“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 18, 2010

Taliban Assaults Kabul

Afghanistan: Taliban launches major assault on Kabul

Published: 7:09AM GMT 18 Jan 2010 Telegraph

About two dozen gunmen, some wearing suicide vests, have attacked locations across Kabul in a coordinated commando-style operation against several targets, including banks and Afghan government ministries.

Gunfire from street battles and loud explosions could be heard across the capital in the worst attack on the city in almost a year.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as some cabinet members of President Hamid Karzai were being sworn in.

"At least ten people who are suicide bombers are in several buildings, including in banks and shopping centres," security officer Amir Mohammad said at the scene where Afghan forces had cordoned off parts of central Kabul.
He had no information about casualties.

Another security source said as many as 30 attackers could be involved in clashes and three people had been killed.

"Gunmen are besieged in the store," he said, referring to a large store opposite the justice ministry and close to the presidential palace.

"They are firing on security forces and we believe suicide bombers are among them."

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, said 20 of the insurgent group's fighters, including suicide bombers, had occupied several government buildings and were clashing with Afghan security forces.

Nato forces said they were assisting Afghan security forces in securing an area near the central bank, after reports of an explosion.

A security source said two rockets had also landed inside the capital.

"It is a chaotic scene, we do not know what to do and where to go," an official trapped in a government building near the presidential palace said.

The attack was the biggest in Kabul since gunmen stormed the justice ministry and other government buildings in February last year.


  1. The inverted World of Paul Krugman:

    I hadn't watched the video:
    Brown, talking about Palin pregnancy, mentions Obama's mom was only 18 when she gave birth to the immaculate one.

    Krugman goes from that to Brown being a birther in the Limbaugh right wingnut category!

    "Brown is clearly aligning himself with the Limbaugh wing of the GOP, in which slurs along these lines are standard fare.

    And as Steve Benen points out, claims about Obama’s illegitimacy were an integral part of the birther craziness.

  2. Obama confidant's spine-chilling proposal

    Cass Sunstein wants the government to "cognitively infiltrate" anti-government groups

    Glenn Greenwald

    Jan. 15, 2010 |

    Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama's closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs." In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.

    Via FR


  3. 5 Americans detained in Pakistan allege torture

    Welcome to Pakistan, lads.

    The Great Satan is going to look better and better over the years spent in prison.

  4. Mr Hoover, long time head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation also wanted to, and did, infiltrate anti-government groups, in the United States with Federal informants.

    I guess that would put Cass Sunstein and J. Edgar Hoover both amongst the Federal Socialists of the United States.

    Mr Hoover, all the more so, as he actually carried out the program, rather than just propose it.

    One wonders, though, if Mr Hoover' actions obtained Mr Sunstein's objective, that of creating greater public trust in the Federal overseers.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Though doug appears shocked, to the core of his being, that there are those empowered by our government to do domestic surveillance.

    And that those so engaged are always wanting to expand their mandate.

    While for many, the only objection is that now they themselves are the targets of these "anti-American" investigations.

    That tea partiers are now considered in the same league as the KKK and the American NAZI Party, by the elites at the Anti Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, only cause for comedy, from my perspective.

    bobbie's comrades at the ADLoBB think 'birthers' like him are a danger to the Republic, but then again, maybe that's why the FBI has already interviewed him.


  7. Nigeria troops patrol in Jos after religious clashes
    Nigeria map

    Troops and riot police are patrolling the Nigerian city of Jos, after fighting between gangs of Muslim and Christian youths in the central city.

    At least 12 people have reportedly died but the Plateau State authorities have yet to confirm a figure.

    Houses, mosques and churches were set alight and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is now in force.

    The city has a history of ethnic and religious tension - at least 200 people were killed in 2008 and 1,000 in 2001.

    The BBC

  8. Kabul "under control" after brazen Taliban assault

    Play slideshow

    From Reuters

  9. DR,

    If you have a link wherein the ADL is quoted as you state, please provide same. Specifically, I would like to see where Foxman or anyone attached called the "tea party" activists NAZI or KKK.

    If that is your interpretation of the ADL position, please so state.

  10. ...from my rabbi...

    VAEYRA 5770

    One minute you’re home talking with your family after dinner and everything is peaceful and calm. And the next minute your whole country is devastated—the capital city destroyed, parliament destroyed, hospitals destroyed, police stations destroyed, almost every home destroyed—including yours, no electricity, no running water, nowhere to buy food or water because all the markets are destroyed. It’s impossible to imagine, let alone comprehend. It’s as if all of the 10 plagues we read about in today’s parsha in Egypt had descended upon the little Island nation of Haiti Tuesday night.

    We’ve seen the pictures in the papers and on the news. I can’t bear to watch it anymore. It breaks my heart. What can we do? People, who are buried alive, have no one to rescue them as rescue teams are blocked from landing at the dysfunctional Port-Au-Prince airport. Estimates now range from 45,000 to 100,000 dead, and every day it gets worse.

  11. What can we do? What is the Jewish response? We Jews have been blamed for so many of the world’s misfortunes—including natural disasters. What often escapes recognition is what invariably follows a tragedy on the scale of an earthquake or a tsunami anywhere on earth: and that is the certainty that the State of Israel will reach out to give aid and assistance in humanitarian spirit whether the help is appreciated or even acknowledged. And Israel has already dispatched an elite army corps of engineers and a medical corps ready to deploy a field hospital. Most national Jewish organizations have already set up hotlines and internet sites for donations.

    Question: Should Jews be giving to help non-Jews in crisis when we have so many pressing needs ourselves? Answer: Of course! And, as Rabbi Benjamin Blech points out in an article on the Aish web site, Moses, the central character of our Torah portion shows us why. What was it that Gd saw in Moses to make him worthy of leading the Jewish people out of Egypt to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah? There are only 3 short stories recorded in the Torah about Moses before he became the leader of the Jewish people and they all share one powerful theme. In each Moses did not sit by passively in the presence of evil. He did not justify inaction with the claim that it was none of his business. He understood that all are responsible one for another.

  12. In the 1st story Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Jew to death and he kills him before the Egyptian could murder his innocent victim. In the 2nd story, Moses sees 2 Jews fighting and he brakes up the quarrel. In the 3rd story, after he had fled to Midian, he sees shepherds taking advantage of women who had sought water for their flock and he again intervenes and saves the women from these bullies.

    These are the only 3 things the Torah records about the life of Moses whom Gd chooses for greatness. In Jewish law a 3-fold repetition is a chazaka, it assures constancy of character. The defining characteristic of greatness for Moses was the willingness to intercede when witnessing difficulties faced by others.

    On a far deeper level, however, it did not escape the attention of the rabbis that these 3 stories represented a sequence with a powerful message. In an ascending order of difficulty, the stories conveyed 3 levels of our understanding of the principle that we are all responsible one for another.

  13. The 1st story called for a response when Moses witnesses an Egyptian beating a Jew. The victim is a fellow brother; the assailant a self-proclaimed enemy. It’s the easiest kind of incident to elicit an active response. In modern terms it would be the equivalent of a Jew witnessing an anti-Semite, a Nazi or a member of Hamas about to slaughter a fellow Jew. Intervention is almost assured. Who could sit by and watch an innocent murdered by an avowed enemy of one's own people?

    In the 2nd story the identity of the combatants changes. It’s now Jew versus Jew. Anti-Semitism no longer plays a role. The test for Moses is to see whether he would be equally incensed and moved to action if there was no outsider involved. Moses was up to the task. He passed this test as well.

  14. The most difficult one yet awaited him. He’s now in a foreign land. Neither the offending bullies nor the harassed women have any relationship to him. He knows neither the victims nor the assailants. Simply put, what was happening before him has no personal connection to his life—other than the fact that fellow human beings were in danger and he was in a position to help. The 3rd and final test was the one that we are faced with every time a situation arises when it is not our family, our people or our nation is threatened, but others with whom we share but one thing—we are all created in the image of Gd. It was because Moses passed this final test that he became our greatest hero and our ultimate role model.

    I take great pride when I see that inevitably one of the very 1st nations to respond to the human needs of a disaster, such as an earthquake in Haiti, is the State of Israel—and that Jewish organizations are among the 1st in America to collect funds to help. That is what reassures me that we have never lost that trait which made Moses so beloved to Gd—and which enables us to continue to fulfill our mission of tikun olam, “repairing the world.” After Shabbos I will send out a copy of this sermon with 4 links at the end where you can click on and donate your gift to help.

  15. This weekend we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King, if he were alive today, would most certainly inspire us to feed the hungry and clothe the needy. And right now, that is most needed in Haiti. Giving to help in Haiti in the spirit of Dr. King is the Jewish thing to do! Amen!

    Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis


    Here is contact information for some of the better known organizations involved in the relief effort:

    American Jewish World Service
    45 West 36th Street, 11th floor
    New York, NY 10018-7904

    American Jewish Committee

    Ms. Tailin Chen Brecher
    165 East 56th Street
    New York, NY 10022

    American Jewish Committee

    American Red Cross National Headquarters
    2025 E Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20006

    88 Hamilton Ave.
    Stamford, CT USA 06902