Friday, September 30, 2005

AP: "Army in Worst Recruiting Slump in Decades"

The factors working against the Army, Hilferty said, are a strong national economy that offers young people other choices, and "continued negative news from the Middle East." To offset that the Army has vastly increased the number of recruiters on the street, offered bigger signup bonuses and boosted advertising.
Think it might have something to do with universities banning military recruiting?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From a USA Today Article about the DeLay Indictment

Q: What does the indictment accuse DeLay of?

A: The indictment depicts a conspiracy among DeLay and two political associates, James Ellis and John Colyandro, to funnel political contributions from corporations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. Texas, like many states and the federal government, prohibits corporations from donating to political campaigns to prevent the appearance of undue influence on policymaking . . . .

Q: What was DeLay's role?

A: The indictment leaves that unclear. It states that the three men entered into an agreement to carry out the scheme in September 2002, but it does not provide any evidence.

Q: What was the plan's purpose?

A: To ensure Republicans would control the Legislature so they could be in charge of redrawing the map of U.S. House districts in Texas after the 2002 elections.

Q: Did it work?

A: Yes. Republicans gained control of the Legislature and the GOP gained five U.S. House seats in the new map, bolstering the party's majority in Washington.
In other words, people . . . er . . . ahem . . . voted . . . for the candidates?

Fouad Ajami: "Heart of Darkness"

We need more of this sort of essay, which demonstrates an understanding of Arab politics beyond the oversimplistic assertions one frequently sees that Saddam could not have terror ties because Ba'ath socialists and fundamentalists are "natural enemies," etc.
An edifice of Arab nationalism built by strange bedfellows--the Sunni political and bureaucratic elites, and the Christian Arab pundits who abetted them in the idle hope that they would be spared the wrath of the street and of the mob--was overturned in Iraq. And America, at times ambivalent about its mission, brought along with its military gear a suspicion of the Shiites, a belief that the Iraqi Shiites were an extension of Iran, a community destined to build a sister-republic of the Iranian theocracy. Washington has its cadre of Arabists reared on Arab nationalist historiography. This camp had a seat at the table, but the very scale of what was at play in Iraq, and the redemptionism at the heart of George Bush's ideology, dwarfed them.

For the Arab enemies of this project of rescue, this new war in Iraq was a replay of an old drama: the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258. In the received history, the great city of learning, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, had fallen to savages, and an age of greatness had drawn to a close. In the legend of that tale, the Mongols sacked the metropolis, put its people to the sword, dumped the books of its libraries in the Tigris. That river, chroniclers insist, flowed, alternately, with the blood of the victims and the ink of the books. It is a tale of betrayal, the selective history maintains. A minister of the caliph, a Shiite by the name of Ibn Alqami, opened the gates of Baghdad to the Mongols. History never rests here, and telescopes easily: In his call for a new holy war against the Shiites, Zarqawi dredges up that history, dismisses the Shiite-led government as "the government of Ibn Alqami's descendants." Zarqawi knows the power of this symbolism, and its dark appeal to Sunni Arabs within Iraq.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hamas Murders Candy Factory Owner

Nuriel disappeared last Wednesday and his wife reported him missing to the police late that night. Police and Shabak (General Security Services) agents then carried out a search and investigation that led to the discovery of Nuriel’s body Monday morning and the arrest of at least one Hamas terrorist in connection with the murder. His body showed signs of extreme violence.

The Palestinian Authority did nothing to assist Israel in its search for the kidnap-murder victim.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Michael Ledeen: "Iran Bubbles Over"

More about the lovable regime whose current president now appears to have been one of the hostage-takers during the Iranian hostage crisis.
As I predicted after the elections, the regime is now showing its fangs, both at home and abroad. I have no doubt that the professional analysts in the State department, the intelligence community, and the National Security Council are presenting a soothing interpretation of these events, arguing that there is a new "administration" in Tehran, and it will take a bit of time before they tone down their rhetoric and come to terms with reality. But this assumes that the Iranians are capable of understanding reality, and that we are capable of understanding them. The record to date suggests both assumptions are false. . . .
The mullahs are altogether capable of deciding that events are now running strongly in their favor, and that they should strike directly at the United States. They look at us, and they see a deeply divided nation, a president who talked a lot about bringing democratic revolution to Iran and then did nothing to support it, a military that is clearly fighting in Iraq alone, and counting the days until we can say "it’s up to the Iraqis now," and — again based on what they see in our popular press — a country that has no stomach for a prolonged campaign against the remaining terror masters in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Rabbi Y. Jacobson: "Recipe for a Meaningful Year"

After a discussion of the importance of beginnings, Rabbi Jacobson offers the following example (emphasis added):
If, upon awakening, we first eat a piece of cheesecake and run to check our e-mail, we allow our basic physical instincts to gain primacy in our lives. As the day lingers on we may find ourselves shallow, empty and insecure.

On the other hand, if one wakes up and, contrary to his animal instinct spends an hour in meditation, study and prayer, he can then turn even the most difficult encounter during the day into a positive and growing experience. This is because he first aligned himself with the space in his identity that is secure, genuine and idealistic.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

President Bush Commends Rabbi Rivkin, Louisiana Chabad Director

Click the title link for audio. Shmais has the following transcript of the President's words:
"At Tulane University, the Director of the Habad, Rabbi Rivkin, brought teams of students to New Orleans, and southern Mississippi, and other communities hit by the storm. He called in folks to help. He didn't say, head away from the storm; he said, let's take it right to the middle of the storm area to help people. They helped rescue stranded people; they distributed bottled water and self-heating kosher meals; they cleaned up and helped salvage homes; they provided spiritual support for those who lost loved ones. And one of those rescued from New Orleans put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, "Habad saved lives.""

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Guardian: "The Big Showdown"

The usually wrong-headed Guardian has something worthwhile you would actually expect of them: a good account of the Hitchens-Galloway debate. I listened to most of the debate on the internet, and I understand why many seem reluctant to ascribe victory to Hitchens. Of course, he had all the rationality and facts at his disposal, but Galloway's crude bluster was so completely in another ball-park that it was almost as if Hitchens was the narrator of a documentary about Galloway. Somehow a debating victory should have a different feel. In any event, here's the Guardian:
At last Hitchens and Galloway took their positions at podiums on either side of the stage, neither looking at the other. Among the audience was Oona King, the former Labour MP defeated by Galloway in Bethnal Green. In his beard and open-necked casual blue shirt, the Englishman resembled the part-time college lecturer that he in fact is. Galloway, by fastidious contrast, was wearing a beige suit with a carefully co-ordinated tie, his bronze pate shining under the stage lights. Hitchens began his proposal - 'the war in Iraq is just and necessary' - by calling for a minute's silence for the 160 Iraqis murdered that morning in Baghdad by al-Qaeda.

There were instant boos and hails of protest from some members of the audience. In July in Syria Galloway had given a speech celebrating the '145 military operations every day' made by 'these poor Iraqis - ragged people with their sandals and their Kalashnikovs ...' But the Iraqis killed on Wednesday were poor labourers looking for work and they were blown apart by sophisticated explosives. It was not clear to me at least why they were unworthy of a minute's silence.

In many ways, the level of debate never recovered from this indecency. Both speakers accused one another of sinking to the gutter and both made direct attacks on the other, though it was Galloway who was perhaps the more personal. Seeking to trump the 'drink-sodden former Trotskyist popinjay' remark with which he had bested Hitchens outside the Senate committee meeting back in May, he reflected on his earlier admiration for the writer. He had gone on to make natural history, said Galloway, 'by metamorphosing from a butterfly into a slug'. After that he then accused Hitchens of being 'ready to fight to the last drop of other people's blood'.

These were prepared insults that may have pleased a section of the crowd but said nothing about the situation in Iraq today, much less the situation under Saddam. But the cheers that they elicited appeared to lift Galloway, or at least the volume of his voice, till he reached a pitch of finger-waving declamation that was both comical and a little frightening to behold. Even the moderator, the less than neutral anti-war broadcaster, Amy Goodman, was moved to ask Galloway to place the microphone further away from his mouth.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Current President of Iran Hostage-Taker After All

This story came out when Ahmadinejad was "elected." It seemed to die down afterwards as some sources contradicted the assertion that he was a hostage-taker. Now it seems that it might be true after all.
"For twenty-six years, the government of Iran has not been held accountable for their violation of international law," said Kevin Hermening, who at 21 was a freshly-arrived Marine guard at the Embassy and the youngest hostage. "Despite our political differences as individuals, we all agree as a group that it is time to seek remedy. Ahmadinejad and his government need to be treated as a pariah . . . ."

Hermening identified Ahmadinejad as the lead interrogator for the military and security personnel at the embassy. "He was not an English speaker, but directed the interrogations. He told [the interpreters] what to ask. He ordered me to open safes," Hermening said.

He said he had spoken to other security officers at the embassy, including Tom Ahern and Colonel Charles Scott, and that all agreed there was "no doubt" the lead interrogator was Ahmadinejad.

Hermening recounted the story of Colonel David Roeder, who has spoken to reporters but was unable to travel to New York.

"Colonel Roeder's interrogator was the current president of Iran. He told Rader, 'we know where you live. We know that you have a handicapped child. We know what time he gets picked up for school. We know where. If you don't answer our questions as we like, we are going to chop off his fingers and his toes and send them one by one to your wife in a box.'"
(Hat tip: Jihad Watch)

Mendel Jacobson: "Jewish Education in the US by Numbers"

It is almost true by definition that most deeply committed Jews are Orthodox, but non-Orthodox Jews are placing more emphasis on education these days,as the following shows:
40% of all Jewish Day Schools have fewer than a hundred students.

1,500 students enrolled in non-Orthodox Jewish high schools in 1992.

2,200 students enrolled in non-Orthodox Jewish high schools in 1999.

4,100 students enrolled in non-Orthodox Jewish high schools in 2004.

7% growth rate of non-Orthodox Jewish Day Schools in the last five years.

68% of all Jewish Day Schools in the United States are in New York and New Jersey.

97% of the Jewish schools in New York (more than 300 Yeshivas and Day Schools) are Orthodox.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Nidra Poller: "Myth, Fact, and the al-Dura Affair"

Most people who follow events in the Middle East have heard of Mohammed Al-Dura. They know that a filmed sequence was presented in the European media as if it showed the death of al-Dura, a young Palestinian boy, at the hands of the IDF. They also know that the footage, which ostensibly shows al-Dura cowering with his father and then dying, inflamed European anti-Israel sentiment, provoked rage among Arabs, and inspired terrorist attacks. Most poeple also know by this time that the film does not support the narrative originally presented with it and that it is unlikely that the film shows the results of Israeli fire. Did you know, however, that the sequence is an excerpt of a larger collection of footage that contains many examples of actors staging fake incidents? I didn't.
The Reuters, AP, and France-2 outtakes that I viewed show two totally different and easily identifiable types of activity at Netzarim junction: real, intifada-style attacks, and crudely falsified battle scenes. Both the real and the fake scenes are played out against a background of normal civilian activity at a busy crossroads. In the “reality” zone, excited children and angry young men hurl rocks and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli outpost while shababs (“youths”) standing on the roof of the Twins throw burning tires down onto the caged lookout; this goes on seemingly for hours, without provoking the slightest military reaction from Israeli soldiers.

At the same time, in the “theatrical” zone, Palestinian stringers sporting prestigious logos on their vests and cameras are seen filming battle scenes staged behind the abandoned factory, well out of range of Israeli gunfire. The “wounded” sail through the air like modern dancers and then suddenly collapse. Cameramen jockey with hysterical youths who pounce on the “casualties,” pushing and shoving, howling Allahu akhbar!, clumsily grabbing the “injured,” pushing away the rare ambulance attendant in a pale green polyester jacket in order to shove, twist, haul, and dump the “victims” into UN and Red Crescent ambulances that pull up on a second’s notice and career back down the road again, sirens screaming. In one shot we recognize Talal Abu Rahmeh [the cameraman of the al-Dura sequence]in his France-2 vest, filming a staged casualty scene.*

Split seconds of these ludicrous vignettes would later appear in newscasts and special reports; the husk, the raw footage that would reveal the fakery, had been removed, leaving the kernel rich in anti-Israel nutrients. Such staged scenes showed up, for example, in a dramatic CBS 60 Minutes special report on Netzarim crossing—a place “now known,” intoned Bob Simon, echoing Palestinian sources, “as Martyr’s Junction.”

Martin Kramer has some Worthwhile Links About the Almog Business

Monday, September 12, 2005

George Will: "Post-Katrina Liberalism"

Will is pithy, as usual.
The idea that Katrina would change the only thing that matters -- thinking -- perished even more quickly, at about the time Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a suitable symbol of congressional narcissism, dramatized the severity of the tragedy by taking a television interviewer on a helicopter flight over ... her destroyed beach house. ``Washington rolled the dice and Louisiana lost,'' she said in a speech on the Senate floor that moved some senators to tears. You can no more embarrass a senator than you can a sofa, so the tears were not accompanied by blushing about having just passed a transportation bill whose 6,371 pork projects cost $24 billion, about 10 times more than the price of the levee New Orleans needed. Louisiana's congressional delegation larded the bill with $540,580,200 worth of earmarks, one-fifth the price of a capable levee.

"Chaos in Gaza as Arabs riot, loot, get shot, fire rockets, drown in sea"

Gotta love that headline, from Israel Insider. The article itself is also good.
Near the Rafiah Yam settlement near Rafah, dozens of giddy teenage boys, including 15-year-old Mahmoud Barbakh, went to the beach for what they said was the first time ever. They rolled up their jeans and jumped into the water fully clothed. One used a refrigerator door as a makeshift surfboard.

"It's the sweetest thing in the whole world," said Barbakh.

At least five Palestinians drowned on the Gaza coast during the day.

Jerusalem Post: "Hold Palestinians accountable"

Israelis awoke yesterday to the news that the gates to Gaza had been ceremoniously shut, and that the Palestinians' joyous burning of Gush Katif's synagogues, which the cabinet had voted not to destroy, had begun. We were also informed that the US State Department had criticized the cabinet decision not to destroy the synagogues because it "put the Palestinian Authority into a situation where it may be criticized for whatever it does."

It is never exactly clear when a State Department spokesman says something like this whether he or she is ad-libbing or whether a particular pearl has been cleared at the cabinet level. Either way, however, such statements are instructive because they either reflect a conscious, high-level decision or are considered so uncontroversial that a low-level official can say them without fear of contradiction.

In this case, the uncontroversial notion is evidently that the problem is not Palestinian savagery but Israel's refusal to spare the world images of it. Regardless of how Israeli decision makers expected the Palestinians to behave, Israel's decision not to destroy the synagogues gave the Palestinians the opportunity to exceed rock-bottom expectations.
Obvious, but well-worded.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"Jews and Freemasons controlled war on Iraq, says No 10 adviser"

Tony Blair decided to wage war on Iraq after coming under the influence of a "sinister" group of Jews and Freemasons, a Muslim barrister who advises the Prime Minister has claimed.

Ahmad Thomson, from the Association of Muslim Lawyers, said Mr Blair was the latest in a long line of politicians to have been influenced by the group which saw the attack on Saddam Hussein as a way to control the Middle East.

A Government spokesman confirmed last night that ministers and officials consulted Mr Thomson on issues concerning Muslims but refused to be drawn on his views. "We talk to a lot of people, including many whose views we do not necessarily agree with," she said.
Including Nazis? (Hat tip: LGF)

Good Flood Data Resource

The map lets you zero in on a specific address and see how high the water got at its highest and how high it is now.

Sifrei Torahs Rescued from Uptown New Orleans Chabad House

This is news from before Shabbos actually, but I find it very meaningful:
One of the lead Chabad rescuers, a non-Jewish guy, retrieved the Torahs under significant personal risk on Tuesday and refused to allow them to leave his eyes until he received faxed authorization from Rabbi Sharfstein at Lubavitch World Headqurters that he may do so. The love and respect this man demonstrated boggles the mind. Everyone expressed effusive appreciation to him for all of his efforts across the board. My father was very emotional as he put the Torahs into his car, bringing them to Houston, where they will be used this Shabbos, at services attended by some of the members of our community

"Ditch Holocaust day, advisers urge Blair"

ADVISERS appointed by Tony Blair after the London bombings are proposing to scrap the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day because it is regarded as offensive to Muslims.

They want to replace it with a Genocide Day that would recognise the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia as well as people of other faiths.
Genocide Day? Palestine? Doesn't that imply that Palestinians were victims of Genocide? So the Jews are the real Nazis, right?

The Website of Save Our Wetlands Brags About a Lawsuit Intended to Stop the Corps of Engineers Hurricane Barrier Project

Straight from the horse's mouth:
FACT: SOWL has always fought bitterly against the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Caroline Glick: "The true believers and Netanyahu"

The repeated, distorted polls are geared toward creating a sense among the general public that we have nowhere to turn except to Sharon and his friends on the Left. This attempt to demoralize the public is backed up by the lead columnists and political reporters in all the major newspapers and electronic media outlets who have taken it upon themselves to convince the Israeli public that Netanyahu – like Cindy Sheehan's Jews and neoconservatives for Americans – is their enemy. As Maariv's Ben Caspit hinted on the front page of his paper's edition on Wednesday, a vote for Netanyahu is a vote for supposedly primitive gorillas who sell vegetables in the shuk. How unaesthetic. Who would want to support the leader of a group of gorillas?

Yet in all the column space devoted in the papers to demonizing Netanyahu and his supporters, one thing was brazenly absent. No attention whatsoever was paid to the points he made in his presentation on Tuesday. Netanyahu spoke at length about the lack of public debate in Israel over the most pressing issues of our times. He spoke in detail about the need to restore responsibility for Israel's security to the army rather than to the Palestinian militias and the Egyptian military.

Perhaps most significantly, Netanyahu stated flatly, and for the first time since last week's expulsions, the truth that the monolithic Israeli press in its babbling leftist bubble and their champion Sharon has refused to admit: The State of Palestine was established last week in Gaza.

Calls today for the establishment or nonestablishment of a Palestinian state were rendered irrelevant by the expulsion of all Jews from the Gaza Strip and the planned turnover of the border between Gaza and the Sinai to Egyptian and Palestinian forces in the coming weeks.

Gaza is now sovereign Palestine. It has all the ingredients required by international law to be treated as a sovereign state. It has a government, territory, a population and the capacity to conduct foreign relations. It is a state. This is significant both for Israeli and international future dealings with the now-defunct Palestinian Authority (which must now be viewed as the government of Palestine) and for the Israeli Left.
Read it all, as they say.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rabbi Yossi Nemes: "Surviving the Storm"

A gripping account from Chabad Shliach Yossi Nemes, who was trapped on the second floor of his house in Metairie, Louisiana.
The hours wore on quickly but the calls didn’t let up. Some elderly people had no way of leaving and needed to be walked through a virtual checklist of items that they should bring up to the highest floor. In the rare lull between calls we packed what we could. Winds started picking up. The radio reported hours of backup on the highway.

By 4:00, when we finally had a few minutes to regroup and strategize about ourselves and all those newly dependant on us, we discovered that leaving by car now bore a significant risk factor. News reports presented a dismal picture of the highways backed up with hours of traffic while the storm loomed closer. If we ended up stuck on the highway, G-d forbid, in the middle of the storm, our chances of surviving were far smaller than if we were to be in our brick, hurricane-fortified home.

By 5:00 the winds got stronger. We started preparing for Plan B.

Steve Chapman: "After Katrina, A Juvenile Blame Game"

This is the best editorial I have seen on the political ramifications of the Hurricane.
These things are called disasters for a reason: They have terrible consequences, most unavoidable and some unforeseeable. When nature unleashes its fury, it leaves a mess no amount of human ingenuity can instantly dispel. The images of chaos and death in New Orleans come as a shock, but what would we expect of the worst natural disaster in American history? Yet some people behave as though only incompetence or evil motives could account for anything that went wrong.

Chabad Hurricane Relief

The above-linked article has pictures of the Chabad Shluchim from New Orleans visiting people in the Astrodome.

Progress Draining New Orleans

I find the engineering aspects of the Hurricane recovery particularly interesting.
Five new pumps are being delivered for use in both canals, and four more pumps are being loaned for pumping at the 17th Street Canal.

"The water is receding now. We just have a long ways to go," Mike Rogers, a disaster relief coordinator with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said late Sunday afternoon.

He said work at the 17th Street Canal was nearly done, and once that was finished, it would be time to get ready to start pumping.

Water was coming down rapidly in eastern New Orleans, where 21 pumps had been added to the three at work there a day earlier, Rogers said.