“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, January 21, 2008

So Much Uncertainty in the World...

There is so much uncertainty in a world which desperately looks to leaders for guidance.
Sympathizers seek answers from al-Qaida

By LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 34 minutes ago

Sympathizers submitted hundreds of questions to al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri's "on-line interview" before a recent deadline. Among them: Why hasn't al-Qaida attacked the U.S. again, why isn't it attacking the Israelis and when will it be more active in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria?

So far, there have been no answers.

Al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab, announced in December that al-Zawahri would take questions from the public posted on Islamic militant Web sites and would respond "as soon as possible."

More than 900 entries — many with multiple questions — were posted on the main Islamist Web site until the cutoff date of Jan. 16. After the deadline, the questions disappeared from that site and no answers have yet appeared.

One thing is clear from the questions: Self-proclaimed al-Qaida supporters are as much in the dark about the terror network's operations and intentions as Western analysts and intelligence agencies.

Some of those posting questions sound worried: Does al-Qaida have a long-term strategy?

One, allegedly a former Arab al-Qaida fighter in Iraq, complained about Iraqi fighters discriminating against non-Iraqi mujahedeen.

Others wanted advice: Should followers be focusing their jihad, or holy war, against Arab regimes, or against Americans?

Like many in the West, the questioners appear uncertain whether al-Qaida's central leadership directly controls the multiple, small militant groups around the Mideast that work in its name, or whether those groups operate on their own.

Journalists also were invited to send questions and a few of the entries are labeled with the names of European and Asian newspapers. Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian security expert in Cairo, also suggested some questions were probably submitted by intelligence agents looking for clues to al-Qaida's thinking, but there was no way to verify that.

The vast majority of questioners, identified only by their computer usernames, appear to be supporters of al-Qaida or the jihadi cause, often expressing praise for "our beloved sheik" and "the lion of jihad, Sheik Osama."

Many appear frustrated that al-Qaida is not doing more.

"When we will see the men of al-Qaida waging holy war in Palestine? Because frankly our situation has become very bad," writes one, with the username "Seeking the Path." "As for al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia," he asks, "are there efforts to revive jihadi action there after the blows that hurt us?"

Another, signed "Osama the Lion," asks: "Why doesn't al-Qaida open a front in Egypt, where there are wide opportunities and fertile ground for drawing in mujahedeen?"

Another, called "Knight of Islam," asks, "We are awaiting a strike against American soil. Why has that not been done? Why are the Jews in the world not struck?"

In videos over the past years, al-Zawahri has repeatedly spoken of opening new fronts against all those lands — but little has occurred. Saudi Arabia has waged a fierce crackdown that has killed or captured many in al-Qaida's branch there. In 2005, al-Zawahri announced the formation of a branch in his homeland, Egypt, but nothing has been heard of it, although Egypt has suffered terror attacks.

In his videos, al-Zawahri always depicts al-Qaida as moving steadily toward victory — something none of the questioners directly challenges. But they seem in need of reassurance, pressing for more specifics about al-Qaida's plans than al-Zawahri normally gives.

"I think they (al-Qaida's leaders) were aware (that) ... everyone was no longer buying into the propaganda about how great they are," said Jeremy Binnie of Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center. "This was put forward as a propaganda exercise and to make it look like they are responding to these concerns."

A few who write in claim to be active fighters in militant groups. One, with the username "Phenixshadow," says he is a member of the al-Qaida branch in North Africa that has been blamed for attacks in Algeria.

"What do you expect from us? Should we follow the instruction of the mother organization to target the 'far enemy' — the Zionist-Crusader (America) — or do we focus our efforts on the apostate regime (Algeria)? Or do you advise a middle path of striking both enemies?" he asks.

Another, signed "Alfirati60," says he is a Syrian who joined al-Qaida in Iraq before its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006. The writer complains bitterly about al-Qaida's decision to form an umbrella group with other Iraqi insurgents known as "The Islamic State of Iraq."

"Things got worse after the organization joined the Islamic State, when Iraqis took over all the issues," he writes. The Iraqis care "only about liberating Iraq not about establishing God's law," an apparent reference to the al-Qaida goal of a single Islamic state.

"Indeed, they neglected many of the (non-Iraqi) brothers since they care only about the safety of Iraqis and Iraq."

"So I ask you, our sheik, is this just?" he writes. "There are many, many violations of Sharia Islamic law that those (Iraqis) who join the Islamic State commit, like failing to kill spies or apostates" — those who work with Americans — "because they are Iraqis."

He writes that he left Iraq and returned to "Sham," the old Arabic name for Syria and Lebanon. "I'm sorry to go on and on, our sheik, but you should be informed of what's going on" in Iraq, he says. "We want to act in the Sham, and we are ready to do so. We lack only the material and moral support from you."

It is impossible to confirm independently whether any of questioners are really active fighters. Nor is it possible to verify that the interview offer really came from al-Zawahri, although it was posted with the logo of Al-Sahab, which issues his videotapes.

But the questions focus on the same issues that Western terrorism experts have long debated, including how much direct support and command al-Zahwari and bin Laden give to militants in Arab countries and Europe.

"We hear a lot about the non-centralization of al-Qaida," one supporter writes. "Is the loss of direct control by al-Qaida's leadership over the jihadi cells harmful to al-Qaida? ... Does al-Qaida intend to try to reassert its control?"

Others want to make sure al-Qaida has a long-term strategy.

"Does it just go from event to event as some claim?" asks "Raji al-Quboul." "Do you have a body that studies events and reviews them to correct mistakes and assess them?"

Many, of course, ask about the health of bin Laden, who rarely appears on video.

Another hot topic is Iran. Several ask why al-Qaida does not attack the mainly Shiite nation. They express concern over rumors of an understanding between al-Qaida and Iran. "One of the lies spread to fight al-Qaida is that al-Qaida is linked to Iran," one writes. "They point to your failure to attack the Iranian regime."

Many others simply ask for advice on how and where to join jihad. One man says he is a 23-year-old living with his divorced mother.

"I want to travel to join jihad and I sought my mother's permission, but she would not give it to me," he says. "Can I go without her permission?"

Struggling with recent setbacks and severe losses, Al-Qaeda Inc. is looking for ways to reconnect, reinvent and regain market share. While Al-Qaeda tries to stay relevant, its acolytes seek reassurance and direction. Interesting...


  1. Israel enters electric car partnership

    Jan. 21, 2008

    In a significant move towards reducing carbon dioxide car emissions, The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Project Better Place are set to engage in a breakthrough with electric vehicles in Israel.

    The Israeli government would provide tax incentives to customers, Renault would supply the electric vehicles, and Project Better Place would construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country. The Renault-Nissan Alliance said vehicles will be available for customers by 2011.

    Renault's electric vehicles would be equipped with lithium-ion batteries, ensuring greater driving range and longevity.

    The government has recently extended a tax incentive on the purchase of any zero-emissions vehicle until 2019, making them more affordable.

    Combined with the lower cost of electricity as opposed to fuel-based energy, the total cost of ownership for the customer would be significantly lower than that of a fuel-based car over the life cycle of the vehicle.

    Two months ago, Israeli entrepreneur and former SAP executive Shai Agassi launched his much-anticipated electric-car project with the formation of Project Better Place.

    "It's a very exciting day, we hope this project will be the future of transportation," Agassi said at a press conference in New York as he announced an initial financing of $200 million to transform countries from oil-based transportation to electric vehicles through an electric recharge grid infrastructure.
Agassi, 39, will serve as CEO of the new entity, while Idan Ofer, chairman of Israel Corp., which in August said it would invest $100m. into the project in exchange for one-third of the rights, will serve as chairman.

    While research on an electric-car prototype for the project was conducted in Israel, the final prototype did not include any of the locally generated findings.

    According to Agassi, the company will deploy the regional and global infrastructure to support electric vehicles on a country by country basis, and Project Better Place will establish a widespread grid of electric charging spots at current parking locations as well as battery exchange stations through software systems integration.

    These capabilities will provide consumers with the energy to keep their cars charged and driving without the need to wait for electricity at any point. The new grid presents a practical solution to address barriers to electric vehicle adoption.

  2. Dear Osama:
    Now the Jews seek to control the world's transportation system. What should we do?

    Concerned in Cairo

  3. "I want to travel to join jihad but in order to do I must use the electric cars of the Zionists.

    "What would Allah do?"

  4. Gotta hand it to the French, their Government owns 16% of Renault which will be recieving the benefits of subsidies from Israel.

    All in the name of controlling carbon dioxide, the gas of life required by oxygen producing green plants.

    The details of the Renault-Nissan Alliance ... Renault has a stake of 44.4% in Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. while Nissan in turn has a 15% stake (non-voting) in Renault.

    At the same time that the French military protects HB is southern Lebanon and attempts to sell the Saudis submarines and nuclear reactors.

    Those French, they sniffed out the subsidies, in Israel of all places. A place described by their Ambassador to London as "a shitty little country".

    Those French, have they got a nose for cash, or what?

  5. OK, let's have it out. Is the dude in the picture above looking to the right, or the left? I'm uncertain.

  6. dRat,

    Not quite. Car tariffs in Israel are 100%. (A $20,000 in Israel costs $40,000). All that Israel did is reduce the tariff. The subsidy goes to the electric car owner in the form of lower tariff.

  7. Ahhh. no indeed, mat

    They are going to fund building a factory, in Jordan

    NETANYA, Israel — Israeli and Jordanian officials and executives are reported to be in discussions with executives from Renault about setting up Israeli-Jordanian factory to make environmentally-friendly electric cars.

    Plans call for the car factory to be located near the Israel-Jordan border, in an area called Peace Valley. The initiative has been discussed at the World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, and in Jordan, according to Israeli media reports. The informal talks in Davos involved executives from Renault and Toyota, according to the online site The discussions in Jordan involved Jordan's King Abdullah, Israel's deputy prime minister Shimon Peres and an unnamed European industry association. Peres has promised government grants and tax incentives to the car manufacturers, according to reports.

    Much, much more than tariff reductions, amigo.

    Or the French would not be there.
    Israel plans on subsidizing French business interests, gotta love it.

    Olmert and Peres, such a team.

  8. Bob,

    Do you want a yes, or no, answer?

  9. No "War on Islam" in Israel.

    The descendent of Mohammed making business deals with Olmert and Peres, to build auto factories.

    Must be peaceful in the Peace Valley. The Religion of Peace in the valley.

    Toots sweet.

  10. dRat,

    If the plant is in Jordan, the Israeli government has no legal authority to provide a tax incentive for that plant. The only way Israeli government grants and tax incentives make sense, is if they relate to the electric grid infrastructure, or involve a reduction in tariffs.

  11. Another set back for aQ and all those that advocate for fracturing the region and the world along sectarian lines.

  12. What's with this yes or no, Mat? Is that a binary, or something? What's the big deal about yes or no? Tell me that.

  13. As you said, mat

    Regards any laws, laws are used for decoration. Israel is no different.

    Mon Jan 21, 09:05:00 AM EST

  14. Hamilton is for the FAIR tax.

  15. It's a long and winding road.

    What's a borderline,
    when Peace is at hand!?!?

  16. dRat,

    You can bend the rules, but within limits, within limits.

  17. Who sets the limits, Mat? Tell me that.

  18. The straight answer, Bob? Yes.

  19. An electric car makes a lot of sense for Israel. Got nuclear energy, small country, add a solar polar booster on the roof, you'd be ready to roll.

  20. Bob,

    That would depend on who and where you are.

  21. I thought you'd evade the question, Mat. Where do you get off with that?

  22. The actions of Olmert and Peres, those seem to be within the limits set by the Israeli Government. Seems they still are the Israeli Government.

    The Government makes the Law, so if they want to subsidize a factory in Jordan, they'll make it legal to do so.

    Despite your expatriated disputes with their decisions.

    Good news, for Israel, the enviorment and Peace!!!

  23. Bob,

    You asked who sets the rules. I answered that it all depends. If you ask who sets the rules in Israel, I can give you a more precise answer. :)

  24. Or can the Israelis only send Armies over the borders, not capitial and labor?

    Seems an audacious idea, that the only foreign policy that Israel can pursue beyond its' borders is War, not business.

    How non-stereotypical, for Jooos

  25. Who said I wanted a precise answer?

  26. Indeed, mat, Israel has funded other Joradian projects in the pursuit of Peace. All the way in Amman, not even near the border.

    So it seems clear, the Israeli have a history of subsidizing Jordanian projects.
    wiki tells us:

    On October 26, 1994 Jordan and Israel then signed the historic peace treaty in a ceremony held in the Arava valley of Israel, north of Eilat and near the Jordanian border. Prime Minister Rabin and Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali signed the treaty and the President of Israel Ezer Weizman shook hands with King Hussein. It was witnessed by President Bill Clinton, accompanied by US Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Thousands of colorful balloons released into the sky ended the event.

    The Israeli public fully supported the agreement and was very excited about such an historic moment.
    Following the agreements, Israel and Jordan opened their borders as borders of peace. Several border-crossings were erected across the border, allowing tourists, merchants and workers to travel between the two states. Israeli tourists started to visit Jordan, many of them traveled especially to see the sela ha'adom ("Red Rock") of Petra - a stone-carved Nabatean city which fascinated Israelis during the 50's and the 60's, often luring adventurers to visit it secretly.

    Trade treaty of 1996
    In 1996 an additional trade treaty was signed, and Israel provided considerable assistance during the establishment of a modern medical center in Amman.

  27. They released balloons,
    what else would a fellow want?

  28. My wife wants milk and the morning paper, and there is no arguing with that. Later.

  29. dRat,

    There's no Israeli capital or labor involved in these projects. Also, assembling cars for the local Israeli market is not something that any Israeli would consider as viable. Best to let the French figure this out. :)

  30. "Who said I wanted a precise answer?"

    I didn't make any such assumptions. Except that you wanted the straight answer. :D

  31. What else is hetalking about when
    Peres has promised government grants ...
    if not capitial, amigo?

  32. dRat,

    You'll have to ask him. He's an intelligent fellow. I'm sure he'll be able to answer.

  33. dRat,

    Me needs to go do some shopping for dinner. bbl.

  34. Here's a little more on that Israeli Electric Car Project.

    It looks interesting.

  35. The Israeli government subsidizing Reanult, to get 'er done.
    Building those cars, tariff free in Jordan, for the Israeli economy.

    A bridge to a peaceful future. With a direct descendent of Mohammed!

    What could be better for peace in the region, mutual dependence, instead of mutual destruction.

    No reason for me to ask Mr Peres, his position is clear. Has been for years. Then again, he's up close and personal to the challenges his country faces. Not viewing them from afar, across the pond, as it were.

    Time to celebrate!!!
    The peace project is on track, Mr Bush was right.
    The French will be cashin' in.

    Peace in our time.
    Another knife in aQ's back, or their gut.

  36. Interesting thing about those MNF briefings
    90% of Suicide Bombers in Iraq Are Foreign Born

    But no where in the briefing do they mention the number of suicide bombing attacks.

    During operations against Muthanna, Coalition Forces captured over five terabytes of data detailing more than 750 foreign terrorists, from 22 countries that entered Iraq from August 2006 to August 2007. From this we learned that the majority of foreign terrorists enter Iraq to carry out suicide attacks, signing a pledge that formally commits them to that duty. Over 90% of suicide bombers are foreign terrorists, and these high profile attacks account for a large majority of the Iraqi losses inflicted by al-Qaeda.

    Other intersting information from the briefing, the size of the Iraqi Army:
    In 2007, the Iraqi Security Forces grew by more than 106,000 personnel. a surge over three times that of the coalition. The total force now stands at over 567,000.

    In addition to those 567,000 Security Forces, there is the Militias we are now supporting

    Today, more than 130 different Concerned Local Citizen groups are providing neighborhood security throughout Iraq, with over 80,000 active members … 80% of whom are Sunni; 20% Shi’a.

    Six years into the deal we finally have 650,000 Iraqi on our side, or at least on the payroll!!

    Mussulmen serving as proxies for the US.
    How wrong habu has turned out to be!

    No need to level their cities, no need to create secular government!

    Embracing Sharia Law, guns & money. That's all we ever needed to win!

    Iraq for Iraqis!!! Stand 'em up!!
    Johnnie is marching home!

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. GAteway Pundit agrees with me, glory be!!!

    UPDATE: John Edwards is the latest democrat to call for withdrawing troops from Iraq. ...But, at the rate things are going- that won't mean anything when the next president takes office.
    The war will already have been won.

  39. "Daily tracking results are collected via nightly telephone surveys and reported on a four-day rolling average basis.

    Three-quarters of the interviews for today’s update were completed before McCain was declared the winner in South Carolina. The next update is scheduled for Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.

  40. Funny how the war is won yet we need to continue stationing all those troops there.

  41. They're marching home, now, ash.
    At the rate we can easilly redeploy, about a Brigade a month.

    That's the rate we could deploy at, same rate we can withdraw at.

    This is the same rate we built up forces before the initial invasion, in Kuwait, the same rate we deployeed directly to Iraq, during the "surge".

    Just not enough transport assets to move them much quicker. Not any reason to, either. Certainly no internal political reason for Mr Bush to expedite the withdrawal.

    But the US is withdrawing a Brigade a month, scheduled through July, at this point. When General P reports to Congress, in March, chances are that further withdrawals will be announced, perhaps scheduled through November.
    When it will have greater impact on the political landscape here at home.

    At the same time the diplomats are negotiating a long term Status of Forces agreement, with Iraq. To determine how large a contingent will be staying in Iraq, into the foreseeable future

  42. To move more than the 3,500 troops each month civilian aircraft have to be hired. It does not serve any political purpose, in Iraq or the US, to do so.
    So they do not.

  43. heck we 'surged' the 30k extras in there pretty quick we should be able to surge 'em back out just as...

    There certainly is a political benefit to more rapidly withdrawing for if Bush were to rapidly withdraw VICTORY would be at hand. The trickle down method has little political benefit, Stateside.

  44. We surged in at a Brigade a month, ash.
    That's a fact. Took seven months to get get 'em in. You forget that a third of the surge was a tour extention, for troops already in country from 12 to 15 months. That was where a third of the troops came from, they were already there.

    From January to July '07

    13 April 2007
    ...will have their standard tour of duty extended from 12 months to 15 months. The decision will also affect all Army soldiers sent to these regions in the future.

    About 100,000 Army soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait will be affected.
    The purpose of the extension, announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a press conference on Wednesday, is to allow for the long-term deployment of additional troops in Iraq, as part of the administration�s �surge� policy. Gates said that the new policy of 15-month tours will �provide us with the capacity to sustain the deployed force,�

    Pretty simple stuff.

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. Victory needs to be at hand in October, not February.

    Simple Presidental politics, ash

    March surprises lose their umph
    November surprises change folks' votes.

  47. Iraq Troop Surge Begins 1/10/07President Bush's speech may be scheduled for tonight, but the troop surge in Iraq is already under way.

    US says Iraq troop surge complete. 15 Jun 2007

  48. More fun news about Mr Murdoch and the future of the Press in the US

    Moving in on the Times

    Murdoch's goal is to transform the Journal into a rival of the Times, and then surpass it, making the Journal the nation's preeminent general interest newspaper. Given Murdoch's history, zeal, resources and talents -- all qualities sadly lacking in the fourth generation of Sulzbergers, as symbolized by Pinch -- the Times will be toppled.

    The downfall of the Times was almost pre-ordained once family members placed Pinch Sulzberger in control of the paper. He had no real world experience to prepare him to lead the Times.
    Undervalued assets

    The Journal already has nationwide printing and distribution network in place. Arguably, these have been underutilized: the paper had the reach, but before Murdoch either did not grasp the potential of these assets or preferred an entente cordiale with the Times, each paper sticking to its market segment.

    Murdoch does see the hidden value. He has a profound talent for seeing potential where others have not. He also has a strong entrepreneurial bent. Murdoch inherited a very small newspaper chain in Australia and, unlike Pinch (who wrecked his much larger inheritance), built this into a worldwide empire. How? By finding underserved areas of the market and, through his wit and intelligence, finding ways to fill these holes. He did so in Australia, he did so in England, he did so through his satellite TV operations, he did so with the rise of Fox News to its number one position in broadcast news, and he will do so again now that he is in control of the Journal.

    Murdoch will enhance the appeal of the paper and in modern business parlance "reposition" the Journal to become a general interest paper. While the paper has been traditionally known for its coverage of business, it has been running well regarded general news coverage, winning its fair share of Pulitzer Prizes. What has been missing is the capacity to capitalize on and enhance these assets that Murdoch brings to the table.

  49. So, bob, if your paperboy needs another job, have him investigate the WSJ

  50. I think bob is on to something. They ought to stick some solar cells on top of those Israeli cars, give the battery a little boost, on the road and while parking. Whole project makes a lot of sense to me, smarter than trying to heat swedish buildings with smelly sweating swedish bodies. There's something wrong with that concept, though I can't put my finger on it.

    Romney up a little in Flor-ida. Can't believe it. But Rasmussen says it true, so it must be. What a strange year.

    Drudge has a nice photo of Bill Clinton falling asleep at the MLK ceremonies :)

    By the way, Martin Luther King was a great man, and deserves this day.

  51. Those cars will be paid for by charging and replacing the batteries, bob.
    50,000 charging stations, paid for by subscription and usage.

    Standard monthly fee, plus usage bumps. Gotta read all the data to find it, but that's the deal. Base fee, plus added charges, for charging.

    Doubt that financing system would work in the US, but we are not a socialist wonderland, like Israel.

  52. Chuck Norris plays the age card

    Presidents age 3 to 1
    McCain is so old, he'll take office at 72, within four years, he'll be "84".

    McCain says he sending his 95 year old mother over to wash Chuck's mouth out, with soap.

  53. "But the US is withdrawing a Brigade a month, scheduled through July, at this point. When General P reports to Congress, in March, chances are that further withdrawals will be announced, perhaps scheduled through November."

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, nope.

  54. Well, a fellow could wire up some solar panels and cheat on the deal. When I was a kid :) I'd go to Hawaii, where I met my wife, rent one of those little cars, unhook the mileage gear from the transmission under the car, wrap it in duck tape, put a bolt in hole, and drive all over hell, mileage charge free. I think it's harder to do now with the newer cars.

    Huck gets some black support--

    ATLANTA (AP) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at a lengthy memorial service Monday at King's old church and was endorsed by several black religious leaders.
    While his main GOP rivals campaigned in Florida, Huckabee sat quietly through a nearly four-hour King ceremony at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He was overshadowed by fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton, who received a long ovation for his 18-minute address.

    The former president acknowledged Huckabee, who did not speak. "We don't agree on much, but he is a very good man," Clinton told the audience of several hundred.

    Huckabee said he was willing to put aside campaigning for a half day to attend the King event, which he called inspiring.

    The former Arkansas governor finished second in the South Carolina Republican primary over the weekend after campaigning in which he said the federal government should stay out of disputes over display of the Confederate battle flag in the state. He said last week, "If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

    The flag is a symbol of racism to some, of Southern pride to others.

    After his South Carolina loss, Huckabee needs strong showings in states such as Florida, Georgia and Alabama to keep his campaign alive. He went to Orlando for a late-afternoon rally and fundraiser Monday and planned to return to Atlanta Tuesday for an anti-abortion event.

    "Winning Florida would be great," Huckabee told an Orlando airport crowd of about 100, speaking of the state's Jan. 29 GOP primary. But winning the nomination is the bigger goal, he said. "Nobody is going to have this wrapped up by Florida," he said.

    "We plan on carrying Georgia," Huckabee told reporters.

    After leaving the King ceremony, Huckabee was endorsed by three dozen African-Americans, most of them connected to conservative religious organizations.

    Huckabee's strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage matches the "high moral values" of many black Americans, said William Owens, founder of a group called the Coalition of African American Pastors.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. We'll see, trish, we'll see.

    Mr Gates has said 100,000 troops by 20 January 08 is the Goal, if conditions warrant.

    He does not say where those conditions need be met, Iraq or DC.
    If Mr Bush wants his legacy to be at all favorable, he needs to continue on the road map to victory.
    Victory is defined by withdrawal.
    A suitable Status of Forces agreement, as well.

    We'll see. I've misjudged the schedule before. Misunderstood the Goal. I was believing Mr Bush's publicly stated Goals were authentic, then.

  57. So, who's ready for their Colombia briefing? All five facts I've accumulated thus far, ready to go before the much-feared cease-and-desist.

  58. Absolutely ready, Trish. Let's hear it!

  59. I was going to ask for a briefing, what didn't know if it was proper to ask. signed, eager to know.

  60. When Fred Thompson drops out of the race, where does his support go to, any particular candidate or does it fracture, splittng between the remaining candidates.

  61. My hunch on Thompson--a lot goes to Romney. More to Romney than to the others. Why? Cause that's where my heart leads me :)

    Bad day for stocks worldwide--down everywhere from between 4 and 5 % to 7%. Look out tomorrow, terrible Tuesday. Me, I'm immune, not having a stock to my name, other than about 10 shares in Farm Credit Services.

    Don't jump off a building. Don't shoot your stockbroker. It ain't worth it. From 10,000 feet up, everything looks pretty much the same.

  62. In no particular order:

    17 votes shy on the Free Trade Agreement. Pelosi and Reid the terrible (organized labor) duo. Every other delegation, however, brought down for a visit is a pocketed yes vote (must be the hookers) (JUST KIDDING!!!!HAHA!!!) and more coming with Rice next week. Might try a straight up-or-down floor vote to get everyone on record.

    Colombian Army: No slouches, they.

    Uribe sold the wealthy on a four-year war tax that will pay for a defense build up beyond the standard counterinsurgency focus. So our aid to Colombia goes down and Colombia itself takes up the slack. Trying also to "nationalize" their force (i.e., wean them from costly and inefficient, to them, dependence on us). Only one white elephant to speak of, defense-wise. Not bad.

    Chavez wants to reconstitute the Bolivar empire. The only piece missing is Colombia.

    There is no political successor to Uribe. Term ends in two years. Might seek a constitutional change allowing a third term, but it's a sticky issue. Chavez has his supporters here; he's biding his time, as is the FARC, waiting for a favorable post-Uribe tide.

    Weather grand. People wonderful. Bogota very cool.

    You're all invited. After a thorough vetting.

  63. FARC and Hugo, waiting ...

    Read today he is pumping up the volume on Venezuelan claims to Guyana, about half to 2/3rds the country.

    Sunday, January 20th 2008
    Guyana does not have any plans at this time to join ALBA (the acronym for the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), a new regional trading block being promoted by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which has been pushed by the United States.

    Asked whether Guyana had any plans to join ALBA, President Bharrat Jagdeo told the media earlier this week at a press conference, "We do not have any plans to join ALBA at this time."

    His response came in the wake of Dominica's accession to ALBA, which was announced in Caracas on January 10 by Chavez.

    Asked whether Dominica's membership of ALBA would affect Caricom in any way, Jagdeo responded, "Dominica is a sovereign state. It could participate in any arrangement that it sees fit."

    Thought the Colombian Army was going to pass inspection, the Beanies have been there with them for years, we had them with US in Panama twentyfive years ago.

    Gran Colombia, that was the Bolivar Empire, Hugo forgets.
    Hopefully the Colombians won't and the US learns some South American history.

    We'll see, won't we.

  64. Thanks for the report, Trish. Keep us posted...

  65. "Read today he is pumping up the volume on Venezuelan claims to Guyana, about half to 2/3rds the country."

    IS he?

    With nothing substantive to add: Worst f-ing assignment you can get down here, Guyana, so I hear. Not the end of the earth, but you can see it from your window. (Papillon.)

    Odd bits: The Russians are trying to horn in on Colombia. Go figure.

    We got here first.

    And Rice comes THIS week. Time flies when...

    Oh, yeah. Sikorsky has such a back-log on the goods, they'll sell 'em platforms that don't fit the mission. (Lord of War, anyone?) But that's not our call.

    Do you know how long it's been since I heard someone say "the Hondo"? I had flashbacks.

    So much for the nickel briefing.

    May have it up to a dime by the end of the month.

    Less I get served a cup o' STF...

  66. Japanese stocks melting down this morning, again. %5 down.

    since I read English sometimes I have trouble following--


    STF Saskatchewan Teachers Federation
    STF Satellite Test Facility
    STF Satellite Tracking Facility
    STF Save the Tiger Fund
    STF Scientifiction (Early name for Science Fiction)
    STF Search the Forum
    STF Seminole Tribe of Florida
    STF Silence the Fall (band)
    STF Simple Test Framework
    STF Simulation and Training Function
    STF Singapore Taekwondo Federation
    STF Slips, Trips, and Falls (occupational injuries)
    STF Software Testing Facility
    STF Soil Transport and Fate Database (US EPA)
    STF Solar Test Facility
    STF Sony Talk Forum
    STF Source Time Function (seismology)
    STF Space-Time-Frequency
    STF Special Tactical Force (Crisis Zone game)
    STF Special Task Force
    STF Special Transportation Fund
    STF Specific Transfer Factor
    STF Star-Fleet
    STF Step-Over Toe-Hold Face-Lock (wrestling)
    STF Step-over Toehold with Facelock (pro wrestling maneuver)
    STF Stress-To-Failure
    STF Structural Test Firing (US Navy)
    STF Structured File (File Name Extension)
    STF Student Technology Fee
    STF Summary Tape File (US Census)
    STF Supremo Tribunal Federal
    STF Svenska Turistföreningen
    STF System Technology Forecast
    STF System Transfer Function
    STF Systemic Transformation Facility (IMF)
    STF Systems Technology Forum

  67. Michael Savage is saying the very worst ticket the democrats could throw up would be Billary/Obama. Seems awfully convinced he is right. Too darn polarizing he says. Knows he's right he says. Bring all the rednecks out of the woods, and fields, out of the bars, and bedrooms, out of the trailor parks, and hunting camps.

    I'll be there.

  68. I'm betting it's special task force.

  69. .
    OK, let's have it out. Is the dude in the picture above looking to the right, or the left? I'm uncertain.
    What's with this yes or no, Mat? Is that a binary, or something? What's the big deal about yes or no? Tell me that.
    The straight answer, Bob? Yes.

  70. via MJT

    Bloody Lies!
    Noah Pollak - 01.18.2008 - 12:47

    Joel Pollak (no relation) reports on his blog that Charles Enderlin, the France 2 television reporter implicated in the Mohammed al-Dura fabrication, admitted at a talk at Harvard last night that the famous scenes of Yasser Arafat donating blood after the 9/11 attacks were, like the footage of the IDF killing al-Dura, staged:

    Enderlin said the event had been staged for the media to counteract the embarrassing television images of Palestinians celebrating in the streets after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

    The blood donation story made headlines around the world. It was reported by esteemed news agencies like the BBC, and photographs of Arafat lying with an outstretched arm ran on many front pages. But the whole scene was staged, Enderlin said. Arafat didn’t like needles, and so the doctor put a needle near his arm and agitated a bag of blood. The reporters took the requisite photographs.

    Bob, you asked who sets the limits/rules. My answer is that it all depends on whom you allow set your perceptions of reality.

  71. Rat, there are guys down south now who set up shop when you were here.

    It's a small, rotating world, this one.

    "Hugo forgets."

    Hugo knows.

  72. This is just too much. What would the world be without bullfights in Spain, without a Saudi Arabia where women can't drive?

    Women To Drive In The Desert Kingdom

    The end times are surely near at hand.

  73. Lifers to the max.
    If the Colombians are flyin' right, it's cause they knew their trade.

    Gone native, more than likely. It's easy to do down there.

    Cup of STF
    Shut the fuckup

    I meant the keystone is Columbia, not Venezuela. He's in the wrong country, now. That he's stirring up some shit, easy to see, if one reads between the lines.

    Yeah, the reports are he is chewin' Bolivian leaf and huffing and puffing over claims on western Guyana.

    In the last few months Venezuelan troops has come over the border a number of times, including late in the fall when they blew up two gold mining barges on one of the rivers. Venezuela has also threatened companies that wanted to look for oil off the coast that if they did, they�d lose all rights supplied by Caracas. This has kept development and companies from coming to Guyana and it has even worried other companies that had no connection with Venezuela, about the possibility of sabotage from the west.

    Guyana also hasn�t done itself a ton of favors. During the cold war they chose the side of the Soviets and a massive, mostly empty Russian Embassy still sits here across from the sea wall. The socialist angle and communist sympathizing also kept development and western support away. The government here because it is so much smaller and much less powerful also finds a way to suppress the conflict, I mean unless you looked, did you hear about the barge explosions.

    FOX News blog

  74. Give an inch they take a mile. This is spinning out of control--

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Women in Saudi Arabia can now stay in a hotel or a furnished apartment without a male guardian according to decision by the Ministry of Trade, reported the local press Monday.
    The daily Al-Watan, which is deemed close to the Saudi government, said the ministry issued a circular to the hotels asking them to accept women in their rooms even if they were alone provided that all their information immediately be [reported] to a police station in the area.
    The decision was adopted after a study conducted by the Interior Ministry, the Supreme Commission of Tourism and the religious police authority known as the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
    Saudi women, under strict Islamic law, suffer severe restrictions on daily life as they are not allowed to be anywhere with an unrelated man, cannot drive, appear before a judge without a male representative, or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission.
    The paper interviewed some Saudi women who complained that they had been severely inconvenienced by the rules banning them from staying in the hotels alone.
    It quoted a woman identified as saying that she once arrived late at night at King Fahd airport on an internal flight and was denied a hotel room because she was alone.
    Another woman, Fatima Ibrahim, said her son-in-law quarreled with his wife and daughters and threw them out of the house. When they tried to get a hotel room, they were asked to get a permission from the police.

  75. ... we did spend about an hour with a significant adviser to Chavez. He and others in this government refer to two-thirds of Guyana as �Zona en reclamation� or the zone in the process of being reclaimed. Most maps show most of Guyana as being part of Venezuela and school children are taught the same.

    When I asked the Chavez adviser about these Guyanese regions, he explained that the people there mostly want to be Venezuelan and they have the same customs and ideals (I�ll get to this in a moment). I responded by asking �what about the oil, diamonds and gold found in abundance?� He responded something to the effect of, oh yes we know they have those resources, but our desire has nothing to do with that. Historically, we have a right to that region and it was basically stolen from us through diplomatic means.

  76. Mr Bush visits, liberal values advance...

    Cause and effect?

  77. This comment has been removed by the author.

  78. "You're all invited. After a thorough vetting."

    Beginning of that vetting in...oh, roughly 12 hours.