I'll be traveling for the holidays so posts will be iffy. Anyway, a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2006 to all of you! (And let's hope Santa will bring some nice surprise!).
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Mansions for the Homeless
A Zimbabwean cabinet minister has condemned as "sub-standard" a model of a home built by the United Nations (UN) for victims of a government clean-up blitz that left hundreds of thousands homeless.
Chombo said that the money spent on asbestos walling could have been used to buy bricks, the paper said.
"Comrade Chombo described the house... as below human dignity, saying the people who designed the structure were guided by a 'this-is-good-for-Africa' attitude," The Herald said.
UN relief aid coordinator Jan Egeland should realize two things: Mugabe wants nice houses made of bricks because a) through his Vice President Joice Mujuru he has bought brick factories prior to Operation Murambatsvina (Drive out filth) and b) the homeless will never see the inside of these houses as they will be rented out or given to army officers as bribes.
I am sure that the UN is not as naive as to ignore what I have just stated, but their continuous pretense of taking everything at face value is tiring, stupid and dangerous.
PS Sokwanele has posted a petition initiated by the Mail and Guardian to refer Mugabe to the Security Council:
To compel the United Nations Security Council to pass resolutions imposing economic sanctions on Zimbabwe and establishing an International Tribunal for Crimes Against Humanity in Zimbabwe. Perpetrators of these crimes should be apprehended and then prosecuted.
Might as well try it. Go and sign!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Democratic underground (take five)
3) seabeyond: "i refuse kentuck i just refuse. why do you think the (American) people are so dumb because they have been being dumb down consistantly alst decade especially during bush time. i refuse and tell my children i refuse to allow them to be dumb down. they had better use their brain to follow me. i have high expectation,. i will not feed into the dumbing down of america. i tell my friends, exactly i expect more out of them, i especially tell my older nieces and nephews and their friends, i will not play their dumb down game
no no no"
Don't laugh, though; it would be like mocking the Special Olympics (Thanks, BH!).
What a coincidence...
Germany has secretly released Hammadi ,a Hezbollah member jailed for life for killing a U.S. Navy diver and returned him to Lebanon despite an extradition request from the United States. Lebanese political sources said on Tuesday.
Hammadi's release occurred a few days before German hostage Susanne Osthoff was freed in Iraq. The archaeologist had disappeared on Nov. 25. Germany said on Sunday she was in safe custody. She has made no public statement since. A Lebanese source said a senior German intelligence officer visited Damascus early this month but did not disclose the purpose of the trip. Syria is a key backer of Hezbollah.
Thanks g-d Germany is not on the Security Council or they would have sold their veto power on Syria's resolutions.
Monday, December 19, 2005
The Iranian regime will never change by itself
An interesting post on LiberoPensiero, comparing today's Iran to communist USSR (translation mine):
Today's Iran plays the same role once rendered by the USSR, although on a smaller scale. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the whole global structure of the totalitarian left collapsed with it. Similarly, if Iran's Islamic Republic collapses, it is likely that the whole islamofascist structure would too.
If this is true, and I tend to agree with it, then Teheran's regime has no choice but to behave as it does, to say what it says and to support terrorism all over the map in order to survive. Having said that, the choices for the civilized world are then extremely limited: either promote a popular revolt that would erase the theocracy (but time is running out) or provoke regime change by external means, now. If the first step towards this objective is a referral to the Security Council so that sanctions can be imposed to Iran, so be it, but the West should be well aware that no negotiations, threats or enticements will ever budge Teheran from its positions as this would amount - for the regime - to political (and religious) suicide. In fact, any dialogue with the EU and/or the US emboldens it.
Even if Ahmadinejad gets out of the picture (see preceding post), and the regime offers the world a less unpleasant and undiplomatic side, the West should not believe for a moment that Teheran's aims and objectives have mellowed. In a way, in fact, it could be more dangerous as it would give an excuse to some countries (Russia, China, France, Germany) to pretend to appreciate Iran's government improved attitude (in order to do business with them) and insist on endless and useless negotiations while the mullahs develop their nuclear program at their leisure.
The short happy life of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Sources in Iran also indicate that efforts are under way to impeach the new President, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, but that a parallel effort has been working on sending him back to Allah and opinion has it, he will not complete his term in office.
Looks like Ahmadinejad has a short future in front of him.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Iraq issues arrest warrant for UN HQ bomb suspectIraq has issued an arrest warrant for a militant believed to be responsible for the 2003 truck-bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement on Friday. The attack killed 22 people including U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. The statement said Iraq's Central Investigating Court had issued the warrant on Dec. 4 for Mullah Halgurd al-Khabir. It named him as the prime suspect for the U.N. headquarters attack and said he was the senior leader in Baghdad of the Army of Ansar al-Sunna -- one of the main Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq. It also said Khabir had historical ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq.
Moreover, Ansar al-Sunna is a terrorist organization with links to Iran and Syria (and probably an ally of Moqtada al Sadr), believed to be based in Mosul. Many of its members have been arrested in north Iraq by the Kurds; some must have repented and confessed their sins.
Iraq, UN, Zarqawi
Iraq's victory against MSM
After yesterday's historic Iraqi elections that have seen Sunnis renounce violence for representation, I hope all those idiots, hypocrites, extremists and opportunists (and yes, I am also talking about BBC, Reuters, AP, &c) will stop calling terrorists "insurgents" or "militants". They were false and ridiculous before, they would be pathetic now.
Nigeria's agricultural revolution
Impressed by the success of the commercial farming initiative of Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, President Olusegun Obasanjo would today hold a retreat with all the state governors in Kaduna to explore the possibility of replicating the initiative in other states.
Prior to the retreat, Adamu had disclosed that the Presidency after his visit to the state to assess the progress of the Zimbabwe Farmers had met with the expatriate farmers at Aso Rock where he had recommended the commercial farming initiative to 12 states and had directed them come to Kwara to see things for themselves. He stressed that in its determination to ensure the success of the White Farmers programme, the federal government had set up a technical committee to advise and added that funding would play critical roles in the success of the programme.
Bello praised the white farmers for putting the nation on the world map of agriculture revolution and added that agriculture remained the mainstay of the nation's economy, "it is growing at a faster rate because it holds the key to job creation and poverty reduction." Visiting Nassarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu expressed excitement at the prospects of the commercial farming initiative and said, "from today, I wish to announce to you that the government and people of Nassarawa State having come and seen the good efforts of these farmers and what they have done within 10 months which we cannot do in 10 years we are on board."
If Mugabe had any dignity, he would dig a very deep hole and jump in it.
Read it all and cry for Zimbabwe.
Friday, December 16, 2005
A letter to Santa
We have been (almost) good this year and would like some presents very much. We'll give you a choice, but if you manage to carry off all of them we would be very, very happy (we also did some preliminary legwork for you):
Thank you Santa! You'll find milk and Christmas pudding near the fireplace for your refreshment (and Dasher's, Dancer's, Prancer's &c).
Ahmadinejad told to take a hike...to Alaska
Outspoken Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should take a trip to Alaska to cool off after his latest outburst against Jews, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said, AFP reported. "He has to go to Alaska to cool off a little bit," Peres told a press conference at a European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg.
Apart from Peres' ironic but bland comment, Iran has become a huge world problem and must be dealt with swiftly and completely.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Zimbabwe's quiet coup
Trevor Ncube, chairman of the Africa board of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, has hit out fiercely at Zimbabwe's ruling elite, alleging that the deeply troubled southern African state is now effectively being ruled by the military and the intelligence agencies rather than by President Robert Mugabe.
"It has become clear Mugabe is not running the country," said the publisher. "Remember after Operation Murambatsvina. It was revealed that it was the Central Intelligence Organisation that was behind it." Operation Murambatsvina, which translates into Shona as "Operation Drive Out The Rubbish", resulted in somewhere between 750,000 and 2.3 million Zimbabweans being made homeless when police, soldiers and militias of the ruling ZANU PF party moved into working class suburbs in the cities and towns, hotbeds of support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, and razed many thousands of homes with bulldozers and sledgehammers.
"Mugabe has no intention to leave [the presidency], and in fulfilment of that he now relies more and more on the military," continued Ncube. "In other words we have a military dictatorship in place.
An earlier post of mine sounds eerily prescient today:
One way out for Mugabe, perhaps the only one (short of suicide) at this point, is to provoke a crisis that would justify the introduction of martial law, immediately followed by a military coup (with his support in exchange for protection). His recent promise to allocate stolen land to 6000 members of the armed forces hints at some kind of agreement.
Go to Pajamas Media for an excellent coverage of the Iraqi elections.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton discussed reforms four days after Annan reproached him for criticizing a top U.N. official.
Details of Annan and Bolton's discussion were not made public, but Dujarric said the talks focused on reforming the United Nations, including establishing a Peacebuilding Commission and transferring power from the disgraced Human Rights Commission to a new human rights council.
Hopefully Bolton will knock some sense into that zombie.UN, Annan, Bolton
The condition of Algeria's president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in a Paris hospital for surgery on a stomach ulcer, is critical according to anonymous diplomatic sources.
After the trick referendum some people are getting worried.
Meanwhile, the chain of events in the country this week have exposed the fragility of the Algerian regime, which is built on loyalty to personalities and influential people and not on the basis of the strength of state institutions. An analyst said the reason behind the tension that engulfed the country in recent days was that a number of officials whose appointment lacked legitimacy feared that they would fall if President Bouteflika left the presidency in one way or the other.
Syria's position worsening by the hour
Assad threatens the region and the world if Syria is subjected to sanctions and the next day Tueni, a prominent anti-Syrian journalist, is killed in Beirut. Is Assad naive or does he think he can play hard without someone playing harder?
The latest Mehlis report doesn't leave much to the imagination; Assad must make up his mind quickly or there will be nothing left to decide for him.
Gono covers his backside before the end
Zimbabwe central bank governor Gideon Gono has written to President Robert Mugabe to tell him the country - already grappling severe food shortages - is headed for "catastrophe" next year unless he acts urgently to stop farm invasions and allow farmers to grow food.
Too late. Neither command agriculture nor an increase in inputs will solve the problem. Things just don't work this way.
"Hanoi Jane" Fonda is claiming that ever since Vietnam, U.S. troops have been trained to commit atrocities against innocent civilians as a matter of military policy.
Stupid thing; imagine what a winning policy that would be!
I wrote something about this wreck of a woman earlier; sadly it still applies.
Good news from Aceh
Rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh have begun handing in the remainder of their weapons. The fourth and final round of decommissioning is expected to last around four days. After this, the last of the Indonesian troops and police reinforcements sent to the province will be withdrawn.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Iran rude and crude
The Iranian minister for culture and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Hossein Safar Harandi, has announced that by March, the government will give the Iranian Professional Journalist Association one million dollars to be distributed "as they see fit among the journalists". The 'gift' was announced just one week after a C-130 military plane crashed into a ten-storey building killing killed 108 people including dozens of journalists who were on board the flight.
The offer of money also comes after the union called for an independent investigation into the accident.
"This decision is not linked to the recent tragic events..."
Well, if that is what your Islamic rule says, then your Islam must go.
Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood by his latest controversial attack against Israel and boldly asserted the world was "on the verge of change", according to AFP.
You can bet your ass on it. Especially if your words are correctly interpreted as a declaration of war.
However, what puzzles me is why Ahmadinejad has chosen to justify in advance any defensive (at this point) action Israel might want to undertake against Iran.
Israel's armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.
The ruling Zanu PF conference that ended in Esigodini on Saturday resolved to refuse entertaining any future UN envoys "sent into the country as clandestine and insidious agents of the British and other Western countries, in pursuance of their hidden agenda of regime change in Zimbabwe." The 10 point resolution states that the ruling Zanu PF took great exception to a hostile report compiled by UN envoy for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland during his recent visit to assess the impact of government's brutal Operation Restore Order/Murambatsvina.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday called top United Nations envoy Jan Egeland a "damn hypocrite and a liar", at a party conference. "He's a damn hypocrite and a liar," Mugabe said to the applause of around 3 000 members of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party. In a speech broadcast live on state radio Mugabe said Egeland, who was in the country earlier this week to assess the humanitarian situation, said "nasty things" about Zimbabwe after he left the country on Wednesday.
He didn't like it, eh? What did the idiot expect?
The Zimbabwe government plans to introduce new regulations to allow it to temporarily borrow from foreign currency accounts (FCAs) of private organisations and individuals, in yet another desperate bid to lay its hands on whatever little hard cash is available in the country, Zim Online has learnt. Sources within the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said the proposed new regulation that they said could be announced early next year would bring FCAs held by individuals and others such as non-governmental organisations within reach of President Robert Mugabe's hard cash-strapped government. If implemented as planned, the move would widen the sources of hard cash for the internationally-isolated Mugabe government, currently battling fuel, power and basic commodity shortages due to lack of foreign currency.
Stealing openly now.
I Am Surrounded By Crooks - Mugabe
You picked them because they were like you, Bob.
A top Zimbabwean army general warned soldiers against supporting or entertaining sympathy for the main opposition, branding it an enemy of the country, state television said on Monday.
"If there is any among you who are supporters or have any sympathy for the MDC, then the military is not your place."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
IT'S THE SORT of behavior we have -- sadly -- come to expect from some in Congress. But when Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, announced last week that he was going to work for Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth, he catapulted himself into a different league. It's one thing for a legislator to resign his job, leave his committee chairmanship and go to work for a company over whose industry he once had jurisdiction. It's quite another thing when the chancellor of Germany -- one of the world's largest economies -- leaves his job and goes to work for a company controlled by the Russian government that is helping to build a Baltic Sea gas pipeline that he championed while in office. To make the decision even more unpalatable, it turns out that the chief executive of the pipeline consortium is none other than a former East German secret police officer who was friendly with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, back when Mr. Putin was a KGB agent in East Germany. If nothing else, Mr. Schroeder deserves opprobrium for his bad taste.
But the announcement should also raise questions in German voters' minds about the real reasons Mr. Schroeder was so keen to see this pipeline project launched. The pipeline has cost Germany diplomatically by infuriating its Central European and Baltic neighbors. They point out that the Russian government chose to use the sea route rather than run a new pipeline alongside one that already exists on land, despite the far greater expense. The only possible reason for doing so was political: The Baltic Sea pipeline could allow Russia, a country that has made political use of its energy resources, to cut off gas to Central Europe and the Baltic states while still delivering gas to Germany. Many have wondered why Germany chose to go along with this project. Could it have been because the former chancellor realized that he was, in effect, creating his own future place of employment? (ht: 1972)
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
A step in the right direction
Leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) opened a two-day extraordinary summit on Wednesday with a Saudi call for moderation and tolerance and a rejection of extremist violence. “Islamic unity would not be reached through bloodshed as claimed by the deviants,” Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz said at the inauguration of the summit.
Only an evolved and mature Islam can help Muslims re-join the rest of the world and allow them to share and contribute to it.
Syed Rashid Husain adds: Speaking at the inaugural session, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said: “We do not have the luxury of blaming others for our own problems. It is high time we addressed our national and regional problems with courage, sincerity and openness.
This is perhaps the most important statement, and a good indicator of serious intentions. Sadly, not only Islamic states but also many leaders of other countries continue to hide behind the stupid rhetoric of the "external enemy" to cover their failures.
Blaming Israel or the US is not going to solve their backwardness and isolation. Furthermore, the ploy has become so transparent to be embarrassing. If Muslims have been brainwashed this way, surely their leaders must realize that their pretended hate of Israel is not due to religious, territorial, historical reasons, but only to envy: Israel is the living proof of what a country can achieve with a handful of sand, no oil, good people and willingness to work hard while being surrounded by enemies. With all their money, Arab countries have nothing to show but hatred, self-victimization, oppressive regimes, total disregard for human rights, and they can't bear to live with this persistent reminder of what they are not in their midst. Instead of trying to destroy Israel, they should strive to imitate it.
President General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday urged Muslim leaders to work out a strategy for an Islamic renaissance, recommended mandatory contributions by each member state for a common science and technology fund and asked extremists to shun violence.
It is important that such ideas and initiatives are not hidden behind frivolous discussions on cartoons or piggy banks; and before complaining about discrimination against Muslims, they should ask themselves what are Muslims living abroad doing to integrate in and contribute to their new homelands, instead of demanding rights (rarely - if at all - reciprocated in their home countries) which only increase their isolation.
The UN in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean officials should be prosecuted for crimes committed in the government's mass housing demolition earlier this year, the United Nations' head of humanitarian aid said yesterday. "Crimes were committed," said Jan Egeland at the end of a four-day visit to the country. He said he had open disagreements with Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, particularly over obstacles to international aid.
So why doesn't the UN stop pretending it is dealing with a sane person and prosecute him?
Mr Egeland launched an appeal for $276m (£159m) to help the homeless, hungry and Aids sufferers in Zimbabwe. It was a question of life and death for thousands, he said.
This appeal, by UN's own admission, serves only the interests of the UN. They have acknowledged that they can only operate within the government framework and that, unfortunately, amounts to helping, supporting and sometimes enforcing government policies. Once again, the UN and its agencies prop up a dictatorship in order not to lose "business".
Egeland told IRIN that the UN had begun constructing temporary and permanent shelters for those left homeless by the campaign, but admitted that donors had been "reluctant" to fund construction, citing government's insistence that it would draw up its own list of beneficiaries as one of the problems. The Zimbabwean government initially rejected the UN offer to build temporary shelters, saying there was "no humanitarian crisis", only to make an about-turn last month. In its acceptance letter the government insisted on drawing up the list of beneficiaries, and laid down specifications for the construction of permanent brick and concrete one-room shelters.Zimbabwe is in "meltdown" says United Nations humanitarian chief Jan Egeland following a visit to the country. He also said President Robert Mugabe's rejection of tents for hundreds of thousands of people evicted and made homeless this year is "puzzling".
If Egeland read blogs, he would know why.
There is NO WAY that Mugabe will allow humanitarian aid to reach the intended beneficiaries:
Villagers in Tsholotsho district in northern Matabeleland have told SW Radio Africa that during the senate election campaign they were asked by ruling Zanu PF councillors and officials to choose between life and death. They were told that choosing life meant voting for the ruling party. Voting for the opposition MDC was like choosing starvation and death. The villagers said they were left with no choice but to choose life by voting for the ruling party candidate, Josephine Moyo despite the fact that the area is an opposition stronghold. ‘We had run out of food and we were threatened that if we continued voting for the MDC, aid organisations would be stopped from distributing relief food,’ said one villager, Mluleki Nyathi of Siphepha village. According to the villagers, a few days before the election, aid workers from the Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress, ORAP, arrived in their villages accompanied by Zanu PF officials. Zanu PF officials addressed the villagers before ORAP workers handed over relief food.
This is Zimbabwe puts it very well:
But then who really cares? Mugabe hasn’t dropped any atom bombs, has he? He is just slowly starving the opposition in Zim to death behind his disinformation screen, even a fool knows that. But it’s so much easier on the world’s consciences, isn’t it?
The other African heads of state are as culpable as Mugabe for not stopping this Darfur-like massacre, and I would recommend that aid be stopped to those countries who not only do nothing about it, but even openly support the beast.
You don't say!
I have a number of alerts that pop up on my desktop, to keep up with the news. One of these is BBC alert, which, for all its bias, is usually timely and relevant. I just received one that is neither:
Harold Pinter blasts Iraq war
Can someone please tell me who gives a f*&*k?
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Mugabe wins again
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan "stingy" Egeland has met Mugabe to discuss Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis:
Egeland told a press conference in the capital, Harare, that there was still "disagreement" around government's controversial clean-up campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, which has left 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood after kicking off in mid-May.
But do not despair, it was nice too:
He described his meeting with Mugabe as a "long, good and frank exchange", but noted, "There is disagreement on how to help those who were evicted; there has been some concern on how to reach food security," adding, "this is not the time to list all the points of disagreement".
Egeland also obtained some important and sincere concessions from Mugabe:
The UN envoy, who is also the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, remarked, "We're here to help - I explained to the president that we can be more effective if we get even better procedures for how to help. He says that he will certainly work on having these improved procedures, so that we can help Zimbabwe to get out of the situation where there have been declining standards of living of late, and into a better future."
Gee, thanks Bob! Do look at the procedures, please!
Mugabe also humbly expressed his real concern for the homeless:
President Robert Mugabe told top UN humanitarian envoy Jan Egeland that Zimbabweans are not "tents people", after the world body offered temporary shelters to thousands displaced by a wave of shack demolitions, the state-run Herald reported Wednesday.
"We are not a tents people. We believe in houses," presidential spokesman George Charamba quoted Mugabe as saying.
...excuse me while I try to stop laughing...ok, better now. As I was saying, of course they believe in houses; so much so that just before starting "Operation Murambatsvina [Drive out rubbish]", Vice President Joice Mujuru (probably on behalf of Mugabe and his accomplices) bought all the shares she could find of Willdale, the biggest brick factory in Harare and main government supplier for Operation Garikai, the housing programme that now the UN will fund.
Good planning, Bob! My apologies for having often called you stupid. Stupid are those who believe you.
Castro's conversion to Islam
In my opinion, he is one of the best choices for converting people to Islam; indeed, Castro meets the necessary conditions for conversion to Islam for the following reasons:
"First: For years, Castro has not shaved his beard, while many of our brother Hizbullah members who deviated [from the righteous path] shaved their beards after a while.
"Second: For years, Castro has repeated a single mantra, and is not willing to accept that the world has changed. Thus, he is eminently suitable for us.
"Third: In light of the fact that Cuba's main source of income is its prostitutes, Castro can direct and guide these acts of licentiousness after he converts to Islam. He will be able to establish the 'houses of modesty' [brothels established by permission of the Iranian regime] extensively in Cuba.
"Fourth: In light of the fact that Castro has for years prevented freedom of speech in Cuba, it seems that his beliefs have been similar to those of [Iran's] religious conservatives for quite a while. For this reason, everything fits.
"Fifth: In light of the fact that for years Castro has worn an army uniform, it is now clear that he is a born jihad fighter for Allah, and is one of our brothers the Basij.
"Sixth: In light of the fact that Castro has for some time had Parkinson's disease, and apparently will soon be ill with Alzheimer's, he himself can serve as Cuba's Marja' Taqlid ['authority for emulation' for Shi'ites].
"Suggestion: To complete the project of Castro's conversion to Islam, it is hereby suggested that his circumcision festivities be held in the presence of Venezuelan President [Hugo] Chavez and [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad, and that the picture of Castro in a white skirt following the circumcision be published extensively so as to deal a powerful blow to the privates of the 'global arrogance' [i.e. the U.S. and the West]."
Read them all for a good laugh!
Way to go, John!
U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said yesterday that U.N. reforms are lagging far behind Washington's expectations, and affirmed the Bush administration's intention to delay the U.N. budget if necessary. The administration has demanded the 191-member General Assembly adopt a series of management reforms designed to streamline and improve the often cumbersome organization. With less than three weeks of negotiations left before the 2006-07 budget is to be approved, Mr. Bolton said in an interview that Washington cannot allow the $3.6 billion spending plan to pass unless it reflects the reforms.
"The way you focus you people's attention is by combining the reform work with the budget," he said.
Old al Qaeda video a sign of decline and disarray
Some faithful employee of al Jazeera must have been told to revive the tarnished image of al Qaeda but he botched it. In fact, al Jazeera has already apologized and admitted to having broadcast the video by "mistake"; the same video (or parts of it) had already been transmitted last 19 September.
In it the retard al Zawahiri appeals to those he and his accomplices have lately been massacring daily and doesn't seem to be up to date. Another sign that even al Qaeda's communications and propaganda units have been seriously compromised.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Now we know we are winning
Regarding the war in Iraq and more broadly, the war on terror, all indicators point in the direction of victory and this scares the hell of people like Howard Dean, Murtha and the MSM because success will mark them forever as defeatists and traitors. They are not worried about American soldiers, civilian deaths, civil war, they are running scared...of winning. Although we are not there yet and it'll be a long haul, thanks to the Bush administration it will be done. Facts and figures are looking good and a prosperous and democratic Iraq (and eventually Middle East) is becoming more and more a reality.
Here are two excellent analyses: a report by the Brookings Institution on Iraq's progress (insurgency, economic indicators, political trends) and an article of the Heritage Foundation that dismantles, one by one, the myths about Iraq so often quoted by opportunistic defeatists.
Changes such as the current democratization of the Middle East are far apart in the history of our world and only a fool, or an enemy, would hinder a process of such import.
Military plane crashes in Teheran
A military C-130 aircraft carrying 80 passengers and 10 crew crashed into a residential area in southern Tehran on Tuesday, police and Red Crescent officials said. The plane crashed while trying to make an emergency landing at Tehran's Mehrabad airport.
The recent World Summit of the Information Society has generated a great debate about who should manage the Internet. Claudia Rosett, famous expert and critic of the United Nations, has some serious doubts that it should be the UN:
Any institution brazen enough to hold a “World Summit on the Information Society” in internet-censoring journalist-jailing Tunisia is obviously ready to try anything to get hold of the net. This initiative has been bubbling along since Tunisia first proposed it in 1998, and by now there have been enough conferences, theme papers, working groups and planning sessions so that this UN campaign has put down roots.
The UN portfolio of projects by now includes everything from the world economy to the weather. As you read this, an estimated 10,000 delegates and observers from 189 countries are meeting for 10 days in Montreal, Canada, to continue the UN discussions on climate change. It’s possible this meeting alone will generate enough hot air to melt the polar ice caps.
The danger by now is that the UN has two powerfully motivated interest groups, the censors and the taxers, both gunning for control of the net. And the UN has already sprouted a bureaucracy, complete with Prepcoms, to organize the next summit, and the next. The takeover bid failed in Tunis, but with enough time and persistence, it could very well happen.
Professor Peng Hwa Ang of Nanyang Technical University in Singapore is a member of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance and attended the recently concluded World Summit on the Information Society. The good doctor has a different opinion and has responded - feebly, in my opinion - to Ms Rosett on Pajamas Media:
Ms Rosett’s piece illustrates the kind of reaction that worries those of us who consider ourselves centrists and friends of the US in the debate over internet governance. I hope her views are not those of the informed in the USA, primarily because they ignore the concerns of Most of the Rest of the World (MRW) and come across as spin from the Department of Commerce.
The oil-for-food programme, as Mr Annan admits, should not have come under the UN. But I can understand why it did. Only the UN has the credibility as a third-party to be acceptable by Most of the Rest of the World (MRW). That credibility is reflected in the Internet Governance Forum. In the end, after looking around, MRW decided to park it under the UN Secretary General. Given the choice—trust the US or trust the UN—unlike Ms Rosett from the USA, MRW chose the latter.
Dr. Peng's response revolves almost entirely around the concept Most of the World (MRW) which he tries to sell as a very democratic way to approach the problem. However, he forgets (or conveniently pretends to) that much of MRW is made of countries like Iran, Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, various Arab dictatorships (including Tunisia), &c.
Now, if you talk of democratic management of the Internet, let's hear what the democratic countries want. The UN will never stand for democracy until membership criteria are introduced so that members are valuable contributors instead of oppressive and corrupt dictatorships bent on maintain control on their waning power at all costs.
Dr. Peng is trying to give legitimacy to countries who have no right to ask, demand, plead or pretty please anything at all. This is the paradigm shift required now. These countries can, at best, be given the role of observers so they can learn something, but they should never be allowed to have a say in how the democratic world runs its business. They could form a parallel organization (without powers of course) to a real democratic UN; they could call it...MRW.
Pamela has some thoughts too and while you are there you might want to vote for her in the Weblog Awards 2005!
Iran's internal struggle
The mad mullahs are at each other's throats, as more and more recognize the folly of Ahmadinejad's policies:
And tougher fights loom ahead, as his opponents marshal their forces in the judiciary and the regular Army. Clearly Ahmadinejad has lost the full faith of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic republic.
As I pointed out before, Ahmadinejad is openly challenging the mullahs' power:
The man is ultra-fundamentalist with a mystical bent. He is affiliated with the Hojjatieh movement, which is preparing for the return of the 12th imam, who disappeared down a well in the ninth century. The group's teachings undermine the authority of any contemporary "supreme leader," like Khamenei.
The US is certainly happy about it and has wisely toned down its attacks against the regime:
With the mullahs now tearing themselves apart, the last thing Washington wants to do is scare them into a new unity.
Ahmadinejad's posturing doesn't help his image either:
Much to the alarm of those who say Iran is modernising, he frequently refers to the Mahdi, even mentioning him in his speech to the UN General Assembly in September. Asked late last month how Iranians should prepare for the Mahdi, he replied: "They must be pure and devout." On other occasions, he has talked of reorienting the country's policies to be ready for judgement day, the equivalent of Tony Blair telling Britons to prepare for Christ's second coming.
If Khamenei doesn't rein him in quickly, judgment day could come for Iran sooner than he expects:
Israeli leaders issuing statements about the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear technology is a routine affair. The remarks, however, were not routine warnings about the threat posed by a radical Shiite Islamist state. Instead, the Israeli government dropped more hints pointing to an emerging shift in its Iran policy.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
President Gen Pervez Musharraf has hoped that the Organization of Islamic Conference will endorse a new charter in its upcoming summit in Makkah. Talking to media people at Chaklala airbase before leaving for a six-day visit of Kuwait, Yemen and Saudi Arabia on Saturday, he said the approval of the OIC’s new charter was necessary for resolving problems confronted by Ummah.
He said the OIC summit in Makkah was the follow-up of its meeting in Kuala Lumpur, in which he had presented his theory of enlightened moderation after which its leaders’ commission formulated a draft of some proposals.
And he has powerful backing:
The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, agreeing with the President, observed that the Organisation of Islamic Conference came into being under particular circumstances and added that its charter could be reviewed.
Leaders from 57 Muslim countries are to meet in Makkah next week to reform and revamp OIC as part of efforts to steer their 1.5 billion population to sustained socio-economic development.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Hong Kong Sunday to pressure the government to speed up political reforms that would allow voters to pick the territory's leader and entire legislature.
Romania offers a home to US Forces
This is good news. Just look at the map.
Romania, USA, Army
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Mugabe accepts aid, conditionally
Mugabe has graciously consented to let the World Food Program deliver aid to starving Zimbabweans:Zimbabwe has agreed with the UN food agency to feed at least three million people in the country until next June. The deal is intended to smooth the World Food Programme's operations in the country. It does not guarantee help to victims of housing demolitions.
Selective aid. In practical terms, the government will allow food to be distributed only to those it hasn't targeted for punishment.
A report issued this week by Human Rights Watch accused the UN humanitarian agencies of neglecting those people affected by the Zimbabwe government's housing demolition programme, Operation Murambatsvina, in urban areas. WFP's southern Africa spokesman, Mike Huggins, told the BBC News website that in terms of the new memorandum of understanding, "we are free to operate in any programme or area the government allows us to operate in".
Regarding the provision of shelter to those evicted during the infamous "Operation Murambatsvina [Drive out rubbish]", the situation is even worse:
Housing demolitions by the government this year affected 700,000 people, according to a UN special envoy. A report by HRW says the UN has been slow to act on special envoy Anna Tibaijuka's recommendations that it should help those affected. It also accuses the Zimbabwe government of blocking aid to those in need.
The government's critics believe that the relocations are part of a strategy to reassert control over urban people who have voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in recent elections. "They want total political control - they want to peasantify people like [former Cambodian leader] Pol Pot - force them into they country so they can control them," says the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube.
The report also says that the government's housing construction programme known as Operation Garikai will be of little help. "The criteria for allocation under the programme, which include a proof of formal employment, a specified salary, and the payment of the initial deposit and monthly instalments, will make the housing unaffordable to the vast majority of the displaced," the report says.
Mugabe has insisted that it was all for the good of the people:
But Mugabe defended the urban clean-up exercise saying it was intended to better the lives of Zimbabweans because the cash-strapped Harare government would build modern houses for people whose mostly slum accommodation had been demolished. Local Government and Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo, in charge of the reconstruction programme, confirmed the work stoppages. But he said that this was because of a shortage of building materials rather than because the government does not have money. He said: "People tend to exaggerate things. Of course we are having problems of suppliers not meeting our demands for building materials. We have money for the projects."
And why, we may wonder, Mugabe worries so much about providing decent housing for his people? Perhaps this nice allegory will help us understand:
“Let’s call in the United Nations” said the big bad wolf. After so many years of disguising himself in hoods and cloaks he was confident that he know how to trick the likes of the naive Little Red Riding Hoods of the world. And anyway, he also knew that his second-in-command She-Wolf - who happened to be married to the former wolf-army general - now owned the brick factories. Everyone would be happy - the piggies would get their houses and the wolf pack was already drooling at the thought of all that dosh that would be coming their way in Little Red Riding Hood’s basket of goodies! They howled and they cavorted for the feast soon to be delivered.
Got it? No? I'll be more explicit: vice president Ms Joice Mujuru, aware in advance of the destruction and following selective reconstruction that was about to happen, bought as many shares of construction materials companies as she could:
A company owned by Vice President Joice Mujuru’s family has taken control of brick maker Willdale, one of the main suppliers to government’s Operation Garikai housing programme. Dahaw Trading now controls 40 percent of Willdale, after apparently buying shares previously held by Intermarket Nominees and Trust Merchant Bank (TMB) Nominees, formerly the top shareholder. However, the family is said to hold an even larger stake through separate stock held by nominee companies.
So the little piggies are screwed both ways and the big bad wolf gets richer and richer.
Mehlis must be brave
The United States urged UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Friday to persuade German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis to stay on as head of the UN investigation into the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, after numerous reports Mehlis would step down after December 15. In a letter to Annan on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said America wanted Mehlis to "continue in his current capacity." "We understand Mehlis is in dangerous personal circumstances there," Bolton said in reference to threats made against the investigator in Lebanon.
If Mehlis quits, it will be a terrible blow to Lebanon; furthermore, whomever takes his place will be subjected to the same intimidation tactics from Syria and would probaly give in and come up with the usual inconclusive, bland UN reporting.
Mr. Mehlis, Please don't quit. Justice needs you. You are the hero of many millions of Lebanese who are anxious to know the truth. You have our total support... Above all, we trust you all the way...Please stay the course and we will all be glad you did.
Don't betray the babes!
New security levels (take five)As posted before, the French government recently announced a raise in its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The normal level is "General Arrogance", and the only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate". The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
It's not only the French that are on a heightened level of alert:
Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing". Two more levels remain, "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides".
The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdain" to "Dress In Uniform and Sing Marching Songs". They have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".
Seeing this reaction in continental Europe, the Americans have gone from "Isolationism" to "Find Another Oil-Rich Nation For Regime Change". Their remaining higher alert states are "Attack Random Countries (Ideally Those Without Any Credible Military)" and "Beg The British For Help".
The British are also feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved". Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "Bloody Nuisance".
The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Friday, December 02, 2005
President Robert Mugabe’s succession plans are beginning to take shape with the installation of loyalists at the helm of the controversial Senate. The Senate elections were held last week. The swearing in, as president of the new upper chamber, of Edna Madzongwe, a close ally of Joyce Mujuru, is part of Mugabe’s scheme to ensure his preferred candidate assumes the presidency when he vacates the post. Another yes-man from the Matabeleland province, Naison Ndlovu, was appointed Madzongwe’s deputy. The 81-year-old leader has indicated that he wants to retire and write his memoirs when his current term of office expires in 2008.
The farcical Senate elections in Zimbabwe have gone has predicted. Mugabe is spreading favors as far and wide as he can to ensure that he leaves behind enough of his cronies in power who, in order to protect their vested interests, will protect his retirement. Because of his ignorance, arrogance and stupidity, Mugabe has overlooked the fact that, to gain some kind of respectability, those who swoon over him now will offer him to the crowds to be hanged and quartered the moment they feel it is safe to do so.
Mugabe also plans to write his memoirs when he retires and this - unless you have run out of toilet paper - is one additional reason to hope for his violent demise.
Ivory Coast and French interference
The level of French meddling in the affairs of Ivory Coast doesn't cease to amaze and appall:
French news media are reporting a colonel says he was ordered to kill an Ivorian from the former head of France's peacekeeping operations in Ivory Coast. The colonel is among four soldiers under investigation in the death of the man last May in the West African country (background). According to reports by French news agencies and radio, Colonel Eric Burgaud says he received implicit orders to kill an Ivorian by Henri Poncet, the former head of France's peacekeeping mission in the Ivory Coast.The leader of Ivory Coast's rebel movement has asked U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to help end a political impasse by drafting a new peace plan in which the two warring sides would share power.The world's top cocoa grower, split into a government-held south and rebel-controlled north by a 2002 civil war, is searching for a new prime minister to organize a presidential election by next October, as required by a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last month. Rebel leader Guillaume Soro, who has been clamoring for the post, wrote to Annan saying the plan had failed because not all political parties had been consulted and because it was open to wide interpretation.
Probably Chirac is pulling Annan's jacket to favor Soro while everyone is trying his hand at resolving the situation, with very little success:
Three African presidents -- Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Niger's Mamadou Tandja -- visited Ivory Coast last week but failed to broker an agreement on who should be the new prime minister.
The truth might be found in the words of Charles Blé Goudé, leader of the Ivorian Young Patriots: ''J'accuse le Pre'sident de la France de financier la rebellion en Cote d'Ivoire'' (I accuse France President of financing the revolt in Ivory Coast); he went on to warn that all information reaching Europe from the country is filtered by France.
This partition of the country (that's what it is) will continue for a long time and might even end up being the only practical solution to the country's irreconcilable factions.
France, Chirac, Ivory Coast
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Musharraf delivers, quietly
Struggling with an enormous task after the 8 October earthquake, the Pakistani government has been more than happy to allow banned Islamic groups, even those considered terrorist organisations by Washington, to take over much of the aid effort in remote areas. Without the help of groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba - now renamed as Jamaatut Dawa - the relief operation would simply collapse. However a quiet crackdown is underway, with the arrests of leading figures associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LT), a Salafite group in the al-Qaeda galaxy which is supportive of the former Taliban regime.
High level intelligence sources has confirmed that dozens of other suspected militants - mainly from Lashkar-e-Toiba- have been secretly rounded up across the country.
High level sources said that so far the operation against LT is highly secret and selective but massive lists have been drawn up all across the country and a major arrest sweep is expected. They said that the operation, currently very low-key, would expand to the whole country including North and South Waziristan.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Syrian political senility
I would rather call it puerile!
Syria on Monday unmasked the 'Masked Witness' Hussam T Hussam and put him on state owned television, to claim that he has tricked the Mehlis commission. He disclosed that he was a member of Syria's intelligence and that 40% of the conclusions in the Mehlis report were based on his testimonies that he gave under duress. Syria wanted to use his TV appearance to discredit the Mehlis report which led to UN resolution 1636.
"This political senility and this deception by the Syrian security apparatus is a laughable farce and at the same time it seems they will use all means, even security, to shake up security (in Lebanon) to try to confuse the inquiry," Jumblatt told Reuters
It is obvious that Syria has been desperate for a long time to prove its innocence in the murder of Hariri, but was obviously having very hard time, since all events pointed to its involvement in a big way. This strange act by the regime was seen as Syria's, last attempt to prove its innocence by discrediting the Mehlis report, but again the Syrian regime failed badly.
This confirms that Assad is as stupid as he looks and really doesn't have a clue about what is going on around him. And that is dangerous.
Venezuela elections and more
Three Venezuelan opposition parties on Tuesday pulled out of congressional elections planned for Sunday, saying the conditions were tilted toward President Hugo Chavez's government.
Excellent move. Don't fall into the Mugabe trap as the MDC did. Participating in elections which are sure to be rigged in favor of your local dictator only legitimizes and reinforces the regime. Better to draw international attention by highlighting the frauds than to participate in a farce only to have Jimmy Carter certify it "free and fair". Chavez will obtain complete control of congress one way or another, but at least he will not be able to claim that he did it through "popular vote".
In fact, Chavez is preparing to crush any kind of internal opposition:Venezuela has sworn in commanders of a new military reserve which President Hugo Chavez says is meant to deter aggression against his country. Twenty-thousand reservists paraded before Mr Chavez at the main military barracks in Caracas. The new formation, which the president wants to become a two million-strong force in the near future, will be directly under his command.
There is more:
Spain agreed Monday to sell 12 military planes and eight patrol boats to Venezuela in a $2 billion deal that the United States has threatened to block.
And he continues relentlessly to exploit high oil prices to spread his venom:
The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has launched a regional oil initiative to provide fuel at cheaper prices to 15 Caribbean nations. Cuban President Fidel Castro - who is also attending the summit - hailed the initiative as an important step toward greater regional solidarity.
Covering all the angles:
Telesur is a new pan-Latin American TV channel based in Venezuela. It aims to rival CNN and the other Spanish-language news channels coming out of Miami and Atlanta. Some have already dubbed it Al-Bolivar - a combination of the Arabic news channel, Al-Jazeera, and President Hugo Chavez's favourite independence hero.
This is fishy, too:
For the first time since the fiery Hugo Chavez was elected as Venezuela's president, a multilateral institution, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), has approved a major loan deal for the country. Furthermore, Venezuela took pains preparing the ground diplomatically to win support from its neighbours.
Take what occurred in July, when Venezuela withdrew its candidate to be president of the IADB just before elections for the bank's new president were held. As a result, several Central American and Caribbean countries - which would have voted for the Venezuelan candidate because they receive oil from Venezuela at concessionary rates - were free to vote for the Colombian candidate, Luis Alberto Moreno, who duly won. After this, an overwhelming majority of Latin American countries voted in favour of granting Venezuela the IADB loans, despite opposition from the US (the IADB's biggest shareholder), which now opposes all loans from multilateral banks for Venezuela automatically, as a matter of policy.
With Morales in Bolivia poised to win next elections (18 December), the outlook for Latin America looks bleak indeed.
The consequences of this election, if Morales wins, will rattle all of South America. Bolivia is the world's third-largest producer of coca, with almost 75,000 acres devoted to that accursed crop. The top producers are Colombia and Peru. With coca friendly Morales leading, Bolivia will soon head the list. That must worry Brazil, because it is the first destination of that Bolivian drug. However, as dangerous as the drug is a potential war against Chile. With allies such as Cuba and Venezuela, two brawler states, it is likely that Bolivia will try to recover, manu militari, the territory it lost to Chile during the War of the Pacific, 1879-1883.
Galloway gets it (or soon will)
MEMRI has a deeply satisfying article: "George Galloway Will Yet be Tried," by Iraqi author Fadhil Rashad. Conclusion:
I want to say in this article: George Galloway, leader of the Respect party - you defend your friend and benefactor Saddam and you will yet be tried just like your friend and benefactor Saddam. I assure you that the Iraqi people will never turn a blind eye to those who robbed them. You robbed from all of the Iraqis what amounts to approximately 20 million barrels of oil [that you received] in exchange for misleading public opinion concerning the crimes perpetrated by Saddam against his people.
"In this article, I call on the Iraqi government to open the file on the Oil-for-Food scandal and file criminal indictments with international courts against those who benefited [from the oil vouchers] and those who stretched out their hands and took those vouchers from Saddam.
"May the first [to be indicted] be George Galloway…"
Start running, George...Iraqis have long memories.