaza City, you cannot but close your eyes because of what you see there: unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street."

This is how Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority government and a former newspaper editor, described the situation in the Gaza Strip in an article he published on Sunday on some Palestinian news Web sites.

The article, the first of its kind by a senior Hamas official, also questioned the effectiveness of the Kassam rocket attacks and noted that since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip, the situation there has deteriorated on all levels. It holds the armed groups responsible for the crisis and calls on them to reconsider their tactics and to stop blaming Israel for their mistakes.

"Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs," Hamad wrote. "I remember the day when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and closed the gates behind. Then, Palestinians across the political spectrum took to the streets to celebrate what many of us regarded as the Israeli defeat or retreat. We heard a lot about a promising future in the Gaza Strip and about turning the area into a trade and industrial zone."

Hamad said the "culture of life" that prevailed in the Strip has since been replaced with a nightmare. "Life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden," he said. "Today I ask myself a daring and frightening question: 'Why did the occupation return to Gaza?' The normal reply: 'The occupation is the reason.'"

Dismissing Israel's responsibility for the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, Hamad said it was time for the Palestinians to embark on a soul-searching process to see where they erred.

"We're always afraid to talk about our mistakes," he added. "We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. What is the relationship between the chaos, anarchy, lawlessness, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, family rivalries, transgression on public lands and unorganized traffic and the occupation? We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories - one that has limited our capability to think."

Hamad admitted that the Palestinians have failed in developing the Gaza Strip following the Israeli withdrawal and in imposing law and order. He said about 500 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded since the Israeli pullout, in addition to the destruction of much of the infrastructure in the area.

By comparison, he said, only three or four Israelis have been killed by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the same period.

"Some will argue that it's not a matter of profit or loss, but that this has an accumulating effect" he said. "This may be true. But isn't there a possibility of decreasing the number of casualties and increasing our gains by using our brains and making the proper calculations away from demagogic statements?"

The Hamas official said that while his government was unable to change the situation, the opposition was sitting on the side and watching and PA President Mahmoud Abbas was as weak as ever.

"We have all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity," he remarked. "We have lost our sense of direction and we don't know where we're headed."

Addressing the various armed groups in the Gaza Strip, Hamad concluded: "Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live."
655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tour de Force on: August 28, 2006, 12:47:27 AM
Beirut Dispatch

Tour de Force
by Annia Ciezadlo
Post date: 08.24.06
Issue date: 09.04.06

Who says Lebanon's tourism industry is dead? Come to Beirut these days and you can take a guided tour of Hell, with Hezbollah as your escort. Every day, the Party of God welcomes visitors to Haret Hreik, in the heart of the city's mostly Shia southern suburbs. Once home to Hezbollah's headquarters and Beirut's most densely populated neighborhood, Haret Hreik is now a smoking swath of wreckage. For the thousands of families who used to live here, the devastation is almost unimaginable. But, for Hezbollah, the ruins of this once-bustling neighborhood have become a tourist attraction--and an invaluable propaganda tool.

Hezbollah began offering tours of Haret Hreik during the war, assembling every morning at eleven o'clock. I went on the first of these excursions on July 20, along with the bulk of the international press corps--about 100 correspondents, from well-known TV anchors to grubby freelancers. Longtime Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Naboulsi showed up with his entourage and delivered a running patter of outrage. "On a daily basis, they come here and turn buildings into rubble, as you see," he shouted, in his frantic, high-pitched voice. "This is where we live! If the Israelis dare to confront us face to face, let them do it on the border, not come with jet fighters from high above in the sky, and just hit civilian targets!" He strode off into the wreckage, still shouting, and we scrambled to keep up.

Every once in a while, as we marched through the rubble, a man (never a woman) would pop out of a destroyed building to shout with carefully rehearsed rage. All of these appearances were orchestrated by Hezbollah for our benefit. Al Arabiya, a Saudi-funded satellite channel that many Lebanese view as U.S.-backed propaganda, even merited its own personal heckler. "Where is Al Arabiya?" demanded a short, angry man, flailing his arms in the middle of the street. "I have something to tell them." When a microphone with the station's logo appeared in front of him, he shouted, "The Saudis want this to happen! These missiles were made in USA, made in Saudi Arabia, made in Jordan, made in Egypt!"

A telling omission from this litany of oppressors was the country that had actually fired the missiles: Israel. (The Saudis don't make missiles, after all.) You can always rely on Hezbollah leaders for anti-Israel rhetoric. But, ever since the war ended, they've been less fixated than usual on their neighbor to the south. Instead, they're cultivating hatred for a larger, more world-historic enemy: the United States. By focusing on the Great Satan, Hezbollah can avoid the delicate subject of who, exactly, started this particular war--and promote itself instead as a defender of the Muslim world against U.S. aggression and the West generally.

Today, the sea of mangled concrete that was once Haret Hreik is a surreal fairground, complete with souvenir stands and parades. Backhoes and cranes are busily clearing the roads, dumping detritus onto the mountains of rubble that mark where buildings used to be. Hezbollah has adorned most of these mounds with giant, red-and-white banners bearing English-language slogans like new middle beast, the divine victory, and made in usa (below which, in smaller letters, it says trademark). Of the hundreds of signs in the shattered neighborhood, only a few mention Israel.

Now that the war is over, Haret Hreik is a popular day trip. If Hezbollah's wartime press tours were all about obtaining sympathy from the outside world, the current carnival is about stoking domestic outrage. As the United States wades back into Lebanon, promising $230 million in aid, Hezbollah offers Haret Hreik up as a graphic reminder of how the United States helped destroy their country--and of how Hezbollah is rebuilding it. Hundreds of Lebanese walk through the rubble, some with cameras and video recorders, many of them families with kids. Most have come to inspect the ruins of their homes and businesses. Others, including a few Christian families, are simply here to sightsee.

The main attraction is the headquarters of Al Manar, Hezbollah's satellite TV station. To get to it, you pass through a little tent Hezbollah has set up, with flyers directing people to eight registration centers where the party will reimburse them for their lost homes and possessions. There's even a bouquet of flowers on a little table. Outside the tent, dozens of sightseers--all Lebanese, many wearing dust masks--press up against a metal railing, pointing and taking pictures. The mood is weirdly festive, with some people holding up their children and others snapping photos with the latest cell phones. Between the souvenir stands, the dust masks, the earth-moving equipment, and the solemn air of commemoration, it's a bit like Ground Zero in the year after September 11. The smell is the same, too: chalky and toxic, utterly inescapable. It's the smell of the insides of things--pulverized concrete, plaster, asbestos, burnt plastic, cordite, and acrid chemicals. A few veiled women hold headscarves over their mouths to keep out the dust.

The spot where Al Manar used to be is a mountain of charred cement, topped with the remains of people's lives: children's books, pillows, pieces of chairs, an ancient manual typewriter. The apartment buildings from which all this flotsam fell loom above the rubble, ringing the site of the station. Some were destroyed, but others only had their outer walls sheared away so that you can see into the individual apartments: In one, a TV set totters on the edge of the void, its back facing what used to be a wall; in another, an old lady fills a plastic can with oil.

Jutting rakishly from the wreckage, a billboard-sized banner touts the staying power of Hezbollah's radio station--which, like Al Manar, never went off the air despite numerous Israeli bombings of its offices and transmitters. Al nour radio, it proclaims, a voice stronger than the aggressor. "We've been broadcasting live from here all day, from ten in the morning until three," says Ahmed Naeem, the Hezbollah functionary in charge, with pride. "We had everyone! NGOs, ambassadors, even the Turkish foreign minister." According to Naeem, Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister, said the damage was worse than that from the Turkish earthquake of 1999.

"We prepared for this," explains Naeem. "We never kept a lot of people in the main building, even before the soldiers were kidnapped. We were always prepared for attack without provocation. We have a couple of different studios, and we evacuated all of them."

A handful of middle-age men in spotless suits clamber up the mountain: It's the Beirut Chamber of Commerce, coming for a photo-op. Two days later, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora would visit the bomb site as well. Standing in the ruins, flanked by Shia politicians, he denounced Israel's "barbaric acts against Lebanon." As usual, Siniora was in a tight political spot: As a member of the U.S.-backed Future bloc in parliament, he couldn't very well criticize the United States.

Curious to see where all the colorful bunting comes from, I go in search of Hezbollah's graphics unit. I find the army of artists relaxing under a tent, sitting in plastic chairs, while a team of young men pass out posters. These are the guys in charge of the banners and signs that hang everywhere. They've also designed the bright-red trucker hats that many Hezbollah employees are wearing. In Arabic script, the hats declare: nasr min allah--literally, "Victory from God," but also a play on the name of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. They've been cranking out the Hezbollabilia the whole time, even while the bombs were falling, preparing for their divine victory ever since the war began.

"The slogans--we've been getting them from the war itself," says Ghassan Darwish, one of the graphic designers. "They're the slogans that the Americans and Israelis are using." In his hands, for example, Condoleezza Rice's "New Middle East" becomes the new middle beast, with the word beast splattered across the poster like blood. I ask Darwish why so many of the signs are in English. "It's normal for them to be in several different languages, because there are foreign journalists here, asking questions," he replies.

I ask him how people are reacting to the giant signs. "People knew during the war that these were American bombs falling on us, in Israeli hands," he says. "People were receptive to it--especially made in usa."

Annia Ciezadlo is a Beirut-based writer.
subcription required
656  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: August 28, 2006, 12:18:27 AM
Alfredo Keller se?ala que el chavismo no est? homog?neo

?Est? logrando Rosales remover el lecho rocoso del abstencionismo en la oposici?n?

Por ahora les ha cerrado la boca a los abstencionistas, dej?ndolos sin argumentos. Y en la medida en que la campa?a avance se ir? imponiendo el entusiasmo por participar. En la oposici?n existe la creencia de que se es mayor?a y que con un candidato fuerte es posible ganar las elecciones.

?Hablas sobre la base de una impresi?n o tienes a la mano soportes estad?sticos?

En este momento estoy haciendo din?micas de grupo. Esa no es una metodolog?a estad?sticamente representativa, pero sirve para tener una idea de la tendencia en los electores. Y el factor que dinamiza la candidatura de Rosales es el hecho de que se presenta como una propuesta unitaria. La hip?tesis seg?n la cual era imposible lograr ese prop?sito ha sido vencida. Al gobernador Rosales se le atribuye el m?rito de haberle ganado a Ch?vez y a sus candidatos en condiciones adversas, adem?s de presentar una obra que, en lo social, resulta m?s eficiente que la del gobierno central.

?Al contrastar personalidades no luce Ch?vez como m?s carism?tico?

Rosales no es un pico 'e plata como Ch?vez, pero lo importante no es lo lindo que hable, sino lo certero de lo que afirma. La din?mica se concentra m?s en los contenidos que en las formas.

?Es Rosales un candidato mejor posicionado para la lucha con Ch?vez que Salas o Arias?

Mejor que Arias s? porque no genera prevenciones en la oposici?n. Exist?a la sospecha de que Arias era una impostura del Gobierno para lograr que la oposici?n participara y esa idea fue ratificada con su nombramiento como embajador ante la ONU.

?No era Ch?vez, en aquel momento, un fen?meno en ascenso mientras que ahora es un mandatario sometido al desgaste luego de 8 a?os de gobierno?

Absolutamente. Lo del desgaste es cierto y este a?o lo hemos visto en varias encuestas. Cada d?a el Presidente goza de menos intenci?n de voto. El Gobierno tiene el viento en contra y en un momento durante el cual emite se?ales de debilidad, aparece una alternativa s?lida. En los ?ltimos a?os, a la pregunta sobre la necesidad de la aparici?n de un l?der alternativo, la respuesta estuvo por encima del 70%. Otra cosa es que el chavismo no es tan homog?neo como se dice y hay personas que, declar?ndose a favor del Presidente, no piensan votar por ?l. Sometidas a un simulacro de debate de elecciones, como las que hacemos con las din?micas de grupo, terminan decidiendo votar por Rosales.

?Cu?l era porcentaje de apoyo de Rosales en el momento de iniciar la campa?a?

El la inici? con 35% de intenci?n de voto, que es mucho para alguien que en enero ten?a apenas dos o tres puntos.

En s?ntesis, ?hasta qu? punto ha logrado Rosales conjurar la abstenci?n?

En 15 d?as no puedes liquidar el problema, pero el tema pas? a un segundo plano cuando Rosales se convirti? en candidato unitario.

?C?mo se va a solventar el tema unitario con la candidatura de el Conde del Gu?charo?

Debemos esperar resultados de encuestas, pero Rausseo impacta s?lo en las ?lites, en aquellos con disponibilidad econ?mica para pagar una entrada a su espect?culo. En las din?micas de grupo los electores no se lo toman en serio y los aprensivos miran su candidatura como sospechosa. No le doy mucha posibilidad.

Queda, entonces, Ch?vez, con casi todo a su favor.

Como presidente ?l hace campa?a sin ninguna limitaci?n y con los recursos del Estado a su servicio. Eso genera una gran asimetr?a. Pero tiene el viento en contra y la agenda del debate lo condena en todo los temas. Si colocamos en una balanza las bondades y los yerros de su gobierno, veremos que los ?ltimos pesan mucho m?s. El Gobierno carece de argumentos y eso abre una tremenda ventana de oportunidades al candidato opositor.

Pero el Presidente conserva una ventaja importante.

No es cierto. Goza de un 55% de popularidad, pero cuando analizas las cifras, encuentras que la mitad no tiene intenci?n de votar por ?l. En el estudio de julio contaba con 27%. El resto siente gran confusi?n sobre sus intenciones y cree que las cosas van por mal camino. Esa gente, a menos de ser captada por un candidato de oposici?n, tiene una gran tendencia a abstenerse. As? que la abstenci?n no es un problema de la oposici?n sino del Gobierno. Por eso Ch?vez baja su meta de 10 a 6 millones, adem?s de que el anuncio aument? irracionalmente la confianza en el triunfo: "estamos sobrados, ya ganamos". Lo envolvi? una arrogancia infinita y ahora, cuando los n?meros no le cuadran, comienza a verse p?nico en el oficialismo.

?Inscribes el caso Barreto en ese supuesto p?nico?

Es un indicador.

?P?nico o estrategia para radicalizar el proceso?

La radicalizaci?n ya no les sirve. Ganar las elecciones es cuesti?n de vida o muerte para ellos. Lo de Barreto es p?nico.

Cuando dices que Ch?vez tiene 27 y Rosales 35, ?te refieres a los mismos renglones?

No. Aqu? anotamos la capacidad de consolidar el voto v?lido de la oposici?n. Por tanto, el 35% de Rosales se convierte en 29%. Pero sigue siendo mayoritario y para un arranque, enfrentado a Ch?vez, est? muy bien.

657  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Medio Oriente on: August 27, 2006, 10:50:59 PM
El problema de los ?rabes sunnitas es que oponerse abiertamente a Hezbollah se interpreta como apoyar a Israel, algo que no pueden hacer por miedo de encender la furia fundamentalista en sus paises. De cierta forma sufren de los mismos demonios que Europa que no se atreve a apoyar a Israel por miedo de inflamar sus respectivas poblaciones musulmanas. Catch-22.
658  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Asco on: August 27, 2006, 10:08:26 PM

Paulina Gamus
Jueves, 24 de agosto de 2006

Ser un asco:? ser indecoroso y despreciable, no valer nada. Cr?pula: acci?n imp?dica o deshonesta (crapuloso, aquel que la comete). Cobarde: sin valor ni esp?ritu. P?rfido: desleal, infiel, traidor. Repulsivo: repugnante, desviado. R?probo: malvado, infame. Cayapear: reunirse muchos para atacar a uno sobre seguro (cayapero, quien realiza tan repudiable acto). Monstruo: producci?n contra el orden regular de la naturaleza, persona muy cruel y perversa.

Elijan ustedes amigos lectores, el calificativo que crean m?s adecuado para ese contrasentido (con apariencia de ser humano) que ocupa hoy la Alcald?a mayor de la ciudad capital de Venezuela.

Es poco lo que puede agregarse a la indignada reacci?n del pa?s decente -chavista y no chavista- ante la conducta abierta de un funcionario, alguien que deber?a comportarse como un servidor del pueblo, que se aprovecha de un acto p?blico -con asistencia masiva de adeptos- para insultar, humillar, exponer al escarnio a dos funcionarios electos como ?l, y luego, tras bastidores, empujarlos y escupirles a la cara. Los antecedentes homicidas del profesor universitario Juan Barreto prueban que su afici?n por la violencia no es solo verbal. Y algo m?s: prueban que es un individuo altamente peligroso que, como dir?a uno de los dirigentes chavistas presentes en el acto, necesita un psiquiatra. Y con urgencia, a?ado.

El bochornoso acto ocurrido en plena campa?a electoral no deja de causar m?s que sorpresa, estupor. La pol?tica se puede definir de muchas maneras, una de ellas es el arte de convencer. Deber?a suponerse que cuando se est? a pocos meses de una elecci?n tan importante como es la presidencial, el equipo de un candidato busca sumarle votos. En este caso ha sucedido todo lo contrario: quien aprovecha un acto p?blico para llamar putrefacta a la clase media y para amenazar a los alcaldes agredidos con expropiarles todo el Municipio, est? de una vez espantando a millones de electores. ?Acaso todos quienes viven en los municipios Chacao o Baruta son esos ricos que tanta repulsa o envidia provocan al alcalde mayor? ?Ignora quien fue jefe de Medios en la primera campa?a presidencial de Ch?vez, en 1998, que hay un porcentaje elevado de los llamados Ni-Ni, a?n no inclinados por ning?n candidato, que podr?an correr despavoridos hacia el candidato de la unidad opositora?

El terror es un arma que utilizaron en su momento todos los fascismos: el nazismo de Adolfo Hitler y luego el comunismo de Lenin, Stalin, Mao y, en nuestro continente, de Fidel Castro. Hitler lo emple? durante doce a?os, Lenin muri? antes de poder desplegar al m?ximo su condici?n de genocida; Stalin, Mao y sobre todo Castro, han contado con el auxilio de su propia longevidad para hacer de sus gobiernos sistemas sostenidos por el miedo. ?Es ese el aporte de Juan Barreto a la perpetuaci?n del r?gimen chavista? Sin duda que cualquier psic?pata con poder causa p?nico, especialmente si ese poder es omn?modo y si no hay posibilidades de derrotarlo. ?Estamos ante un caso as??

Hay algo que falla, una pata que cojea en la misi?n miedo de la revoluci?n chavista y es el af?n de aparecer ante el mundo (que Ch?vez no acepta que sea ancho y ajeno) como dem?crata. Los pa?ses comunistas de la ?rbita sovi?tica pod?an llamarse, con el mayor cinismo, democracias y ser lo diametralmente opuesto. Eso ya no es posible en el mundo globalizado. Es factible que en muchos casos haya una suerte de vista gorda parcializada con respecto a las tendencias autocr?ticas de un gobierno, pero ser un tirano sin parecerlo es bastante dif?cil. Ch?vez va por el mundo alabando la revoluci?n bolchevique, con Stalin al frente, y la de Mao. Ni que decir de la cubana protagonizada ad eternum por Castro. Sin embargo se empe?a en hacer elecci?n tras elecci?n para mostrar a ese mismo mundo, que el es un dem?crata y que su gobierno es leg?timo porque es producto de la voluntad popular. ?Acaso Ch?vez se cree inderrotable y est? convencido de que jam?s perder? una elecci?n?

Los abstencionistas responder?n afirmativamente, precisamente su decisi?n de no votar se basa en la convicci?n de que Ch?vez gobernar? hasta el fin de sus d?as porque ha blindado un sistema electoral fraudulento e imposible de derrotar. Si as? fuera uno tendr?a que preguntarse a qu? se debe que el teniente coronel viva desde hace ocho a?os en una perenne campa?a electoral.

?Acaso ocurr?a eso en la URSS de Stalin, o en la China de Mao? ?Sucede en la Cuba de Fidel Castro? Primero se jact? de que el pr?ximo 3 de diciembre recibir?a diez millones de votos, ahora baj? la cifra de sus aspiraciones a solo seis. ?En raz?n de qu? ocurre esto? Podr?a perfectamente ordenarle al Consejo Nacional Electoral, rendido a sus pies, que fabrique esos diez millones ya que la trampa est? montada y es imbatible. Pero hasta ?l sabe que no es posible hacer un fraude tan obsceno. Guardar las apariencias tiene mucha importancia para un aparente dem?crata.

Visto lo anterior habr?a que saludar el deleznable acto de Barreto como el mejor apoyo al candidato unitario de la oposici?n, Manuel Rosales. Muchos indecisos se habr?n decidido ante esa exposici?n de lo peor y m?s abierto que puede existir en quien ocupa un cargo tan relevante dentro del chavismo.

Y muchos abstencionistas, me consta, han cambiado de parecer y van a votar porque ven con horror unas amenazas que hay que considerar seriamente.

No quisiera terminar esta nota sin expresar admiraci?n y respeto por Marino Alvarado, de la organizaci?n PROVEA, defensora de los derechos humanos. Alguien que tiene el valor de levantarse frente a una masa enardecida por un discurso fascista e incendiario, para expresar su repudio al mismo y solidarizarse con los agredidos, es un hombre, una persona en el sentido m?s integral. Ojala Venezuela contara hoy con muchos Marinos Alvarados, otra ser?a nuestra realidad.

Reprinted by permission of the author.
The opinions emitted in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.
659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Winston S. Churchill III on Islamic Fundamentalism on: August 23, 2006, 10:01:29 PM
Churchill on Islamic Fundamentalism

Winston Churchill's grandson says radical Islam at war with the world

By CJ Staff

March 03, 2006

Winston S. Churchill III speaking at the John Locke Foundation's 16th anniversary dinner in Raleigh on Feb. 10.

RALEIGH ? Winston S. Churchill III maintains that Islamic fundamentalism is as destructive as the malevolent "isms" of the 20th century: Nazism, Communism and Facism. In a speech on Feb. 10 at the John Locke Foundation's anniversary dinner, the grandson of Winston Churchill urged the West to stay the course in the fight against extremist Islam.

Here is the text of his speech:

It is both an honor and a pleasure to be your guest here tonight and to have the privilege of addressing the John Locke Foundation. First and foremost, may I congratulate you for honouring the memory of John Locke, who was very much involved in the establishment of the Governments of the Carolinas and who, most important of all, was one of the great philosophers of the English-speaking world.

Locke?s message ? the vital importance of resisting authoritarianism ? is as relevant to the strife-torn times of the world in which we live, as it was in the strife-torn times of the 17th Century. Authoritarianism constantly rears its ugly head, even within our own societies on both sides of the Atlantic, in so many guises and disguises, and in every field, be it religion, government or the military.

At its most extreme, authoritarianism is exemplified by the isms of the 20th Century ? Communism, Fascism and Nazism. The Fascists and Nazis were responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million human beings, while more than 50 million are estimated to have been murdered by Stalin and the Russian Communists, while Mao-Tse-Tung and the Chinese Communists are believed to have accounted for some 80 million.

But today a new challenge ? another ism ? confronts us, and that is the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism. Extremist Islam has declared war on the rest of the world, as evidenced by their ruthless attacks across the globe ? overwhelmingly targeted at innocent civilians. Beside the outrage of 9/11, the bombings in Madrid, in Bali, in London and, most recently, in Jordan come to mind.

Those who have declared jihad against the West, and Western values, such as freedom of speech, are doing all in their power to mobilize against us the large Muslim communities living in our midst. In North America, there are an estimated six million Muslims in the USA, plus a further three-quarter million in Canada; while in the European Union, they number an estimated 20 million, including nearly 2 million in Britain. Unlike most other categories of migrant, the Muslims are reluctant to assimilate and, all too often, wish to pursue their own agenda.

Unbelievably, Washington is urging Europe to admit Turkey to the EU. Were that to happen, the Muslim population of Europe would skyrocket to 100 million ? an act, in my view, of consummate folly. Already Judeo-Christian Europe is under siege from a tidal wave of Islamic immigration. The admission of Turkey would hasten its demise. While I have a great regard for the Turks, the only democracy in the Muslim world and stalwart members of NATO, I am firmly opposed to their admission to the EU. I would accord them most-favoured nation status, but not the right to settle in Western Europe and become EU citizens.

The scale of the problem confronting Europe today is epitomized by France, which has a Muslim community of some 6 million, or 10 percent of its population. But, if you take the population aged 20 and below, the figure rockets to 30 percent, such is the birthrate of the immigrant communities. In other words, within one further generation, France will be a Muslim country ? a truly horrifying prospect.

At the same time it is vital that, in our pursuit of the men and women of terror ? we do all we can, not to alienate these large Muslim communities already established among us. For, without the active support of the Muslim communities, we shall never excise this deadly cancer in our midst.

Intriguingly, the dangers of extremist Islam were foreseen by Winston Churchill all of 85 years ago, as I discovered to my amazement, while compiling my most recent book NEVER GIVE IN! The Best of Winston Churchill?s Speeches.

Churchill is, of course, well-known for his gift of prescience and, specifically, for being the first to warn of the menace of Hitler and Nazism as early as 1932, and of the Soviet threat in his famous Iron Curtain speech in 1946 in Fulton, Mo. But how many know that he also warned the world of the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism? I certainly did not!

On 14 June 1921, hard on the heels of the Cairo Conference, at which he had presided over the re-shaping of the Middle East, including the creation of modern day Iraq, he warned the House of Commons:

A large number of [Saudi Arabia?s King] Bin Saud?s followers belong to the Wahabi sect, a form of Mohammedanism which bears, roughly speaking, the same relationship to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of [Europe?s] religious wars.

The Wahabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others. They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahabi villages for simply appearing in the streets.

It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette and, as for the crime of alcohol, the most energetic supporter of the temperance cause in this country falls far behind them. Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and blood-thirsty, in their own regions the Wahabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina?

In Churchill?s day, of course, the viciousness and cruelty of the Wahabis was confined to the Saudi Arabia peninsula, and their atrocities were directed exclusively against their fellow Muslims, whom they held to be heretics for not adhering to the Wahabi creed ? but not anymore.

Today the combination of the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia and the supine weakness of the Saudi royal family which ? as the price for not having their own behavior subjected to scrutiny and public criticism by these austere, extremist clerics ? has bank-rolled the Wahabi fundamentalist movement, and given these fanatical zealots a global reach to their vicious creed of hatred and extremism.

The consequence has been that the Wahabis have been able to export their exceptionally intolerant brand of Islamic fundamentalism from Mauritania and Morocco on Africa?s Atlantic shores, through more than two dozen countries including Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, to as far afield as the Philippines and East Timor in the Pacific. This is the stark challenge that today confronts the Western world and I fear it will be with us, not just for a matter of years, but perhaps even for generations.

Just in the past two weeks the temperature in the Middle East has risen markedly with three significant developments. First, we have seen the wild and furious reaction, whipped up by firebrand clerics throughout the Islamic world, to the publication some five months ago in a Danish newspaper of a cartoon depicting the prophet with a smoking bomb in his turban, as tattered suicide bombers were being greeted at the Muslim pearly gates by a gate-keeper shooing them away and shouting: ?Get lost! We?ve run out of Virgins!? The fury that this mild piece of satire engendered, epitomizes the clash of civilizations that is the key factor confronting us today.

Secondly, the stunning election victory in the Palestinian elections of Hamas ? a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel ? provided a rude shock to those in Washington who naively imagined that democracy would provide the answer to the problems of the Middle East. For many within the Beltway, free elections have been an article of faith, even though it was in a free election that Hitler first came to power, before establishing his Nazi dictatorship.

Such is the anger of the Moslem world against the West, inflamed by extremist clerics and fanned by the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia television networks, that truly democratic and free elections would result in the election of fundamentalist governments throughout the Muslim world. It is a frightening fact, that in 50 Muslim countries countless millions of Muslims tell pollsters that they regard Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as more trustworthy than President Bush.

The third and by far the most serious development, is the decision of the Iranian government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to remove the U.N. seals from its nuclear research facilities. He it is who not only denies the Holocaust ever happened, but who declares that Israel is a ?tumor? that should be ?wiped off the map?! Some Western analysts state that the Iranian president doesn?t really mean what he says. There were, of course, many who said just that of Hitler?s Mein Kampf, and we saw the result.

Having reported events ? including two wars ? in the Middle East over the past 45 years, I think I know the Israelis well enough to say that Israel is not about to wait to find out whether or not the Iranian president means what he says. In 1981 Israel took decisive steps to take out Saddam Hussein?s Osirak nuclear facility with a long-range air strike. I do not see how she can fail to do the same in the case of the even greater threat posed to Israel by a nuclear-armed Iran.

This time it will not be so easy, as the mullahs have dispersed their nuclear facilities across 16 sites and built them deep underground, making them far more difficult to attack. But with 500 ?bunker-busting? bombs from the U.S. and precision-guidance technology they will certainly make a mess of the place. The whole Muslim world will be enflamed with outrage and Iran?s reaction may well be to deploy 100,000 guerrilla fighters to Iraq to fight the Americans and British ? not a happy thought.

But even before these developments, siren voices could already be heard on Capitol Hill, raising the cry: ?Bring the Boys home.? I tell you: Nothing could be more disastrous than if, at this juncture, the United States were to cut and run. It would, at a stroke, undermine those forces of moderation we are seeking to establish in power, betray our troops as they fight a difficult, but necessary, battle, and break faith with those of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to establish a free Iraq.

Gravest of all, we should be handing a victory of gigantic proportions to our sworn enemies. Let no one imagine that by pulling out of Iraq, the threat will simply evaporate. On the contrary, it will redouble, it will come closer to home and our enemies will have established in Iraq the very base that, by our defeat of the Taliban, we have denied them in Afghanistan. We shall see a desperately weakened United States, with its armed forces undermined and demoralized, increasingly at the mercy of our terrorist enemies.

Precipitate withdrawal is the counsel of defeatism and cowardice, which, if it holds sway, will immeasurably increase the dangers that today confront, not just America, but the entire Western world. It is something for which we shall pay a terrible price in the years ahead. When great nations go to war ? and they should do so only as a last resort ? they must expect to suffer grievous losses and must commit to war with an unconquerable resolve to secure victory.

In Iraq the United States has lost some 2,200 men and women, Britain just over 100. Compare that to the first day of the Battle of the Somme ? 1 July 1916 ? when the British Army in a single day, nay, before breakfast, lost 55,000 men killed, wounded or missing in action. Did we talk of quitting?
What has happened to the mighty United States? Is it going soft? Are the elected representatives of the American people ready to surrender to those who threaten their homeland ? indeed their civilian population ? with death and destruction? I pray that they are not, and I call to mind the words of my grandfather, addressing the Canadian Parliament on New Year's Day 1941, in which ? referring to the British nation dwelling around the globe, but it applies equally to our American cousins today ? when he declared:

 are a tough and hardy people! We have not travelled across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains & across the prairies, because we're made of sugar candy!

In conclusion, I would remind you ? and especially the legislators on Capitol Hill ? of Winston Churchill?s words to the House of Commons on becoming prime minister in May 1940, which applies every bit as much to the situation that confronts us today.

You ask: What is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror. However long or hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.

Provided we have the courage to stay the course, I am convinced that we can, in the end, prevail. Any alternative is too terrible to contemplate. There are no quick, easy solutions; on the contrary it will be a long, hard slog. But more leadership is needed from on high and, above all, more guts and determination if we are to see this through to victory.

Let us fight the good fight ? and let us fight it together! How pleased my grandfather would be to know that ? 40 years on from his death ? the Anglo-American alliance is still strong and that British and American soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder in Iraq and in Afghanistan, confronting the peril of the hour! Long may we stand together! God bless America!
660  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Cuban doctors defect, speak out on: August 23, 2006, 09:19:47 PM
Cuban doctors defect, speak out
By Steven Dudley

McClatchy Newspapers


CARTAGENA, Colombia - Carlos Rodriguez and his girlfriend, Johan Mary Jimenez, had little hope of leaving Cuba. They were both physicians, her father was a known dissident, and Rodriguez himself was an outspoken critic of the system.

Still, in May 2004, a Cuban government seemingly desperate to satisfy Venezuela's need for doctors slotted the two into Mision Barrio Adentro, President Hugo Chavez's campaign to provide healthcare for his country's poorest people.

They fled to Colombia seven months later and obtained political asylum. They are now scratching out a living doing odd jobs near this Caribbean city - and offering insights into the Cuban doctors program in Venezuela.

Since taking power in 1999, Chavez has increased trade with Cuba and sought to benefit from its expertise in health, education and defense. Barrio Adentro, or ''Inside the Neighborhoods,'' was one of several programs Chavez set up with the help of Cubans, and an estimated 20,000 Cuban medical personnel are working in Venezuela.

Many of these Cubans wind up defecting. Exact numbers are impossible to get, but Julio Cesar Alfonso of the Miami-based Solidarity without Borders, a group that helps Cuban doctors abroad who defect, estimates that more than 500 have escaped the programs in many countries.

Cuban doctors working abroad do not have an easy life.

Cuban officials monitor them closely, Rodriguez and Jimenez told The Miami Herald. They could not speak with the media, and there were regular ''code reds'' - alerts for unspecified reasons during which they couldn't leave home.

Rodriguez, 30, and Jimenez, 28, were working in the town of Lagunillas, near Venezuela's northwestern border with Colombia. Like many Cuban medical personnel, they went to Venezuela with the hope of saving a little money, or at least returning home with some consumer goods hard to find on the island.

''Cubans look for a way to change their lives,'' Rodriguez said. "Going to another country to work was one way to do that."

Venezuela turned out to offer few benefits, however.

The couple said they each received the equivalent of about $200 a month as salary. The Venezuelan government provided them with separate housing and the state oil company, PDVSA, subsidized their food.

But money was still tight because of Venezuela's high cost of living, they said, and other doctors did not even receive the PDVSA food subsidy.

Barrio Adentro was also disappointing, they said.

Although it was promoted as a way to help poor people who had minor illnesses, aches, pains and infections, Rodriguez and Jimenez said their Cuban supervisor made it clear that they also had to campaign for Chavez in the lead up to a 2004 recall referendum, which Chavez won handily.

''The idea is good,'' Rodriguez said of the mission. "But that wasn't what the mission was for. The coordinator told us that our job was to keep Chavez in power."

The coordinator also required the doctors to put up Chavez posters in the small clinics they established in poor barrios, and told them to tell patients "to vote for Chavez."

''I wouldn't do it,'' Rodriguez added. "I told them that I was happy to do the work as a doctor, but I won't campaign."

Not all of the barrio residents were sympathetic to the Cubans. Anti-Chavez neighbors called them ''Fidel's ambassadors'' and refused to go to their clinics, the couple said.

The Cuban medical personnel also provided the Venezuelans with Cuban medicines. Rodriguez, who was part of the team that distributed the medicine to neighborhoods, said ''boxes and boxes and boxes'' arrived weekly from Cuba via military aircraft.

Whether Cuba donated the medicines, or the Venezuelan government paid for them, was impossible to establish.

Since the Venezuelan program was launched, Cubans on the island have complained about a significant drop in the number of doctors there and the already low supplies of medicines there.

"I was worried about all this medicine leaving Cuba," Jimenez said. "What about the Cubans?"

In the past, Chavez has alluded to the medical program as a swap of Cuba's human resources for Venezuela's natural resources - mostly oil - and part of his campaign to strengthen relations with Latin American nations and distance them from the United States.

Cuba, for instance, receives upwards of 90,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Venezuela on easy repayment terms. Most nations that host Cuban medical personnel also make per-doctor cash payments directly to the Cuban government, but it's not clear whether Venezuela is making such payments or writing off the amounts against its oil deliveries.

Neither Venezuela nor Cuba has provided any public accounting of the costs for their Cuban doctors arrangement, but a recent Bush administration report estimated Venezuelan energy subsidies to Cuba at $1 billion.

For Rodriguez and Jimenez, the best part of their deployment to Venezuela was that it offered them an escape hatch.

They met with a Colombian friend of another doctor, who arranged for them to cross the Colombian border in a car for about $50. They left in the early morning hours of Dec. 11. By noon, they were in Cartagena.
661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: August 23, 2006, 06:13:23 PM
Good for you.? I sure am glad Hugo Chavez is president of Venezuela.

Figures! Wink? <== the "wink" smily is missing
662  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: August 23, 2006, 05:04:11 PM
"We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."

What exactly can we take this to mean?

Sounds perfectly clear to me: as long as Mr. Bush is president of the United States of America he will endeavor by all legal means to keep the American armed presence in Iraq. I'm sure glad that Mr. Bush is the American president.?

663  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Killing children on: August 17, 2006, 03:51:56 PM
Such convoluted arguing makes my brain hurt so I was not able to go through the whole thing. I like to keep things simple.

I don't like war.
I don't start wars.
I refuse to lose.
If you start a war you have to lose it.
End of story.

Killing people is not the objective. President Lyndon Johnson and general William Westmoreland proved without a shadow of a doubt in Vietnam that body count is not a useful strategy or tactic. The objective is to demoralize the enemy to the point that they totally lose the will to fight. That was the way the Allies beat Germany and Japan in the Second World War. No one will ever know what the body count was at Dresden or Tokyo as a result of the fire bombings. But the Tokyo fire bombing plus Hiroshima plus Nagasaki finally broke the Japanese spirit. Do the Japanese hate America for this? Not at all. Japan considers Douglas MacArthur their liberator. That is the lesson to be learned from previous wars.

Appeasement brings on war.
Total humiliating defeat ends war and makes friends.

Israel's big mistake was not waging total war on Hezbollah. Israel's mistake was loving their soldiers so much that they did not commit them to total victory. The sterile air campaign proved to be sterile, it did not bring victory and the conditions on the ground have not changed. Hezbollah is whole, Syria is whole, Iran is whole.

I know this will sound crude and rude but if you survive you can make more children. If you don't survive then there will never be more children. Nature is not cruel, nature plays the numbers: Make enough of them and let the fittest survive. If there are not enough fit ones then let another species take their place.

To quote general George Patton: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."


The author of this article grasps Islam-induced thinking, part of what is called "psycho-epistemology," very well.? This article is one of the best, and one of the very, very few, about Muslim thinking per se.

Getting Into Their Minds III:? How Does Islam Do It?

Deterring Those Who Are Already Dead?
664  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Invitation to dialog to Muslims on: August 16, 2006, 11:27:55 PM

I think the Holocaust cartoon contest should be a non-event.

Crafty Dog:

On the contrary, in a thread about dialog we should talk about dialog and cartoons are a way of speaking.

The Iranian cartoon contest is a response to the Danish cartoons about the prophet, the series of cartoons that provoked mayhem in some Muslim sectors, mayhem that the west, in the name of freedom of speech, deplored. The Danish cartoons, according to the west, are protected speech.

There is a law in Germany prohibiting the denial of the Holocaust. This is a priori censorship and quite contrary to the spirit of the First Amendment.

Having been there and having lost close family, I know from personal experience that the Holocaust was very much a reality. But how does a law that prohibits denying the Holocaust help us? All it does is to curtail freedom of speech and maybe it soothes Germany's sense of guilt about the Holocaust, a sense of guilt that also happens to be very real.

Strange as it may seem at first sight, wouldn't a cartoon war be better than a real war with blood and gore? What if we teach Islam to fight with ideas, with cartoons, as opposed to fighting with weapons including nuclear bombs?

665  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / HE CAMBIADO DE OPINION..................REENVIAR...TODOS A VOTAR on: August 16, 2006, 12:28:48 AM
De: Oswaldo Gonzalez
[ ]

Desde que fuimos llevados al Paro y luego la estupida proclamaci?n de Pedro Carmona y de los militares alrededor pele?ndose por el poder, opt? por no volver a seguir a nadie, ni asistir a m?tines, convocatorias ni firmar nada. Tampoco votar. Sigo convencido que el CNE de aqu?, no va permitir ni va haber condiciones para votar contra Ch?vez.

Sin embargo; hoy mi posici?n la quiero compartir con ustedes porque ha variado.

  • Creo que Manuel Rosales representa "UNIDAD", LIDERAZGO y un gran contendor para Ch?vez.
  • Su candidatura nos garantiza que ni AD, Copei, Mas, Primero Justicia, ABP, Causa R y otros le van a dictar pautas en sus c?pulas de partidos. Su partido Nuevo Tiempo es insignificante y no cogollerico.
  • Su candidatura va con una tarjeta sin color de partido, va con el color de Venezuela y UNIDAD. Todos contra Ch?vez. Nadie se va aprovechar de nosotros los independientes.
  • Defectos tiene, mejores pudieron haber, el TSJ lo va perseguir, firm? El Carmonazo, etc, etc. pero lo cierto es que le llega a TODOS los venezolanos: Chavistas Light y Derechistas Duros!!
  • El Conde del Guacharo va ayudar a despertar a los pobres: sus chistes de Ch?vez y su p?sima obra de gobierno se los dice en su lenguaje chabacano, risible, pero les pone la verdad para que reaccionen. Al final se unir?.
  • Quiero ver a Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, Henry Ramos, Antonio Ledezma, Pe?aEsclusa, Marta Colomina, Marianela Salazar, Ivellise Pacheco, Marcel Granier, Libertad Plena, Gente del Petr?leo, Militares Retirados, etc. dejando a un lado su discurso de saboteo y comenzar a trabajar por la victoria y candidato "?nico". Si no lo hacen, nosotros los "Indecisos, Ni Ni, Apol?ticos, que hacemos el 55% de la masa, se lo reprocharemos y pasaremos UNA GRAN FACTURA alg?n d?a. ?Hasta cuando tanta mezquindad? ?No les importa Venezuela?
  • Una vez TODOS unidos con Rosales contra Ch?vez, dise?aremos nuestro Plan B.
  • El Plan B consiste o se activa el d?a 3 de Diciembre a las 5:00 a.m. cuando comiencen abrir los Centros Electorales porque ahora la pelea tiene nombre y objetivo: ELECCIONES LIBRES DEMOCR?TICAS!!!
  • Voto Manual
  • Conteo de TODAS las papeletas
  • Testigos de mesa equiparados 50% con representaci?n.
  • Sin capta huellas.
  • Sin transmisi?n directa al CNE sino despu?s de conocer resultados manuales votoxvoto.
  • Revisi?n completa del REP por la Oposici?n.

[li]Si Rosales y TODOS los partidos pol?ticos y lideres de la oposici?n se unen en estas condiciones, podremos entonces ir a votar y "quedarnos a presenciar el conteo de votos" como siempre se hizo en Venezuela hasta que Ch?vez gan? sus elecciones. Si no nos las dan, pues a la calle a pelear y sabotear el plesbicito. El MUNDO entero ver? que esto se convirti? en una Dictadura Militar y comenzaran las acciones internacionales actuar. Un solo L?der hablando ROSALES![/li]
[li]Los Militares no van a poder ir contra EL PUEBLO que exige ELECCIONES DEMOCR?TICAS, no se van exponer a ser llevados a La Carta Internacional de Derechos Humanos por fraude. ?Ser? Baduel capaz de eso?[/li]
[li]Para terminar, les pido a todos ustedes que reenv?en este correo a sus amigos, programas de radio y TV y comencemos a formar una gran RED, LA RED DE LA UNIDAD con CONDICIONES ELECTORALES TODAS!!!! D?mosle fuerza y confianza a Manuel Rosales para que nos represente, gu?e en la batalla y exija lo que todos queremos:


Ya no hay tiempo para criticar, quedarse en casa o buscar otro mejor. TODOS CONTRA CH?VEZ Y SU GOBIERNO CORRUPTO, FACHISTA, COMUNISTA, TOTALITARIO, MILITARISTA, GOLPISTA, ......le lleg? su FIN!!!

Un Venezolano que quiere a su Pa?s Libre y Democr?tico.

666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran paper plans Holocaust cartoons on: August 15, 2006, 06:22:35 PM
Iran paper plans Holocaust cartoons

Monday 06 February 2006, 20:00 Makka Time, 17:00 GMT?

Ahmadinejad says the slaughter of Europe's Jews is 'a myth'

Iran's largest selling newspaper has announced it is holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Farid Mortazavi, the graphics editor for Hamshahri newspaper, which is published by Tehran's conservative-run municipality, said on Monday: "It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust."
He said the plan was to turn the tables on the assertion that newspapers can print offensive material in the name of freedom of expression.
"The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," he said.
Iran's anti-Israeli government is supportive of so-called Holocaust revisionist historians, who maintain the systematic slaughter by the Nazis of mainland Europe's Jews as well as other groups during the second world war has been either invented or exaggerated.
Systematic slaughter
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, prompted international anger when he said the Holocaust was a "myth" used to justify the creation of Israel.
Mortazavi said Tuesday's edition of the paper will invite cartoonists to enter the competition, with "private individuals" offering gold coins to the best 12 artists - the same number of cartoons that appeared in the conservative Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Last week the Iranian Foreign Ministry also invited Tony Blair, the British prime minister, to Tehran to take part in a planned conference on the Holocaust, even though the idea has been branded by Blair as "shocking, ridiculous, stupid".
Blair also said Ahmadinejad "should come and see the evidence of the Holocaust himself in the countries of Europe", to which Iran responded by saying it was willing to send a team of "independent investigators".

Israel Launches SEO Contest Against Iran Holocaust Cartoons

Danish Pastries Taste Better Than Explosives From Iran
667  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Carlos Ortega y tres oficiales detenidos en Ramo Verde se fugaron on: August 13, 2006, 10:39:04 PM
Nota:? Carlos Ortega? es el Presidente de la Confederaci?n Venezolana de Trabajadores (CTV) y uno de los oreganizadores de la huelga antichavista del 2002.

Carlos Ortega y tres oficiales detenidos en Ramo Verde se fugaron

Carlos Ortega, los coroneles Jes?s Far?as y Dar?o Far?as y el capit?n Rafael Far?as se fugaron de la c?rcel de Ramo Verde. El Fiscal General, Isa?as Rodr?guez, confirm? la noticia.
Rodr?guez refiri?, a trav?s del canal del Estado, que habl? con el ministro de la Defensa, Ra?l Isa?as Baduel, quien verific? lo ocurrido.

El Fiscal dijo que la fuga se pudo haber producido en la madrugada de este domingo y que design? a la fiscal Mar?a Alejandra P?rez para que realice la investigaci?n.
Rodr?guez se?al? que pudiera haber complicidad por parte de algunos y agreg? que es absolutamente falso que esta sea una jugada para matarlos, como habr?an se?alado algunos familiares.
El Fiscal garantiz? que los fugados, en caso de entregarse, contar?n con la protecci?n del Ministerio P?blico.
Rodr?guez anunci? que habl? con el Vicepresidente Jos? Vicente Rangel para establecer las responsabilidades de funcionarios y se vigile en las embajadas.
El abogado Alonso Medina inform? en la tarde de este domingo que se estaba enterando de los hechos y la semana pasada tuvo contacto con los militares Far?as.
Pasadas las dos de la tarde se escuchaban detonaciones en la c?rcel de Ramo Verde.
Fanny de Far?as, familiar de los militares, declar? a Globovisi?n que se enter? a trav?s de la televisi?n y desde su casa dijo que ellos contaban con su apoyo porque en Venezuela no hay justicia.

El abogado de Carlos Ortega, Carlos Roa, manifest? su sorpresa porque estuvo conversando con ?l en estos d?as para preparar un amparo y solicitudes ante organismos internacionales.
Roa dijo que si se fug? que Dios lo proteja porque tiene sus razones y es un preso pol?tico, pero le preocupa que no sea verdad y se hable sobre su fuga.
Betty Torres, amiga de Carlos Ortega, alert? que pudieron haber desaparecido al Presidente de la CTV, pero que si se fug? fue por una decisi?n personal y leg?tima porque ?l no es un delincuente.
Los organismos de seguridad desplegaron un operativo en la carretera vieja Caracas-Los Teques, en la capital de Miranda y La Cascada para intentar dar con los evadidos.
Tambi?n en horas de la tarde, en el piso cuatro de la c?rcel, donde se informa que se encuentran los paramilitares, se quemaron colchonetas y papeles en protesta porque se hab?an paralizado las visitas.
La Guardia Nacional entr? a la prisi?n despu?s de las tres de la tarde para tratar de controlar la situaci?n.
Audio:? Declaraci?n del coronel Jes?s Far?as
668  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / A horrifying picture of Venezuela as Latin America's most violent country on: August 13, 2006, 10:27:44 PM
A horrifying picture of Venezuela as Latin America's most violent country

There is an interview in today?s El Nacional with Chacao Mayor Leopoldo Lopez in which he gives terrifying numbers on crime and violence in Venezuela. The article is on the occasion of Lopez? presentation of a plan he has been trying to sell the Government to reduce crime in 180 days.

Among the things Lopez says about the current conditions of crime and violence in Venezuela:
--For each cop killed in Brazil, ten criminals die, in Venezuela the ratio is forty criminals per cop.

--Deaths for ?resisting the authorities? have increased 254% since 1999 in the country and 759% in the Federal District.

--Military investment is 80 times police investment. One Sukhoi airplane like those purchased recently by the Government cost US$ 120 million, with that you could properly equip all police forces in the country.

--Homicide rates are measured by the number of corpses that go through the morgue, but there is an additional category in public hospitals called ?undetermined violent deaths. In 2004, there were 9962 homicides reported by the morgues, 2150 for ?resisting the authorities? and 4298 ?undetermined violent deaths?. This gives you 74 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than Colombia?s 54, but that country is in the midst of a civil war.

--90,027 people have died violently since 1999 in Venezuela. This is more than the number that have died in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq.

--Only 7% of homicides reach the point of someone receiving a sentence for it

--Of executions only 1.4% of the cases ends in a sentence

--The rate of homicides in jails is 20.6 per 1,000 inmates. In Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia combined; the rate is 0.6 per 1,000.

--There is an estimated 6 million weapons in Venezuela floating around, of which only 15,000 are registered.

--In the judiciary system, there are, according to a document by the Supreme Court, 100 civil servants with a criminal record and 40 judges with a criminal record.

Horrifying and terrorizing statistics of the reality of this poor nation. Is it time for divisiveness or ideology, or is it time for doing something together?
669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hezbollah torpedoes Lebanese gov't meeting on disarmament on: August 13, 2006, 05:28:00 PM
Hezbollah torpedoes Lebanese gov't meeting on disarmament

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

A meeting of the Lebanese government on the disarming of Hezbollah south of the Litani River was canceled on Sunday following an announcement by the Shi'ite organization that it was not willing to discuss the subject. Hezbollah informed the government of its stance through the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Beri, who serves as a conduit to the organization.

Beri informed Prime Minister Fuad Siniora of Hezbollah's decision, and Siniora decided to cancel the meeting.

This is the first time in weeks that a rift emerged in the official Lebanese stance. Officially, the government of Lebanon denied reports that any dispute has emerged.

But in an interview to Al Jazeera yesterday, Joe Sarkiss, Lebanon's minister of tourism, said that "the army will not deploy in the south unless there are no arms in the south except those of a legitimate military force and UNIFIL."

A Lebanese government source wrote on the Arab internet site Ilaf that "when it comes to crunch time, Hezbollah is refusing to give up its arms."

The same source said that the Lebanese government had opted to cancel the meeting so that the disputes will not cause a rift between the Shi'ite ministers and the rest.

Last week, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah announced that the organization had reservations regarding the UN resolution, suggesting that the group would find it difficult to meet the cease-fire decision.

On Sunday, Minister Marwan Hamada, one of the bitter opponents of Hezbollah, told the Voice of Lebanon radio station that if Lebanon is interested in liberating southern Lebanon, it would have to be the sole player in the area that is armed.

Meanwhile, analysts in Lebanon believe that the rocket attacks against the Galilee will cease today, as the cease-fire agreement goes into effect.
670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: August 12, 2006, 12:48:06 PM
Why not reject the resolution for any and all of the variety of good reasons for doing so and simply allow the IDF to apply its plan?

The Churchill quote is dead on.

Because it is not necessary to reject it. As long as Hezbollah continues for fire missiles, the IDF can continue to wage war -- something we agree on as the right thing to do -- while all the time claiming the high ground by accepting the UN resolution. I had to chuckle when Kofi Annan had no choice but to say that Hezbollah was the aggressor, that Israel had the right to defend herself and that Israel was in compliance with the UN resolutions. For Kofi that must have been like taking bitter medicine.?

Crafty, I can see you are a fighter, not a diplomat, that you don't have what in Spanish we call "mano izquierda."

For quite some time now I've had the feeling that Olmert and Rice have put on a fantastic show, they have been a fantastic dancing couple. Rice has been firm in her defense of Israel. Rice has been flexible in her dealings with France and Lebanon. Rice has been polite to the UN. Yet, I have a feeling that Rice told Olmert when to launch the latest attack before the UN acted on the latest resolution. The timing was just too perfect.

  • The Israeli government finally wakes up and realizes the need for a real offensive
  • The UN announces a second version of the US-French draft
  • Israel officially puts the offensive on hold for 48 hours while deploying troops on the ground
  • Olmert stops Livini from going to the UN
  • The UN starts deliberating on the draft
  • Olmert launches the offensive before the draft is voted on

Now Israel has the best of both worlds, a meat grinder eating up Hezbollah while accepting the UN resolution because Israel is a peace loving country. I find it brilliant!

671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: August 12, 2006, 12:02:09 PM
1)? I don't see why its "too late".

Because the window of opportunity that the Sunnis gave Israel is gone. Israel squandered it it. if Hezbollah stops the rocket attacks, Israel can go back on the offensive only as the aggressor, not as the defender. If Iran does not allow Hezbollah to cease and desist, then Israel is free to continue military action under the current resolution.

2)? If Nasrallah becomes PM, then under this resolution doesn't Lebanon have the right to import arms, etc from Syria and Iran and have the protection of 15,000 UN troops to complicate Israel's life?

Yes. Now you are stating why the prosecution of this war was such a big goof on Israel's part. I don't want to sound bloodthirsty? but only around 1,000 people have died in 30 days of fighting and the world is calling it a massacre. In Tokyo 100,000 people died in one air raid in less than 24 hours. The Tokyo fire-bombing was two or three orders of magnitude greater butchery than the present war.? Why did Israel start the war with such restraint? To protect its soldiers. Big mistake. The purpose of war is to win, to make the other side pay a price it is not willing and able to pay. If your side is not willing to pay the price for extracting victory then you might as well not go to war at all.

The message has to be, "Don't mess with me. If you do, you'll be sorry. If you don't, we can get along" Hezbollah's perception was that Israel valued life too much to take on Hezbollah and, at the start of the war, they were almost right, Israel did take them on but timorously. It was only after three weeks of floundering that Israel saw the light but by then the window of opportunity was fast closing.

I'm going to quote Churchill again, he seems to be one of the few who gets it right.

"Owing to the neglect of our defences and the mishandling of the German problem in the last five years, we seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feeling is that we shall choose Shame, and then have War thrown in a little later, on even more adverse terms than at present."
Winston Churchill in a letter to Lord Moyne, 1938

Tell me how 2006 Israel is different from 1938 Britain in this respect?

672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: August 12, 2006, 10:32:31 AM

Never before in its history has Israel been given such wide latitude to destroy a terrorist enemy organization. Israel flubbed the opportunity by not acting decisively from the start. Now its too late, now Israel has to accept the deal cooked up in the UN. I think Rice has done a great job. I hate to think want the deal might have been with Colin Powell still in place.

Pakistan and Iran are American worries, not something Israel can do anything about directly. As for Hasrallah becoming PM, that would not be unusual, the winners of political infighting rise to the top and Hasrallah is the de facto Shia chief in Lebanon. The Shia have been out-breeding, out-fighting, out-terrorizing and out-maneuvering the other ethnic and religious groups in Lebanon. That is a reality on the ground and it has to be accepted and dealt with. Again, if you want to play the blame game, blame Israel for letting it happen but the reality is that back then Israel was either unable or unwilling to do it so now it's the new reality you need to deal with.

I'm an optimist. With luck, Hebollah can remain a minority partner in the Lebanese government but can be disarmed or at least removed from Israel's border. How effective will the French be at this task? Hard to say. Like most colonial powers, they have won some and lost some. The French have a lot of pressure back home to favor Arabs over Israelis so I don't really trust them. In a way this would be a repeat? of the Brits favoring the Arabs over the Jews at the time of the partition of Palestine. But the 800 pound gorilla is on Israel's side so I would not worry about it too much.

The main issue, not just for the Middle East but for the whole world is how you handle the clock. Some people want to turn the clock back: return Israel to the 1948 lines, return Islam to the glory of Muhammad and Saladin. I'm against this kind of thinking because it is entirely futile. We need to keep moving forward, not backward. How about returning Manhattan to the Dutch. Or returning Haiti to the Tainos. Or returning Peru to the Quechuas? Or returning Palestine to the Ottomans, to the Phoenicians or maybe to the Romans or to the Hittites. The only objective reality is the present and we need to move forward from the present. There is no turning back the clock. Turning back the clock implies ethnic cleansing.

Instead of worrying about the current Middle East settlement, you need to worry about Islam out-breeding you in the USA. After they out-breed you they will out-legislate you. You ready for Sharia law yet? Just as Islam requires adherence to their laws, America must require all nationals and resident aliens to adhere to American law, specifically to the Constitution. If they don't, they need to be dealt with swiftly.
673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Text of U.N. Draft Resolution on: August 11, 2006, 11:20:10 PM
Text of U.N. Draft Resolution
Friday, August 11, 2006

UNITED NATIONS???The Security Council,

PP1. Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006) 1680 (2006) and 1697 (2006), as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 18 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/21), of 19 October 2004 (S/PRST/2004/36), of 4 May 2005 (S/PRST/2005/17) of 23 January 2006 (S/PRST/2006/3) and of 30 July 2006 (S/PRST/2006/35),

PP2. Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hezbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons,

PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,

PP4: Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,

PP5. Welcoming the efforts of the Lebanese Prime Minister and the commitment of the government of Lebanon, in its seven-point plan, to extend its authority over its territory, through its own legitimate armed forces, such that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon, welcoming also its commitment to a UN force that is supplemented and enhanced in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operation, and bearing in mind its request in this plan for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon,

PP6. Determined to act for this withdrawal to happen at the earliest,

PP7. Taking due note of the proposals made in the seven-point plan regarding the Shebaa farms area,

PP8. Welcoming the unanimous decision by the government of Lebanon on 7 August 2006 to deploy a Lebanese armed force of 15,000 troops in South Lebanon as the Israeli army withdraws behind the Blue Line and to request the assistance of additional forces from UNIFIL as needed, to facilitate the entry of the Lebanese armed forces into the region and to restate its intention to strengthen the Lebanese armed forces with material as needed to enable it to perform its duties,

PP9. Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict,

PP10. Determining that the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

OP2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from Southern Lebanon in parallel;

OP3. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon;

OP4. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;

OP5. Also reiterates its strong support, as recalled in all its previous relevant resolutions, for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;

OP6. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the Government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours, consistent with paragraphs 14 and 15, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;

OP7. Affirms that all parties are responsible for ensuring that no action is taken contrary to paragraph 1 that might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, including safe passage for humanitarian convoys, or the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons, and calls on all parties to comply with this responsibility and to cooperate with the Security Council;

OP8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
? full respect for the Blue Line by both parties,
? security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area,
? full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state,
? no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government,
? no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government,
? provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession;

OP9. Invites the Secretary General to support efforts to secure as soon as possible agreements in principle from the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 8, and expresses its intention to be actively involved;

OP10. Requests the Secretary General to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa farms area, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within thirty days;

OP11. Decides, in order to supplement and enhance the force in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operations, to authorize an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and that the force shall, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426 (1978):
a. Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
b. Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon as provided in paragraph 2;
c. Coordinate its activities related to paragraph 11 (b) with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel;
d. Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
e. Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment of the area as referred to in paragraph 8;
f. Assist the government of Lebanon, at its request, to implement paragraph 14;

OP12. Acting in support of a request from the government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers, and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;

OP13. Requests the Secretary General urgently to put in place measures to ensure UNIFIL is able to carry out the functions envisaged in this resolution, urges Member States to consider making appropriate contributions to UNIFIL and to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Force, and expresses its strong appreciation to those who have contributed to UNIFIL in the past;

OP14. Calls upon the Government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11 to assist the Government of Lebanon at its request;

OP15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft,
(a) the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and
(b) the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above,
except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11;

OP16. Decides to extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2007, and expresses its intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements to the mandate and other steps to contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;

OP17. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution and subsequently on a regular basis;

OP18. Stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;

OP19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: August 11, 2006, 10:31:03 PM
I have just listened to Condi Rice and Kofi Annan at the UN and I would not call Olmert's acceptance of the cease-fire "a caving in." Politics is the art of the possible and I think Olmert has been a very fast learner. Just hours before the cease-fire vote, he authorized the IDF to roll into Lebanon at full speed. Lebanon will discuss the cease-fire on Saturday and Israel will do the same on Sunday giving the IDF at last? 48 hours to continue sweeping up Hezbollah.

I think the cease-fire makes sense, at least on paper. Israel can only hope to make a peace treaty with Lebanon if Hezbollah is disarmed and the Lebanese government takes control of their whole country. Clearly the Lebanese army, by itself, cannot do it. This was the proposal that Hezbollah accepted and Israel and the US rejected out of hand. The new agreement calls for a reinforced UN peace keeping force of 15,000 men to back up the 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to be posted to the south of Lebanon.

What needs to be watched is the ability of this combined force to disarm Hezbollah and the commitment of Lebanon's government to disarm Hezbollah and take control of their country.

I wonder how Iran and Syria will react.

The idea that the IDF can easily take on Iran is a stretch. Iran is a long ways off and has no common borders with Israel. Israel could take on Syria if the US took on Iran but the US is already committed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Unless the Europeans wake up to the tragedy that is on their door step, Iran will have a few more months before it faces an attack.

675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bleeding-heart ignoramuses on: August 11, 2006, 10:36:27 AM
"We have met the enemy... and he is us" Pogo

Bleeding-heart ignoramuses

By Julie Burchill

Personally, I'd far prefer the Jews to be angry, aggressive and alive than meek, mild and dead

A few weeks back it was my birthday, and my equally non-Jewish journalist friend Chas Newkey-Burden took his life in his hands and presented me with a cuddly toy. Now, normally I feel that people who bother with cuddly toys over the age of eight are either mad and/or prostitutes, but this little sweetie stole my heart. A honey-brown camel with a heart-melting smile and a jaunty cap, he proudly wore an Israeli Army uniform with a fetching hole cut out for his hump. "I've named him Bibi," Chas told me, obviously in honor of our mutual crush.

Later that night Chas and I were watching a TV news report of the beginnings of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. To say we were amazed when a news presenter solemnly intoned that there had been "two militants wounded" with all the grieving gravitas of Richard Dimbleby reporting on the state funeral of the late Winston Churchill is to employ English understatement to an almost surreal degree. But it's been that way ever since - and more than one night has seen me screaming at the TV/my husband "You don't understand! None of you English bastards understands!" before running into the bedroom, slamming the door and collapsing in a tearful heap with only Bibi to comfort me.

One of the most grotesque examples of the almost brainwashed level of bias can be seen on the official BBC Religions Web site, where that "peace be upon him" eyewash is going on like crazy, while other religions are coolly commented on in a strictly "objective" way.

The conflict has sent this tendency into overdrive, with not just the usual Masochist Hacks For Mohammed such as Robert Fisk (beaten up by Islamists, says they were right to do it) and Yvonne Ridley (kidnapped by Islamists, then became one) getting their chadors in a twist about big swarthy men with tea-towels on their heads treating the West mean and keeping it - in their case at least - keen.

Even the women's magazines have gotten in on the act, with lots of first-person eye-witness accounts of British citizens fleeing the Jewish jackboot. Then turn the page and you'll often find a shocked article about honor-killing or forced marriage, Muslim-style. That Israel is fighting the frontline war, on behalf of the freedom and civilization of all of us, against the very real evils of shari'a law never seems to occur to these bleeding-heart ignoramuses.

Over at Channel 4, Jon Snow interviewed an Israeli diplomat with all the finesse and objectivity of a neo-Nazi spraying a six-foot swastika on a wall. Of the rockets which murdered Israeli civilians in the town of Sderot, he said "Rockets, pretty pathetic things - nobody gets injured." This was gleefully picked up and proclaimed by The Guardian, the newspaper I left some years ago in protest at what I saw as its vile anti-Semitism.

All across the board, Lebanese civilians are referred to as "civilians" where Israeli civilians are referred to as "Israelis" - an eerie and sinister difference pointed out by the non-Jewish stand-up comic genius Natalie Haynes, and one which very few people appear to have noticed - even me, until then.

In fact the tone in papers as diverse as the "liberal" Guardian to the right-wing Daily Mail has been repulsively similar; look, look, the Israelis are as bad as the terrorists! Worse, in fact, because they've got America behind them! Even the normally sensible Matthew Parris in the normally sensible Times wrote: "The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast."

The catastrophe he refers to is the State of Israel itself; you'd really think, reading this, that the years leading up to the creation of the Jewish state were, in fact, a right royal romp in the park. Instead of the Holocaust.

A surprising number of British people - especially the super-creepy British Jews who recently signed a treacherous letter to the press distancing themselves from Israel's actions - seem to think Israel should exist not as a real, imperfect country full of real, imperfect people led by real, imperfect leaders, but as some sort of collective kosher Mater Dolorosa, there to provide a selfless, suffering example to the rest of us.

Fight back, and the outside world reacts with the revulsion of a man seeing his sainted grandmother drunk and offering sailors outside. Even (especially?) anti-Semites and enemies of Israel are shameless in recycling the legends of "brave little Israel" - I'm thinking of David and Goliath here - and basically believe that each IDF member should go into battle against the assembled hordes of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah armed with nothing but a slingshot apiece. Failing that, this tiny country must embark on a suicidal act of self-sacrifice in the face of murderous, genocidal hatred, as Matthew Parris astoundingly suggests:

"The settlement has to be a return to its pre-1967 boundaries. Precisely because Israel is by no means forced to make so generous a move, the international support (even love) this would generate would secure its future permanently. It would bring it back within the pale."

Personally, I'd far prefer the Jews to be angry, aggressive and alive than meek, mild and dead - and that's what makes me and a minority like me feel so much like strangers in our own country, now more than ever. I've always loved being a hack, but now even that feels weird, as though I'm living among a bunch of snatched-body zombies who look like journalists but believe and say the most inhuman, evil things.

When Mel Gibson was picked up for drunk-driving recently, he was reported to have screamed at the police officer, whom he believed to be Jewish, "Fucking Jews! The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." His subsequent excuse was that he has "battled the disease of alcoholism for all my adult life." The British media are notorious for our love of the hard stuff; is that going to be our excuse too, I wonder, when large numbers of us are finally bang to rights for peddling the same loathsome lie?
676  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Double Standard on: August 11, 2006, 08:48:56 AM
Asymmetrical warfare or double standard?

Siniora cries during a press conference while denouncing the death of 40 "innocent" Lebanese yet a short time later he recants admitting there were two people killed in the action. But the press has already told the world about this new Jewish atrocity.

Lebanese sources stage the death of children at Qana denouncing the death of 56 "innocent" Lebanese yet the Red Cross only finds 28 bodies in the action. The Lebanese have scored another public relations triumph over the Jewish state based on bald faced lies.

The terrorists have plenty of friends in the western press who, like Ruters, are quite happy to publish doctored images and staged casualties.

But there is no need to go that far afield to find cases of double standard in this struggle. We have a case right here in this thread.

rogt started a discussion with the post:

to which I replied with an article from the Associated Press:

rogt suggested:
Quote from: rogt
A discussion of people's views on this would be more interesting than a bunch of articles.

Fair enough, this was my reply:
Quote from: captainccs
Quote from: rogt
OK, "elimination of the Zionist regime" can mean a lot of things.  What I want to know is whether these Muslim leaders really mean "exterminate Jews" instead of just replacement of the current Israeli government.
Well, sum it up:

Suicide bombings
Rocket attacks
Calls for boycotting Israel
Flying into the Twin Towers
The London bombing
The Madrid bombing
The Beirut US Embassy bombing
The Bali bombing
The USS Cole bombing
The Buenos Aires bombing

Does this sound like a love fest of some sort?

Some people just don't want to see reality. What proof do you want? The extermination of Israel?

I got no sensible reply to this exposition but a short while later rogt writes:
Quote from: rogt
Posted by a friend of mine to another mailing list.  I think he puts it a lot better than I did.

So, what will it be, a bunch of articles by other people when it suits rogt's convenience to cover his admitted lack of debating skills but no such props for people taking a contrary view?

This is a very minor example of the double standard applied to this struggle to the point of being insignificant but it does reveal at close quarters the double standard imposed on Israel and the Jews by her enemies and by her enemies' groupies.

In any case, the post linked by rogt compares apples to elephants. While the purpose of radical Isalm's Jihad is to convert the whole world to Islam and force Sharia law on all, the abortion fighters just want to stop one particular act that they oppose. Agreed, both do it by illegal violence but the goals are so disparate that there is no way to compare the two as rogt's friends suggests. The abortion fighters do not want to replace the American Constitution with Sharia law, they do not want to destroy a whole country and all its citizens which is the stated objective of Islamo Fascist Radical Islam.

Composed by Denny Schlesinger, not by some friend or ghost writer.
677  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / The End of Ch?vez on: August 08, 2006, 12:11:46 AM
The End of Ch?vez
History's Against Him

By Francis Fukuyama
Sunday, August 6, 2006; Page B01

CARACAS, Venezuela

Early on in Hugo Ch?vez's political career, the Venezuelan president attacked my notion that liberal democracy together with a market economy represents the ultimate evolutionary direction for modern societies -- the "end of history." When asked what lay beyond the end of history, he offered a one-word reply: "Chavismo."

The idea that contemporary Venezuela represents a social model superior to liberal democracy is absurd. In his eight years as president, Ch?vez has capitalized on his country's oil wealth to take control of congress, the courts, trade unions, electoral commissions and the state oil company. Proposed legislation that would limit foreign funding could soon constrain nongovernmental organizations as well. And people who signed a recall petition against Ch?vez in the run-up to a 2004 referendum on his rule later found their names posted on the Web site of a pro-Ch?vez legislator; if they worked for the government or wanted to do business with it, they were out of a job and out of luck.

Ch?vez's success in attracting attention -- cozying up to Fidel Castro's Cuba, signing an arms deal with Russia, visiting Iran and incessantly criticizing the United States -- has popularized the notion that Chavismo embodies a new future for Latin America. By preserving some freedoms, including a relatively free press and pseudo-democratic elections, Ch?vez has developed what some observers call a postmodern dictatorship, neither fully democratic nor fully totalitarian, a left-wing hybrid that enjoys a legitimacy never reached in Castro's Cuba or in the Soviet Union.

Latin America has indeed witnessed a turn to this postmodern left in some countries, including in Bolivia, where Evo Morales, Ch?vez's kindred spirit, won the presidency last year. Nonetheless, the dominant trends in the hemisphere are largely positive: Democracy is strengthening and the political and economic reforms now being undertaken augur well for the future. Venezuela is not a model for the region; rather, its path is unique, the product of a natural resource curse that makes it more comparable to Iran or Russia than any of its Latin American neighbors. Chavismo is not Latin America's future -- if anything, it is its past.

How did Venezuela end up at such a pass? The answer is oil, oil, oil.

The country's modern political order was negotiated in a Miami hotel room in 1958 by leaders of its two traditional political parties; the resulting pact created a viable democracy that provided stability for four decades. But stable politics did not make for sound economics. With the growth of oil revenue through the 1970s, Venezuela was relieved of the need to create a modern non-oil economy. Commodities that the country once exported -- such as coffee and sugar -- soon withered. And rather than foster social mobility or strong public institutions, the two political parties bought social peace by distributing oil rents through subsidies, government jobs and patronage.

Venezuela did not suffer the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, a trauma that in many ways inoculated countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Peru from relapsing into the worst forms of economic populism. Instead, Venezuela experienced a disastrous decline in living standards as oil prices fell during the 1980s. The country had never been part of the global economy -- aside from the energy sector -- and had no competitive industries to fall back on. Ch?vez and others on the left blame Venezuela's problems on globalization and "neoliberal" economic policies, but with the brief exception of the opening attempted by President Carlos Andr?s P?rez in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the country never truly sought to globalize its economy.

There is more continuity between the pre-Ch?vez and Ch?vez eras than proponents of either would like to admit. The recent rise in oil prices has again exempted Venezuela from the laws of economics. The Ch?vez government has imposed a blizzard of regulations controlling the exchange of currency, setting prices, limiting the ability of employers to hire and fire, and mandating trade and investment deals based on political considerations -- all of which further undermine Venezuela's weak private sector. Yet, because of its hefty oil revenue, Venezuela's economy has grown sharply over the past two years. The irrationality of Chavistanomics will not be felt until oil prices fall.

Venezuela's peculiar history shows why Ch?vez does not represent the region's future. Countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Peru, lacking Venezuela's oil resources, know that they cannot get away with such dysfunctional policies; they experimented with them and were burned. It is no accident that postmodern authoritarianism is most successful in oil-rich countries such as Iran, Russia and Venezuela. While Bolivia's Morales aspires to be another Ch?vez, it will soon dawn on him that his country's natural gas is not a fungible commodity like Venezuelan crude oil. Morales's only real customer is Brazil, which he has already alienated through his nationalization of the heavily Brazilian foreign energy investments.

The dominant political forces in Latin America, while bringing to power a new generation of politicians on the left, run counter to those in Venezuela. Central banks and finance ministries throughout the region are much more capable than in the past of maintaining sound monetary and fiscal policies, and even left-leaning presidents such as Brazil's Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva and Argentina's N?stor Kirchner are not inclined to stray far from economic orthodoxy.

In contrast to Ch?vez's politicization of Venezuela's institutions, Mexico has made its Supreme Court and Federal Electoral Institute politically independent. Brazil and Colombia have increased the autonomy of local governments, permitting experiments in budgeting and education; and Brazil and Mexico have undertaken programs to increase the incomes of the poor while giving them incentives to keep children in school.

There are already signs of an anti-Ch?vez backlash. While the Venezuelan president rails at U.S. interference in Latin politics, he has tried to promote populist allies such as Ollanta Humala of Peru and Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador of Mexico. Venezuela's neighbors resent this, and have punished the Chavista candidates at the polls. Indeed, Ch?vez may well have cost L?pez Obrador the Mexican presidency, since the number of votes the latter lost because of dislike of Venezuelan interference probably exceeded the small margin by which he lost the election.

Ch?vez's popularity among Venezuela's poor is based on his social policies. He has begun innovative initiatives, such as a network of health clinics in low-income neighborhoods, where Cuban doctors treat the poor. He has created subsidized food outlets that equalize the prices paid by rich and poor. And he has attempted to distribute land to peasants. Some of these policies, such as the clinics, meet pressing social needs and should have been undertaken long ago; others, such as the food subsidies, will be hard to sustain absent high oil prices.

A response to Chavismo must recognize that populism is driven by real social inequalities. Proponents of economic and political liberty in Latin America are often suspicious of grand social-policy experiments, perceiving them as a road to bloated welfare states and economic inefficiency. But free trade alone is unlikely to satisfy the demands of the poor, and democratic politicians must offer realistic social policies to compete.

Social policy is, unfortunately, difficult to get right: Unless it creates incentives for the poor to help themselves, it can become an entitlement that breeds dependence and out-of-control fiscal deficits. In Brazil, Lula's government took over a program of income transfers to the poor but in the process weakened enforcement procedures obliging parents to keep their children in school. And market policies are no panacea: Even Chile, which has extensive high-quality private education, saw huge student protests this spring because of the low quality of its publicly funded schools.

Democratic governments in Latin America must also work patiently at enhancing the quality of their public institutions -- improving simple things such as issuing business licenses, enforcing property claims and controlling crime. There is no cookie-cutter solution; it often requires local-level experiments, such as the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre's "participatory budgeting" initiative from the early 1990s, which opened the budget process to civil-society groups and forced politicians to show where the money was going. Bad public administration saps economic growth and delegitimizes democratic institutions, paving the way for violent swings and backlash.

Last December, a bridge on the road connecting the Venezuelan capital to its international airport collapsed, diverting traffic into the mountains and stretching a 45-minute journey into one lasting several hours. A two-lane emergency highway now bears this traffic; renovation of the bridge is still months away. The bridge epitomizes what is happening to Venezuela today: As Ch?vez jets to Minsk, Moscow and Tehran in search of influence and prestige, the country's infrastructure is collapsing.

The postmodern authoritarianism of Ch?vez's Venezuela is durable only while oil prices remain high. Yet it presents a distinct challenge from that of totalitarianism because it allows for democratic choice and caters to real social needs. At a recent conference of business leaders here, I witnessed many speakers openly criticize Ch?vez; their remarks were cited in the mainstream media. There is no police state in Venezuela -- at least not yet.

Chavismo remains a threat. But it need not embody Latin America's future, not if the region's democrats can reduce economic inequities through innovative social policy and nimble public institutions. Of course, such developments would not mark the end of history. Just the end of Chavismo.

Francis Fukuyama is professor of international political economy at the School of Advanced International Studies

at Johns Hopkins University.
678  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / La verdadera cara de Hugo Ch?vez on: August 07, 2006, 06:26:04 PM

La verdadera cara de Hugo Ch?vez
Jueves 3 de agosto de 2006
La prolongada gira mundial del presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Ch?vez, que incluy? Belar?s, Rusia, Ir?n, Vietnam y Mal?, est? dejando en claro cu?les son sus verdaderos prop?sitos en materia de pol?tica exterior, los cuales deber?an preocupar sobremanera a sus socios del Mercosur. Venezuela es desde fines de julio miembro pleno del bloque regional, por lo cual sus posiciones extremas involucran de alg?n modo al conjunto de las naciones que lo integran.

No se puede aceptar que el l?der venezolano haya elegido sellar una alianza estrat?gica con Belar?s, cuyo presidente, Alexander Lukashenko -el ?nico dictador estalinista de Europa-, es objeto de sanciones internacionales por sus constantes y graves violaciones de los derechos humanos de su pueblo. Curiosamente, horas antes de la visita de Ch?vez, Lukashenko hab?a encarcelado a Aleksandr Milinkevich, el l?der de la oposici?n, quien, al igual que el otro jefe opositor, Aleksandr Kasulin, hab?a sido acusado de disentir con el r?gimen. Cabe recordar que la administraci?n de N?stor Kirchner, hace ya meses, se neg? a condenar las violaciones de derechos humanos de Lukashenko en la fenecida Comisi?n de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, sin dar explicaci?n alguna por su llamativa decisi?n de abstenerse.

En Rusia, Ch?vez suscribi? contratos por la compra de armamento por m?s de mil millones de d?lares, que incluyeron modernos cazas Sukoi (SU-30MK), helic?pteros de combate, 100.000 ametralladoras Kalashnikov AK 103, y la licencia para fabricarlas en territorio venezolano. No es desacertado suponer que muchas de ellas puedan terminar en poder de algunos de los 16.000 guerrilleros de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), por lo que estas compras constituyen una amenaza para la paz y seguridad regionales.

A cambio, el mandatario de Venezuela obtuvo el apoyo de Rusia para la candidatura de su pa?s al Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas, organismo encargado de preservar la paz y la seguridad mundiales, que se suma al otorgado por nuestro pa?s y el Mercosur.

Lo m?s objetable de la gira de Ch?vez sucedi?, sin embargo, en Ir?n, pa?s con el cual Venezuela parece haber desarrollado una creciente y sospechosa intimidad operativa. Esta relaci?n debe despertar temor dada la vinculaci?n que el grupo terrorista Hezbollah mantiene con el r?gimen iran?. El solo recordar lo que significa esa organizaci?n terrorista para la Argentina, dada su presunta vinculaci?n con los infames atentados terroristas contra la embajada de Israel, de 1992, y la sede de la AMIA, de 1994, ser?a suficiente para alejarnos lo m?s posible de las alianzas estrat?gicas dise?adas por Ch?vez.

El presidente venezolano, para cuya euforia no parece haber l?mites, se anim? a comparar a Israel con Hitler, lo cual no s?lo es un horrible desatino, sino tambi?n un agravio inaceptable, respecto del cual los pa?ses que son sus socios en el Mercosur no pueden mantener un silencio c?mplice. En contraprestaci?n, el presidente iran?, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, le concedi? la m?xima condecoraci?n de su pa?s, diciendo: "Este se?or es mi hermano y ojal? sea mi compa?ero de lucha".

La gira de Ch?vez ha confirmado su arrogante egolatr?a; sus riesgosas posiciones en materia de pol?tica exterior; su creciente peligrosidad para la paz y seguridad del mundo y de la regi?n, y su total falta de comprensi?n sobre d?nde est? el bien y d?nde el mal.

Esta conducta del presidente venezolano deber?a llamar inmediatamente la atenci?n de los pa?ses miembros del Mercosur, porque sus posiciones extremas pueden comprometer el papel del bloque regional en su relaci?n con el mundo.

La Argentina, que siempre ha elegido el camino de la paz en situaciones de conflicto, no puede apoyar a figuras y pol?ticas que entran en contradicci?n con sus propias posiciones sobre la seguridad y el equilibrio internacionales.
679  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Aspiraciones Nucleares de Ch?vez on: August 07, 2006, 06:05:21 PM
Las aspiraciones de Venezuela a convertirse en potencia nuclear: en la rep?blica bolivariana hay cada vez m?s t?cnicos nucleares iran?es

Lunes, 07 de Agosto de 2006

Las relaciones entre los dos principales enemigos de Estados Unidos pasan por su mejor momento y as? qued? evidente durante la reciente visita de Hugo Chaves a Teher?n. Venezuela tiene aspiraciones de convertirse en potencia nuclear y en la rep?blica bolivariana se incrementa la presencia de t?cnicos iran?es.

Seg?n ha podido saber El Confidencial Digital por fuentes implicadas en la pol?tica exterior espa?ola, en Venezuela hay cada vez una mayor presencia de t?cnicos nucleares iran?es. A pesar de que as? lo aseguran pol?ticos espa?oles conocedores de este hecho, un portavoz de la embajada iran? en nuestro pa?s ha negado a ECD que expertos nucleares del estado persa est?n trabajando en el pa?s caribe?o.
El pasado 28 de junio la Agencia Bolivariana de Noticia anunciaba que los presidentes de la Rep?blica Isl?mica de Ir?n, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad y la Rep?blica de Venezuela, Hugo Ch?vez Fr?as, se reunir?an en Teher?n a finales de julio.
En el contexto del anuncio de la visita de Ch?vez a la rep?blica chi?, el embajador de Ir?n en Venezuela, Ahmad Sobhani, a la salida de una conferencia sobre el programa de tecnolog?a pac?fica nuclear de Ir?n realizaba las siguientes declaraciones: ?no est? previsto dentro de la agenda de trabajo de ambas naciones que se aborde el tema de una supuesta colaboraci?n nuclear de Venezuela a Ir?n?. Acto seguido precis?: ?seguramente el tema de defensa de Ir?n de facilitar energ?a pac?fica nuclear a todos los pa?ses amigos s? est? planteado?.
680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 07, 2006, 05:38:31 PM
Not to join in the mud slinging but how is "Islamo-Fascist" any more hate speech that calling people sons of pigs and monkeys and calling nations "The Great Satan?"

But what really interests me is why using the term "Islamo-Faschist" is denounced by people who seem to ignore the hate speech coming from the Islamo-Fascists.

Talking about hate speech, here is an interesting take on it:

When anti-Semitism is a big story ? and when it isn't

By Jeff Jacoby | Two anti-Semitic incidents occurred on July 28. Both took place on the West Coast; both involved an American venting his hostility to Jews. But only one of them became in the days that followed a big national story about anti-Semitism. The other was treated as a serious but local matter, and drew only modest coverage around the country.

Incident A involved nothing more dangerous than a guy spewing crude anti-Semitic slurs when he was arrested for drunk driving; once sober, he publicly and profusely apologized. Incident B involved a Muslim gunman's premeditated assault on a prominent Jewish institution; his attack left one woman dead and sent five to the hospital, three of them in critical condition.

Which would you say was the bigger story?

Unless you've spent the past week submersed in the Mariana Trench, you know that the intoxicated driver in Incident A was Hollywood's Mel Gibson, who railed at the Los Angeles County police officer who pulled him over about the "(bleeping) Jews" and how "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Details of Gibson's tirade leaked quickly and the story was soon everywhere. In the first six days after his arrest, the media database Nexis logged 888 stories mentioning "Mel Gibson" and "Jews." And that didn't include the countless websites, talk shows, and smaller publications where the story also played.

By any rational calculus, Incident B was far more significant.

According to police and eyewitness reports, the killer, a 30-year-old named Naveed Haq, forced his way into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle by holding a gun to the head of a 13-year-old girl. Once inside, Haq announced, "I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel," and opened fire with two semi-automatic pistols. Pam Waechter, 58, died on the spot. Five other women, one of them 20 weeks pregnant, were shot in the abdomen, knee, or arm. When one of the wounded women managed to call 911, Haq took the phone and told the dispatcher: "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."

This was no spur-of-the-moment meltdown. The police say Haq, who holds an engineering degree from Washington State University, had purchased the two guns and waited 10 days before picking them up on July 27. He selected his target by searching online for Jewish sites. And as his declarations make clear, he was impelled to kill by his antipathy toward Jews and his convictions as a Muslim.

At a time when jihadist murder is a global threat, and when some of the most malevolent figures in the Islamic world ? Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah, to name just two ? openly incite violence against Americans and Jews, the attack in Seattle should have been a huge story everywhere. Yet after six days, a Nexis search turned up only 236 stories mentioning Haq ? about one-fourth the number devoted to Gibson's drunken outburst. Why the disparity?

No doubt part of the answer is that Gibson is a celebrity, and that "The Passion," his 2004 movie about the crucifixion of Jesus, was criticized by many as a revival of the infamous anti-Semitic motif of Jews and Christ-killers. Gibson, who belongs to a sternly traditionalist Catholic sect, was already suspected of harboring ill will toward Jews. His crude remarks on July 28 confirmed it, and pushed the subject back into the spotlight.

Fair enough. But if previous behavior and religious beliefs explain the burst of interest in the Gibson story, they only deepen the question of why the Seattle bloodshed was played down. After all, Naveed Haq is not the first example of what Daniel Pipes has dubbed "Sudden Jihad Syndrome," in which a seemingly non-violent Muslim erupts in a murderous rampage.

Just this year, for example, Mohammed Taheri-azar, a philosophy and psychology major at the University of North Carolina, deliberately rammed a car into a crowd of students, saying he wanted to "avenge the death of Muslims around the world." Michael Julius Ford opened fire in a Denver warehouse, killing one person and injuring five. "I don't know what happened to him yesterday," his sister Khali told the Denver Post. "He told me that Allah was going to make a choice and it was going to be good and told me people at his job was making fun of his religion."

Other cases in recent years include Hasan Akbar, a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, who attacked his fellow soldiers at an American command center in Kuwait with grenades and rifle fire, killing one and wounding 15; Hesham Ali Hadayet, who killed two people when he shot up the El Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport in 2002; and Ali Hasan Abu Kamal, who was carrying a note denouncing "Zionists" and others who "must be annihilated & exterminated" when he opened fire on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

If the Catholic Mel Gibson's nonviolent bigotry is a legitimate subject of media scrutiny, all the more so is the animus that has spurred Muslims like Naveed Haq to jihadist murder. And yet that is a line of inquiry that few seem willing to pursue. "No one wants to propagate bias or jump to conclusions," the New York Sun noted the other day. But how many more Haqs must erupt in a homicidal rage, it asked, before we stop assuming that these are merely random incidents and open our eyes "to the possibility that they are part of a war in which understanding the enemy is a prerequisite for victory?"
681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Olmert chides European leaders for slamming Israel's offensi on: August 07, 2006, 01:08:51 AM
This is what Olmert told them:

Olmert chides European leaders for slamming Israel's offensive

By Reuters

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told European leaders to stop preaching to him about civilian war casualties in an interview published on Sunday in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

Olmert also said it would not be possible to completely destroy Hezbollah and insisted he did not underestimate them.

"Where do they get the right to preach to Israel?" Olmert said when asked about criticism from European capitals of Israeli military operations that have led to a heavy civilian toll.

"European countries attacked Kosovo and killed ten thousand civilians. Ten thousand! And none of these countries had to suffer before that from a single rocket.

Some 10,000 Albanians died in Serbia's 1998-99 counter-insurgency war and there were allegations of random brutality by both sides.

"I'm not saying it was wrong to intervene in Kosovo. But please: Don't preach to us about the treatment of civilians."

Kosovo became a U.N. protectorate in June 1999 after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign forced out Serb security forces accused of atrocities against Albanian civilians during a rebel insurgency by separatist Albanian guerrillas.

In the Welt am Sonntag interview, Olmert was asked if he had underestimated Hezbollah.

"No, we know that they have only fired 3,000 rockets so far and that they have 15,000," he said. "The question is more: If Hezbollah knew what the consequences of their attack would be, would they nevertheless have done it? I don't think so."

Olmert said Hezbollah was being defeated but it was not possible to eradicate a grass-roots guerrilla movement.

"They are beaten but it is not possible to completely destroy them. Israel has nevertheless been more successful than any other country in the battle against a guerrilla organization."
682  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reuters admits image of Beirut after IAF strike was doctored on: August 06, 2006, 04:07:19 PM
Reuters admits image of Beirut after IAF strike was doctored

By Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent

The Reuters news agency admitted Sunday that it had published a doctored photograph of Beirut after an Israel Air Force strike on Saturday morning.

In the original image, thin smoke can be seen rising over the Lebanese capital, but in the second photograph, thick, black smoke can be seen billowing over the buildings.

Reuters said that it has fired Adnan Hajj, the Lebanese photographer who submitted the image. The organization also said that it is investigating the incident.

"The photographer has denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying that he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under," said Moira Whittle, the head of public relations for Reuters.

"This represents a serious breach of Reuters' standards and we shall not be accepting or using pictures taken by him," Whittle said in a statement issued in London.

Hajj worked for Reuters as a non-staff freelance, or contributing photographer, from 1993 until 2003 and again since April 2005.

He was among several photographers from the main international news agencies whose images of a dead child being held up by a rescuer in the village of Qana, south Lebanon, after an Israeli air strike on July 30 have been challenged by blogs critical of the mainstream media's coverage of the Middle East conflict.

Claims that the photograph had been doctored were published on a number of blogs, which rushed to prove that the image had been retouched in using the PhotoShop program.

All photographs taken for Reuters around the world are sent to Singapore, where they undergo certain editorial processes before being distributed to the agency's many clients. On Sunday, Reuters removed the retouched picture from its catalogue and replaced it with the original.

Little Green Football explains the fraud
683  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 05, 2006, 01:14:52 AM
Quote from: Crafty_Dog
A week ago, Israeli foot patrols in Lebanon were spotted using llamas, an especially quiet beast of burden that can go several days without eating while carrying about as much weight as one Israeli soldier can carry.

Llamas on patrol
684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 04, 2006, 09:39:46 PM
Quote from: ppulatie
Since 1948, every action that Israel has taken has been in self defense. They have been in a perpetual war since inception, with the arab world desiring their destruction.

From your comments, I surmise that you believe that Israel has taken actions not in its own self defense. Can you please name some such actions? I will be more than happy to refute them.

The Anglo-French-Isaeli attack on Suez:

Anthony Eden, the British prime minister, feared that Nasser intended to form an Arab Alliance that would cut off oil supplies to Europe. On 21st October Guy Mollet, Anthony Eden and David Ben-Gurion met in secret to discuss the problem. During these talks it was agreed to make a joint attack on Egypt.

On 29th October 1956, the Israeli Army, led by General Moshe Dayan, invaded Egypt. Two days later British and French bombed Egyptian airfields. British and French troops landed at Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal on 5th November. By this time the Israelis had captured the Sinai peninsula.

President Dwight Eisenhower grew increasingly concerned about these developments. On 30th October he decided to take action and announced he was going to suspend aid to Israel in protest against its invasion of Egypt. The following day Eisenhower's secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, criticised Britain and France for trying to take the Suez Canal by force.
685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iranian official admits Tehran supplied missiles to Hezbolla on: August 04, 2006, 02:36:59 PM
Iranian official admits Tehran supplied missiles to Hezbollah

By Amos Harel and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents

A senior Iranian official admitted for the first time Friday that Tehran did indeed supply long-range Zelzal-2 missiles to Hezbollah.

Mohtashami Pur, a one-time ambassador to Lebanon who currently holds the title of secretary-general of the "Intifada conference," told an Iranian newspaper that Iran transferred the missiles to the Shi'ite militia, adding that the organization has his country's blessing to use the weapons in defense of Lebanon.

Pur's statements are thought to be unusual given that Tehran has thus far been reluctant to comment on the extent of its aid which it has extended to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Thursday night in a televised broadcast that his organization would target Tel Aviv if Beirut was attacked by Israel.

"If our capital, Beirut, is attacked, we will attack your capital, Tel Aviv," Nasrallah threatened.

The Hezbollah leader issued his warning after Israel Air Force aircraft dropped leaflets over the Lebanese capital, calling on residents of three Shi'ite neighborhoods in southern Beirut to evacuate their homes.

Israeli security sources assessed that Nasrallah's threats are serious.

On Wednesday evening, the IAF attacked Beirut for the first time after a hiatus of nearly five days. The dropping of the leaflets yesterday is considered to be a precursor to new air strikes on the city.

Military Intelligence estimates that Nasrallah would like to end the war with a dramatic move, such as the firing of missiles against Tel Aviv.

The range of the Iranian-made Zelzal missiles is estimated to be 210 kilometers, enabling Hezbollah to target the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv and its environs. Last week, the IAF deployed Patriot anti-aircraft missiles near Netanya as part of the overall effort to foil a possible Zelzal attack.
686  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chavez breaks up with Israel on: August 04, 2006, 02:04:32 PM
Chavez breaks up with Israel

Dear Israeli friend who might happen to read this blog

The title of this post means exactly what it means: it is Chavez that is breaking up with Israel, not Venezuela. The people of Venezuela are much smarter than that. Or ignorant as the case might be. But Venezuelans of good faith, of good name, of good will, do not break relations either with Israel, or Lebanon, or Iran, or Palestine, or Egypt.

See, Venezuelan people of good will know that the Middle East is a very complicated situation, and we know that we have no business involving ourselves in there, except for trying to help in any way we can, without taking sides, in reaching peace one way or the other. Just as Israel has no business meddling in border problems between Venezuela and Colombia over FARC crossing over as they please.

See, Venezuela is a gorgeous mosaic of people. We have plenty immigrants form diverse areas of the Middle East. But we also gave refuge to many Jews fleeing the horrors of Nazism, or the horrors of Europe diverse forms of intolerance. We know that we all get along, blacks and whites, natives and mestizos, Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Evangelical, commies and democrats. That is, until Chavez was elected president in 1998 and started forcing upon us divisions that were alien to our gentle tropical culture.

Since his election race has become an issue. Useless social warfare has become an issue. Civil rights have become an issue. And none for the good. Now anti semitism is becoming an issue. This blog has reported whenever it could about the creeping anti semitism in Venezuela these days. But do not take only my word: read yesterday's column from Milagros Socorro in El Nacional where she picks up the same disgusting add that appeared in El Nacional last week. Her words on how our beautiful country is torn apart by the vices of a few are only too eloquent.

Now Chavez in his megalomania has turned his gaze to the Middle East where he wants to become a player. I can assure you, dear Israeli leader, or even dear any Middle East reader, that it is a decision of Chavez alone with his camarilla. We, as a people, have never been consulted on what should be Venezuela's policy in the Middle East. And I can assure you that we will never be consulted on that topic by Chavez. In fact, he has long stopped consulting with anyone on anything except perhaps the soon to be corpse of Castro.

I can also assure you one thing: Chavez does not know much about the Middle East and its very complicated history. Nor does he care much about you. See, the only thing he wants is to screw the US in any which way he can, even if it means a close association with the Iran regime of fanatic and intolerant Ayatollahs who have no problem in subjecting women to all sorts of second class citizenship, hanging gay teenagers, persecuting Baahist faith, financing any pro Shia terrorist organization and what ever else uncivilized that one can come up with. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a country as opposed to Venezuelan values of freedom and carefree lifestyle as Iran is. That is why it is so objectionable of Chavez not to even notice that the only thing that Ahmedinejad has not yet said is "a good Jew is a dead Jew". Never in our history we have had a president that openly supported a country whose aim is the elimination of another country.

If you can read Spanish I will recommend an article on how the news was reported in Venezuela. First, he used the commemoration of some local independence event of 1806 to announce the withdrawal of our ambassador to Israel. Funny, because already Venezuela had only a "chag? d'affaires". But Chavez always needs to be bombastic and the charg? became ambassador for a few seconds before he was removed anyway. Then on the same protocol act he decided to change one of our national holydays by moving it from March 12 to August 3. Just like that, because he has decided to rewrite Venezuelan history in a way that satisfies him better, regardless of what really happened in a given date. See, he is like that, changing names, dates, places, at will, like any fascist of commie dictator. All of course duly surrounded by many generals in full drag.

It is important for you to understand that Chavez has long stopped being considered as someone sane. Nobody so obsessed about his glory, his safety, nobody so blindeded by his US hatred can long remain sane. Venezuela is now a military controled regime with someone cetifiable at the helm. You of all people know about these type of guys. So please, do not harbor ill will against the Venezuelan people, keep in mind that any ill advised move of Venezuela in the Middle East comes from Chavez feverish brain alone. We are trying our best to control him but he has too much money and too many amoral cowards getting rich around him, at home as well as abroad. But this shall pass and we will become friends again as we have been friends with all countries in the world. That is what we really are, a friendly people, not the hateful crowd that Chavez would like you to beleive he represents.

--- --- --- --- --- ---
The news is spreading fast. Fausta has a complete summary of Chavez recent eccentricities, break up included. Plus a great photo montage of Chavez and any dictator around, courtesy of Miguel.
687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 04, 2006, 12:41:54 PM
Quote from: rogt
I've mentioned the Iranian Jews twice now and you've had no response.  How do you explain 25,000 Jews choosing to live in a country you claim wants their extermination?

I think it's irrelevant to the issue, and I doubt very much that, given a choice, today they would choose to live in Iran. My family chose to live in Venezuela and for many years it was a good choice until the advent of Hugo Chavez. Today, given the choice, I would not pick Venezuela. Things change. At one time Jews were captives in Persia. Later they were an important part of Persian society. Same in Germany. My father was a German soldier under Bismarck. But under Adolph Hitler he was considered a non-human. Things go around in circles. When we left Germany in 1939 we lost our German citizenship based on a NAZI law that stripped German Jews living outside Germany of their birthright German citizenship. For years this made no difference to me because we were more than welcome in Venezuela. Then with Chavez things changed. He preaches class warfare, not just against Jews but against America, against landholders, against the rich, against anyone or anything that he perceives as an opportunity to vent his venom. As a consequence, I have reacquired my German citizenship. I now have dual citizenship. Germans went from the most advanced and most civilized people on earth who gave us Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, to the scum of the earth under Hitler. Now they have made a comeback into the fold of civilized nations.

The 25,000 Jews is Iran is what is left over from a much larger Jewish community. They have to conform to Sharia law in public. They have one member of parliament who must have a picture of a Mullah in his office. They are not treated as people, they are pets in a zoo for exhibition purposes, for the world to see how civilized the zoo keepers are. Humans are funny that way: we love elephants so we put them in a cage. We love birds so we put them in a cage. We love flowers so we cut them to put in a vase. We love to exhibit Jews so we put them in a virtual cage. Jews wanted out of the Soviet Union, they were not allowed to leave. How is Iran different?
688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 04, 2006, 11:10:43 AM
Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, radical Islam, it's all the same for me. They all have the same purpose vis a vis Israel so I need make no distinction among them. They attack, we strike back and, on occasion, we strike preemptively when the danger seems extraordinary.

There is nothing wrong with preemptively strikes. It's much the same as vaccinating babies so they don't get sick later. Radical Islam is a virus that needs to be combatted at every level before they can cause the mayhem they set out to cause.

What does that have to do with the exact meaning of "Exterminating Israel?" I don't worry about it. You do, so you explain it. Getting bogged down in hair splitting while people are dying is an absurdity. Stop the war and then we can split hairs.

Sorry, no apologies coming from me on this issue.
689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's Strategy Is Crudely Obvious--Why Can't We Fight It? on: August 04, 2006, 12:34:46 AM
August 01, 2006

Iran's Strategy Is Crudely Obvious--So Why Can't We Fight It?

By Robert Tracinski

The new Lebanon War, like much of the War on Terrorism, has a strange character. It is a war in which everyone knows the enemy's strategy, in which it is child's play to see through all of his ruses and propaganda tricks--and yet our leaders, rather than devising their own counter-strategy, fall for every ruse and play along with the enemy's game.

You hear a lot of talk these days about the "clever" Iranians and what good "chess players" they are in the contest of international diplomacy. But the Iranian strategy is, in fact, crudely transparent and obviously morally bankrupt. Everyone can grasp this--yet our leaders keep falling into the Iranian traps.

Everyone knows that Iran is using Hezbollah's war in Lebanon to distract attention from its nuclear weapons program. The Iranians were given a July 5 deadline to suspend uranium enrichment or face "serious consequences." The contemptuous Iranians declared that they wouldn't reply for another six weeks, on August 22. Then Hezbollah--a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran's Revolutionary Guards--initiated their war in Lebanon, and no one has paid attention to the Iranian nuclear program for the past three weeks. Now, finally, we are sending a new resolution to the UN Security Council--giving Iran until August 31 to agree to talks or face another months-long debate about whether we will impose sanctions against them.

The Iranian strategy to buy time is utterly transparent and not especially clever. It is simple to defeat: declare that Hezbollah's aggression against Israel is proof of Iran's evil intentions and that we don't require any further diplomatic justification to bomb Iran's nuclear sites and bring down its regime.

Instead, Western leaders fell for the Iranian strategy, and the Iranians have pretty much gotten what they wanted.

Everyone knows that Syria is using Hezbollah's war as a way of propping up its security and influence after it was forced to retreat from Lebanon in disgrace last year. By initiating a new war against Israel, the Syrians hope to appeal to the venomous hatred of Israel on the "Arab street," regaining Arab support Syria had lost by assassinating pro-independence leaders in Lebanon. By initiating the war on Lebanese soil, Syria hoped to justify its former military presence there, "proving" that the Syrian withdrawal led only to anarchy and bloodshed--proving it, that is, by causing the bloodshed. Finally, Syria's Baathist regime is using its alliance with the Islamist fanatics of Hezbollah to replace its fading secular ideology with a new, religious foundation.

Again, this is all obvious, and the answer is obvious. By bringing the war home to its Syrian sponsor, we could make it clear that initiating this war will topple the Syrian regime, rather than propping it up.

Instead, American commentators and diplomats have fallen for the Syrian strategy, declaring that this conflict makes it necessary to re-establish negotiations with Syria, offer Syria territorial concessions, and even to compete with Iran for Syria's affections.

Everyone knows that Hezbollah initiated a war with Israel in order to justify its status as a military "state within a state," billing itself as a defender of Lebanon against Israel--even while, far from defending Lebanon, Hezbollah is causing Lebanon to be torn apart. And everyone knows that Hezbollah deliberately operates among Lebanon's civilian population, cynically exploiting the resulting civilian casualties as propaganda.

This has already been ruthlessly dissected by many American and Israeli commentators. See, for example, an excellent editorial in Monday's Washington Times on Hezbollah's use of "human shields," which includes a link to photos of Hezbollah guns and missile launchers positioned in residential apartment blocks. Even better, a hard-hitting column in an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, quotes an Israeli paratrooper who sums up Hezbollah's tactics: "They are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages."

Both of these articles identify the proper response: point out that Hezbollah is responsible for all civilian casualties in this war, and refuse to allow those casualties to hobble the war effort. Stop rewarding Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields.

Instead, faced with a gory new story about civilian casualties, our own Secretary of State panicked and pressured Israel to agree to a mini-cease-fire, suspending its air war for 48 hours (which Israel, thankfully, did not fully do). According to the New York Times when Condoleezza Rice heard about a new group of Lebanese civilians killed in an Israeli airstrike--with images of the corpses splashed across TV screens in Lebanon and across the Arab world--she "appeared shaken." She then immediately pushed for the Israeli cessation, while "American officials scrambled to try to counter the wrenching TV scenes of the devastation at Qana."

Secretary Rice has a reputation as an intelligent, hard-charging woman who doesn't scare easily. Over the past few months, she has blown that reputation, caving in to Iran and its European sympathizers--and now allowing herself to be panicked into appeasement by predictable images of Lebanese civilian casualties. The Iranians have not been playing a sophisticated diplomatic game--yet they have consistently outplayed Secretary Rice.

Just as obvious as the strategy of the Iranian Axis are the destructive consequences of America's diplomatic retreat in the face of Hezbollah's war.

The French government has taken advantage of Rice's abdication and stepped in to assert a leading role in the crisis--as a defender of Iran. The French foreign minister, speaking today in Beirut, hailed Iran as the potential savior of Lebanon, describing Iran as "a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region." If the French are to be part of a "multinational force" in Southern Lebanon, will they be there to disarm Hezbollah--or to protect it?

The joke going around all the blogs recently is that it's not a World War until France surrenders. But it's not really a World War until the French become collaborators.

Similarly, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who sat on the fence for the first few weeks of the war, complaining about Israel but also calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed, sensed the shift in the political winds and threw in with Hezbollah, thanking terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah for "all those who sacrifice their lives for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon.''

And remember that every charge made against the Israelis in Lebanon can be applied equally to the Americans in Iraq--which means that Secretary Rice has just given a green light for Iranian-backed firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr to emulate Hezbollah and orchestrate another uprising against the US in Iraq.

The tirades of the Angry Left to the contrary, our leaders are not stupid or incompetent. If the rest of us can figure out the Iranian strategy and see through Iran's tricks, so can they. But something is neutralizing their knowledge. Something is preventing them from turning that knowledge into corresponding action.

Part of what is crippling Western leaders is the sacrifice-worship of the altruist morality, which programs them, in response to human suffering, to suspend thinking and react emotionally. Natan Sharansky recounts a discussion he had with former president Jimmy Carter about why the Palestinian-Israeli "peace process" kept failing. Carter responded, "You know, you are right, but don't try to be too rational about these things. The moment you see people suffering, you should feel solidarity with them and try to help them without thinking too much about the reasons."

But even more insidious is a kind of cognitive altruism that tells men to sacrifice, not just their interests, but their judgment, subordinating their knowledge to the opinions and prejudices of others. That is what seems to be operating here. Whatever Secretary Rice knows about the Iranians' strategy is discarded the moment lurid images of civilian casualties are splashed across the front pages of European newspapers and the broadcasts of Arab television stations. Just as, in this self-abnegating morality, you have to consider the interests of everyone except yourself--so, in this morality of cognitive self-abnegation, you have to consider everyone's opinion except your own. Thus, faced with the united force of "world opinion," the formerly "tough-minded" Secretary of State was flustered into an ignominious surrender of American interests.

This is a strange kind of war, in which we have more than enough military capability to crush the enemy's "lousy army." Nor do we lack the intellectual power to understand and counteract the enemy's strategy. But we lack the moral confidence to use both our power and our knowledge.

But in the life-and-death struggle with totalitarian Islam, there is no room for Western self-abnegation. On the contrary, what we need is a proud, righteous self-assertion, the unapologetic pursuit of America's and Israel's vital interests, unbowed by appeals to pity or to "world opinion."

In recent months, there has been a rebellion brewing on the right in protest against the Bush administration's appeasement of Iran. Secretary Rice's recent capitulation, if it goes uncorrected, ought to be the event that brings that rebellion to the boiling point, threatening President Bush with the defection of his remaining political "base." It will be a bruising political rebellion, and it should probably require the firing of Condoleezza Rice--a crushing concession for George Bush to make--to satisfy a justified fury against the administration's recent policies.

But if our leaders won't provide an assertive American national defense on their own power, we will have to demand it of them. If they won't lead the way against our enemies, we will have to lead and force them to follow.

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and
690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chavez withdraws Venezuelan envoy citing Israeli 'genocide on: August 03, 2006, 07:58:35 PM
Chavez withdraws Venezuelan envoy citing Israeli 'genocide'

By The Associated Press

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday he has recalled his country's ambassador to Israel to show his "indignation" over the military offensive in Lebanon.

"We have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador in Israel," Chavez said in a televised speech, calling Israeli attacks in Lebanon "genocide."

"It really causes indignation to see how the state of Israel continues bombing, killing ... with all of the power they have, with the support of the United States," Chavez said after a military parade in the northwestern state of Falcon.

The leftist Venezuelan leader has repeatedly criticized Israel's offensive aimed at Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, noting mounting civilian deaths and saying the United Nations should act to halt the violence.

"It's hard explain to oneself how nobody does anything to stop this horror," said Chavez, whose government has until recently said it had good relations with Israel.

Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington, also criticized what he called a relentless "campaign" by the U.S. government to keep Venezuela from obtaining a seat on the UN Security Council. U.S. officials have backed Guatemala for the seat, saying Venezuela would be a disruptive influence on the council.

The Venezuelan leader, a close ally and protege of Cuban President Fidel Castro, spoke after returning from an international tour that took him to Argentina, Belarus, Russia, Qatar, Iran, Vietnam, Mali and Benin. While in Iran, Chavez called the Israeli offensive in Lebanon a "fascist outrage."

"The Israeli elite repeatedly criticize Hitler's actions against the Jews, and indeed Hitler's actions must be criticized, not just against the Jews but against the world," Chavez said during his visit to Iran, adding: "It's also fascism what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people ... terrorism and fascism."

Venezuela has both Arab immigrant and Jewish communities, and officials have insisted the government will continue to fully respect the Jewish community despite its strong opposition to Israel's war in Lebanon.

Some in Venezuela have protested against the fighting in Lebanon, including one group that burned an Israeli flag outside the Israeli embassy last month.

But we also support coexistence:
691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 03, 2006, 03:54:46 PM
Quote from: rogt
OK, "elimination of the Zionist regime" can mean a lot of things.  What I want to know is whether these Muslim leaders really mean "exterminate Jews" instead of just replacement of the current Israeli government.
Well, sum it up:

Suicide bombings
Rocket attacks
Calls for boycotting Israel
Flying into the Twin Towers
The London bombing
The Madrid bombing
The Beirut US Embassy bombing
The Bali bombing
The USS Cole bombing
The Buenos Aires bombing

Does this sound like a love fest of some sort?

Some people just don't want to see reality. What proof do you want? The extermination of Israel?
692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: August 03, 2006, 03:36:55 PM
Quote from: rogt
We constantly hear about how Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. deny "Israel's right to exist", that they want to "destroy Israel", or "exterminate all Jews". The source is a statement (in Arabic or Farsi) supposedly from the Hamas charter. It would be interesting to see a US news agency interview an actual Hamas leader, tell him how this statement is being interpreted in the US, and ask him directly if this is what they really mean.


Ahmadinejad's call to destroy Israel draws French condemnation

By The Associated Press

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday the solution to the Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel, Iranian state media reported.

In a speech during an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Malaysia, Ahmadinejad also called for an immediate cease-fire to end the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-back group Hezbollah.

"Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site.

693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How to poison children's minds on: July 31, 2006, 08:31:57 PM
Does this remind you of Hitler youth?

Beirut march marks Qana bombing

Thursday 27 April 2006, 21:33 Makka Time, 18:33 GMT  

About 2,000 children have marched through the streets of Beirut armed with fake rockets in a rally organised by Hezbollah to mark the anniversary of a deadly Israeli bombardment 10 years ago.
694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lebanon on: July 31, 2006, 08:24:13 PM
I posted the link at a blog I frequent and someone posted two related links:

Note: If you are squeamish, don't go there, lots of dead bodies:

Who is this man?

If he had been a genuine rescue worker, he would deserve a medal. Mr "Green Helmet" is everywhere at Qana, rushing around pulling children out of the rubble, carting them to ambulances and even, on the front page of the Guardian, escorting "White Tee-shirt", who also performs his own cameo role, carting round the body of another unfortunate girl, emoting freely while he does so.

Milking it?

Certainly, the photographs are distressing, and indeed they are meant to be. As this piece tells us:
695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Message from Brigitte Gabriel on: July 30, 2006, 01:29:15 AM
Message from the President and Founder
Brigitte Gabriel

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit our website, American Congress for Truth. Evil prevails when good people do nothing. With the spread of radical Islamic fundamentalism throughout the world, it is important for the people of the western world to know and understand what to expect and what to do about it.

We are faced with a war that has been declared on Christians and Jews in America and the world. Citizens of the most powerful country on earth watched in horror on 9/11, 2001 as a handful of men brought the United States of America to its knees. Wall Street froze, the stock market tumbled, and national air traffic ground to a halt. The West faces a threat more menacing today than the past goals of communist world domination.

We are facing an enemy that uses children as human bombs, mothers as suicide bombers, and men driven by the glory of death and the promise of eternal sexual bliss in heaven. We are fighting an enemy that loves death more than we love life. I am a victim of the Lebanese civil war, which was the first front in the worldwide Jihad of militant Islam against the only Christian country in the Middle East. My family?s home was shelled and destroyed leaving me wounded. I lived underground in a bomb shelter from age 10 to 17 without electricity and very little food. I had to crawl under sniper bullets to a spring to fetch water for my elderly parents. I was betrayed by my country, rescued by my enemy Israel, the Jewish State that is under attack for its existence today.

911 changed most American lives forever, but it struck an especially sensitive chord with me. It reminded me that the entire world is threatened by the same radical Islamic theology that succeeded in annihilating the ?infidels? in Lebanon. That?s why I created American Congress for Truth. ACT was formed in June 2002 to inform, inspire and motivate Jews and Christians throughout society in ways to act and fight for our western ways of life and the values we cherish. Our members include Jews, Arabs and Christians from all background both secular and religious, liberals and conservatives. People who have put their differences aside to combat both anti American and anti Israel propaganda masquerading as anti Imperialism and anti Zionism wherever it exists; in the western media, among the intellectual elite, and on American college Campuses.

So many times in history in the last 100 years, citizens have stood by and done nothing allowing evil to prevail. As America stood up against and defeated communism now it is time to stand up against the terror of religious bigotry and intolerance. I urge you to become an ACT activist and join a growing network of Americans concerned about securing their nation from acts of terrorism. Through American Congress for Truth you can be a voice effecting the future of your community and your nation.

Thank you for your support. You are the heroes who make all our work possible. And I especially thank you for helping me protect the country that has blessed me so much, America, the dream that became my address.

Brigitte Gabriel
696  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thank You Israel on: July 30, 2006, 01:13:01 AM
Thank You Israel
By Brigitte Gabriel

For the millions of Christian Lebanese, driven out of our homeland, "Thank you Israel," is the sentiment echoing from around the world. The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group of Lebanese Christians, made the following statement in a press release to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the latest Israeli attacks against Hezbollah:

"We urge you to hit them hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation."

Their statement continues, "On behalf of thousands of Lebanese, we ask you to open the doors of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport to thousands of volunteers in the Diaspora willing to bear arms and liberate their homeland from [Islamic] fundamentalism.

We ask you for support, facilitation and logistics in order to win this struggle and achieve together the same objectives: Peace and Security for Lebanon and Israel and our future generations to come."

The once dominate Lebanese Christians responsible for giving the world "the Paris of the Middle East" as Lebanon used to be known, have been killed, massacred, driven out of their homes and scattered around the world as radical Islam declared its holy war in the 70s and took hold of the country.

They voice an opinion that they and Israel have learned from personal experience, which is now belatedly being discovered by the rest of the world.

While the world protected the PLO withdrawing from Lebanon in 1983 with Israel hot on their heals, another more volatile and religiously idealistic organization was being born: Hezbollah, "the Party of God," founded by Ayatollah Khomeini and financed by Iran. It was Hezbollah who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in October,1983 killing 241 Americans and 67 French paratroopers that same day. President Reagan ordered U.S. Multilateral Force units to withdraw and closed the books on the marine massacre and US involvement in Lebanon February 1984.

The civilized world, which erroneously vilified the Christians and Israel back then and continues to vilify Israel now, was not paying attention. While America and the rest of the world were concerned about the Israeli / PLO problem, terrorist regimes in Syria and Iran fanned Islamic radicalism in Lebanon and around the world.

Hezbollah's Shiite extremists began multiplying like proverbial rabbits out-producing moderate Sunnis and Christians. Twenty-five years later they have produced enough people to vote themselves into 24 seats in the Lebanese parliament. Since the Israeli pull out in 2000, Lebanon has become a terrorist base completely run and controlled by Syria with its puppet Lebanese President Lahood and the Hezbollah "state within a state."

The Lebanese army has less than 10,000 military troops. Hezbollah has over 4,000 trained militia forces and there are approximately 700 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. So why can't the army do the job? Because the majority of Lebanese Muslims making up the army will split and unite along religious lines with the Islamic forces just like what happened in 1976 at the start of the Lebanese civil war.

It all boils down to a war of Islamic Jihad ideology vs. Judeo Christian Westernism. Muslims who are now the majority of Lebanon's population, support Hezbollah because they are part of the Islamic Ummah-the nation. This is the taboo subject everyone is trying to avoid.

The latest attacks on Israel have been orchestrated by Iran and Syria driven by two different interests. Syria considers Lebanon a part of "greater" Syria. Young Syrian President Assad and his Ba'athist military intelligence henchmen in Damascus are using this latest eruption of violence to prove to the Lebanese that they need the Syrian presence to protect them from the Israeli aggression and to stabilize the country. Iran is conveniently using its Lebanese puppet army Hezbollah, to distract the attention of world leaders meeting at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Apocalyptic Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the ruling Mullah clerics in Tehran want to assert hegemony in the Islamic world under the banner of Shia Mahdist madness. Ahmadinejad wants to seal his place as top Jihadist for Allah by make good his promise to "wipe Israel off  the map.

No matter how much the west avoids facing the reality of Islamic extremism of the Middle East, the west cannot hide from the fact that the same Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel is fighting over there, are of the same radical Islamic ideology that has fomented carnage and death through terrorism that America and the world are fighting. This is the same Hezbollah that Iran is threatening to unleash in America with suicide bomb attacks if America tries to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. They have cells in over 10 cities in the United States. Hamas, has the largest terrorist infrastructure on American soil. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to evil for decades, hoping it will go away.

Sheik Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, is an Iranian agent. He is not a free actor in this play. He has been involved in terrorism for over 25 years. Iran with its Islamic vision for a Shia Middle East now has its agents, troops and money in Gaza in the Palestinian territories,Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Behind this is this vision that drives the Iranian President Ahmadinejad who believes he is Allah's "tool and facilitator" bringing the end of the world as we know it and the ushering in of the era of the Mahdi. He has a blind messianic belief in the Shiite tradition of the 12th or "hidden" Islamic savior who will emerge from a well in the holy city of Qum in Iran after global chaos, catastrophes and mass deaths and establish the era of Islamic Justice and everlasting peace.

President Ahmadinejad has refused so far to respond to proposals from the U.S., EU, Russia and China on the UN Security Council to cease Iran's relentless quest for nuclear enrichment and weapons development program until August 22nd. Why August 22nd? Because August 22nd, coincides with the Islamic date of Rajab 28, the day the great Salah El-Din conquered Jerusalem.

Ahmadinejad's extremists ideology in triggering Armageddon gives great concerns to the intelligence community.

At this point the civilized world must unite in fighting the same enemies plaguing Israel and the world with terrorism. We need to stop analyzing the enemies' differences as Sunni-Hamas or Shiite-Hezbollah, and start understanding that their common bond in their fight against us is radical Islam.
697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The roots of WWIII on: July 29, 2006, 01:34:55 PM
This video explains the roots of WWIII, it's a video that we all should watch. The film is supposed to be in theaters next month.
698  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Australian values, Muslim clerics, anti-Americanism on: July 29, 2006, 10:29:36 AM
Interview with Tony Jones - Lateline
Tuesday, 23 August 2005 - 10.40 pm

SUBJECTS: Australian values, Muslim clerics, anti-Americanism, Telstra

Peter Costello thanks for joining us.

Good to be with you, Tony.

Now, over the past 24 hours you've been repeating the notion that migrants, evidently Islamic migrants, who don't like Australia, or Australian values, should think of packing up and moving to another country. Is that a fair assessment?

What I've said is that this is a country, which is founded on a democracy. According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you. This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.

It sounds like you're inviting Muslims who don't want to integrate to go to another country. Is it as simple as that?

No. I'm saying if you are thinking of coming to Australia, you ought to know what Australian values are.

But what about if you're already here and you don't want to integrate?

Well, I'll come to that in a moment. But there are some clerics who have been quoted as saying they recognise two laws. They recognise Australian law and Sharia law. There's only one law in Australia, it's the Australian law. For those coming to Australia, I think we ought to be very clear about that. We expect them to recognise only one law and to observe it.

Now, for those who are born in Australia, I'd make the same point. This is a country which has a Constitution. Under its Constitution, the state is secular. Under its constitution, the law is made by the parliament. Under its Constitution, it's enforced by the judiciary. These are Australian values and they're not going to change and we would expect people, when they come to Australia or if they are born in Australia, to respect those values.

I take it that if you're a dual citizen and you have the opportunity to leave and you don't like Australian values, you're encouraging them to go away; is that right?

Well, if you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practises it, perhaps then that's a better option.

But isn't this the sort of thing you hear in pubs, the meaningless populism you hear on talkback radio? Essentially, the argument is if you don't like it here, you should go back home.

No. Essentially, the argument is Australia expects its citizens to abide by core beliefs - democracy, the rule of law, the independent judiciary, independent liberty. You see, Tony, when you come to Australia and you go to take out Australian citizenship you either swear on oath or make an affirmation that you respect Australia's democracy and its values. That's what we ask of people that come to Australia and if they don't, then it's very clear that this is not the country - if they can't live with them - whose values they can't share. Well, there might be another country where their values can be shared.

Who exactly are you aiming this at? Are you aiming it at young Muslims who don't want to integrate or are you aiming it at clerics like Sheikh Omran or Abu Bakr both from Melbourne?

I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that that is false. It's not the situation in Australia. It's not the situation under our Constitution. There's only one law in Australia. It's the law that's made by the Parliament of Australia and enforced by our courts. There's no second law. There's only one law that applies in Australia and Australia expects its citizens to observe it.

But you're not moving to the next stage, as they have in Britain, of actively seeking out clerics who teach what they regard as dangerous philosophy to young Muslims and forcing them to leave the country?

The only thing I would say - and let me say it again - is we can't be ambivalent about this point. Australia has one law, Australia has a secular state and anybody who teaches to the contrary doesn't know Australia and anybody who can't accept that, can't accept something that is fundamental to the nature of our society.

All right. But the situation now, as far as you're concerned, if they are to leave, it should be completely voluntary.

Well, I'm just saying if they object to a secular state with parliamentary law, there might be other countries where the system of law is more acceptable to them.

Alright. Could that situation change? I mean, the voluntary nature of it at least, could you compel people to leave, including radical preachers, if there were a terrorist attack in Australia, as there was in London not so long ago?

Well, where a person has dual citizenship, Tony, it might be possible to ask them to exercise that other citizenship where they could just as easily exercise a citizenship of another country. That might be a live possibility.

You mean to force them to leave?

Well, you could ask them to exercise another citizenship.

But you would only do that if there were a terrorist attack in the aftermath of it. You wouldn't do it, for example, if there were a thwarted terrorist attack as ASIO has told us there has been in this country?

Well, I am not going into individual circumstances. I just make the point that where people have dual citizenship and they're not comfortable with the way Australia is structured, it may be possible to ask them to exercise their other citizenship.


Well, as I said, it may be possible to ask them to exercise their other citizenship.

Let's move on. You made a speech at the weekend in which you warned that Australia could be hurt by growing anti-Americanism or Australia's interests at least could be hurt by growing anti-Americanism in the world. How could that happen?

Well, I think there is a lot of anti-Americanism in Australia. It's not just in Australia. It there's anti-Americanism in Europe and other parts of the world and to some degree it may be less in Australia than in countries like France or in parts of the Arab world. But I don't believe we can be complacent about it. It is a real strand of public opinion and I think we ought to engage it and discuss it. The point I'm trying to make is we in Australia have no reason to be anti-American; that where American power has been exercised, such as in the World War II, it was exercised in the defence of Australia, not the attack of Australia. By and large, American power, which is exercised in defence of democracy and in individual liberty, is supportive of Australia in its interests and not a threat to it.

You said to Laurie Oakes on Sunday that anti-Americanism can easily morph into anti-Westernism and effectively that could threaten our interests. How could that happen?

Well, we've seen with some terrorist attacks already that Western places are targets. Not necessarily because there are Australians present, but because in the terrorist mind there are Westerners present, whether they be Americans or Britons or Australians.

This is to do with anti-Americanism?

Well, as I said, anti-Westernism, and terrorists don't particularly distinguish when they're setting off bombs, can hit Australians as much as it can hit Americans or it can hit Britons.

But this is anti-Americanism morphing into a broader anti-Western feeling which could affect Australian interests. Is that what you are saying?

Well, there have been occasions when Australians have been hit by terrorist incidents where people haven't distinguished between whether it's Americans or Britons or Australians. There is a strand of terrorist thinking that says that anybody who is a Westerner is a legitimate target.

But the core of it is anti-American from what you are saying? The logic of what you are saying is pretty clear.

In some terrorist minds, if you're hitting a Westerner, you're hitting a legitimate target. The point I want to make is that because we're Westerners, in the minds of some terrorists we can be targets. So it's in our interests to defend the values of the West and it's in our interests to explain our policy. It's in America's interests to defend its own image and I would urge it to do so and I would also say to Australia's security -

You seem to be suggesting that anti-Americanism is in fact a dangerous thing for Australians.

Well, it is in a security sense because the US is Australia's principal defence partner. When I say there is a danger of anti-Americanism in Australia amongst Australians, what I'm saying is, particularly amongst younger Australians, if they don't understand the events of 1942 when the US was the principal ally defending Australia and without which we wouldn't have been able to defend the islands to our near north, if they don't understand that, they may not understand what the importance of the American alliance is to the defence of Australia and our strategic interests.

I don't want to keep coming back to this necessarily, but you've made the point quite clearly that anti-Americanism can morph into anti-Westernism and that threatens our interests. It threatens our interest, does it, because we could, like Americans, as a result of anti-Americanism become terrorist targets?

We have become terrorist targets because we are perceived to be Western. We've become terrorist targets because we are perceived to stand for a whole lot of values, which in the terrorist mind they oppose. Australians became terrorists in Bali not because of anything Australia did, but because in Bali they were perceived to be Westerners and in a sick terrorist mind that makes you a target.

Right. Given that the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq is probably the leading cause of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, does that make us, as an ally of the Americans, a greater target for terrorists?

I don't think it's the principle cause at all. I think if you want to look for perceived areas of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, it was around a lot before Iraq. It's been around for a very long time, Tony, and most of it, I believe -

I'm talking about what's happening right now. We're seeing it even in the lead-up to the Islamic summit we've been having in Canberra. What we are hearing is young Australian Muslims are particularly angry with the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

No, I couldn't disagree with you more profoundly. There was substantial hostility to the US in the Arab world long before Iraq. Whether it's over perceived injustices to Islam, whether it's over the Palestinian issue, whether it's over support for Israel. Most of these things, and I don't believe justify hostility at all, but it's been there long before Iraq. Let me tell you this, Tony - you are profoundly wrong if you thought hostility to the United States started in 2003. It was around a long before that.

I don't believe I said or even suggested that, but let's move on if we can.

No, no, no. You said the primary cause...

At the present moment.

..of anti-Americanism...

At the present moment.

TREASURER: the Arab world was the war in Iraq...

At the present moment.

..and I explained to you, long before the war in Iraq, the attack on the US on the World Trade Centre showed there were great causes of disaffection to America long before Iraq, Tony.

That's completely understood, but I did say "at the present moment". Can we move on from foreign affairs and onto your own portfolio. How much revenue did the Government get from its dividends on the Telstra shares last year?

[snip]They talk about Telstra[/snip]

Peter Costello, we'll have to leave it there. We thank you very much once again for taking the time to come and talk to us tonight.

Thanks, Tony.
699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An 'e-mail from Nasrallah' on: July 28, 2006, 06:02:39 PM
An 'e-mail from Nasrallah'

By Tom Segev

A man named Nasrallah whom I don't know sent me an e-mail this week. I thought that he was from Beirut. So I asked, naturally, and with no little hope, if there were a connection. As often happens in dialogues with our neighbors - this was the wrong question to ask. He has no connection to that Nasrallah, he replied, probably in a slightly reproachful tone.

The man in question is Yousry Nasrallah, the Egyptian film director. Recently he had directed the film "Bab al-Shams" ("The Gate of the Sun"), based on the book by Elias Khoury. Nasrallah forwarded to me a public appeal from Beirut, composed by Lebanese theater director Roger Assaf. He's one of the best there is in that country, Nasrallah wrote.

Along with the pope, the French president, the German chancellor and, of course, Israel, Assaf denounced the alliance between Syria and Iran, which has nothing at all to do with the true interest of Lebanon and has brought disaster upon it. His language is poetic. He writes about his dreams of a better world - one in which the children of Israel won't grow up amid the spirit of hatred and nationalist-militarist hysteria, one in which Palestinian and Lebanese children won't grow up amid the spirit of vengeance. He and his friends live in the spirit of Plato and Gandhi and Albert Camus and other humanist philosophers and intellectuals, he said.

Yousry Nasrallah sent me a second e-mail in which he explained the background to Assaf"s letter: "In July 2006, there are people (maybe I should use the past tense) who are neither with Iran, nor with Syria, nor with Hezbollah, nor with Israel. People who do not want to be used by either of these powers as human shields or targets. People who have tried these past few years to build a new Lebanon that is free from all this."

He sounds like a few people I know in Haifa.

The news of the deterioration this week in Ariel Sharon's condition caught many Israelis by surprise: Oh, yeah, Ariel Sharon. His illness spared him what would have been a terribly embarrassing confrontation with his failures: the growing power of Hezbollah in Lebanon, right under his nose; and the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections and the firing of Qassams at the south. The man who in his last days earned the admiration of the entire world, as if he were a great statesman and architect of peace, now appears to have been one of the worst prime ministers Israel ever had, maybe even worse than Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak.

If it weren't for the current war in Lebanon, this week everyone would almost certainly have been talking about the withdrawal from Gaza, on its first anniversary, and the summary isn't very positive: Instead of the areas of the settlements evacuated by Israel being put to use for the welfare of the Palestinians, they were taken over by the Qassam gangs. The Israel Defense Forces intensified the means of oppression and Gaza is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. A further withdrawal in the West Bank, in an effort to make good on the promises made by Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz, doesn't appear possible right now.

Did all this have to happen? Maybe not. In this sense, the withdrawal from Gaza is similar to the Oslo Accords: a missed opportunity. Had the withdrawal been carried out in the context of an agreement with the Palestinians, rather than as a unilateral "disengagement," or had free passage been allowed meanwhile between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank - perhaps everything would have been different. In any event, the Gush Katif settlements were a reckless adventure and their dismantling has not caused a national trauma. But after almost a year of Qassam fire, a giant "We told you so" is hanging over the public discourse.

The forced evacuation of thousands of Israelis, which was executed without too much difficulty, threatens to lay the groundwork for an eventual expulsion of masses of Palestinians, too. The bombardment of Beirut and the instigation of mass flight by inhabitants of south Lebanon are turning the harming of civilians into a matter of routine. This is the legacy of Ariel Sharon: The fate of human beings always interested him less than military considerations.

If he could still speak today, one wonders whether Sharon would admit that he erred. Maybe not. So few politicians are capable of that. I would like to show Sharon Errol Morris' film, "The Fog of War" (2003), about Robert S. McNamara and tape his reaction. It's a movie that is well worth watching again, especially this week.

One night, during World War II, the Americans bombarded Tokyo, causing about 100,000 residents to be burned alive in their homes. Countless civilians were killed in other Japanese cities, all before the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No, this wasn't proportional to the war objectives of the United States, says McNamara, the former U.S. secretary of defense.

A graduate of Harvard, McNamara was the president of the Ford Motor Company where, among other things, he introduced seatbelts in cars. He joined the Kennedy administration as secretary of defense and stayed on in the Johnson administration. Toward the end of 1967, McNamara realized that the war in Vietnam was lost and he proposed to Johnson that the United States stop its bombardments of cities in North Vietnam. Johnson reacted angrily and McNamara ended up leaving to take charge of the World Bank. Four years and about 60,000 dead later, he gazes into Errol Morris' camera and, with the wisdom of hindsight, says simply: We made a mistake. He bears part of the blame for this terrible failure and is doing his best to impart to the world the lessons that he learned. He came up with 11 lessons in all, including the importance of intelligence, before and during the course of the war, and the need to get into the mind of the enemy and to understand him.

McNamara says the United States didn't understand the motivations of North Vietnam and that the latter did not understand those of the United States: North Vietnam was not a pawn in the hands of the Communist Bloc, as the Americans believed - and America did not aspire to rule Vietnam as a colonial power, as the Vietnamese believed. McNamara warns of the tendency to assume that rational thinking will halt acts of madness: The three protagonists in the Cuban missile crisis - Nikita Krushchev, Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy - were all rational people. A review of the historic documentation shows that all three were prepared to go all the way - to nuclear war, that is.

The seventh lesson that McNamara offers to history is the most important of all: Very often, heads of states and armies do not really see what they think they see. They see what they expect to see, what they want to see, what's convenient for them to see. McNamara suggests that leaders take a second look at their assumptions at the moment of reckoning: Not only can intelligence be faulty, the basic conceptions guiding them may also be flawed. The communist threat that stood at the center of the Western world's thinking turned out years later to be an optical illusion. Today the Western world believes in the Islamic threat. The rhetoric accompanying the war in Lebanon sounds in part like it was borrowed from the Vietnam War.

What will happen to small nations if we abandon Vietnam to communism? - that was the question frequently posed by President Johnson. And McNamara spoke of the "domino effect": If South Vietnam falls to the communists, all of East Asia will follow suit. He wasn't lying. He sincerely believed that. Looking back, he offers his own definition of the phrase "the fog of war": an unclear vision of reality.

Politicians like to pat themselves on the back for the inner conviction that guides them, and for their determination to do what they deem to be right. McNamara advocates a more important quality: skepticism. The skepticism that eventually saved America from itself was born in the media there.

The film "The Fog of War," which earned an Oscar for its creator, is available for rental at local video libraries.

A diplomatic dispute erupted a little while ago between the State of Israel and the kingdom of Great Britain, and this week it was resolved before the IDF would have, very regretfully, been compelled to bombard London. Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told the tale in the Knesset.

Her Majesty's ambassador had protested a sign put up by the Jerusalem Municipality marking the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the King David Hotel. The British wanted the sign removed. Negotiations began. The sign that veterans of the Irgun underground had wanted to erect said that the British were warned ahead of time but, "despite this, for reasons known only to them, the British did not evacuate the hotel." In other words - the British are to blame. The original sign listed the identity of the 92 victims, who included Jews and Arabs and others. The new sign that was put up this week says only: "The hotel was not evacuated." According to the sign, the losses caused were "very regrettable," i.e., the intention was to carry out an attack without casualties.

In the English version that was on the original sign, the stronger term "dismay" was added. Dismay that the British didn't evacuate the hotel. On the new sign - that additional word is gone.

There are other differences. Here is a good topic for a study of Israelis' attitudes to terror attacks. A bit of this came up in the Knesset discussion, too.

Reuven Rivlin (Likud) complained that Israel had given into the Brits' demands: "In wake of this letter, will they be able to come with other letters? For example, that the daughter of one of the Irgun leaders can't serve as foreign minister? Or will the appointment or election of Menachem Begin as prime minister of Israel for two terms in a row be retroactively nullified? Will (Israel) Eldad's son be unable to serve as a Knesset member? These are questions that just need to be asked. After all, we're talking about the blowing up of the command center that was the symbol of the British Mandate in Palestine that prevented the immigration of the uprooted from the fields of the burning of our people in Europe."

Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism), on the other hand, protested the whole idea of honoring the attack on the hotel: "I really don't understand what this celebration is all about ... We're acting like the goyim [gentiles]. Blood was spilled. Dozens of people were killed. What's to celebrate?"

The interior minister brought the discussion to a close with these timely words from the Passover Haggadah: "In every generation there are those who rise up against us and seek to destroy us. But the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hands."
700  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Canadian soldier's report from South Lebanon on: July 28, 2006, 02:58:36 AM

I found a Canadian site with the full text of the email:

What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.

A Canadian soldier's report from South Lebanon
Updated Wed. Jul. 26 2006 5:19 PM ET

After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, and the subsequent bombing campaign began against Lebanon, received an email from Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, a Canadian Forces soldier serving with the UN in South Lebanon.

"If you are interested in a Canadian perspective on the events of yesterday and what is happening here in the area I am serving in, I can provide some concise info for you about the current situation," he wrote.

Major Hess-von Kruedener in South Lebanon in March, meeting with one of the Mouktars of a Druze village called Bourhoz.
With the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Major Hess-von Kruedener was the only Canadian serving as a United Nations Military Observer in Lebanon.  He was stationed at the UN base about 10 kilometres from where the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders meet. The UN's mission there is to report ceasefire violations.
On July 25, that base came under fire from Israeli artillery and was struck by a precision-guided aerial bomb. Four UN observers died. On July 26, the federal government said Hess-von Kruedener was missing and presumed dead.

Here is his full email, written July 18, with background on the mission and the current situation:

We have had a brief "tactical pause" in the action here, so I am taking this opportunity to provide you some information on the situation here in south Lebanon. At the outset, I will provide you with a brief background on who I am, What the Org and Mission is here and then answer some of the bank of questions you provided.


My name is Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, and I am an Infantry Officer with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, of the Canadian Forces. I was sent to this Mission (United Nations Truce and Supervision Organization -UNTSO) last October 05, and am currently serving as an unarmed Military Observer. I have now been stationed here in south Lebanon for Approximately nine months.

I am currently writing to you from the UN Patrol Base Khiam, which is situated approximately 10 km from the nexus of the Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian Borders. I am serving with Observer Group Lebanon, or OGL, and I am on Team Sierra. The Patrol Base is named after the village it is situated in, El Khiam, which sits on one of four ridges which dominates both the Hasbani River valley, which then changes to the Houla Valley when it crosses the Lebanon-Israel border 10 km to our south.

A Canadian soldier mans a guard tower at Camp Ziouani, Golan Heights, in 2002. Thousands of Canadians have served in this border region since 1958. (Photo: MCpl Frank Hudec, Canadian Forces Combat Camera
The patrol base was initially an observation post and was built in 1972, but was later destroyed in 1976 during the fighting between the PLO and the South Lebanese Army (SLA). In 1978 it was rebuilt again and manned by elements of the Norwegian Battalion serving with UNIFIL. In 1980, Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) assumed responsibility for it. Historically, the area of the El Khiam and Hasbani valleys to the north and the Houla valley to the south have been the main axis for invasion in to Lebanon and Palestinian Territories.


The mission of Team Sierra and OGL within the greater context of UNTSO is to maintain the integrity of theWithdrawal Line (Blue Line), and report on any and all violations or activities that threaten the cease-fire and international peace and security here along the Lebanese/Israeli border, and Israeli Occupied Lebanon, and to support the UNSC resolution 1559, within our mission mandate.

Information Requested

(1) Currently, there are several nationalities that are here on the patrol base with me. I am serving with an Australian, Chinese, Finnish, Austrian, and Irish Officers. They come from various different backgrounds, levels of experience and services (Army, Navy and Air Force) from within their militaries.

(2) I have been here for nine months of a one-year tour of duty. Since I have arrived here in Lebanon, this current incident is the fourth I have seen and by far the most spectacular and intensive.
  • The first was 21 Nov 05, when the Hezbollah tried to capture IDF soldiers from an IDF observation position overlooking the Wazzani river near the town of Ghajjar on the Blue Line. This action was unsuccessful and resulted in the deaths of the Hezbollah raiding force.
  • On 01 Feb 06, a young shepherd boy was Killed by an IDF patrol near an abandon goat farm called Bastarra. Hassan Nasrallah (note: Hezbollah's leader) vowed that there would be consequences to this action. Team Sierra was tasked on 2 Feb 06, to assist in the investigation of the incident, and we sent one team to do so while the other team conducted its normal mobile patrolling activities.
  • On 03 Feb 06, a limited engagement took place initiated by the Hezbollah on several of the IDF defensive positions located in occupied Lebanon.
  • Then on 28 May, the Islamic Jihad (PLO) fired rockets from South Lebanon, into Israel, which elicited an immediate aerial bombardment of positions near our patrol base and in the Bekka valley.[/list:u]
    (3) Our Team's normal operational activities are to plan, and execute daily vehicle and foot patrols of the Blue Line area within our area of responsibility. Unfortunately, with the current artillery and aerial bombing campaign being carried out by the IDF/IAF, it is not safe or prudent for us to conduct normal patrol activities. Currently, we are observing and reporting on all activities in our area of responsibility, with specific attention to activities along the Blue Line, which is clearly visible from our hilltop position.

    (4) Team Sierra is currently observing both IDF/IAF and Hezbollah military clashes from our vantage point which has a commanding view of the IDF positions on the Golan mountains to our east and the IDF positions along the Blue Line to our south, as well as, most of the Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol Base. It appears that the lion's share of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in our area. On the night of 16 July, at 2125 hrs, a large firefight broke out between the Hezbollah and the IDF near a village called Majidyye and lasted for one hour and 40 minutes.

    (5) Based on the intensity and volatility of this current situation and the unpredictability of both sides (Hezbollah and Israel), and given the operational tempo of the Hezbollah and the IDF, we are not safe to venture out to conduct our normal patrol activities. We have now switched to Observation Post Duties and are observing any and all violations as they occur.

    This is all the information of a non-tactical nature that I can provide you. I cannot give you any info on Hezbollah position, proximity or the amount of or types of sorties the IAF is currently flying. Suffice to say that the activity levels and operational tempo of both parties is currently very high and continuous, with short breaks or pauses. Please understand the nature of my job here is to be impartial and to report violations from both sides without bias. As an Unarmed Military Observer, this is my raison d'etre.

    What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.

    I thank you for the opportunity to provide you with some information from the front lines here in south Lebanon.

    Maj Hess-von Kruedener
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