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May 2004 Archives

May 31, 2004

More on Memorial Day 2004

By Joe Katzman at 19:50

I was going to do a compilation for tomorrow, but I doubt I could improve on Laughingwolf's Memorial Day roundup, including his links to appropriate cartoons. Great job.

He does miss our How to Support the Troops compilation - not to mention Blackfive's highly recommended "Bonds that Shall Never be Broken" category, with letters from soldies covering WW2 to Iraq and beyond. Along similar lines, read the fantastic Civil War letter from Maj. Sullivan Ballou of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers to his wife Sarah. It rests near the end of Bill Whitle's latest essay: Strength (part 1).

No, I'm not an American. I love my country of Canada. But I also love America - and I respect and honour those who died because some part of them loved it too.

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  • Da Goddess: And you're exactly the kind of Canadian we Americans adore! read more
  • Bill Clinton: You're a good Canadian. One of the few. Read This read more
  • Laughing Wolf: Actually, I thought I did have a link in to read more

Transparency: Armed Liberal Comes Out

By Armed Liberal at 06:34

I’ve been working with a bunch of people on Spirit of America, including Jeff Jarvis. In New York last week, getting ready for Jim Hake’s trip to Iraq (he’s there now) we set out some principles we thought would help organize this as quickly and effectively as we’d like and is necessary.

One of them was 'absolute transparency'.

That put me in a bit of a bind, because as someone behind a pseudonym – or someone who has done a lot around these issues from behind a pseudonym, I wouldn’t be keeping that commitment.

So in talking to Dan Gillmor, for his column in today’s Mercury-News, I made a decision.

“Ollie-Ollie Oxen Free,” is how the kids put it.

My name is Marc Danziger, I live in the Los Angeles area, and I am the new C.O.O. for Spirit of America. We have BIG plans in store, and the blogosphere will play an important role.

More to come later....

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  • Robert Tagorda: Congratulations, Marc! Thankfully, we can stop referring to you by read more
  • Samuel: Great! Roger L. Simon did some arm twisting (well not read more
  • Asparagirl: "We may not be a #1 blog..." Says who? You read more

Andrew's Iraq Report: May 31/04

By Andrew Olmsted at 04:22

Welcome, and a fine Memorial Day to you all! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • The initial battle for Iraq was deceptively easy, but the ultimate fight has been much harder. Wretchard takes a look at the changing face of war, and notes the changes the U.S. is making in Iraq to adapt.
  • Going against the media orthodoxy, ABC News offers reasons to be optimistic about Iraq. It's no rosy-eyed view, and it doesn't ignore the problems, but it does a good job of pointing out that there are good things happening over there as well.

Other Topics Today Include: Reasons to be optimistic in Iraq; Cease-fire violation in Najaf; Iraqi Reconstruction Reports; Sewers?; Iraqi Politics & Polls; More connections between Iraq and al Qaeda; Spotlight on Abu Ghraib; How to support the troops.

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read the rest! »

WANTED: Preferably Alive

By Joe Katzman at 04:01

Well, this is WW2-esque...

Click on the graphic for more information, and BOLO (Be On the LookOut). As you might expect, if you want a really in-depth analysis of the 7, try Dan Darling's Special Analysis. Hat Tip to Citizen Smash for the poster graphic.

Smash also has a good pair of Memorial Day links. Of course, we've got a darn good one of our own - and it's a true love story to boot.

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  • Lili: What an ugly bunch! ~ :-( ( read more

Rumsfeld's Graduation Address at West Point

By Robin Burk at 02:22

Excerpts from the full address. Emphases are mine. After the usual recognitions, Rumsfeld addressed the cadets directly, noting their class motto:

"For Country and Corps, 2004." [CHEERS].

I thank you for this honor. It’s a privilege to be here in the shadows of some of the greatest leaders of our age, and to celebrate today with the leaders who will follow in their footsteps and help shape America’s future. (snip) ....

Many years ago, there was a West Point graduate from my home state of Illinois. He marched on the same Plain as you, took similar classes, and no doubt wondered about his future, as you may have from time to time. He was not an exceptional student, I’m told. Nor did he seem marked for greatness. Interestingly, his name was incorrectly transcribed on his record.

That name was Ulysses S. Grant.

Somehow, history put Grant into a place, at a critical time, and in a critical moment. I have no doubt that West Point instilled in him those special qualities of leadership necessary to one day help preserve our Union.

In the years ahead, history may well call upon you at a critical time, in a critical moment and you will be ready.

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  • Pat Concannon: In response to BD comment At Annapolis, there is no read more
  • BD: The Honor Code that Robin mentioned is crucial, in my read more
  • Tom Grey: Funny, when I was at the Naval Academy, there were read more

May 30, 2004

Recent WoT Flashpoints: Live from Neocon HQ

By Dan Darling at 22:05

For those curious about the title of this blog, I would refer you to this post which pretty well describes how I ended up at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for the duration of the summer. Since arriving in DC, I've gotten to meet Michael Ledeen (who is certainly one of the most hilarious people you'll ever encounter) as well as Robi Sen and spoken with Roger Simon via telephone. AEI is certainly a wonderful place, though I must confess being more than a little intimidated in the presence of so many august figures.

But enough about me.

There's been a great deal happening over the last several days and, as is usually the case, context is sadly missing from many of the media reports:

  1. The recent attacks in Saudi Arabia
  2. Al-Qaedist Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai's assassination in Karachi, Pakistan
  3. The latest FBI terror alert for the 7 suspects [see poster & FBI link]
  4. Chalabi - what's going on?

While this special analysis is not as fully sourced as I would normally like due to some of the problems I've had in accessing Rantburg that should hopefully be resolved soon. Nevertheless, I hope that this will help to place certain events in context as well as add to a greater understanding of the current threat environment.

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  • Yehudit: Even if Chalabi is being scapegoated, he's tainted now and read more
  • Dan Darling: twisterella: Certainly, just be sure to attribute it ;) read more
  • twisterella: Dan: Gratitude! Can I snip your response to LGF? I read more

May 29, 2004

Love: United in Victory

By Joe Katzman at 07:28

Let's talk about love. Not the fairy-tale kind or empty platitudes, but real love, and real stories. We intend to make this a regular "Good News Saturdays" feature.

So... got a story of your own? Drop us a line via "lovestories", here @ Regular Winds reader Bart Hall did, and his gripping, emotional story immediately became our Memorial Day weekend post:

At the age of 11 my mother, who grew up three blocks from my father in New Haven, saw him (then 13) at school one day and said to herself: "This is the boy I shall marry when he is a man." The Depression and the War intervened. Twice my father, a radar technician, was sole survivor of the sinking of his destroyer -- once by a typhoon, once by the Japanese.

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  • Lamar Cole: Just like the wings of a peacock, real love can read more
  • JimK: OK, that really meant a lot to me. I love read more

Koche Sesame

By Joe Katzman at 05:55

Helloooo everybodeeee! Guess which neighbourhood Sesame Street is coming to now?

Glenn of Hippercritical has the answer for you, as part of his Happy Picture Fridays feature. Big thanks for this happy news to Arash of... well, that would be telling.

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  • Glenn: the funny thing is that i completely missed out on read more

Sufi Wisdom: What Is Religion?

By Joe Katzman at 05:40

(Part of our weekly Sufi Wisdom series. T.L. James is moving, so I'm taking this on again for the next few weeks.)

Today's wisdom comes from Ala'uddin al-Bukhari al-Attar, one of the great Shaykhs of the Naqshbandi school:

"All religions, as theologians - and their opponents - understand the word, is something other than what it is assumed to be.

Religion is a vehicle. Its expression, rituals, moral and other teachings are designed to cause certain elevating effects, at a certain time, upon certain communities.

Because of the difficulty of maintaining the science of man, religion was instituted as a means of approaching truth. The means always became, for the shallow, the end, and the vehicle became the idol.

Only the man of wisdom, not the man of faith or intellect, can cause the vehicle to move again."

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Overcoming Hate: Abby & Me

By Joe Katzman at 05:13

Michael Totten's troll fumigation program is going well, apparently, and drawing more than a couple of "Hmmm..." responses from elsewhere in the blogosphere. It's an interesting effort, because he's addressing a problem that I've yet to see a really good solution to. So I'm watching with interest, and wishing him well. I especially liked his recent highlighting of a post-fumigation comment on his blog, because I understood how he feels:

"TmjUtah posted a terrific response that's also a great story. The reason I took action to save the comments is because I love reading great posts like this one that get published, almost by magic, while I am sleeping."

Yup. After burying his best friend in the wake of the 1983 Beirut bombing, you see, TmjUtah admits that he really wanted "to catch an Arab or two in any convenient alley and gut them like fish." Then he had an experience in the Mideast and, well - I think I'll just let him tell you the rest of the story....

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  • TmjUtah: I'm sure it's a typo, but the date was 23 read more
  • Sam Barnes: llort, That only works if your "opponent" is intellectually honest, read more
  • llort: Hi, I'm not familiar with Michael Totten's blog (for some read more

May 28, 2004

A New Home for Intel Dump

By Joe Katzman at 06:46

We've often referenced Phil Carter's work on military and legal matters, and as you might imagine he has been blogging up a storm on Abu Ghraib. His blog Intel Dump has moved off of blogspot, and can now be found at I especially liked his recent post covering acts of extreme heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan - especially Marine Corporal Jason L. Dunham, who died on April 22, 2004 near Husayba.

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  • ajay: Even though he got the opening statement wrong - one read more

Islam & Democracy: Taheri vs. Judd

By Joe Katzman at 06:35

Amir Taheri pens a long article whose central thrust is that Islam and democracy are incompatible to their core. He backs it up with some very worthwhile linguistic analysis, and makes a number of good points even if one decides to disagree with his analysis. There's no question that freedom as we understand it has had a difficult and often abortive history in Muslim societies. Taheri hits many of the key idea barriers, and while he sees some hope, it's very tempered.

I wonder how this fits with his recent article re: "The Promise of Iraq" and how its system is evolving? Does he see Iraq as a society with many of the key elements in place, an imminent failure, or a situation that's still too close to call?

Orrin Judd, on the other hand, argues that Taheri is wrong. Islamic democracy is possible, he says, as he points to a number of his own past works on the subject to back up his claim and offer a reasoned defense of hope. "The End of History," he writes, "won't be making exceptions."

Read them both, and decide for yourselves. Chalk this debate up to another fine tip from uber-reader Mike Daley.

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  • Asif Iqbal: Dear Ismahan Levi, I've gone through your debate with read more
  • Ismahan: My two cents worth: As one of those apostates from read more
  • Lili: "The answer is to ban all religions - particularly those read more

Welcome, Moderate Democrats

By Joe Katzman at 05:52

Kos (yes, THAT Kos, who still gets over 100,000 visits per day) is working hard to turn centrist Democrats into Republicans. Speaking from the conservative side of the aisle, we're deeply grateful to him and to so many others like him in the American Democratic Party these days.

Hat Tip to Pejman for this one. We wish you luck in your big cross-country move, buddy!

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  • Joe Katzman: "Capt. Joe" - care to clarify, or do I ban read more
  • capt joe: calibar is back read more
  • Lili: " I'm sorry, because Joe Lieberman is a decent and read more

Mideast Roadmap Roundup: 2004-05-28

By Inkgrrl at 04:46

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Israel and its neighbours, courtesy of Inkgrrl.


Other Topics Today Include: Arab Summit frought with usual troubles, despite early promise; Mubarak rejects participation in G8 Summit to consider democracy in the Middle East; revisiting a Palestinian call to non-violent resistance; Amal ousted for Hizbollah supremacy in Lebanese elections; the young al-Assad speaks to al-Jazeera.

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read the rest! »

  • Josh Yelon: Don't know if this has been linked yet, but there's read more

May 27, 2004

Bill Gates: Blogging is a Business Tool

By Joe Katzman at 17:26

This is something we've been writing and presenting about since November of 2002. In a May 20, 2004 article, Reuters' Reed Stevenson writes:

"Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates often takes the stage to talk about the future of software technology, but on Thursday he also told top corporate executives that Weblogs and the way they are distributed can be used as business communication tools."

Welcome to the club, Bill. Tracy Weslosky has more on Gates' speech over at The Pro's Edge...

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  • Kelvin: That would give a totally different meaning to "Instalanche". read more
  • IXLNXS: The new media. The new middle ground debators. The new read more
  • Steve: It only took Uncle Billie two-three years to co-opt the read more

Help Wanted (Winds of War)

By Joe Katzman at 15:30

Last time I put out this call for people to step up and take on these briefings, a guy named Dan Darling answered. We accepted, he delivered, his own blog Regnum Crucis grew in popularity, and now he's with a Washington think-tank thanks to his work here. USMA Instructor Robin Burk also answered, and she ended up becoming a team member on this blog.

Winds of Change.NET had over 1,000,000 visitors in 2003, and we're on pace to top that in 2004. This is a great gig for the right person - and right now, 2 regular slots are open:

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  • Joe Katzman: He would - but these kinds of briefings are not read more
  • quark2: Why don't you solicit Wretchard over at Belmont Club? He read more
  • Lilith: Joe, did you get my e-mail? I'd be interested in read more

I Want a REAL Wargame!

By Joe Katzman at 02:46

David Wong's memorable and hilarious "I Want a Real War Sim..." is a darkly funny video-game rant that captures the state of modern warfare better than 99.9% of the news publications out there (including this one). It comes complete with altered screenshots from Command And Conquer, Starcraft, et. al., and begins with:

1. ...where I spend two hours pushing across a map to destroy a "nuclear missile silo," only to find out after the fact that it was just a missile-themed orphanage.

I want little celebrities to show up on the scene and do interviews over video of charred teddy bears, decrying my unilateral attack. I want congressional hearings demanding answers to these atrocities.

2. On the very next level I want to lose half of my units because another "orphanage" turned out to be a NOD ambush site. I want another round of hearings asking why I didn't level that orphanage as soon as I saw it, including tearful testimony from a slain soldier's daughter who is now, ironically, an orphan.

It keeps getting better from there, bringing in CIA field agents, Starcraft monsters, Nude Zero-Gravity Futureball, ass-covering doublespeak - and of course, France - as it builds inexorably toward the Nicholsonesque rant at the end.

This one is destined to be a humour classic. Big Hat Tip to reader Larry Ice for recommending it.

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  • Joe Katzman: There's a hilarious scene that hits T.J.'s exact point in read more
  • T. J. Madison: Of course not. Almost by definition, humor is when bad read more
  • lyn: what is funny about this game? would it be funny read more

May 26, 2004

Randinho's Latin America Briefing: 2004-05-26

By Beautiful Horizons at 03:11

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Latin America, courtesy of Randy Paul.


  • Fresh off the win in the WTO on cotton subsidies, Brazil looks to China for t as in trade, not tea, but Lula makes a boneheaded and embarrassing stumble into authoritarianism.

Other Topics Include: The Bush Administration unveils a "new" Cuba policy to decidedly mixed reviews; the Dominican Republic elects a president, but will he revert to the form he showed when he was president before?; a horrific prison fire in Honduras reveals the influence of gang violence from the north; Venezuela moves towards a decidedly uncertain future; will Chile elect its first woman president next year?

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read the rest! »

  • Randy Paul: Thank you, Dave. read more
  • Dave Schuler: Randinho: Thanks for the update. Something that I know I read more

Know Thine Enemy

By Dan Darling at 02:19

In Sunday's post re: my acceptance into AEI, I mentioned some of my frustrations with the news media, and a gap I saw in the blogosphere. I didn't elaborate, though - so let me explain my #1 frustration.

What frustrated me to no end back in August 2002 (and still does) was that while every American knew who bin Laden was after 9/11, most didn't have a clue who Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohammed Atef, Abu Zubaydah, and Saif al-Adel were. My maternal grandfather, who fought in World War 2, used to tell me how every American could name senior Nazis like Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, ect. off the top of their heads. To this day, I still think that it's a shame that we can't do the same with the top al-Qaeda leadership.

As a result, when senior figures like Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, Saif Islam al-Masri, Amir ibn Khattab, or Abu Sabaya were captured or killed we didn't have a clue what major coups our side had scored.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appears to have been allotted at least some peripheral acknowledgement on the part of the public, if for no other reason than his status as the 9/11 mastermind or the fact that upon his capture in Rawalpindi, Pakistan he bore more than a little resemblance to porn star Ron Jeremy (for the record, I would also hold that there is a striking resemblance between the FBI mugshot of Saif al-Adel and one of the singers from "The Clash").

This is a long-term problem as far as public perception goes, and I think that a lot of it goes back to the red pill / blue pill situation that is going to take a long time to break if things continue on their current course. If a sizeable number of the same nation that was attacked on 9/11 is more interested in ascertaining their own or America's culpability in the attacks rather than focusing on our enemies and how to defeat them, then why in the world should we be surprised when other Western nations, to say nothing of the Arab world, react in a similar manner?

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  • Sud voly: The next big thugs in the terror story are going read more
  • T. J. Madison: >>Also, we know the Mossad is good, but they aren't read more
  • Yehudit: "The lead-up to war seemed hasty - frantic, even. Blix read more

May 25, 2004

Hatewatch Briefing 2004-05-25

Welcome! This briefing will be looking hard at the dark places most mainstream media seem determined to look away from, to better understand our declared enemies on their own terms and without illusions. Our goal is to bring you some of the top jihadi rants, idiotarian seething, and old-school Jew-hatred from around the world, leaving you more informed, more aware, and pretty disgusted every month. This Winds of Change.NET HateWatch briefing is brought to you by Lewy14. (Email me at my handle "hatewatch" here at Entil'zha veni!

  • Moderate vs Militant Islam: who's winning? The moderate Muslims are under attack and battling for the future of their faith here in the US and around the world. We all have a stake in the outcome. We'd like to help.
  • It was the Jews! (again): So says a Saudi prince... and princess... and an Egyptian journalist... and a sitting US Senator...
  • On a hopeful note: Is real reconciliation possible? What does it look like? P.J. O'Rourke explains.

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  • HA: Andrew J. Lazarus, I viewed "Christianize Christianity" as something of read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Sam, I think you are absolutely correct about needing to read more
  • Sam Barnes: Andrew, I think you could evaluate Hollings' remarks for potential read more

May 24, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: May 24/04

By Dan Darling at 08:47

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Fresh from their victory in Spain, al-Qaeda operatives appear to be planning a major attack on US targets at some point between the holding of the Democratic political convention in Boston and October. I'd say that most of what I wrote back during the Holiday Terror Alert last Christmas still pretty much holds up.
  • Abu Musab Zarqawi is now being identified by US officials as the new al-Qaeda operations chief. As Fred Pruitt and I noted over on Rantburg, it appears as though the position of al-Qaeda operations chief has now been split between Saif al-Adel (strategic) and Abu Musab Zarqawi (tactical). On an even more ominous note, it would seem that Zarqawi may already have a potential successor in the works, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a Syrian Afghan training camp commander who was lasted reported as being in al-Qaeda HQ Iran.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; Mullah Omar's bodyguards arrested; al-Qaeda recruiters tied back to Hamburg cell; Pakistani lashkar finished in Azam Warsak; Karachi is terror central in Pakistan; Abu Sayyaf leader captured; CIA tipped off Turks to NATO summit plot; more violence in southern Thailand; Morocco and Tunisia take aim at Islamism; more festivities in Saudi Arabia; Kenyan police thwart plot against Israeli embassy; fighting between Islamist and government forces in Yemen; major attack in Kashmir; and an all new kind of robot dance.

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  • Sud voly: Does seem like 'political correctness' has trumped the war on read more
  • sf: The first commenter above wondered whether a successful high-profile attack read more
  • blaster: Hmm. Zarqawi the new AQ bad guy. Whoda thunk it? read more

Andrew's Iraq Report: May 24/04

By Andrew Olmsted at 04:15

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • Blackfive takes a look at the reports that LTG Sanchez was aware of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. He sees two possibilities based on the available evidence, and neither of them are promising. There also appear to be possible links between an MI unit that worked at Abu Ghraib and the deaths of two prisoners in Afghanistan under the care of the same unit.
  • The AP has examined morgue records to report that some 5,500 Iraqis killed violently since the occupation began. While the fine print does mention that this is significantly fewer deaths than under Hussein, expect the reports to avoid comparisons and focus on the raw number.

Other Topics Today Include: Carnival of the Liberated; the U.S. continues to pressure al-Sadr; examining the 'wedding' attack; failed attack on another Iraqi minister; the Chalabi question remains; the cost of the reserves.

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  • Mark: Andrew, You raise a number of different issues. You say read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: First, I reject the premise of the last two comments read more
  • Lurker: It seems that Andrew's point is that pro-war folks can't read more

May 23, 2004

Surfin' USA

By Joe Katzman at 23:54

Just got back from my first surf lesson here in Santa Cruz, thanks to Rick Schmidt Surf School. Had a few good rides in a light (2-3 foot) break.

Bitchin' sport - and it definitely is a sport. Muscles are barkin', though, 'cause nothing else really prepares you for paddling.

Pictures to follow... and a big "Yamah Bro!" to Dan on the new crib in D.C.

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  • Joe Katzman: Just a tourist in on a visit, and still more read more
  • SAO: Lindenen, just stay away from the "shark beaches" then. Not read more
  • Gabriel Chapman: Sharks are not that big of a deal. I surf read more

Mr. Darling Goes to Washington

By Dan Darling at 08:48

or, how I joined the Grand Cabal...

I had originally planned to blog this last night, but as is so often the case my schedule would not allow it. Nevertheless, I had promised my readers a major surprise announcement at the end of the week and I do ever so like to keep my promises. This is basically a summary of who I am and how blogging landed me a position that I could never otherwise have obtained on my own - a summer 2004 internship at a major think tank in Washington.

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  • Bird Loomis: Dan: As the director of internship programs at the University read more
  • Lilith: I too am astounded that you are a college student. read more
  • Charles Hammond Jr.: Being a Blurker, I had to say Congrats Good luck read more

May 22, 2004

Sufi Wisdom: Means and Ends

By T.L. James at 07:00

As militant Islam does its best to discredit the religion, it is important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions. The lessons of Sufism are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry. As a part of Joe's Good News Saturdays, we spend some time each week with the Sufis and their "wisdom of idiots."

This week, we have another Mulla Nasrudin tale...

"Allah will provide," said Nasrudin one day to a man who was complaining that someone had stolen some cash from his house.

The man expressed doubt.

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  • Patrick: One lesson this story suggests is that we shouldn't take read more
  • Jim: My take is that the humor is essential, as is read more

Love: Life's a Beach

By Joe Katzman at 03:38

Let's talk about love. Not the fairy-tale kind or empty platitudes, but real love, and real stories. Got a story of your own? Drop me a line in the comments section, with a synopsis and/or a contact email, and you could become a Guest Blog! This week's story comes from, submitted by a woman named Kristie in North Carolina. Since I'm in surf town Santa Cruz right now visiting my sweetie (and taking surfing lessons, too), it seems apropos:

I wanted to share this story with all of you who have watched someone as they walked by and wondered if that was the "one".

At 15, my parents bought a home at the beach in North Carolina. It is here that I became interested in surfing and acquired my own board and learned to the best of my ability how to surf. A young man that shared that interest in surfing lived not far away. He was the classic surfer with toussled blonde hair and a deep tan. He was so handsome. I, being shy and thinking he was out of my league because he drove a corvette, never dared the humiliation of speaking to him. For sure, I thought, I would be turned down at the mere thought. Little did I know until 13 years later...

Read the Rest »»

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  • someone: On the other hand, the cynic in me wonders how read more

Exodus: Hmong Painting-Talker

By Joe Katzman at 00:57

The Hmong hill people of Laos have had a difficult history, including the use of chemical weapons (specifically, trichothecene mycotoxins) against them by the Vietnamese during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mike Daley alerts us to a happier story over at Orrin Judd's blog, however. This week at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Cy Thao will unveil "The Hmong Migration," an epic cycle of 50 oil paintings that tracks the 5,000-year Hmong journey, from the creation of the universe, to the refugee camps in Thailand where Thao spent his early childhood, to the Hmong diaspora he now represents in the Minnesota State Legislature. Visual depiction is especially meaningful in Hmong culture, which has a strong history of using visual language - literally:

"Thao continues: "In China, the emperor started encroaching on the Hmong country. The Hmong fought back. But those that did were conquered. And the emperor outlawed the Hmong language, throughout history. Thousands of years.

"So the Hmong found the way to communicate with each other was through pattern and design. They would make designs to sew on their clothes to communicate when and how we're going to attack which garrison. They would walk from village to village and communicate with everyone without the emperor and his soldiers detecting what they were saying. Throughout the ages, many people lost the meanings of those designs. But we still kept the designs on our clothes."

Orrin Judd leads with the link to the full story, and has more excerpts for you plus a link to the exhibit itself. Mike Daley's email to me called it "another story to highlight the beauty of [America]," which it is. Bittersweet beauty, but something beautiful nonetheless.

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May 21, 2004

HateWatch - A Preface

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Winds of Change.NET's Editor-In-Chief Joe Katzman. Would I be interested in doing a regular briefing called HateWatch? "Absolutely," I replied.

So - what's this new briefing about?

Consider this: to fly a jet plane into a building, blow yourself up along with a bus full of people, or personally slice the head from a living human being requires more than misguided ideology, misreading of religious canon, or a lack of job opportunities. These acts are catalyzed by prolonged immersion in cults of hatred and demonization - cults with many sources, and many manifestations. We’ll be examining the ingredients and expressions of these cults of hatred in our monthly briefing.

Our goal is to help you understand our declared enemies on their own terms, and without illusions. To that end, we'll bring you some of the top jihadi rants, idiotarian polemics, and old-school Jew-hatred from around the world, leaving you more informed, more aware, and probably pretty disgusted every month.

We'll be looking hard at the dark places most mainstream media seem determined to look away from. Some of these things need to be heard and seen to be believed, and so I feel it is important to shine a light on them.

There are other bloggers out there who cover this ground, including Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. As a dedicated LGF lurker and sometimes dissident who nonetheless sees great value in Charles' work, let me explain in more detail where I'm coming from…

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  • Joe Katzman: Sud, Don't overestimate your opponent. Statistically, the strongest "memetic virus" read more
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Why Is Israel in Gaza?

By Joe Katzman at 04:44

A couple very quick items, then I'm out the door. For many people, the big question about Rafah is "why?" Why are the Israelis so determined to press this attack, despite casualties?

The short answer is, weapon smuggling and arms manufacturing. Here's the official explanation from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The drawings and cross-sections are especially illuminating. I had no idea that the smuggling (and even having one's house demolished) was so lucrative, and the excerpted "Islam Online" interview with a smuggler was interesting. Thanks to reader Shirley-Anne for that tip.

Meanwhile, Dave at Israellycool fisks some of the distortions and outright lies that many media outlets are promoting uncritically, and adds a few thoughts of his own. Suffice to say that he's unimpressed with the performance of the media. As he should be.

UPDATE: Politburo Diktat has a very good area map, and more links.

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  • ExpatEgghead: Tactics not strategy. By all means confound the enemy but read more

Nathan's Central Asia "-Stans" Summary: 2004-05-21

By Nathan at 04:21

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Central Asia & the Caucasus, courtesy of Nathan Hamm of The Argus. Nathan served in Peace Corps Uzbekistan from 2000-2001.


  • For the second time in less than a year, Georgia approached the brink of civil war only to step back. The results and players were nearly the same, but this time, it was the leader of Ajaria, a semi-independent region on the Black Sea, who fled.

Other Topics Include: More on Ajaria; Russo-Uzbek Love-in; US Trains Uzbek NCOs; Russian Border Guards to Leave Tajikistan; Afghanistan's Disarmament Plan Hits Snags; Turkmen Education System in Freefall; The Makings of a To'y; and, Disabled Athletes in Afghanistan

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Immoral Purity

By Joe Katzman at 03:02

Michael Totten, in The (Im)moral Case Against the War:

"The well-being of Iraqis isn’t even remotely what’s at issue to Mr. Savoy. He only cares that we are morally pure. Tyranny, barbarism, and genocide are fine with him in a lesser-evil sort of way as long as we can sit safe and sound on our side of the ocean and not have to dirty ourselves by messing with it. Not only is this morally reprehensible, it isn’t even logical..."

It's a very fine article, and highly recommended. My colleague Armed Liberal never lost an opportunity to lament this tendency among today's liberal left, some of whom:

"...believe they can have the benefits of modern liberal society without getting their hands dirty. They value moral purity and self-satisfaction above everything else - with the possible exception of creature comfort."

Since A.L. is away, I thought I'd take up the shillelagh on his behalf. Besides, Michael's work deserves more links than I've been giving it - I just don't have the same level of time for blogging these days.

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Russia's Oil: "The Best 2nd Choice"

By Joe Katzman at 02:42

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) has an interesting article on their site: "Oil Business is Big Politics in Russia":

"The largest petroleum companies in the United States and Europe want to invest tens of billions of dollars in Russia's oil industry.

Good idea? Bad idea? Do they have any choice?

William Ratliff of the Hoover Institution at Stanford wrote a 2003 white paper issued by the institution, "Russia's Oil in America's Future -- Policy, Pipelines and Prospects." In it, he examines the problems and possibilities of Russian oil development, especially as it will affect the United States.

He sees Russia as a magnet for industry investment, despite the problems: "We don't really have good options," he said. "Russia is probably the best second choice."

Having said that, the AAPG is very up-front about the risks. We have the AAPG article link, and Ratliff's Hoover Institution White Paper, over at The Pro's Edge. If you believe that the future of Russia and the world oil industry are important issues, these materials are a good place to start.

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  • Andy: Hey! You guys can't have Russia's oil and gas too. read more
  • Thief: I seem to recall watching a show on the Discovery read more

Iraq: Views from the Street

By Joe Katzman at 02:13

If you really want to get an interesting take on what's going on somewhere, I recommed [a] talking to the local cab drivers; and/or [b] paying careful attention to the local jokes, especialy in repressive or recently repressive societies.

Ali over at "Iraq The Model" recounts a local Sadr City cab driver conversation, while Rob A. of "Fine? Why Fine?" looks at various indicators of shifting Iaqi opinion. As Rob correctly notes: "who the hell knows?" But it's an interesting roundup nonetheless.

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May 20, 2004

On Site at AIPAC: Jon's Story

By Joe Katzman at 23:51

Jon of WiredOpinion is a 16-year old, left-leaning blogger who recently went to the America-Israel Public Affairs Committeee (AIPAC) policy conference. His cynicism re: PACs in general is refreshing, and he comes from a rather different political viewpoint, but his blog posts from the conference are interesting nonetheless: [Prologue | Day #1 | His conclusions | Still hates money in politics].

I think he's missing most of the picture if he believes that all or even the majority of AIPAC's power comes from money, and he's surprised by some things that shouldn't have surprised him - but hey, he's 16. Unfortunately Jon missed President Bush's AIPAC speech, which was pretty good. Would have been curious to hear his reaction.

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  • Jon: Mr. Katzman, Thank you very much for the exposure (and read more
  • M. Simon: Pretty good stuff from a lefty. read more
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Dan's Winds of War: May 20/05

By Dan Darling at 07:26

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Pakistani tribal politics resemble a bad sitcom. Another tribal lashkar has been raised for the alleged purpose of going after foreign terrorists hiding out in Waziristan, though I would feel a lot better about this if they didn't simply show up and ask if any foreigners were in the area and move on after receiving "No" for an answer. Former al-Qaeda training camp commander and Waziri tribal leader Nek Mohammed, meanwhile, is back on the warpath over the government's hideously unreasonable belief that he does not possess the right to harbor international terrorists on Pakistani soil. By way of good news, it seems that four al-Qaeda suspects were captured in the Northwest Frontier Province, but it doesn't appear that the tribal lashkars had anything to do with it.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Afghan disarmament begins; Pakistan women being trained as suicide bombers; HSBC banks bombed in Turkey; Thai separatists are Wahhabis; plot against Israeli embassy in Australia; al-Qaeda member visited Japan; Spain busts al-Qaeda recruiters; Pentagon can't confirm Abderrazak reports; Egypt thwarts Muslim Brotherhood coup attempt; Gambia busts a sleeper; al-Qaeda gearing up for another major attack in Saudi; and a talking toilet!

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  • Timothy O'Connor: The Japanese and everyone else seem TOTALLY UNAWARE that Japan read more
  • blaster: I agree that Syria is in for it. The words read more
  • narciso: According to Darwish's UnHoly Babylon, the 155 mm shell used read more

Special Analysis: The Amman Plot and Project al-Zabadi

By Dan Darling at 05:35

While what little media coverage there was of the recent chemical weapons plot in Amman, Jordan was over within a day, it received wide coverage within blogosphere. I myself consider the possibility of terrorists using chemical weapons to kill thousands of innocent people to be worthy of at least as much airtime as anything else these days, but then it's probably just as well that I got out of the the whole media business to begin with.

In any case, this analysis will deal with both the Amman plot and other aspects of what we know about al-Qaeda's WMD program, as well as the potential future implications.

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  • blaster: This is what I think about the Jordan plot. Long read more
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OxDem Democracy Briefing: 2004-05-20

Winds of Change.NET’s weekly democracy briefings present a survey each week of the most important trends and events in democratization around the globe. Today's weekly Democracy Briefing is brought to you by Patrick Belton, co-editor of OxBlog and president of the Nathan Hale Foreign Policy Society.


  • Local Palestinian elections announced: on May 10, the PA cabinet announced it would begin a year-long process of local elections this summer, with Jericho holding elections first in August. Local elections have not been held in thirty years in the West Bank, and forty in the case of Gaza. In a policy shift, the cabinet announced an Israeli withdrawal is not a prerequisite for local elections, though it would continue to be for legislative and presidential elections. Analysts attributed the new flexibility to PM Qurei's desire to shore up the Palestinian leadership’s international standing in advance of meeting with Condi Rice in Berlin next week, and Arafat yielding to internal pressure to address the chaos and corruption currently plaguing many Palestinian towns.
  • Greater Middle East Initiative: following criticism from Arab governments and prior to the June meeting of the G-8 in Sea Island, Georgia, the United States is revising its proposals to assist Middle Eastern democracy. Current proposals center around a literacy corps, a microfinance fund, a ‘foundation for democracy’ to fund civil society programmes, and a democracy assistance group to coordinate G-8 and EU reform efforts. Critics say the programme has been gutted after meeting with Arab criticism; Senators Hagel, Lieberman, and Lugar have introduced separate legislative proposals to create a public-private Trust for Democracy funded with $1 billion a year for five years. Arab League foreign ministers have drafted a counterproposal, which will be taken up at a summit this week in Tunis.

Other Topics Today Include: Diplomats boycott Burmese ‘democracy’ conference; Kuwait announces it will allow women to vote; Malawi to elect a new president and parliament on Thursday; US warns Ukraine to hold fair elections later this year; UK and South Africa discuss promoting democracy in Zimbabwe; and Surprise developments in India - the world’s largest democracy.

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  • Dasper: Nathan, I just have to know if Nathan Hamm is read more
  • Patrick Belton: Incidentally, Nathan over at the Argus points out that Ambassador read more

May 19, 2004

The Kosovo Precedent

By Joe Katzman at 16:53

Matt Welch:

"Though I don't say it in this review, I am ever more convinced that the Yugoslav wars -- the abysmal European failure, the painfully slow American response urged on by people like me -- will eventually be seen as a huge turning point in modern history."

It's a follow up to his recent article Temporary Doves: Why Are the Architects of Kosovo So Down on Gulf War II? I suspect Matt's quote above may yet prove to be true, because of the attitudinal sea change that it touched off in a number of Democratic Party members and supporters. While Matt is correct to criticize the inconsistencies, the shift itself remains - and matters.

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  • Bob Harmon: It could also be that the Yugoslav conflict was yet read more
  • Andy: Here's a question which has just occurred to me: Why read more
  • M. Simon: Yamaeko, The answer to going poorly is to find what read more

Star Trek in Iraq

By Joe Katzman at 06:41

Remember those Star Trek translator devices on TV? Well, U.S. forces actually have something in Iraq called "The Phraselator" - and it works. Phil Carter has the details from the field, and notes that VoxTec will be marketing civilian spinoffs soon.

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  • Randall Parker: I think it is great they are using the Phraselator. read more
  • Patrick Chester: "My hovercraft is full of eels." ;-) read more
  • Tim Oren: Somewhat old news. This is a DARPA project that was read more

The Nick Berg Video & The Media

By Joe Katzman at 04:50

Lots and lots of material on this floating around the blogosphere. Very little in the "mainstream" media, which seems to have no problem with explicit photos of Abu Ghraib. Even if they're fake. You'd think there was an agenda or something.

Meanwhile, Donald Sensing notes the impact this event is having on the blogosphere. And the stats back him up - people are seriously interested in this story.

If you feel a need to watch the video of Nick Berg's murder and beheading yourself, here's the link for you, or go to Wizbang's longer list of sources. There are lots of perfectly legitimate reasons to watch it - and many equally legitimate reasons not to. Your choice, your call.

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  • Laura: I would like to apologize yo your family i just read more
  • Sam: You guys are totaly stupid. read more
  • jeff-fro: I just want to say, I have never seen the read more

Strangling Innovation

By Joe Katzman at 03:56

Blogger and Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig may be a leftie, but his much-needed focus on a broken intellectual property system have earned him a high place on our roster of honoured blogs. What follows is excerpted from a recent speech carried in WIRED:

"And finally, let me talk about the economy. There will be no real economic recovery that doesn't begin here. Silicon Valley set the pulse of the last great economic boom. It is the key to reviving that growth again.

Yet we will kill that recovery if we continue our crazy dance with protectionism. Protectionism is competition through government favor rather than merit. It is power used to defeat change. Over the past five years, this valley has suffered protectionism of one sort: intellectual property laws out of touch with their animating purpose. If trends continue, it will suffer something worse."

He continues:

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  • AvatarADV: On patent laws, I can't disagree with Lessig - the read more
  • Wm: Here is a link to one opposing viewpoint: Please note read more
  • jimmytheclaw: one more pet peeve dvd region codes. in an era read more

A More Perfect Unit

By Joe Katzman at 02:52

Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson, 40 years old but 6' 10" tall, has just thrown major league baseball's first perfect game in 5 years.

The Arizona Diamondbacks win 2-0, and The Big Unit takles another step toward Cooperstown. More to the point for some folks, the Atlanta Braves lose. No runs, no hits, no walks, no chance.

Fittingly, the game ended with a 98mph strikeout from the fireballing lefty - and cheers from the Atlanta fans, who showed real class throughout. More on this game and its place in baseball history from and the story gets even better.

When a perfect game is called, a lot of credit goes to the catcher as well as the pitcher. Randy Johnson certainly had high praise for his catcher's work last night. The thing is, this was Diamondbacks catcher Robby Hammock's first Major League game in Atlanta. He had grown up in the northern Atlanta suburb of Marietta, and graduated from South Cobb High School in 1995. Now here he was in the big leagues at last, realizing his dream, with about 50 friends and family members proudly watching in the stands. And then... and then... Perfection.

This is the stuff of which memories are made. This is why some of us love baseball so.

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  • Joe Katzman: Devin makes some fine points. For the best single season read more
  • d-rod: Jason Schmidt was amazing last night, but you're right that read more

May 18, 2004

AfricaPundit's Regional Briefing: 2004-05-18

By AfricaPundit at 12:47

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Africa, courtesy of AfricaPundit.


  • The mainstream media isn't paying much attention to the increasingly serious (and increasingly brutal) war in western Sudan, but the blogosphere is beginning to take notice. See below for more. (Via Instapundit.)
  • South Africa scores a goooooooal! by winning its bid to host the 2010 World Cup--the first in Africa.
  • Good news: Abiola discusses Uganda's progress in combatting AIDS.

Other Topics Today Include: More Sudan links; African Solidarity Watch; Sharia in Nigeria; Qaddafi's continuing tyranny; Zimbabwean oppostition in disarray; Mugabe's refusual of food aid; Comrade Bob retiring?; Annuak genocide watch.

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  • asdf: OK, how about the NY Times? read more
  • Bob Harmon: Well, yes, and the Economist did play up the story. read more
  • asdf: You know, this thing about linking to mainstream media stories read more

Spirit of America Update: TV Gear Arrives

By Joe Katzman at 05:15

As many of you know, the Winds team strongly supports a charity called Spirit of America, who recently raised over $US 1.5 million to help set up locally owned media in Iraq that can compete with Al-Jazeera (known to Kurds and Shi'ites as "The Sunni News Network" for its previous support of Saddam and ongoing hostility).

This drive built on earlier efforts to acquire, organize, pack and ship over $50,000 worth of school supplies, medical kits, and toys for distribution to needy Iraqis by the 1st Marine Division (Winds Links: organizing the event, after-event success report, early results in Fallujah).

Now, we have more good news to report: media gear for 7 Iraqi owned and operated TV stations has arrived at Camp Blue Diamond – the Marines Division Headquarters in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

USMC Lt. Col. John Lutkenhouse reports on their plans:

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Victor Davis Hanson, Unplugged

By Joe Katzman at 04:43

Just got back from Victor Davis Hanson's live appearance in Toronto. Quite gratifying to see several hundred people there - it was an ideologically diverse crowd, and he addressed it very well. None of the things he said were news to me, but how he built his case and the points he emphasized were very educational. I'm pleased to report that he's a very nice man in person, utterly gracious and patient in the after-speech scrum at the end of what must have been a very long day.

Irshad Manji also showed up, and was asked to give the closing "thank you" on a somewhat impromptu basis. She did a fine job. If you haven't read or listened to her, you should.

It was pretty funny in a way to have a leftist lesbian feminist give the closing thank you to an unapologetic right-wing traditionalist - but 100% appropriate given the enemy they both confront. I have tremendous respect for them both; had I known Ms. Manji was coming, I would have brought her book, too.

Still, a fine event and a newly-autographed copy of "Carnage and Culture" was a good way to end a crappy Monday. More later.

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  • Yehudit: I hope there will be a transcript at some point. read more
  • Anthony C: Yeah, I sent an email to VDH a few months read more
  • dan clark: I was at the lecture too. VDH claims he's a read more

May 17, 2004

Andrew's Iraq Report: May 17/04

By Andrew Olmsted at 14:05

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


  • A suicide car bomb killed the head of Iraq's Governing Council and at least eight other Iraqis in Baghdad. Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, was the second member of the Governing Council to be assassinated. The council selected Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, a civil engineer from the northern city of Mosul, to replace Saleem. Although this may be a difficult blow to U.S.attempts to stabilize Iraq, the Governing Council was slated to turn whatever power it had over to the interim government July 1. If this attack doesn't derail the transition, the new government should be able to move on from this attack without great difficulty.

Other Topics Today Include: the U.S. puts down an uprising in Baghdad; Coalition command structure revised; Fallujah townspeople and al-Sadr discuss cooperation; al-Sadr's political success; Saddam told he could be given back to 'his' people.

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  • John Atkinson: re: Important Iraq stuff, or maybe not - a lefty read more
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  • Andrew: As always, constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. If you could read more

The Disloyal Opposition I

By Joe Katzman at 05:57

Reporter Toby Harnden of the British Daily Telegraph describes a conversation with an American journalist. Somehow, I'm not even remotely surprised:

"But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’ Startled by her candour, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing.

She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go. By this logic, I ventured, another September 11 on, say, September 11 would be perfect for pushing up John Kerry’s poll numbers. ‘Well, that’s different — that would be Americans,’ she said, haltingly. ‘I guess I’m a bit of an isolationist.’ That’s one way of putting it."

JimK has the full article. Read, as they say, the whole thing.


  • Are these attitudes part of the mindset held by many journalists? Can't say. Probably not. It's definitely affecting some of them, however, and for these people the charge of disloyalty or worse is perfectly appropriate.
  • Christopher Hitchens makes the broader point: "It's now fairly obvious that those who cover Iraq have placed their bets on a fiasco or "quagmire" and that this conclusion shows in the fiber and detail of their writing."
  • But don't forget, folks, the real problem with journalistic ethics is... Fox News. L.A. Times Editor John Carroll says so.

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  • sweet women: Hello, my name is sweet women. Good site. my regards. read more
  • cbk: "I owe no personal fealty to King George" No one read more
  • Sam Barnes: Andrew, So you expect that losing Iraq would teach our read more

Dan's Winds of War: May 17/04

By Dan Darling at 05:56

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • The Chadian rebel group Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJT) claims to be holding Amari Saifi, the second-in-command of the Algerian al-Qaeda affiliate GSPC, and that they are willing to turn him over to the US in return for unspecified concessions. According to Strateypage via Rantburg, if Saifi is being held by the Chadians there is the possibility that al-Qaeda members based in neighboring Sudan may be raising a ransom to free him. There also seems to be the fear that Saifi is working with the MDJT as part of an elaborate trap, though this would strike me as rather suicidal behavior for an otherwise obscure African rebel group to engage in ...
  • The Yemeni government appears to be more or less bribing terrorists to keep trouble away from the homeland. This is more or less how the non-crazy Saudis' cash ended up in al-Qaeda's coffers and I think we've already seen how this movie ends. On the other hand, Yemen did thwart a plot to assassinate the US ambassador, so many their plan is better than it looks on the surface.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; Hezb-e-Islami in upcoming Afghan elections; 2 Taliban commanders captured; Waziristan amnesty suffers a setback; latest sectarian violence was the work of the SeS or LeJ; Hassan Hattab executed by his own lieutenants; Nigerian governor blames al-Qaeda for recent violence; Filippino authorities disrupt al-Qaeda financing; Malaysia deports Abu Jibril; al-Muqrin sez al-Qaeda's operating in Iraq; Spain busts al-Qaeda recruiters; EU counterterrorism chief notes paradox of the Continent's relationship with terrorists; Sao Tome as an alternate energy source; and Mexican UFOs turn out to be gas.

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FUBAR: A Special Analysis of Abu Ghraib

By Guest Author at 01:32

We've covered Abu Ghraib extensively at Winds of Change.NET, from regular briefing links, the Kurdistan Observer's perspective and Abu Ghraib's horrors under Saddam to:

Time for a legal perspective. Bob Harmon is a former US Army Reserve Military Police officer, and current head of the Marin County California ACLU. As Trent Telenko noted in his recommendation: "Bob has a unique perspective of the problems there from both the military and international legal points of view." He has published one law review article on the Yamashita command-responsibility case, which is very much on point re: Abu Ghraib, and like Trent he has also covered sexual harassment in the military.

FUBAR: Reflections on the 15-6 Report
by Bob Harmon

The Army’s 15-6 report on the incidents in the Abu Ghraib prison, and at other holding facilities in Iraq, suggest much more than the abuses themselves.

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  • Bob Harmon: We are a nation of laws. Full stop. We enforce read more
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  • Lili: "We actually did a different strategy in Afghanistan; we were read more

May 16, 2004

China's Economy... And the World's

By Joe Katzman at 19:01

We've talked before about China's race into the oil market as one of 12 under-rated global trends.

There's an interesting article in The Economist about the effects China's economy is already having on the world, from shipping costs to commodity prices. It also asks an important question: what if the Chinese economy sputters, or experiences a "hard landing"? (Hat Tip: Real Clear Politics)

While I believe China's system creates real and significant obstacles to growth over the long term, the fact that people are asking these questions and writing articles like this is an early indicator of some shifts that are worth paying attention to.

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  • David Leonhardt: In the long run, it really doesn't matter. If China read more
  • Jack: There are those that believe that the Chinese banking system read more

Happy Picture Fridays

By Joe Katzman at 15:52

Glenn of Hippercritical sent me an email about a new feature of his: Happy Picture Fridays. This week's installment is "The Girl from Ipanema"

"Everyone needs a break," writes Glenn, "but not everybody knows it." True. He recently came back to blogging after recovering from surgery. That's good news, too - but if you're itching to get back to the news of the world instead, I recommend his Blog Tour.

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May 15, 2004

Sufi Wisdom: Three Men

By T.L. James at 07:00

As militant Islam does its best to discredit the religion, it is important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions. The lessons of Sufism are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry. As a part of Joe's Good News Saturdays, we spend some time each week with the Sufis and their "wisdom of idiots."

This week's Sufi Wisdom is from Idries Shah's Seeker After Truth, and concerns good, generous, and wise conduct:

A good man is one who treats others as he would like to be treated. A generous man is one who treats others better than he expects to be treated. A wise man is one who knows how he and others should be treated: in what ways, and to what extent.

The first man is a civilizing influence. The second man is a refining and spreading influence. The third man is a higher-development influence.

Everyone should go through the three phases typified by these three men.

To believe that goodness or generosity are ends in themselves may be good or it may be generous. It is, however, not an informed attitude -- and that is the most good and the most generous we can be about it.

If someone said: 'Is it better to be good, generous or wise?' one would have to reply: 'If you are wise, you do not have to be obsessed by being "good" or "generous". You are obliged to do what is necessary.'

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Love: Put 'Em Up!

By Joe Katzman at 03:50

Last Saturday, I began what I hope will become a new feature with a true story about Maggie's Quilt, and with these words:

"Let's talk about love. Not the fairy-tale kind or empty platitudes, but real love, and real stories..." Then I asked our readers for stories of their own, via direct email or teasers and/or contact info. in the comments section. Jim K. of Right Thoughts promptly stepped up with a genuine love story of his own - one that synchronizes perfectly with this week's Sufi Wisdom:

My story in this vein is not as sweet, really, but it means a lot to us.

My wife has had a seizure disorder for about 4 years now. It goes from bad to tolerable. Some days we almost seem like nothing is wrong, other days are horrifying. One day, August 12, 2000 to be exact, we ended up in the emergency room. She had trouble breathing and had been having waves of seizures for hours. She's severely allergic to certain meds, and Flourescent lights at the time were triggering seizures in her, and I needed to tell the ER staff these two simple pieces of information. They * literally * refused to listen to me, I could not get the sentences out before a team of women were yelling at me to get out. I kept trying to say "Look, I just have to tell you..." but they were unbelievably adamant about not hearing a word I said and getting me out of the room. I'm not stupid, I know I would be in the way, and I wanted to leave so they could help her, but I was not about to leave until I had said these two things that I know they needed to hear.

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May 14, 2004

Good and Evil: A Friday Collage

By Joe Katzman at 18:33

Haven't been blogging much lately, I know... but a few stray items bouncing across my desk form an interesting composite picture.

"They Aren't Anti-War, They're on the Other Side" Department: Laughingwolf and Mike Daley both wrote me to point to a site that is cheering the deaths of American soldiers - on an individual basis. Mike asks "What kind of sickness in the psyche of my fellow citizens could lead to this website?" LaughingWolf explains, then makes some recommendations I agree with.

Iraq Dept: Dr. Sabah Salih of the Kurdistan Observer writes "Of Abu Ghraib, the Kurds, and the Bush Administration", and makes a number of interesting points about both the Kurdish viewpoint and how the issue is playing out in the wider world. Thanks to reader Kathleen for pointing this out.

Echo Dept: I think Sir Banagor is justified in being angry about the recent beheading of Nick Berg - but not to the extent of writing some of the stuff he pens here. Rage is a chancy servant, Sir Knight, and a terrifying master. See the LaughingWolf article above.

He'd do well to consider...

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Defense Dreck

By Guest Author at 04:36

by Bravo Romeo Delta of Anticipatory Retaliation

For a guy who writes something as authoritatively named as "Defense Tech" Noah Shachtman sure seems as if he's got a cranially-impacted colon issue right now.

In general, when reporting all things techy and geeky, he does a pretty reputable job. However, when he colors outside his narrow area of expertise to include military operational issues or items pertaining to military science, he comes off looking out of his depth - even foolish.

This is shown pretty spectacularly in a fairly recent post, in which he unleashes his 'devastating' analysis of operations in Iraq.

I don't intend to imply that everything in Iraq is all strawberry sherbet and long, hot, soapy showers. But it ain't Okinawa or Dien Bien Phu, either. Fortunately, Shachtman does us the great favor of making his assertions in bullet-point format, for easier fisking.

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May 13, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: May 13/04

By Dan Darling at 19:08

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Time Magazine is now catching on to the problem of extremist Islam in southern Thailand. This primer on al-Qaeda in Thailand should hopefully prove useful to readers.
  • The New York Times has some pretty good coverage of the Pan-Sahel Initiative, which is aimed at countering the threat posed by the GSPC.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; Taliban attack; LeT medical wing; new Pakistani lashkar formed; Chavez assassination plot; Afroze discharged; election violence in the Philippines; Zarqawi nephew jugged; Saudi princess calls for end to anti-Saudi campaign; Kadyrov assassination round-up; 3/11 investigation round-up; Sweden fighting image as terror haven; Syria's uneasy truce with radical Islam; and a hermaphrodite suicide bomber.

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  • JosephMendiola: A pro-Islamist group that calls itself the YELLOW-RED OVERSEAS ORGANiZATION read more
  • Dan Darling: I tend to agree, but I was in hurry read more
  • Andy: Dan - you quote the Herald Sun article that says read more

Reply to Andrew Lazarus, Part 2

By Dan Darling at 18:03

For Those Of You Just Joining Us ...

This is the second installment of my reply to Andrew Lazarus's two-fold critique of the war in Iraq. As with Andrew's own second installment, this blog will conclude with my own suggestions about what we need to do now.

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  • Dan Darling: liberalhawk: I have some difficulty with the vindictiveness towards Chalabi. read more

May 12, 2004

PRC News: 2004-05-12

By Adam Morris at 09:07

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today's Regional Briefing focuses on China, courtesy of Adam Morris in Tianjin.

Today's Topics Include: Chinese labour standards as a U.S. political issue; China on Iraq; China & North Korea; Stories from Taiwan; Talkleft on Shanghai; Jokes & drink names in Chinese; Asians' view of USA stems more from local politics than policy issues.


  • Kerry is criticizing Bush for not doing enough on China, and the AFL-CIO's petition (which Bush rejected) was the center of it all. The unprecedented appeal that argues that China's labor standards harm international trade undergoes severe criticism by a scholar/blogger who was quoted in the petition itself. Stephen Frost has a followup here.
  • Beijing and Pyongyang's relationship seems to be Beijing heavy lately, as they've rejected requests by Kim Jong-il for high-tech jet planes.
  • A Better Tomorrow rounds up some of recent stories floating around Taiwan that you probably never heard on CNN.


  • Conrad the Gweilo also does a good job at criticizing a Talk Left comment on Shanghai.
  • Although this isn't about China specifically, there's a very interesting article on how Asians' view on America depends more on local politics and a country's self-esteem than policy issues.

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  • Stephen Frost: Mike wrote: "I'm skeptical of the Asian Labour News criticism. read more
  • Margaret: Thank you for the link to A Better Tomorrow. I read more
  • Kirk Parker: > Conrad the Gweilo also does a good job at read more

Reply to Andrew Lazarus, Part 1

By Dan Darling at 08:29

Opening Remarks

Roughly a month and a half ago, noted Winds of Change commenter Andrew Lazarus (referred afterwards here as simply "Andrew") wrote up an extensive two-part critique of the war in Iraq in guest blog that received wide traffic. Academic commitments have prevented me from responding to him in-depth up until this time, but with the conclusion of finals that I am now best prepared to respond to Andrew's critique in depth. Before I do so, however, I just wanted to bring out a number of caveats:

1. I'm long-winded and I type as such. This is simply the way that I write and should not be taken as an invocation of the Chewbacca Defense.

2. This is intended only to respond to Andrew's critique as it was expressed in both in of his guest blogs, as well as some of the statements that he made in the comments section. I have neither the time nor inclination to deal with every single argument ever made regarding the decision to invade Iraq and so if I don't cover your particular pet problem with the situation, I apologize.

3. As regular readers of Regnum Crucis are no doubt aware of, I use a point-by-point method of commentary rather than a traditional essay format in most cases because I feels that this is by far the most effective way through which to make my counter-arguments as well as because it helps to avoid the temptation to rely on straw man arguments when making one's points.

4. Don't ask me why the administration isn't using this information in its arguments. I'm not a politician, I don't work inside the Beltway, and I have absolutely no idea why people there do what they do or either side of the political fence. For lack of a better term, that isn't my area of expertise so I plan to steer clear of it as much as possible.

With all of that out of the way, allow me to begin.

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May 11, 2004

Eyes on Korea: 2004-05-11

By The Marmot's Hole at 15:08

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. Today's Regional Briefing focuses on Korea, courtesy of Robert Koehler in Seoul.

Today's Headings Include:

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Step Away From The Keyboard And Nobody Gets Hurt

By Armed Liberal at 08:19

You may have noticed that my posting has been light in the past week. Some of you may even find that a good thing … <g>

But, as happens with bloggers sometimes, things in my material life have changed, and those changes – which are all good, and in fact even more than good – mean that I need to take a break from blogging for a while.

I have an opportunity to work on a project that is too interesting and challenging to pass up. I expect it to be fairly all-consuming, which means I'll have less time than I do now. And because it is peripherally in the public sphere, I need to think carefully about how it would interact with what I write for my own amusement and education here.

I may be back in a week or so. I may just toss something out once a month or so. I may even see if I can merge my real and electronic selves. I may not. Don’t know yet.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in these discussions; thanks especially to those who disagreed and made me think and study harder, and sometimes even change my mind. Keep it up while I’m gone. And, as I usually ask:

Please don’t kill anyone or blow anything up while I’m away.

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May 10, 2004

Dan's Winds of War: May 10/04

By Dan Darling at 22:45

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Osama bin Laden, or someone who sounds like him, is offering $136,000 apiece in gold for the heads of top US administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. One might note that contrary to the news story, bin Laden earlier posted a $9,000,000 bounty on the heads of the CIA, FBI, State, and Defense departments, in addition to the more recent $15,000,000 bounty placed on the heads of Sanchez, Kimmit, and Rumsfeld.
  • Russian-backed Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov has been assassinated along with 31 others in a massive explosive in Grozny during the Victory Day celebrations. Details are sketching, but some accounts suggest that the culprit was a female suicide bomber.

Other Topics Today Include: Iran Reports; warlords opposing Afghan disarmament drive; no breakthrough in Wana negotiations; more sectarian violence in Pakistan; Georgia reclaims Ajaria; Pattani separatists have Wahhabi and al-Qaeda ties; Islamists vs. Maosts in northern Bangladesh; Pekanbaru linked to Bali; 3 Bosnian charities identified as al-Qaeda fronts; al-Qaeda attack on Canada inevitable; every Iraqi mujahid an al-Qaeda member; Zarqawi ordered Casablanca bombings; al-Ansari is a Tora Bora veteran; Azizi met with 3/11 plotters; sectarian violence rocks Nigeria; Macedonian minister claims innocence; Indonesian Islamists want Bashir sprung; and the world's nuttiest dictator.

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  • Dan Darling: Should be fixed now. read more
  • Mike: Something's broken after "Details are sketching...". A URL isn't there. read more
  • praktike: Dan, I believe Karzai met with Khan in Herat today. read more

Andrew's Iraq Report: May 10/04

By Andrew Olmsted at 04:54

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.


Other Topics Today Include: Fighting shifts focus to al Sadr; thoughts on Abu Ghraib from Iraq and the U.s.; terrorist plot foiled in Italy; new evidence of Iraq-9/11 link(?); first Abu Ghraib trial set.

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The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal – A Contrarian’s View

By Trent Telenko at 04:38

One of the first things they teach in both college level marketing and communications courses is that the message that bad publicity delivers is often not what the senders or the sufferers think it will be. This is the case with the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal. I believe it is far too soon to know how this scandal will play with Iraq's ethnically fractured public, and the wider Arab world.

This is a fact that War on Terrorism Doomies like Thomas Friedman and Richard Cohen ignore in their emotional tirades against the Bush Administration. This emotional zaniness has even infected normally level headed Fareed Zakaria.

You doubt it? Well, set your way back machine dial to the late 1980s - early 1990s and then remember what ex-Soviet citizens told us of Soviet propaganda.

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May 9, 2004

Sensing on Abu Ghraib

By Joe Katzman at 19:59

Donald Sensing contributes two useful articles. One links to and discusses Geitner Simmons' article covering American custody of foreign POWs during WW2, when German officers often administered their own. Always good to have that kind of historical context. The second article says, simply and clearly, that there is no 'but' with respect to these recent events.

Could this be a "teachable moment" for the Arab world and for Iraq in particular, as Glen suggests? I hope so. But as he points out, America has to make it so. I believe they will.

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Frisbees over Fallujah

By Armed Liberal at 04:32

An email and photos sent to Spirit of America, from Lt. Col. Colin McNease, USMC. From Fallujah. Looks like our earlier efforts (big thanks to all attendees) are beginning to pay off on the ground:


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May 8, 2004

Love: Maggie's Quilt

By Joe Katzman at 18:26

Let's talk about love. Not the fairy-tale kind or empty platitudes, but real love, and real stories. Robert Fulghum (of "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" fame) asked for real stories, and this was one of them. From "True Love":

A very old man - George - who had been placed in a nursing home by his family was a sad case - nobody ever came to see him. One day he stopped talking and refused to leave his room. He was cooperative enough with the staff and functional enough to take care of himself. He continued to eat and bathe. But he became a mute recluse, sitting alone in his room in in his rocking chair all day staring out the window. The staff decided he had a right to live as he wished, so they let him be.

A woman resident - Maggie - had taken an interest in George, and when he disappeared she went in to visit with him...

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To Fair Elf-land ... and Back

By Robin Burk at 17:08

(Wherein ancient ballads, True Thomas, political satire and a new twist on an old Buddy Holly song help rescue a lady from a dry time of the soul.)

Every so often my soul goes dry. Or perhaps I should say 'my psyche', for I'm not talking about theological issues but rather the springs of the imagination, the place of dreams and wonder, the worlds of numinosity that resonate into daily life to give it richness and color.

I've been in an inner desert lately. Many reasons, all of them mundane and all too common. It manifested in an inability to find real joy in much of anything ... books were uninteresting, music bored me or didn't fit my mood, I had (and have) loads of work to do but didn't feel as if I was making useful progress. You know how it goes.

When I get into this state, if I'm lucky and willing, the meaningful co-incidences that Jung called synchronicity will break through to re-establish my connection to my inner self. As is often the case, this time it came about through a petty annoyance: my husband at the last minute told me he needed to take the comfortable car I usually drive, the one in which all my accessories are where I want them, the one which is easiest for me to drive after recent knee surgery, on a 4 day trip.

It irritated me, in my self-centered way, to drive his sporty little car with the less-comfortable seats & manual transmission even if I did get to take it around the winding roads on the sides of Storm King Mountain, with the trees leafing out and sunlight dappling the road. Even worse, his car has a multi-CD player that is mounted back in the trunk. Since I needed to leave for work right then, I was stuck with whatever music he had loaded. Wonderful.

Well, actually it turned out that way.

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Sufi Wisdom: Riches and Safety

By T.L. James at 07:00

As militant Islam does its best to discredit the religion, it is important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions. The lessons of Sufism are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry. As a part of Joe's Good News Saturdays, we spend some time each week with the Sufis and their "wisdom of idiots."

This week's Sufi Wisdom comes from Saadi of Shiraz, and is (for one of my posts) uncharacteristically brief:

Deep in the sea are riches beyond compare.
But if you seek safety, it is on the shore.

As with any bit of Sufi wisdom, the concept here works on many levels in many areas of life. In keeping with Joe's Saturday theme, in what positive ways do you see the message of this aphorism at work in the world around you?

UPDATE: Robin Burk extends this theme today as ancient ballads, True Thomas, political satire songs and a new twist on an old Buddy Holly song help rescue a lady from a dry time of the soul. Joe looks at the cost of staying on shore with a double-edged, and true, love story.

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25 Theses on Christianity

By Joe Katzman at 04:03

Lucas Sayle writes:

"The following are 25 theses on the modern state of Christian faith. That is, they deal with specific teachings in the several Christian denominations as well as the larger societal context in which Christianity currently resides...."

It's an interesting and at times provocative exploration of faith and teachings by a practicing member of the Christian religion. If you're religious, watching another go through this process is valuable all by itself. Its insights into the role of organized religion in society, meanwhile, make it valuable to secularists as well. Recommended.

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May 7, 2004

Robi's S. Asia Briefing: 2004-05-07

By Robi Sen & Nitin Pai at 05:17

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on South Asia, courtesy of Robi Sen and Nitin Pai of The Acorn.


  • General Musharraf faces a particular constraint as Pakistan's President - as chief of army he is constitutionally forbidden from holding the post of President. As the position of army chief holds considerable influence he is reluctant to let go; even at the risk of unraveling a deal he struck with the Islamic undamentalist alliance under which he was to 'shed his uniform' by the end of 2005. Musharraf is now engaged in political re-engineering [video] that many observers feel will involve him becoming the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, faction-ridden political party founded by Pakistan's founder. While Pakistan's progress towards democracy is at best marginal, both the European Union and the Commonwealth are moving towards legitimizing Musharraf's regime.
  • Meanwhile the Pakistani army made a deal with Al Qaeda supporters in its South Waziristan region in a step which showed Musharraf's limitations in the war on terror. More than 78 militants arrested in this year's "hammer and anvil" spring offensive were released in return for the surrender of 5 key Al Qaeda Taliban supporters, who were also granted amnesty. Nek Mohammad, who had trained and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan remains unrepentant. The Pashtun tribesmen seem to have defeated yet another army.
  • Pakistan recently complained about a slight border incursion by US troops chasing elements of Al Queda and the Taliban. Showing again its weakness as a key alley in the war on terror Pakistan has refused to kill or capture foreign militants on the border of Afghanistan. It is hard to understand why the US has made Pakistan a Non-Nato Major Ally (NNMA).

Other Topics Today Include: India's all electronic elections; non-proliferation resolutions; Shifting Alliances; Lashkar-e-Taiba in Oz; Pakistan and India; Nepal in chaos; Bangladesh's internal woes; Terror in Thailand.

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Democracy in Pakistan: The Way Forward (3/3)

Our Friday democracy briefings examine current events in democratization around the globe, and link to lengthier analyses of democratization trends in countries of particular interest. This Special Report examines democratic prospects in Pakistan, and is by Patrick Belton, a researcher at Oxford and president of a foreign policy society and think tank, who writes daily at OxBlog.

Our third and final segment looks at the efforts being made to strengthen and track democracy and liberty in Pakistan, examines past security ties between the USA and Pakistan, and concludes with an assessment of U.S. policy implications and options. Pakistan's possession of nuclear materials, its role in the proliferation of same, and its ongoing disputes with India certainly make the development of a stable, democratic, and free Pakistan a project worthy of America's - and the world's - close attention.

Part 1: Players & News
* Pakistan: Political Structure
* The Islamist MMA
* Recent Parliamentary Elections and Constitutional Changes

Part 2: A Legacy of Democratic Failure
* Liberal Freedoms: A Mixed Record
* Historical Background of Democracy in Pakistan
* Why Has Democracy Always Failed in Pakistan?

Part 3: The Way Forward
* Freedom Ratings
* International Efforts at Fostering Democracy
* History of U.S.-Pakistan Security Ties
* Scenarios and Options for U.S. Policy

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May 6, 2004

Democracy in Pakistan: A Legacy of Democratic Failure (2/3)

Our Friday democracy briefings examine current events in democratization around the globe, and link to lengthier analyses of democratization trends in countries of particular interest. This Special Report examines democratic prospects in Pakistan, and is by Patrick Belton, a researcher at Oxford and president of a foreign policy society and think tank, who writes daily at OxBlog.

This second segment looks at the history and current status of democracy and liberty in Pakistan. While all democracies are imperfect and democratic failure is not unknown (q.v. Europe's history over the last century), Pakistan's history has certainly been shaky at best. After going over the present state of liberty in Pakistan and giving you some historical background, this article looks at 4 reasons why democracy and liberty may have had such a rocky ride, courtesy of a Pakistani NGO named Pildat.

Part 1
* Pakistan: Political Structure
* The Islamist MMA
* Recent Parliamentary Elections and Constitutional Changes

Part 2
* Liberal Freedoms: A Mixed Record
* Historical Background of Democracy in Pakistan
* Why Has Democracy Always Failed in Pakistan?

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Dan's Winds of War: 2004-05-06

By Dan Darling at 07:49

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


  • Salvadoran corporal Samuel Toloza, one of the 380 soldiers in El Salvador's Iraqi contingent, is being cited for heroism for his recent actions against Sadr's Mahdi Army.
  • US News has a fairly long piece detailing the ins and outs of the ongoing hunt for Osama bin Laden. If you want to know what the US is doing in the hunt for the al-Qaeda leader, this is the place to go.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; more Waziristan wackiness; car bombing in Baluchistan; Afghan violence; Hizb-e-Islami faction folds; Thailand boosting security; GSPC killings in Algeria; Indonesian funding JI in the Philippines; more on the Saudi terrorist attack; Somali sightings of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed; Menad Benchellali and al-Qaeda's longing for WMDs; and a new kind of cat burglar.

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  • J.: Found something that might be of interest to you: read more

May 5, 2004

While We're Talking About Debt

By Celeste at 18:36

Perhaps it's synchronicity, but Armed Liberal's posts on bankruptcy and retail politics got me thinking about credit cards and debt, so when I was scrolling through the AP wires, the headline Government Sues Debt-Settlement Firm caught my eye.

From the FTC's press release:

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against a group of defendants masquerading as a nonprofit debt negotiation organization that has made millions of dollars deceiving consumers into enrolling in their debt negotiation program by promising to reduce their debts. The FTC alleges that National Consumer Council's (NCC) business practices violate the FTC Act, which bars deceptive practices, and have harmed consumers throughout the country. The FTC also charges that the defendants violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by calling consumers who placed their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. At the FTC's request, a U.S. district court judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring the defendants' illegal activities.
This is also the FTC's first case involving the new National Do Not Call Registry.

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Democracy in Pakistan: Players & News (1/3)

Our Friday democracy briefings examine current events in democratization around the globe, and link to lengthier analyses of democratization trends in countries of particular interest. This Special Report examines democratic prospects in Pakistan, and is by Patrick Belton, a researcher at Oxford and president of a foreign policy society and think tank, who writes daily at OxBlog.

This first segment looks at the various factions in Pakistan, and brings you up to speed on the country's recent political history internally. The Art of Peace has a sobering article about Musharraf stepping down as Army Chief at the end of the year, and what this might mean. There are even rumblings of civil war -which may not come to pass, but it's worthwhile to understand the players here just in case.

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  • huma: hi read more
  • Deneris Fann: As a Pakistani, I am at the same time interested read more
  • Adam: It's sad when Pakistan's legislature is in crisis, and yet read more

The U.S. Diplomats Write

By Armed Liberal at 00:46
Dear Mr President:
’Hello,’ he lied. One of the best book titles I know of.
We former US diplomats applaud our 52 British colleagues who recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair criticising his Middle East policy and calling on Britain to exert more influence over the United States.
Well, we like the influence Blair has had so far, and their troops have done a pretty good job in Iraq, so I’d say I like the influence that Britain has had on the U.S. But I think they want to change Britain’s policies as well.
As retired foreign service officers we care deeply about our nation's foreign policy and US credibility in the world.
I believe that. I also believe that they are deeply invested in a process that it fundamentally broken, much as the retired buggywhip makers were distraught at the changes that internal combustion brought. I’ll skip over the little detail (made often by others) about their British colleagues being on the Arab dole, and I won’t dig into Googling all the names and seeing how deeply this group’s hands are shoved into Arab pockets.
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  • Iipae: AJL's points that you itemized above (armed militias, plus a read more
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  • AMac: Would any of you care to address why our attempts read more

May 4, 2004

Tracking UNSCAM: Friends of Saddam

By Celeste at 14:16

The author of the The Politburo Diktat has begun the worthy project of tracking the many players in the UN Oil For Food Scandal at his new blog, Friends Of Saddam. For anyone interested in news on UNSCAM, I suggest you check it out.

UPDATE: Photodude also has a good post.

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Twist, I don't have a subscription but I assume that read more
  • twisterella: Andrew, could you be so kind as to cite the read more
  • Sam Barnes: Josh, You missed my point on the NYT front page. read more

Another letter from Iraq: Convoy Ambush

By Robin Burk at 13:34

Another letter from Iraq. Quick thinking and outstanding leadership on the part of a young "Iron Dukes" Lieutenant when the convoy that was transporting his tank company's equipment ran into a large, well-planned ambush.

The cadets I'm teaching at West Point this year will be commissioned 2nd Lieutenants in less than a month. A few months from now, this could be one of the 22 yr old men and women I'm privileged to work with and mentor. I'm proud of them all and grateful for their service.

Terminology: HET = Heavy Equipment Transport (huge flatbed trucks used to transport tanks when not in combat; this is easier on the roads of Iraq as well as on the tanks themselves); CSA = Chief of Staff of the Army; TC = Tank Commander (non-commissioned officer or lieutenant); CG = commanding general; 1AD = 1st Armored Division; GEN = General (4 stars); MG = Major General (2 stars); XO = executive officer (senior aide to the commander); BDA = battle damage assessment

The CSA wanted to share this email with you. The email was sent to GEN Bell, CG, USAREUR from MG Dempsey, Cdr, 1AD.



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  • Spc Perry: I was an Iron Duke, and will always be a read more
  • Davis: This convoy consisted of HET's from three different Army National read more
  • SGT Albe: To all who have posted comments on here, I found read more

Jews and the Immigration Debate

By Joe Katzman at 06:38

Interseting article by Dr. Stephen M. Steinlight of Timothy Dwight College, Yale University. He describes a quietly divisive issue within America's Jewish community:

"For Jews, the immigration debate pits the heart against the head. In their gut, many feel that substantially reducing immigration betrays the legacy of their parents and grandparents. But a growing number believes that maintaining this policy betrays their children and grandchildren. The danger arises because mass immigration means importing mass anti-Semitism. The upsurge of violent anti-Semitism in Western Europe tracks perfectly with mass immigration, especially of Muslims. Mass immigration is also the generator of Balkanizing notions of extreme multiculturalism. Having worked for nearly a century through communal organizations, the courts, and interfaith dialogue to achieve a tolerant and cohesive society largely free of anti-Semitism, it’s anguishing for American Jews to watch current immigration erase this outcome. However uncomfortable, American Jews must grapple with the issue: they have a greater stake than other Americans in how this policy plays out."

The issue of immigration these days crosses left/right boundaries, and raises profound questions for those who engage with it. "High Noon to Midnight: Why Current Immigration Policy Dooms American Jewry" is an interesting read on a controversial subject. While Steinlight himself favours restricted immigration, his article provides a serious and provocative starting point no matter which side of the debate one favours. The article also deals at some length with Islamism as a political ideology, the threat it represents, and the uniqueness of the Jewish immigrant experience in America.

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  • Lili: ". . .what should be demanded of immigrants to America, read more
  • Joseph Hertzlinger: Doesn't Europe have fewer immigrants and more anti-semitism? In any read more
  • Joe Katzman: Bill, The short answer? Jews who don't really believe in read more

The Silicon Valley Diaspora

By Joe Katzman at 06:08

Greg Gretsch of Sigma Partners talks about the new brain drain from Silicon Valley, and its consequences. While the effects may be hard on the Valley, they're likely to be invaluable to the countries that are benefitting from this exodus.

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  • Joseph Hertzlinger: They obviously want to move somewhere with cheaper servants. If read more
  • jaed: A note about the link: I don't know what the read more
  • Oldman: The NYT has a great article out today about the read more

Schumpeter Was (Unsurprisingly) Right

By Armed Liberal at 05:56
Commenter Thorley Winston waxes wroth below at my criticism of the new consumer bankruptcy bill:
What rubbish. There is nothing “anti-consumer” about requiring that people who voluntarily decide to enter into a contract should have to uphold their end of the bargain.
Without going into deep detail on this bill (I'll suggest a reasonably neutral link), let me respond to Thorley and actually get to spend some time kicking at the well-polished loafers of the corporate shills who have pushed this legislation.

I'm always amused when, as a Democrat, conservative Republicans bust me for believing in Big Government Intervention - usually, on behalf of the poor, the less powerful, and people who have been typically excluded from 'the game' we play in our economy and polity.

I'm amused because they are the same ones who trip over the tassels on their loafers rushing to the Capitol to get laws changed that might materially improve their lot in life.

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  • John Thacker: I was in favor of government action to favor the read more
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May 3, 2004

Some Retail Politics, For A Change

By Armed Liberal at 22:25

I discovered Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va) in 2002, in a post at Armed Liberal which I titled: Why My Ostensible Party, The Democrats, Will Not Be Able To Use Bush's Corporate History Against Him. In it, I quoted a New York Times article which explained that Moran – who carried the repulsive anti-consumer bankruptcy bill, also received a $447,000 loan ‘on favorable terms’ from MBNA - the credit card company.

He managed to explain to a meeting of opponents of the Iraq war that "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this."

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  • Paladine: AL is absolutely right one might mention that the USA read more
  • Thorley Winston: Andrew J. Lazarus wrote: Your buddies in the credit business read more
  • Thorley Winston: AL wrote: Thorley - all that disclosure. The lenders do read more

Dan's Winds of War: 2004-03-05

By Dan Darling at 06:18

Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.


Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Thai troops deployments; Thai separatist info; Jordanian anti-terrorism demonstration; another 3/11 arrest; LeT member disgruntled with Western life; Taliban poisoning girls in Khost; former Indonesian-backed militia stockpiling weaponry; Macedonian police admit killings staged; al-Zawahiri is the real al-Qaeda supremo; Mullah Krekar goes nuts in Norway; Pakistan releases Waziri prisoners; al-Fadl videotapes valuable to US understanding of al-Qaeda; al-Qaeda/PRC link; GSPC update; and Arnold's bubblehead dolls.

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  • Anonymous Coward #8: The state department report excludes domestic terrorism and attacks on read more
  • AST: I saw a few minutes of Prince Saud al-Faisal, the read more
  • Dan Darling: A term that might well be applied to the read more

Abu Ghraib != (does not equal) My Lai

By Armed Liberal at 00:27

Dear Diana Moon. I know a lot about My Lai (I was leading demonstrations against the Vietnam war at the time). I even know who Hugh Thompson is. And in all my discussions of My Lai with my fellow protesters and at our events, I made it a point to bring up his story.

Why? Because it showed My Lai for what it was - a criminal act, rather than state policy. If it had been state policy, Hugh Thompson would have been court-marshaled, not Lt. Calley.

But enough about my experience with Vietnam; I'm not John Kerry.

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  • fling93: Who the heck is Diana Moon? Why aren't you guys read more

May 1, 2004

Multinational Non-Profit Weblog with 25+ Correspondents

By Joe Katzman at 17:57

How do we use MT? We're a non-profit weblog that covers international affairs. Naturally, we've recruited a bunch of international residents to act as correspondents and give us regular briefings from places as far away as Korea, China, Iran, etc.

Our list of authors currently stands at about 25 - partly because our roster does change, but also because people leave. We don't want to delete authors and therefore leave all their past posts "authorless" in the system. That's not ethical, because those materials belong to them.

Our roster will probably be about 35 in a year's time. We've enjoyed a certain amount of success, eith nominations for international journalism awards and several successes in conjunction with charities like Spirit of America, Operation Give, etc.

That said, Winds of Change.NET is run on a shoestring because it has to be. It's all private funds, and I don't have a lot to spend on this. The new 3.0 licensing provisions would almost certainly force us to abandon Movable Type - and flagship non-profit successes like The Command Post (perused regularly by CNN staffers during the recent Iraq war because of their incredibly timely coverage) would be right behind. I do think the proposed licensing scheme is a mistake for non-profit blogs, and could remove MT from its current role as the standard choice for individual blogers.

I don't mind paying USD$ 69.95, but beyond that we run into problems and I'd be very reluctant to adopt a system that would limit my team's expansion so sharply. That's the lifeblood of my blog, and the only way to run it without it consuming all of my time.

Note that I've dated this post so it doesn't show up on our present blog and disrupt our other coverage - so if it seems precognitive, that's why.

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Abu Ghraib

By Armed Liberal at 16:25

By now, if you're interested enough in news to be reading this, you've read about the crimes committed in Iraqi prisons by Coalition troops. While guarding Iraqi prisoners, they abused them.

I don't know enough yet to know the extent of or all the facts around the abuse, but I do know enough to know that abuse happened, and that those in charge at various levels were somewhere between supportive or ignorant.

So, you're asking, what the hell is a post about this doing on Winds of Change on a Good News Saturday?

Because to me, the news is good news.

The news isn't that people were abused. I'm sorry, but that happens everywhere and has happened throughout human history. As a species, we're pretty cruel.

In many societies, though, cruelty is the norm. It is not only expected, but those who practice it well are rewarded.

In our society, they are shamed, and fired, and arrested.

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  • Ale: Hipocrisy is a good term, but referring to what American read more

Well, it's Friday night, and I'm full of Good News (no, I haven't quite been born again...).

By Armed Liberal at 07:17

It has just been an incredible week for me.

Spirit of America. Damn, I've never ridden a rocket before. What a thrill; my friend who is doing the books - who is somewhat of a cynic - commented as she iced her hands from entering all the donations into Quickbooks - "My faith in humanity is restored."

In case you missed it, Jim Hake set out to raise $100,000 to buy some TV equipment - to let local Iraqi stations air local news. Much of that news is good, but much as the news of gang shootings in Pico-Union creates panic in West Los Angeles, the bad news there tends to drive out the good. Allowing some old-fashioned local news coverage - of rescuers working to save girls stuck in wells, local sports heroes, all the banal stuff that everyday life is so deliciously made up from - offers the chance to remind people that life is not sliding downhill quite the way some might fear.

Well, Jim is aggressive and good, and soon there was a column in the Wall Street Journal, and the next day there was $400,000 in the bank. As of today, the website shows over $1.5 MILLION in contributions - all of which will be used to buy things the Iraqi people need to rebuild their country and their lives.

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  • spartanwolf: Post-troll, you have aptly named yourself. How inane. Not likely read more
  • ExRat: I agree -- people who are playing soccer or building read more
  • FH: AL creates a post that demonstrates the best of humanity, read more

Sufi Wisdom: Khayyam and the Wine

By T.L. James at 07:00

As militant Islam does its best to discredit the religion, it is important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, a branch of Islamic mystics with roots in many religious traditions. The lessons of Sufism are often communicated through humorous stories and mystical or romantic poetry. As a part of Joe's Good News Saturdays, we spend some time each week with the Sufis and their "wisdom of idiots."

Ghiyath al-Din Abu'l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami (known popularly as Omar Khayyam) was a Sufi scholar who lived in the late Eleventh and early Twelfth Centuries in Khorasan, Persia. While today he is more famous as a poet, he was a man of many talents, having also been a mathematician who made significant contributions to the field of algebra and an astronomer who assisted in devising the highly-accurate Persian calendar.

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  • iuaer: The Sufis are the poster children for those with the read more
  • Joe Katzman: Peggy, A thoughtful post. One wishes that more Muslims WOULD read more
  • khalid Ajmain: Salam, I'm looking for writers as I'm doing an Islamic read more
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