Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Somber Speechlessness

This is hard to believe, even if was from French, but from Germans? Maybe some of my critics are right, we should be attacking the Germans as well as the French:

Here are some excerpts from the article, lots more, all just as cynical:

[quote]"George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, died today at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. He was 72. The cause of death was announced as heart failure.Mr. Bush's always controversial presidency left behind a changed nation and a changed world. Taking office in 2001 after a disputed election settled only by a 5-4 decision by a bitterly divided Supreme Court, and decisively reelected in 2004, President Bush led the United States into four wars, oversaw the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare, and enforced a drastic shrinking of elementary, secondary, and collegiate education. He spearheaded the transformation of President Bill Clinton's budget surpluses of 1999 and 2000 into permanent deficits of more than a trillion dollars a year, thus profoundly reducing the amount of capital available to address the needs of the vast majority of citizens and inhibiting the creation of new jobs with any promise of advancement or financial security, while at the same time pursuing tax reductions that increased the differences between the income and assets of, in his own terminology, "owners" and "pre-owners" of "the American ownership society" to extremes almost beyond measure.


Following his reelection in 2004, Mr. Bush ordered the destruction of the cities where the insurgents were thought to be concentrated; though the cities were destroyed, the
insurgency continued. Mr. Bush then pressed on to Iran and North Korea, which he
had identified as "rogue states."

With U.S. Armed Forces tied down in Iraq, Mr. Bush turned to what critics called a "private army subject to no law and operating at the whim of a single individual"--that is, to large numbers of
private contractors employed by U. S., Serbian, Nigerian, and Saudi corporations--to launch land, sea, and air attacks meant to destroy nuclear facilities in both Iran and North Korea. While the Afghan and Iraqi armies and governments had collapsed almost at the first sign of American assault, the Iranian and North Korean invasions were beaten back by sustained resistance and,
in North Korea, the use of explosives that Mr. Bush denounced as "tactical nuclear weapons," though this was later proved not to be the case. Nonetheless Mr. Bush then ordered what he described as "pinpoint" nuclear attacks on the nuclear sites in Iran and North Korea, which, while achieving their goals, also led to the One-Day War, a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan that left Bombay and Karachi in ruins and led to the fall of the governments of both
countries, and to the withdrawal of the American-led coalition forces from Iraq.

The result was the series of still-continuing civil wars throughout the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent that, while involving no unconventional weapons since 2006 have, according to the United Nations, caused the deaths of 12 million people and the displacement of millions more. Mr. Bush's claim in action if not in words that the United States retained an international monopoly on the legitimate use of force left allies such as Great Britain and alliances such as
NATO crippled; it also left the United States at least formally unchallenged.[/quote]

Captain Ed Has THE Post On Roe v Wade Anniversary

I am not always as strong as I should be, Catholic and all, regarding abortion. Let me make it clear, in all circumstances I think that taking a life is wrong. Life begins at conception.

Strategy Page Has Insight

on where the threats and hopes are:

How does one defeat this Islamic terrorism? The simplest way is to bring good government and education to Moslem nations, and let them prosper. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein, easily the worst of a bad bunch of Moslem despots, and getting a democracy going in Iraq, is the Islamic radicals worst nightmare. It was always thought that Iraq would be one of the last nations to be overthrown by Islamic radicals. That’s because Saddam had built one of the most effective police states in the Moslem world. The problem there now is that the thugs, who made that police state work, are still in business. And just to show you how bizarre this whole business is, a year ago, the Saddam diehards and Islamic radicals joined forces in Iraq to try and prevent a democracy from being established. Both groups are natural enemies, and even if they forced coalition troops to leave, it would eventually have to come to a battle between Saddam’s
secular thugs, and the Islamic radicals, to determine who would rule Iraq.

Those That Can't, Write! A Lot!

I love to write, I know I don't do a lot on the blog, but trust me, I do. It's safe to say that folks like Cap'n Ed, Instapundit, VodkaPundit, NYT, Michelle Malkin, INDCjournal, HogonIce, the Anchoress, Black5, and a whole lot more all like to write. Otherwise they wouldn't be doing it. Sorry, on my worst day 3k pages is way over the top. They beat the EU Constitution for Gawd's sake!

No, I am not going to trackback, in spite of my link whore status! No quotes.

Some Very Good Advice

Wow. Found this via blogdex.com There is a lot more.

If I were back in high school and someone asked about my plans, I'd say that my first priority was to learn what the options were. You don't need to be in a rush to choose your life's work. What you need to do is discover what you like. You have to work on stuff you like if you want to be good at what you do.

It might seem that nothing would be easier than deciding what you like, but it turns out to be hard, partly because it's hard to get an accurate picture of most jobs. Being a doctor is not the way it's portrayed on TV. Fortunately you can also watch real doctors, by volunteering in hospitals. [1]But there are other jobs you can't learn about, because no one is doing them yet. Most of the work I've done in the last ten years didn't exist when I was in high school. The
world changes fast, and the rate at which it changes is itself speeding up. In such a world it's not a good idea to have fixed plans.

The Inauguration-Some Were There

I'm linking with the positive, but be sure to check out the moonbats from the post #1.

Anniversary of Roe V Wade

Still short on time, Michelle has a roundup bar none.

It Should Be a Billion!

No, not McD's. One of the best blogs around has reached a million hits! Congratulations! It's part of my daily reads, best source of German/Euro take on US.

Friday, January 21, 2005

GW and Me

No linky. I knew this week would be busy, the weekend only slightly less so. Grades due Monday and followed by 'Catholic Schools Week.' Now the later won't mean much to non-parochial school teachers, but for those of us that are, it's fondly called 'hell week.' This is our 'showcase' week, an attempt to gain new students.

Monday grades are due, as noted above. By Friday I have to have a 'collage' of what the students are working on. Now this works fine if teaching younger students, a picture of a saint will do. Now how does one have students encapsulate the 'underpinnings' of democracy? Well yours truly is making them write a one page paper, no more, on one of the Founders/Framers and their contribution to the Constitution. That covers 7th grade.

6th grade, I'm lost. So are they.

8th grade: Write a one page paper on what you think will be issues in 2008 election. If it were today, where would you stand? (Aren't you glad it isn't you)?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Caring For Those Left Behind

I thought that I’d already linked this. After seeing Michelle’s post I went back and checked. I can’t find it, better late than never.

I can’t think of any cause more worth writing for and paying taxes for.

EU Mimics Scrappleface?

No doubt about it, the EU is going to extremes on the Harry as an idiot front. Ban all Nazi symbols? What happened to expanding individual rights? Oh well, another step back.

Update: Mark Steyn weighs in http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;sessionid=HLSE01CNG2PW3QFIQMGSM5WAVCBQWJVC?xml=/opinion/2005/01/18/do1802.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/01/18/ixportal.html

Light blogging this week, report cards coming due and my own class is heating up.

WSJ Ed. Evaluates Graner Trial

Appears that there wasn't the 'widespread abuse' HRW, the MSM, and Dick Durbin, my very own Senator from Illinois have been harping about for months. I agree with the editorial, it's about time someone from the administration begin holding Durbin accountable for his accusations.

Monday, January 17, 2005

B5 Has A Post on The Commander of the Mad Ghosts, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smith

When will be there too many of these for the MSM to ignore? I hear all the time that they are 'supporting the troops', what does this mean to them? To cover the losers in the military, ala Graner? To write over and over again about hardening humvees? To write on the risks faced every day?

I would say the media would be remiss in never covering the above. For the same reasons, they have been critically remiss in not covering the good that our military are doing, for both home and international consumption. The men and women of our armed forces are the best foreign service we have for doing good. Just compare them to the UN any day, as Diplomad has so competently done.

But, the point is that one of the questions she asked me struck me as odd. She asked me, and I am paraphrasing, "how do you decide what to write about in your updates."

Now, this struck me as odd, and although I did not give her this particular answer, it struck me as odd because my challenge each week is not to "decide what TO write about," my challenge every week is to "decide what NOT TO write about." Simply put, every minute of every hour of every day of every week spent in the company of the Mad Ghosts IS something to write home about. You see, the challenge is that these magnificent Marines accomplish so much in the course of a day, an entire book could be written about just that day, and it would be the size of War and Peace, no pun intended. I struggle so hard with what details not to talk about, but I also know that the biggest challenge I could ever undertake is to attempt to actually give you a feel for this place, these Marines and what they accomplish: Day In, Day Out.


Yeah, I could talk about all of that, but all I would be doing is adding to the layers of such stories that you are innundated with everyday from the national media.

No, they would rather tell you about every single IED or SVBIED that detonates.
They would rather tell you that Iraq is overrun with insurgents.

They would rather tell you that all is lost and hopeless and the only victory is in how soon we can get out of Iraq.

Well, I refuse to "tow that line." I refuse to tow that line because it is misrepresentation at best, and these American HEROES deserve better.

The other part of the media misrepresentation that really agitates me, now that you have spun me up, is the incessant undertone that the military senior leadership is either wrong or incompetent. This one agitates me like a Whirlpool 9000 agitates laundry. (I don't really know if there is a Whirlpool 9000, but if there was it would agitate laundry really hard!)

MLK Jr. Speech-One Of My Favorites

How many could pull the Bible, the Reformation, Civil Disobedience, the philosophies behind the US Constitution together in one speech? King did:

Paul's Letter to American Christians

I would like to share with you an imaginary letter from the pen of the Apostle Paul. The postmark reveals that it comes from the city of Ephesus. After opening the letter I discovered that it was written in Greek rather than English. At the top of the first page was this request: "Please read to your congregation as soon as possible, and then pass on to the other churches."

For several weeks I have worked assiduously with the translation. At times it has been difficult, but now I think I have deciphered its true meaning. May I hasten to say that if in presenting this letter the contents sound strangely Kingian instead of Paulinian, attribute it to my lack of complete objectivity rather than Paul's lack of clarity.

It is miraculous, indeed, that the Apostle Paul should be writing a letter to you and to me nearly 1900 years after his last letter appeared in the New Testament. How this is possible is something of an enigma wrapped in mystery. The important thing, however, is that I can imagine the Apostle Paul writing a letter to American Christians in 1956 A.D. And here is the letter as it stands before me.

I, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to you who are in America, Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For many years I have longed to be able to come to see you. I have heard so much of you and of what you are doing. I have heard of the fascinating and astounding advances that you have made in the scientific realm. I have heard of your dashing subways and flashing airplanes. Through your scientific genius you have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. You have been able to carve highways through the stratosphere. So in your world you have made it possible to eat breakfast in New York City and dinner in Paris, France. I have also heard of your skyscraping buildings with their prodigious towers steeping heavenward. I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many dread plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonged your lives and made for greater security and physical well-being. All of that is marvelous. You can do so many things in your day that I could not do in the Greco-Roman world of my day. In your age you can travel distances in one day that took me three months to travel. That is wonderful. You have made tremendous strides in the area of scientific and technological development.

But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress. Your poet Thoreau used to talk about "improved means to an unimproved end." How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood. So America, I would urge you to keep your moral advances abreast with your scientific advances.

I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world. That is what I had to do. That is what every Christian has to do. But I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by some such principle as this: "everybody is doing it, so it must be alright." For so many of you Morality is merely group consensus. In your modern sociological lingo, the mores are accepted as the right ways. You have unconsciously come to believe that right is discovered by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion. How many are giving their ultimate allegiance to this way.

But American Christians, I must say to you as I said to the Roman Christians years ago, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Or, as I said to the Phillipian Christians, "Ye are a colony of heaven." This means that although you live in the colony of time, your ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity. You have a dual citizenry. You live both in time and eternity; both in heaven and earth. Therefore, your ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God's will it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the transitory evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.

I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders. You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has ever known. All of this is marvelous. But Americans, there is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil. It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism. I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity.

The misuse of Capitalism can also lead to tragic exploitation. This has so often happened in your nation. They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. If you are to be a truly Christian nation you must solve this problem. You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and he has left in this universe "enough and to spare" for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth.

I would that I could be with you in person, so that I could say to you face to face what I am forced to say to you in writing. Oh, how I long to share your fellowship.

Let me rush on to say something about the church. Americans, I must remind you, as I have said to so many others, that the church is the Body of Christ. So when the church is true to its nature it knows neither division nor disunity. But I am disturbed about what you are doing to the Body of Christ. They tell me that in America you have within Protestantism more than two hundred and fifty six denominations. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that America.

But I must not stop with a criticism of Protestantism. I am disturbed about Roman Catholicism. This church stands before the world with its pomp and power, insisting that it possesses the only truth. It incorporates an arrogance that becomes a dangerous spiritual arrogance. It stands with its noble Pope who somehow rises to the miraculous heights of infallibility when he speaks ex cathedra. But I am disturbed about a person or an institution that claims infallibility in this world. I am disturbed about any church that refuses to cooperate with other churches under the pretense that it is the only true church. I must emphasize the fact that God is not a Roman Catholic, and that the boundless sweep of his revelation cannot be limited to the Vatican. Roman Catholicism must do a great deal to mend its ways.

There is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church. You have a white church and you have a Negro church. You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" and "Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind," you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is.

I understand that there are Christians among you who try to justify segregation on the basis of the Bible. They argue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham. Oh my friends, this is blasphemy. This is against everything that the Christian religion stands for. I must say to you as I have said to so many Christians before, that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus." Moreover, I must reiterate the words that I uttered on Mars Hill: "God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."

So Americans I must urge you to get rid of every aspect of segregation. The broad universalism standing at the center of the gospel makes both the theory and practice of segregation morally unjustifiable. Segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we all have in Christ. It substitutes an "I-it" relationship for the "I-thou" relationship. The segregator relegates the segregated to the status of a thing rather than elevate him to the status of a person. The underlying philosophy of Christianity is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of segregation, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.
I praise your Supreme Court for rendering a great decision just two or three years ago. I am happy to know that so many persons of goodwill have accepted the decision as a great moral victory. But I understand that there are some brothers among you who have risen up in open defiance. I hear that their legislative halls ring loud with such words as "nullification" and "interposition." They have lost the true meaning of democracy and Christianity. So I would urge each of you to plead patiently with your brothers, and tell them that this isn't the way. With understanding goodwill, you are obligated to seek to change their attitudes. Let them know that in standing against integration, they are not only standing against the noble precepts of your democracy, but also against the eternal edicts of God himself. Yes America, there is still the need for an Amos to cry out to the nation: "Let judgement roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."

May I say just a word to those of you who are struggling against this evil. Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence.
If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you. Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself. Let him know that the festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. With this attitude you will be able to keep your struggle on high Christian standards.
Many persons will realize the urgency of seeking to eradicate the evil of segregation. There will be many Negroes who will devote their lives to the cause of freedom. There will be many white persons of goodwill and strong moral sensitivity who will dare to take a stand for justice. Honesty impels me to admit that such a stand will require willingness to suffer and sacrifice. So don't despair if you are condemned and persecuted for righteousness' sake. Whenever you take a stand for truth and justice, you are liable to scorn. Often you will be called an impractical idealist or a dangerous radical. Sometimes it might mean going to jail. If such is the case you must honorably grace the jail with your presence. It might even mean physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more Christian. Don't worry about persecution America; you are going to have that if you stand up for a great principle. I can say this with some authority, because my life was a continual round of persecutions. After my conversion I was rejected by the disciples at Jerusalem. Later I was tried for heresy at Jerusalem. I was jailed at Philippi, beaten at Thessalonica, mobbed at Ephesus, and depressed at Athens. And yet I am still going. I came away from each of these experiences more persuaded than ever before that "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come . . . shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.

I must bring my writing to a close now. Timothy is waiting to deliver this letter, and I must take leave for another church. But just before leaving, I must say to you, as I said to the church at Corinth, that I still believe that love is the most durable power in the world. Over the centuries men have sought to discover the highest good. This has been the chief quest of ethical philosophy. This was one of the big questions of Greek philosophy. The Epicurean and the Stoics sought to answer it; Plato and Aristotle sought to answer it. What is the summon bonum of life? I think I have an answer America. I think I have discovered the highest good. It is love. This principle stands at the center of the cosmos. As John says, "God is love." He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God.

So American Christians, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of articulate speech. But even if you "speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."

You may have the gift of prophecy and understanding all mysteries. You may be able to break into the storehouse of nature and bring out many insights that men never dreamed were there. You may ascend to the heights of academic achievement, so that you will have all knowledge. You may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees. But all of this amounts to absolutely nothing devoid of love.

But even more Americans, you may give your goods to feed the poor. You may give great gifts to charity. You may tower high in philanthropy. But if you have not love it means nothing. You may even give your body to be burned, and die the death of a martyr. Your spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you as history's supreme hero. But even so, if you have not love your blood was spilt in vain. You must come to see that it is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.

So the greatest of all virtues is love. It is here that we find the true meaning of the Christian faith. This is at bottom the meaning of the cross. The great event on Calvary signifies more than a meaningless drama that took place on the stage of history. It is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power drunk generation that love is most durable power in the world, and that it is at bottom the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. Only through achieving this love can you expect to matriculate into the university of eternal life.

I must say goodby now. I hope this letter will find you strong in the faith. It is probable that I will not get to see you in America, but I will meet you in God's eternity. And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, and lift us from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy, to him be power and authority, forever and ever. Amen.

Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956. MLKP.

I'm Running Out of Superlatives

Whether discussing what's going on overseas; the UN's accomplishments, rather lack thereof; and now the Euro media, he's been spot on!

Chechen Terrorists Foiled

Ten die in North Caucasus clashes

Police have recovered five bodies from the debris of a house razed by a tank during a gun battle in the Russian southern region of Dagestan.

Officials say that the men killed in the regional capital, Makhachkala, were rebels who had planned an attack similar to the Beslan school siege.

One security officer died and two were injured in the Saturday night clash. There was also fighting in nearby Kaspiysk which left three policemen were and a terror suspect dead. At least one other rebel was captured by security forces during the battle which took place at the same time as the fighting in Makhachkala.

Chechen connection

The Makhachkala house was besieged for 15 hours by hundreds of police and special service troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships. Two more houses, where security forces believed rebels could have been hiding, were heavily damaged.

The authorities say the militants belonged to a group headed by Dagestani field commander Rasul Makasharipov who supports rebels in neighbouring Chechnya.

EU Considers Banning Nazi Symbols

That doesn't address their problems with anti-Semitism or anything. Never you mind, they are so much more enlightened.

EU considers Nazi symbols ban
Monday, January 17, 2005 Posted: 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union's top justice official was considering Monday whether the 25-nation bloc should ban the use of Nazi symbols after Britain's Prince Harry wore a swastika armband to a costume party.

Franco Frattini, the EU's justice and home affairs commissioner, said he was open to discussing the issue at a Jan. 27 meeting of EU justice ministers.

"It may be worth looking into the possibility of a total ban, a Europe-wide ban," his spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing told reporters. "Commissioner Frattini shares the general feeling of opprobrium on the use of the swastika and other Nazi symbols."


This IS Good News

Via Michele at The Command Post. I wonder how the Iraqis living outside of Iraq, will vote? Will they be more likely to choose Allawi or one of the many others?

Thousands of Iraqi expatriates were expected to register in five US cities today for their homeland’s first independent election in nearly 50 years, with some travelling hundreds of miles to participate in the historic event.

“This is an historic event taking place on American soil,” said Basim Ridha Alhussaini, an Iraqi expatriate responsible for training some 320 election workers in Southern California. “This has never happened before.”

Registration was possible at seven sites in Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago and Washington DC. The seven-day registration period ends on January 23. Voting will begin on January 28 and continue until the January 30 election in Iraq.

Potential voters have to appear in person twice in a two-week period – once to register and again to vote – because of fears of voter fraud. Eligible voters are Iraqi citizens, those entitled to reclaim Iraqi citizenship, or those born to an Iraqi father.

Voters are being asked to pick members of the 275-member Assembly, which will have a one-year mandate. Their responsibilities will include electing a president and two deputy presidents, and drafting Iraq’s Constitution…

Things Are Not That Calm In Moscow

For days now the people of Russia have uncharacteristically spoken up, loudly. Is there likely to be someone better than Putin?

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin could fire his government to calm angry protests over social security reform that are denting his popularity, newspapers say.

Putin was due to hold his weekly meeting with ministers later on Monday after thousands of elderly Russians blocked roads across the country in a week-long protest over the replacement of Soviet-era benefits with cash allowances.

"The political elite is already talking seriously about the possible sacking of the government," said the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.

"It is not just the opposition that is talking about that but regional governors loyal to Putin and members of pro-Kremlin groups in parliament."

Chrenkoff: Good News From Iraq

Nobody does it better, ~music playing~. Below is just the intro:

Note: Also available at the "Opinion Journal" and Winds of Change. A traditional warm thank you to James Taranto and Joe Katzman for their support for the "Good news" project, and to all of you who are reading it, blogging about it, and cluttering up your friends' inboxes with a link to it.

Marine Cpl. Isaac D. Pacheco of Northern Kentucky enlisted in the Marines on September 12, 2001, and has been serving in Iraq at the Combined Press Information Center. Recently he wrote this for his local newspaper:

"Something struck me as odd this fall as I watched a U.S. satellite news broadcast here in my Baghdad office. Something just didn't seem right. There was the usual tug-of-war between presidential candidates, a story about the Boston Red Sox and a blurb about another explosion in Iraq. The latter story showed the expected images of smoke and debris and people frantically running for cover - images that have become the accepted norm in the minds of many Americans thanks, or should I say no thanks, to the media."

There were no smiling soldiers, no mention of rebuilding efforts, no heartwarming stories about honor and sacrifice. I could swear I've seen that 'stuff' here."

I've become somewhat callused to this kind of seesaw reporting because every day I work with the news agencies that manufacture it. However, many service members shake their heads in frustration each time they see their daily rebuilding efforts ignored by the media in favor of the more 'sensational' car bomb and rocket attack stories. Not to say that tragedies don't happen - Iraq is a war zone - but there is so much more happening that gets overlooked if not ignored."

It has been a mission of this fortnightly column, now in its nineteenth edition, to bring to readers' attention all that "gets overlooked if not ignored" in Iraq: the advancements of the political and civil society, the rebirth of freedom, economic growth and reconstruction progress, generosity of foreigners and positive role played by the Coalition troops in rebuilding the country, and unremarked upon security successes. Contrary to some critics, the intention has never been to whitewash the situation in Iraq or to downplay the negative; the violence, bloodshed, disappointments and frustrations are all there for everyone to see and read about in the mainstream media on a daily basis. But to point out positive developments is not to deny the bad news, merely to provide a more complete picture. As voters faced with the defining foreign policy issue of the new millennium we owe it to ourselves to be fully informed about the state of affairs in Iraq. And that means both the car bombs and rebuilt hospitals.

Below is not the full picture of Iraq - merely that part of it you don't often see on the nightly news or the pages of newspapers. This does not automatically make it more - or less important in the scheme of things, merely equally important to consider.

Are The Palestinian Terrorists Going To Be Reigned In?

Not that I'm jaded or anything, but I'll believe it when I see it:

"A decision was taken that we will handle our obligation
to stop violence against Israelis anywhere," said Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat.
He did not provide details.

The new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is under growing pressure to take
action against militants following last week's attack at the Karni crossing.
Israel suspended ties with Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
news - web sites) urged Abbas in a phone call Sunday to rein in the armed groups.
The security forces in Gaza
have been instructed to investigate the Karni shooting, said Erekat said.

Israeli officials have said they have indications that the attackers left from a Palestinian Authority (
news - web sites) base. Three militant groups, including Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades with ties to Abbas' ruling Fatah (news - web sites) movement, carried out the attack.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said the group would not comply with the new orders. "We consider resistance as a red line, and no one is allowed to cross this line," al-Masri said.

MLK Jr. Influences An Iranian Girl

Good morning, this article is worth the quick registration.

Today, in the distant corners where terror is raging, many teenagers hold views on America similar to those I once held. The enemy has an arsenal, but also a narrative. According to that narrative, the world's superpower represents only one race, and its history is a single tale of
intolerance, arrogance, and domination. The war against this enemy is impossible to win without defeating that narrative. To tell American history in its entirety is to disprove the fabrications about who an American is. To tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement is to tell the story of how arrogance was made to give way to justice by none other than a man who advocated peace. Against the grim and infallible image that is painted of America, this will be a truer portrait: colorful and human.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Palestinian Situation NOT Looking Up

Via Horsefeathers. Seems the terrorists are still at it, this time against their own people. No torture. Right.

...Eyewitnesses said Mahmoud Mansour, 23, was brought to the center of the camp by gunmen from Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, and shot to death in the presence of dozens of residents after noon prayers.
They said the man died instantly after being hit in the head with at least 25 bullets. The assailants and camp residents refused to allow an ambulance to take the body to a hospital. Instead, they threw it into a nearby dumpster.
It was the third killing of its kind in the Nablus area in the past two weeks. Earlier this month, Fatah gunmen in the Old City of Nablus kidnapped and murdered a 44-year old man whom they also accused of collaborating with Israel. That killing took place only hours before Fatah candidate and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) arrived in the city on an election tour...

...The Fatah gunmen who killed Mansour said he had confessed to all the accusations against him. "We didn't use any form of physical pressure," a spokesman for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed. "The confession was videotaped and the fact that there weren't any signs of abuse on his body shows that he hadn't been tortured..."

Oil For Food-Report Will Be Devestating?

I certainly hope that these reports illuminate what seems to have been a systematic problem with monies, power and the UN:

Excerpt #1

Fallen behind on your scandal news lately? Well, don't look now, but the doozy the United Nations has brewed up in its Iraqi oil-for-food program is about to come to full boil. The Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Manhattan district attorney's office,
five legislative committees, at least three foreign governments, and, oh yes, the United Nations itself are asking who's responsible for the more than $4 billion in illegal kickbacks on Iraqi oil sales and goods from suppliers exporting food, medicine, and other materials to Baghdad. Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, who is heading the U.N.'s investigation of itself, is due to weigh in later this month with his findings and has already given a
glimpse of the mess with a "provisional" assessment of a program plagued by
sloppy, myopic management that may or may not turn out to have included criminal
conduct. The Volcker report should be good reading, as the former Fed chief has
had unfettered access to U.N. documents and personnel. U.S. News has learned
that the Justice Department has lent him some experienced federal prosecutors,
while the Manhattan district attorney's office is providing information gained
through its subpoena power.

Excerpt #2

Politics aside, there is abundant evidence of substantial fraud and mismanagement in the U.N. program. A Pentagon audit that examined just 10 percent of the oil-for-food contracts pending at the time of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 found that the costs of nearly half the contracts appeared to be inflated. On just the food contracts alone, Pentagon auditors found evidence of overpricing in 87 percent of them. The audit, reviewed by U.S. News , also found five contracts that included "after sales service charges" of between 10 and 20 percent. It is now believed that Saddam and his agents tacked on such surcharges to the aid contracts in order to siphon money out of the program and divert it to the regime's purposes, using millions meant to buy food to instead shore up his army and construct lavish presidential palaces. In order to pay the surcharge fees, it appears, some companies either inflated the cost of goods sold or delivered fewer goods than called for in their contracts. Former Iraqi ministries, the Pentagon report related, said surcharges and kickbacks were "standard practice."

Diplomad On The 'Greatest Threat' To The World

Hint: It's not the French or The 'Axis of Evil'. Oh no, it's the US. This brilliant analysis brought to us by Human Rights Watch and the Diplomad skewers them:


Anything "positive" -- on the rare occasions HRW recognizes any such development -- is the result of brave activists, or lawyers, or the far-seeing HRW, itself. HRW's dominant theme, and it grows more strident by the year under Executive Director Kenneth Roth, is that essentially the US Constitution is a mandatory suicide pact, in fact, Western civilization can only live up to its ideals by committing suicide; and concern over terrorism is just an excuse to deprive poor Third Worlders of their rights, including the right of radial Islamists to emigrate to the West and seek to destroy it.

Peace With Israel-Palestine Not Seeming Immininent

I for one was not expecting miracles, but this seems going from bad to worse.

JERUSALEM - A top PLO decision-making body
called on Palestinian militants Sunday to halt attacks against Israel, charging
that the violence gives Israel an excuse to carry out military

The PLO Executive Committee issued its statement
in Ramallah. It followed a militant attack late Thursday at the Karni crossing
between Gaza and Israel that left six Israeli civilians dead, setting off
Israeli reprisal raids in Gaza.

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