late august hudson river
August 31, 2007
August 30, 2007
August 29, 2007
“Al Qaeda terrifies locals,” said Major Mike Garcia from Canyon, Texas, before he put me in a convoy of Humvees with 18 American Military Police on their way to the small town of Mushadah just north of Baghdad. “The only people Iraqis may be more afraid of is their mothers. When we arrest or detain people and threaten to call up their mom, they completely freak out. Please, no, don’t tell my mother they say. Women are quiet outside the house, but they severely smack down their bad kids inside the house. When your Iraqi mother tells you to knock something off, you knock it off.”
The American military has slowly figured out how to leverage Iraq’s culture to its advantage, but it only works to an extent. Locating, killing, capturing, and interrogating terrorists and insurgents is the easy part. The hard part is training Iraqis to do it themselves.
Our destination in Mushadah was the local police station where American Military Police train and equip Iraqi Police, and where it’s still too dangerous for either Iraqis or Americans to walk the streets.
“I am not trying to scare you,” said Captain Maryanne Naro, from Fort Drum, New York. “But don’t get out of your vehicle unless something catastrophic has happened to it.”
August 28, 2007
..and it’s so easy, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. Instead of worrying about the batter, just add more chocolate chips.
Follow the traditional toll house cookie recipe:
NESTLE TOLL HOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 measuring tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 measuring tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12 oz.)* pkg. Nestle Toll House semi sweet chocolate morsels
1 c. chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. in large bowl combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in Nestle Toll House semi sweet chocolate morsels and nuts. Drop by level measuring tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes.
Makes: about 5 dozen, 2 1/4 inch cookies.
* The secret – instead of 1 package of chocolate chips, use one and a half – and everyone is happy.
August 28, 2007
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Via Fox News:
Soliman al-Buthi is a prominent religious leader in Saudi Arabia, a father of three and a ranking government official. He’s also a terrorist, according to the United States and United Nations.
His lawyers argue that much of the evidence against al-Buthi was misinterpreted by National Security Agency officials who eavesdropped on conversations between al-Buthi and his American attorneys. Those intercepted communications are at the heart of a constitutional challenge to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was to be heard Wednesday by a federal appeals court in San Francisco…
…”I am a very respected person in Riyadh,” al-Buthi said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, referring to Saudi Arabia’s most populous city and his hometown…
…Al-Buthi was not expected to attend the hearing at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because he remains a fugitive in this country. He’s also listed on an Interpol “no fly” list and is subject to arrest and deportation to the United States if he steps outside Saudi Arabia, which does not extradite its citizens.
Our Saudi allies don’t extradite respected Saudi citizens who are accused of plotting to kill people like you and me, because they’re just doing their job. And our government is OK with that, because these respected Saudi government officials are our ‘allies’.
More on the Al Haramain evesdropping case here, covered skillfully and extensively by Zombie:
Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation — based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and with branches around the world — purports to be an innocuous charity which collects funds to help Muslims in poor countries. But this façade is a cover for its real purpose: to spread extremist Wahhabi doctrine internationally, to provide funding for Al Qaeda, and to finance specific terror plots.
The United Nations, The United States, Great Britain as well as several other countries have all designated Al-Haramain as a terrorist entity; frozen and seized its funds where possible; and banned it from conducting business. Even so, Al-Haramain continues to operate in third-world countries and almost certainly continues to fund and promote radical Islamic extremism to this day.
Al-Haramain continues to fund and promote radical Islamic extremism to this day because the Saudi government encourages it to do so.
From the Counterterrorism blog and Arab News:
Whats Really Happening to Saudi Charities?
Reviewing some past research, I re-discovered a very reveiling recent news account published by Arab News regarding Saudi actions against charities. This article deserves special attention! Arab News, which is published simultaneously in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dhahran, is one of the Middle East’s leading English language newspapers. The story was published January 1, 2005 and was entitled “KINGDOM HAS NO PLANS TO CLOSE CHARITIES.” According to the account, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Saleh ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, told an audience in Jeddah that al Haramain was closed under US pressure and not because the Saudi government had any “suspicions surrounding its activities.” It was closed, he said “to serve the general interest.” The ministry, he said, was not aware of any misconduct from the Saudi charity and had not received any documented information to this effect from any side. He re-assured the audience that the Saudi government had no plans to act against any further charities, or to take any additional action against al Haramain employees. They would be free, he said, to find employment in other charities. In the meantime, al Haramain international operations and assets, he said, would be folded into a new body named the Saudi National Commission for Charitable Works Abroad. The full text of the article is included below:
Kingdom Has No Plans to Close Down Charities
– Abdul Wahab Bashir, Arab News
JEDDAH, 1 January 2005 — Saudi Arabia has no plans to shut down any local charities, after Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation which had its offices closed down earlier in the year, a government minister has said.
The foundation has been accused by the United States of funding terrorism among several charity bodies in various parts of the world.
Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawa and Guidance, Saleh ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, said there are no plans for the closure of any charity and that no imams (prayer leaders) have been sacked this year for having ties with terror cells or helping terrorists…
…Al-Haramain figured among a number of Saudi charities accused by Washington of financing terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The foundation and other private groups that have been dissolved and their international operations and assets folded into a new body has been named the Saudi National Commission for Charitable Work Abroad.
The minister said the commission would be very active in charity outside the Kingdom. It would be subject to strict financial legal oversight, and will operate according to clear policies to ensure that charitable funds intended to help the needy are not misused.
Al-Haramain was said to have received between $45 and $50 million each year in donations and has spent some $300 million on humanitarian work overseas.
Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Ali Al-Namla said the foundation ex-employees could still work with local charity bodies in the Kingdom, denying reports of a ban on the employees to seek work with other charity societies….
One commenter on LGF wondered “how many years it is going to take for someone in DC to wake up and realize Saudi Arabia is at war with us.”
Another commenter responded: “Just after they’ve milked the last dollar from the markets.”
August 27, 2007
Iraqis protested against Saudi-sponsored terrorism in front of the White House and Saudi Embassy in Washington DC yesterday.
TEHRAN, Aug 25 (MNA)– Hundreds of Iraqis residing in the U.S. converged in the front of the Saudi embassy in Washington on Friday condemning Riyadh’s policy towards Iraq, Sotaliraq said on its website.
With slogans “Down with Terrorism” and “Shia and Sunni Should Unite in Iraq,” demonstrators called for the immediate halt to Saudi support for terrorism in Iraq and the issuance of “takfiri” religious decrees (fatwas) by Saudi scholars.
Nazar Heydar, the director of Iraq information center in Washington and a member of the international center for campaign against terrorism, said “by this demonstration we meant to draw the attention of the world to Saudi Arabia as the real source of terrorism.”
“We believe that by issuing takfiri religious decrees and financial support of terrorist operations, Saudi Arabia is the real source of terrorism, not only in Iraq, but in the entire world. We read in the press that 50% of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudi nationals,” he explained…
…”We tried to submit a copy of the statement to the Saudi ambassador to Washington, but he refused to accept it,” Heydar noted.
Actually, another Iranian news outlet covered the protest. Alalam News writes:
WASHINGTON, Aug 26–Washington’s Muslim residents staged a rally in front of Saudi Arabian embassy to protest the issuance of excommunicative verdicts (Fatwas) in the Persian Gulf country.
Hundreds of angry Muslims urged the Saudi government on Sunday to put an end on such provocative verdicts which are the main reason of the slaughter of innocent Iraqi people…
..The protesters said the excommunicative verdicts trigger violence and terrorist attacks in Iraq and other regional countries.
Of course, Washington doesn’t need Iraqi protesters or Iranian news agencies to tell them about Saudi sponsorship of terrorism around the world.
They know about it, they just don’t care.
There is no force on heaven or earth that will convince our current elected officials to abandon their belief that Saudi Arabia is a ‘crucial ally’. From the International Herald Tribune:
U.S. officials have been stepping up public criticism of Saudi Arabia but remain cautious in dealing with a crucial ally in the region. Iraqi officials have openly accused Saudi Arabia of allowing a flow of funding to support Sunni insurgents and failing to prevent would-be suicide bombers from crossing the Saudi border to infiltrate Iraq
…”We need to send a crystal clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that their tacit approval of terrorism can’t go unpunished,” Weiner told a news conference. “Saudi Arabia should not get an ounce of military support from the U.S. until they unequivocally denounced terrorism and take tangible steps to prevent it.”
Weiner and Nadler said they will introduce legislation to block the deal, and hammered home the point that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, were Saudi citizens.
They know Saudi Arabia is responsible for 9/11 and they know Saudi Arabia is responsible for the suicide bombings in Iraq. The use of logic and/or reason would lead to the conclusion that that an entity which has been attacking us nonstop for years is an enemy.
Instead, the list of Saudi attacks against us is followed, as usual, by the mantra that this is a ‘crucial ally’. What makes them an ally? Nothing at all.
Obviously this alliance is not built on logic or reason. It’s built on more fear, loathing and habit. The rules for the games were playing in the Middle East could have been written by Michael Vick – it’s not a great game, it’s not a geopolitical strategy – it’s a dumb, bloody dogfight.
For years we’ve been fighting the remnants of the cold war by using the Sauds as a kind of pit bull to fight our official and unofficial battles. The Russians had their pit bull, Iran. The Europeans and the UN had their pit bull, Saddam, the weakest of the bunch, and China had whatever mangy dog they could throw in, (right now, it’s the Sudan). This pit bull strategy worked for us against the Soviets in Afghanistan. We thought it was maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, but we were wrong.
9/11 should have been our cue that our pit bull was too rabid to manage. The spread of Iran, Syria and general Islamist sponsored terrorism worldwide should have been everyone’s cue that the Middle East dogfight games were both dangerous and stupid. It was time to stop the games and put the dogs down – all of them, not just the runt.
We didn’t. Instead, we continue to feed and pamper our rabid dogs. We let them roam wherever they want. There isn’t a government in the world that doesn’t call the Sauds a ‘crucial ally’. There isn’t a government in the world that questions the need to keep playing these games.
That’s why this protest is interesting, despite the obvious possibility that Iran encouraged or sponsored it. The ‘news’, that our Saudi allies sponsor the terrorism we’re supposed to be fighting needs to be spread among voters worldwide. A grassroots effort is the only way to do that. Our government won’t spread the news. Neither will the media.
Most governments are happy to embrace the rabid regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia – they’re amply rewarded with piles of money and political status for their tolerance of terrorism. If you polled any government agency, asking them if the Sauds were a crucial ally, you’d probably get a more than 90% ‘yes’ response.
According to most polls, more than 70% of Americans know that the Saudis are not our allies. The only benefit ordinary citizens get from our friendship with the Saudis is our status as ‘soft’ targets. Terrorism, “militant” and seperatist violence relentlessly trails our Gulf allies like stink on a skunk. That and high oil prices are the only benefit most people will ever see from this ‘crucial alliance’.
If we wait for the government to take action against these rabid regimes, they’ll do it sometime around the time our sun goes nova – or around the time the rabid beasts run out of oil, whichever comes first. If we don’t like this status quo, we’re going to have to go out there and tell our governments that this situation has to change. Voters do have a voice, and it’s about time we used it. We’re the only ones who can stop these games.
August 27, 2007
We’re getting used to the imposition of Sharia law in the press. This time, our press is voluntarily censoring itself by not publishing a couple of “Opus” comics because Muslims might be “offended”.
From Berkeley Breathed’s site:
Note to Opus readers: The Opus strips for August 26 and September 2 have been withheld from publication by a large number of client newspapers across the country, including Opus’ host paper The Washington Post. The strips may be viewed in a large format on their respective dates at Salon.com.
On a comic-related message board, one poster writes:
NEW YORK At least 25 of the 200 or so “Opus” client newspapers might not run the Sunday-only comic’s next two episodes, which feature Islamic references and a sex joke.
That’s according to Washington Post Writers Group Executive Sales Manager Karisue Wyson, when contacted today by E&P. WPWG Editorial Director/General Manager Alan Shearer added that more than 25 clients might not use the strips because the syndicate hasn’t heard from about 150 of the 200 papers it alerted. Wyson said some client papers hesitated to run a sex joke and others won’t publish any Muslim-related humor, whether pro or con. “They just don’t want to touch that,” she said…
…Shearer told E&P that WPWG checked with a couple of Islamic experts to see if the “Opus” strips might be offensive, and they said the comics were OK. But he understands why some papers might still be wary.
Our newspapers are checking with “Islamic experts” before they publish? Did they Ask the Imam (your fatwa resource)?
Another poster on the comics messageboard says:
Speaking as a secular Mulsim, believe me, some 29% of the Sunnis and Shiites will get pisssed of at this to even violent levels.
As Andrew Anthony said, “a society that places great emphasis on respecting others has next to nothing to say about protecting others” – or protecting others’ rights.
August 24, 2007
For now. I’m going up to Montreal for the weekend, college-bound (my daughter is, not me). We’ll be listening to ‘Intermediate French’ cds on the way up.
Enjoy the weekend!
August 24, 2007
I just got this email:
You are invited to visit http://www.hi-syria.com.
HI-SYRIA is the ONLY free Syrian Community website.
You’ll be able to see tons of pics, post messages, and chat with
thousands of other Syrians from around the world.
Registration is free for first 100,000 members so why dont you
even count upon the rare chance?
Since I visited Beirut I’ve been getting some Lebanese $pam, but this is the first Syrian $pam I’ve gotten.
August 24, 2007
In Commentary Magazine, Michael Totten writes
Hundreds of Iraqi Yezidis, members of an ancient religious sect heavily influenced by Persian Zoroastrianism, were murdered last week in the most deadly terrorist attack in the world since September 11, 2001. Fuel tankers packed with explosives were ignited in a refugee camp near the town of Kahtaniya, just outside the Kurdish autonomous region. Officials say the death toll has surpassed 500. The American military says this is the handiwork of al Qaeda. They’re probably right: this has their fingerprints all over it…
Al Qaeda and their Islamist state sponsors have a pattern of ‘cleansing’ people they consider to be inferior or insufficiently Islamic from any patch of land they can get their hands on.
Al Qaeda also tends to carry out multiple, coordinated attacks. That was also true in this case:
The bombings came as extremists staged other bold attacks by flattening a key bridge outside Baghdad and abducting five officials from an Oil Ministry compound in the capital in a raid using gunmen dressed as security officers.
Nine US soldiers were also reported killed, including five in a helicopter crash.
I know the Yezidis, however, and I can’t say I’m immune. I visited their capital, their “Mecca,” in Lalish, near Mosul, in 2005 and again in 2006. They are among the kindest, gentlest people I have ever met. I went to see them because the president of Dohuk University told me to go. “I am a Muslim,” he said, “but I love the Yezidis. Theirs is the original religion of the Kurds. Only through the Yezidis can I speak to God in my own language.” Some conservative Muslims libel the Yezidis as disciples of Satan, but they have a respected place in Kurdish culture. Kurdistan’s flag is unique among those of Muslims in that it includes a religious symbol, the Yezidi symbol—the sun, instead of a crescent.
The Yezidis have never declared war on anyone. They are the closest thing Iraq has to Quakers. Perhaps al Qaeda massacred the Yezidi refugees because they were a soft target, and because terrorists need body counts to be credible. Perhaps the Yezidis were killed because they are “infidels.” But does it even matter? Al Qaeda has no alleged grievances against the Yezidis, who have no political power and no militia, and who do not participate in sectarian Muslim rivalry. Even Saddam Hussein left them alone.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who himself is an ethnic Kurd, said the attack on the Yezidis’ refugee camp was genocidal. This is an overstatement. I can’t blame him, though, for reaching a bit. We need a new word for the instantaneous massacre of 500 innocents. The conventional and overused label of “terrorism” somehow doesn’t quite say it.
More on the Yezidis and The beginning of the Universe
Michael Howard, writing for the Guardian reports on the Yezidis from Lalish – Among the Yezidi, a people in mourning