September 2007

When I was visiting my son in North Carolina, I got a chance to fly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) in a small plane for the first time. We flew to Ashville on a day when the birds were crouched on the telephone wires, waiting out the storm.

If birds were meant to fly, they’d have GPS.


A pilot sometimes uses IFR when flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (ie. bad weather)

In bad weather, you can’t use the ground or other visual cues for navigation, So you use instruments, like radio beacons and GPS. It’s important to check the plane out thoroughly (although pilots always do that anyway)

going into the clouds
Flying into the clouds

in the clouds
We were in a cumulous cloud here. Flying through clouds is a different experience in a small plane, because puffy clouds generate turbulence. You feel that more in a small plane than in a big one.

..and of course you need rely on the instruments in there because otherwise you can’t tell which way is up.

Breaking through the clouds.

The view above the clouds is gorgeous. It’s like flying over fields of fresh snow.

Fields of clouds

Grey skies again – The area around Ashville airport was ridged with mountains. You have to rely on the instruments and air traffic control to keep you on the right path. The controller was very busy that day. It was a Friday, and Ashville is a popular town to visit.

The pilot

He asked me if I was interested in learning to fly IFR. I am interested, because it give a pilot a lot more freedom of movement. A pilot who can only fly in nice weather can be grounded for a while, especially in the Northeast.

But first I have to get back into practice. I’ve forgotten a lot of what I know about flying in perfectly clear weather.

He did make it look very easy, but he flies that way nearly every day.

Islamic reform is hot these days. The Brookings Institution is having a Conference on Islamic Reform (featuring helpful advice from the Muslim Brotherhood). New groups are popping up like flowers in a field – we have Liberal Islam, Progressive Islam, Muslims Against Sharia. We also have the dangerously ersatz reformers who are affiliated with terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR and Tariq Ramadan.

In the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ali Eteraz says:

Since 9/11, “Islamic reform” has become an all-purpose phrase: equally a western impulse to protect itself from Muslim violence and a humanist notion aimed at assisting voiceless Muslims. It has also been espoused by Wolfowitz and Blair in service of their neo-colonial ambitions.

“Islamic reform” is promoted by groups that think Islam is to blame for terrorism. It’s also promoted by groups that will say that Islam means peace. It’s promoted by Muslims and non Muslims, by atheists and the religious.

What are Islamic reform’s goals? That depends on who you ask. But all supporters of Islamic Reform agree that, if there is going to be peace in the world, it’s imperative that Islam must be reformed. So, in some unmentioned way, all supporters of Islamic reform do agree that there is a connection between the religion of Islam and terrorism.

However, if we believe that the religion of Islam is NOT the the cause of terrorism, then we would have to believe that the reform of Islam can’t be the solution.

I don’t believe that we’re at war with the religion of Islam. We are at war with a political supremacist group, a group that some people call Islamism, some call Salafism and some people call ‘terrorism’. That group consists of terror-supporting states like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the U.A. E. and the Sudan; it also consists of smaller paramilitary groups that are funded by these states, like Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Fatah al-Islam and Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which are based worldwide, including in America. This political supremacist group is supported by financial organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. Their “non-violent” propaganda wings, including the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR and Hizb-ut-Tahrir, are also based worldwide.

People join this political supremacist organization for the same reason people joined the Nazi party, the KKK, the mafia or the commies. ‘White power’, Aryan supremacy, being a made man or ‘helping the oppressed’ may have been part of the recruitment propaganda, but for the most part, people join these groups because they believe membership will give them legitimacy, money and power. Some also join because they think it might be fun to kill people.

Reforming the religion of Islam would have the same effect on the Islamist political movement as reforming Italian culture would have on the Mafia. Zilch.

So, if there’s no connection between the religion and the current political supremacist movement that is sponsoring terrorism, why would non-terrorist Muslims be working so hard to bring the private, religious issue of reform into the public sphere?

Well, to quote Willie Sutton, that’s where the money is.

Since 9/11, the Neocons and the Left, the Islamophobes and the Islamophiles have been promoting the idea of ‘reforming Islam’ as a way of preventing war. When such a strong demand for product exists, a large supply is usually created.

While the average Muslim is smart enough to know that Islamic reform will have no effect on terrorist recruitment or actions, they’re also smart enough to realize that there’s money and career opportunities in ‘reform’ of Islam. And thus a completely non-productive industry is born.

Via Ashar Qalawsat:

Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- Members of Khobar’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were the victims of an attack by two Saudi females, Asharq Al-Awsat can reveal.

According to the head of the commission in Khobar, two girls pepper sprayed members of the commission after they had tried to offer them advice.

Head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Eastern province Dr. Mohamed bin Marshood al-Marshood, told Asharq Al Awsat that two of the Commission’s employees were verbally insulted and attacked by two inappropriately-dressed females, in the old market in Prince Bandar street, an area usually crowded with shoppers during the month of Ramadan.

According to Dr. Al-Marshood, the two commission members approached the girls in order to “politely” advise and guide them regarding their inappropriate clothing.

Consequently, the two girls started verbally abusing the commission members, which then lead to one of the girls pepper-spraying them in the face as the other girl filmed the incident on her mobile phone, while continuing to hurl insults at them.

* Link thanks to Fausta, who recommends the Taser C2 for “independent, self-reliant women.”

At Atlas Shrugs: Survivors of the first Hitler

At Kesher Talk – Van posts Scenes from a Demonstration

In How to Talk to a Bad Man Dean’s World asks if it was right for Bollinger to invite Ahmadinejad to speak.

*Title thanks to Michelle Malkin.

Ahmadinejad was in NYC today. Cops were watching every corner near the UN and Columbia, soldiers were patrolling the PATH stations and traffic was redirected all over the city. So, how much does it cost to invite a de facto enemy of the state to NYC? Apparently, quite a lot.

I visited the protests against Ahmadinejad at Ground Zero and the UN. Judith at Kesher Talk kindly posted my photos and descriptions (always the hardest part of the post). Thanks to Charles at LGF for linking to it! (the flickr photos are here)

At Ground Zero, Port Authority police earned their keep by harassing a 9/11 family member who was protesting Ahmadinejad’s visit. Pamela at Atlas Shrugged has the video here (and a great shot of a motorcycle ride through NYC)

Port Authority police forcing anti-Ahmadinejad protester Desiree to move

At the Daily Kos, poster Clay Claiborne says that Ahmadinejad’s “We don’t have homosexuals in Iran” speech “sounds entirely to reasonable.” I don’t know what they’re smoking over at Kos, but it’s stronger than hookah.

While the Kos crowd praised the littlest fascist, the New York capitalists at Nino’s Positano (2nd Ave between 47th and 48th) announced that he was not welcome in their restaurant. Too bad for Ahmadinejad, it looked like a popular place.


When I got home, my husband was watching CBS news, which was all about Ahmadinejad’s visit. Not all of the coverage was favorable to the little genocidaire.

Although many people criticized Columbia U.’s President Lee Bollinger for inviting Ahmadinejad, Bollinger did truly make use of the priciples of the first amedment. Give the most vile opinions enough rope to hang themselves:

But before he even spoke, the Iranian leader, whose appearance had sparked outrage notably among US politicians and the Jewish community, sat through 10 minutes of broadsides from university president Lee Bollinger.

“Mr President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” Bollinger told Ahmadinejad, accusing him of brutal crackdowns on the country’s academics and homosexuals.

“Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?” he asked, challenging the leader of the Islamic republic to explain his comments downplaying the Holocaust.

“Frankly, in all candor Mr President, I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions,” he added.

“When you come to a place like this, this makes you quite simply ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated,” he said.

When he did get to his feet, wearing a white open-necked shirt and gray suit, Ahmadinejad accused Bollinger of a “wave of insults and allegations” while largely avoiding any direct answers to any of Bollinger’s challenges.

I think that may have been the first time Ahmadinejad faced real criticism from a Westerner.

I would be willing to totally praise Bollinger’s support of the first amendment if Columbia University really did give all controversial speakers the same opportunities they gave Ahmadinejad. But Columbia didn’t give the same opportunity to the Minutemen who spoke there, or to Walid Shoebat, whose speech was (due to Columbia’s efforts) unpublicised and unattended.

Although I admire Bolliger’s efforts to challenge Ahmadinejad, efforts that far surpass those of any member of the newsmedia, who seem to have forgotten how to do research or ask questions, I have to wonder why a Saudi-funded institution like Columbia assembled this media circus in the first place. They weren’t trying to hide or surpress Ahmadinejad’s voice, as they did Shoebat’s. They even challenged him, something that Bush has, for the most part, failed to properly do.

We know that sometimes the Saudis and Iranians work together, and sometimes they don’t. I don’t know what they’re doing in this case, but I have to wonder, what is Ahmadinejad’s “Boo!! I’m a whacko genocidal dictator who wants to nuke you!” dog and pony show meant to accomplish?

In any case, the furor over Ahmadinejad’s visit has overshadowed one of the biggest stories of the day – Qatar and Dubai have gained control of the London Stock Exchange:

QATAR has upped its share in London’s Stock Exchange to nearly 24 per cent, giving the gulf state and neighbour Dubai a controlling stake of nearly 52 per cent.

According to LGF (one of the few American news sources to cover this story):

As if this weren’t troubling enough, Persian Gulf states are also staging a takeover of the Nordic Exchange: Bidding war expected as Qatar buys into OMX:

Dubai and its neighbour Qatar are both seeking to become the Middle East’s centre of global trading. Both emirates have an independent market regulator.

Shares in OMX closed up by almost 7.69 percent at 269 kronor following speculation that Qatar’s interest in OMX could lead to a bidding war.

“Who knows how far the bidding could go, just like Dubai, they’ve (Qatar) got more money than God,” Thomas Johansson, an analyst at Kaupthing Bank, told financial newswire Thomson Financial News.

Saudi Arab News certainly noticed, but if the American media took any note, it was a short one.

Remember the fuss the media made about the Japanese takeover of the Western economy? Interesting contrast.

Visiting my son in North Carolina. Be back soon..

Karol at Alarming News (and Karol Sheinin Consulting) is one of City Hall’s 40 under 40 list of rising political stars.

During an interview with Jon Stewart, Army LTC John Nagl, author of the recently published “Counterinsurgency Field Manual” said something that seemed a little odd.

Jon asked if there was a previous field manual published, and Nagl said:

We last had a counterguerrilla manual in 1987 but as an army we really avoided counterinsurgency in the wake of Vietnam because we didn’t want to fight that kind of war again..

They didn’t want to fight that kind of war?

We do have the most powerful, pragmatic and intelligent military in the world, but what kind of attitude is that? Would you rely on an investment banker who refused to learn about bonds because they didn’t want to do that kind of investment?

Would you take your car to a mechanic who didn’t want to learn about brake work?

Anyway, Nagl was a clever and deadpan kind of guy, the rest of the interview was good and, according to this recent report by Michael Totten, our military is learning how fight a counterinsurgency.

RAMADI, IRAQ – In early 2007 Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, was one of the most violent war-torn cities on Earth. By late spring it was the safest major city in Iraq outside Kurdistan.

Abu Musab Al Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq had seized control with the tacit blessing of many local civilians and leaders because they promised to fight the Americans. But Al Qaeda’s rule of Ramadi was vicious and cruel. They turned out not to be liberators at all, but the Taliban of Mesopotamia.

Al Qaeda met resistance, after a time, from the Iraqis and responded with a horrific murder and intimidation campaign against even children. The Sunni Arabs of Ramadi then rejected Al Qaeda so utterly they forged an alliance with the previously detested United States Army and Marine Corps and purged the terrorists from their lands.

Many Iraqis have been opposed to terrorist organizations for a long time. (There were all of those anti-terrorism protests that the media ignored.) Hopefully, these Iraqis may be willing to work with us, now that we’ve proven that we’re learning how to help them fight this kind of war.

I don’t think our presence inspired al Qaeda to be any crueler than usual. The violence sounds pretty standard for these hate-based supremacist groups. They’re doing similar things in Thailand. It’s not surprising that the villagers turned against al Qaeda – it’s odd that it took so long for someone to hit back.

But the fact that we were there to help them rebuild is what will make the difference. People who had previously relied on tribal alliances for security can see the benefits that come from working with a large nation-state. If we do this right, that realization may be the thing that keeps Iraq from descending into a Talibanesque feudal mess – another ‘perfect Islamic state'(as Osama once called Afghanistan)

…it’s so big!

* link thanks to the Queen and Tim.


The hard-hitting investigative reporters of the Star Ledger filed this report from Newark: Shoe Mystery hangs over city:

George Williams has no doubt that the gray suede tennis shoes dangling from the telephone wire high above his house on 18th Avenue in Newark signify that drugs are sold there.

Not long ago they were.

“Those people don’t live here anymore. Left in January,” said Williams, who points to the bullet hole in his 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix and another below his neighbor’s mailbox to prove how rugged the area is just off Avon Avenue.

Knotted shoes or sneakers hanging from utility wires are common in Newark. What it signifies depends on whom you ask. Some say it’s a sign drugs are being sold in the area. Others say it marks a gang’s territory. Or maybe it’s just the result of some kids having fun.

Whatever it means, Newark Councilman-at-large Carlos Gonzalez believes it isn’t good. His recent unanimously approved resolution calls on Verizon and PSE&G to help the city take the hanging footwear down.

“To most people it means we are ready to deal,” said Gonzalez, referring to drug sales. “Regardless, we want to keep our community as clean as possible. It’s a quality of life issue.”

It’s also not an issue that’s unique to Newark. Ed Kohler, a Minneapolis-based Internet marketing consultant, coined the term “shoefiti” in 2005 to describe shoes or sneakers hanging by their laces from telephone or power lines. The term is linked to graffiti because like the outdoor tags, they are considered either an artistic form of expression or markings of gangs and criminal activity. His Web site tracks shoefiti news.

“It’s kind of a worldwide phenomena. You see it in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles, but Australia and Poland also have a lot of shoefiti,” said Kohler…

In their next investigative report, the Star Ledger will answer the other timeless questions of life – like, why was there always gum on the underside of your desk in high school? Why do people flash their headlights at you in the dark?

Are roving teams of assassins sending each other signals via secret code or could Columbian drug lords be to blame? Enquiring minds want to know.

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