A photo showing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian born mastermind behind the latest spate of bombings in Iraq, standing with senior commanders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was seen by Jordan's King Abdullah II last month, according to an Algerian journalist.Stunning.
"The Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister did not attend the Amman conference of Iraq's neighbors in response to accusations made by Jordan's King Abdullah II", Atwan Tazakrat on Thursday told US-based Radio Farda.
"Fifteen days earlier, Jordanian intelligence services gave King Abdullah II documents along with a picture of a number of heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards standing next to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was welcomed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards upon arrival from Afghanistan to Iran after the US attack on Afghanistan" he said.
He added, "al-Zarqawi stayed in Iran for three to four months, and Iranian officials did not deny his presence. They provided him with a fake passport with which he traveled to Syria where in mid-2002 he plotted the assassination of an American citizen".
In response to a question on whether or not the photo had been published, Tazakrat said, "This photo was never publicly distributed but I was able to see it. The source who confirmed to me that the Jordanian King had seen the photo is credible".
Egyptian television dramas will soon be subject to review by a panel of religious censors, sparking an outcry by authors who say the move is a threat to their creative freedom and livelihoods. Information Minister Mamduh al-Beltagi told reporters he wanted to ensure better quality Egyptian television series, which have been overtaken in popularity by Syrian productions in recent years. He said that under the new rules, only shows that are "responsible" and "respect the values and traditions of Egyptian society" will be allowed to hit the airwaves. "The media," he said, "cannot be transformed into instruments to distil poison under the pretext of artistic license." Certain programs will now be presented to the clerics of Al-Azhar - widely regarded as the world's highest Sunni Muslim authority - and the small but powerful Coptic Christian church before being broadcast, Beltagi said. The minister has already axed a television miniseries called "A Girl from Shubra," a tale of the relationship between a Christian woman and a Muslim man during the Egyptian struggle for independence in the 1940's. The ban brought a deluge of criticism from writers but Beltagi defended the move saying the program "deals with relations between Christians and Muslims in a way that undermines national unity."
The Coptic church opposes marriage between Christians and Muslims, which often result in conversions of the spouse to Islam, while marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian man is formally banned under Sharia law. In December, the wife of a Coptic priest who wanted to divorce and convert to Islam set off a storm within the church, which initially said she had been kidnapped and forced to convert. The allegation caused a deep rift between the religious communities, sparking deadly clashes.
The church bans divorce and many Christian women circumvent the rule by announcing their conversion to Islam in order to be excommunicated from the church and obtain a legal separation before a civil court.Egyptian television censors sharpen their knives
Rule 1 Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will always be over by the time the next morning's paper is out.Never have I read an entire Friedman column and agreed completely, to the extent of changing my mind. Okay, more like letting him help me make up my mind. It's what an editorialist with a prime slot like his at the NYT should be doing. Nice job.
Rule 2 Never take a concession, except out of the mouth of the person who is supposed to be doing the conceding. If I had a dime for every time someone agreed to recognize Israel on behalf of Yasir Arafat, I would be a wealthy man today.
Rule 3 The Israelis will always win, and the Palestinians will always make sure that they never enjoy it. Everything else is just commentary.
Rule 4 In the Middle East, if you can't explain something with a conspiracy theory, then don't try to explain it at all - people there won't believe it.
Rule 5 In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to just go away - unless the coast is completely clear.
Rule 6 The most oft-used phrase of Mideast moderates is: "We were just about to stand up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Had you stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now it's too late. It's all your fault for being so stupid."
Rule 7 In Middle East politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one side is weak, it will tell you, "How can I compromise?" And the minute it becomes strong, it will tell you, "Why should I compromise?"
Rule 8 What people tell you in private in the Middle East is irrelevant. All that matters is what they will defend in public in Arabic, in Hebrew or in any other local language. Anything said in English doesn't count.
It is on the basis of these rules that I totally disagree with those who argue that the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections should be postponed. Their main argument is that an Iraqi election that ensconces the Shiite majority in power, without any participation of the Sunni minority, will sow the seeds of civil war.
That is probably true - but we are already in a civil war in Iraq. That civil war was started by the Sunni Baathists, and their Islamist fascist allies from around the region, the minute the U.S. toppled Saddam. And they started that war not because they felt the Iraqi elections were going to be rigged, but because they knew they weren't going to be rigged.
They started the war not to get their fair share of Iraqi power, but in hopes of retaining their unfair share. Under Saddam, Iraq's Sunni minority, with only 20 percent of the population, ruled everyone. These fascist insurgents have never given politics a chance to work in Iraq because they don't want it to work. That's why they have never issued a list of demands. They don't want people to see what they are really after, which is continued minority rule, Saddamism without Saddam. If that was my politics, I'd be wearing a ski mask over my head, too.
The notion that delaying the elections for a few months would somehow give time for the "Sunni moderates" to persuade the extremists to come around is dead wrong - literally. Any delay would simply embolden the guys with the guns to kill more Iraqi police officers and to intimidate more Sunnis. It could only convince them that with just a little more violence, they could scuttle the whole project of rebuilding Iraq.
There is only one thing that will enable the Sunni moderates in Iraq to win the debate, and that is when the fascist insurgents are forced to confront the fact that their tactics have not only failed to prevent the elections, but have also dug the Sunnis of Iraq into an even deeper hole.
By boycotting the elections, not only will they lose their unfair share of the old Iraq, they will also have failed to claim even their fair share of the new Iraq. The moderate argument among the Sunnis can prevail only when the tactics of their extremists have proved utterly bankrupt.
For all these reasons, the least bad option right now for the U.S. is to forge ahead with the elections - unless the Iraqi Shiites ask for a postponement - and focus all of America's energies not on appeasing the fascist insurgents, but on moderating the Shiites and Kurds, who are sure to dominate the voting.
The expeditious and professional deployment of US troops on humanitarian assistance missions to areas devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami has quite publicly embarrassed the French government — on live television, no less. Yet another reason to thank the US Armed Forces. To see what is sure to be one of the most exceptional moments broadcast on the French evening news all year long, make sure that you click here to watch this evening's news. (Latest version of Windows Media Player required. Before 2 PM Eastern time to-morrow, it'll be the first displayed. After that, click on the one labeled 10/01/2005 - JT 20h.)You'll have to click that linky and read for yourself...Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has to explain France's woeful inability to deploy men and materiel to the scene in a timely fashion, and is also quite humiliated by having to answer such questions. Yeah, as if you needed more reasons to click the link, already!
For days now, the US military has been getting favorable coverage on the French nightly news due to its response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami. But tonight's broadcast was simply astounding. At 8 minutes into the broadcast, anchor David Pujadas begins a discussion of the disaster response and introduced a report on the American deployment:First off, here is the powerful American machinery in action. For 24 hours now, there has been a landing ["débarquement"] taking place — there is no other word — while helicopters continue the distribution [of humanitarian aid].
The report begins with an improvised helipad and then shows US airmen distributing "survival packages" of food, clothes and demountable shelters. In addition to showing those in need that they have not been forgotten, these supplies will allow their recipients to live for another day, says the narrator.
Cut to shot of a Sri Lankan beach where amphibious vehicles are disembarking from landing craft — unmistakably reminiscent of the D-Day landings. Note that above Pujadas used the word "débarquement" ("there is no other word"), which is the word most often used to refer to the D-Day landings. Footage of thousands of US marines offloading equipment. None of them are armed, points out the narrator, as this is a reconstruction mission. An interview with Juan Quijada, a US marine whose rank is not given. "Just here to help them as best I can," he says. 13,000 soldiers, we're told, and so far 200 metric tons of supplies.
"Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed/And batten on this moor?" asks Hamlet.
At nine minutes and 30 seconds into the broadcast, Pujadas says that "the scale of need must not hide the failure to provide it." He introduces the next report: "... the failure of a French civilian rescue mission in one of the most heavily affected areas."
We learn that 100 French firefighters as well as rescue and response workers have been sent to Meulaboh to establish a field hospital but that 8 days after their deployment and 15 days after the disaster, only 25% of their supplies have been delivered "because France has no helicopters [to deliver them]." (NB: during the Afghanistan war, France had to rent ALL of its helicopters from the Russian army.)
"The good will of the rescuers is not in question," says Pujadas. "This is well and truly a foul up."
Yes, those were his words. Watch the damn video if you don't believe me.
The report tells us that France has only 1 helicopter on the scene, a Dauphin. However this one is on loan from the manufacturer, Aérospatiale, and is normally used to shuttle around executives, not to move large amounts of cargo.
Sporting a sour smile, a French soldier is interviewed:
For the moment, we don't have the infrastructure in place, if you will, for logistics. The tents, the shelters, the hospital grounds. We can't begin to treat people under these circumstances.
When the news team arrived, the day's mission was no more than the installation of a latrine. The narrator says:Privately, the doctors admit that the first emergency phase has passed and that the French have missed it.
On screen, we then see a French doctor say... "As soon as our supplies gets here. No problem." Then we are treated to the image of the French begging for assistance from an Indonesian colonel! "We're expecting helicopters tomorrow," he says, asking for two trucks so they can move supplies. The colonel laughs and claps him on the shoulder. Then the French meet with some Americans. "It's been tough for us," says a French firefighter. "The Americans prove goodnatured toward the 'Frenchies,'" says the narrator. "But not much else." Then a big, impressive American Chinook helicopter arrives, empty, to pick up American journalists. French men looking dejected.
The report ends with the following summation:... that the French army should even now be unable to provide them with a few helicopters 15 days after the fact is surprising, especially given the public outcry that the tsunami provoked. It is as though France no longer has the means even to express its emotions.
But wait. It gets worse.
The "Right" side of the blogosphere has many members who support military action against Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, before we address the issue of what to do with Iran, we should first determine why Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons. After all, potential Iranian behavior should help guide us on what to do with Iran. Many have speculated that Iran wants to acquire nukes to attack Israel, citing statements by the former president of Iran. However, I think that this is not the case. I do not believe that Iran wants nukes in order to use them against Israel, and several different factors make me think so.Read it all, it's a very interesting analysis. History's End: The Nuclear Wall
Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore has one more chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame at his alma mater, Davison High School.Heyyy...good question! Let me think about that for a few nanoseconds. OK, done.
So far, his nomination has been rejected all four times that it has come up for consideration. This, despite directing the highest-grossing documentary in film history, last year's Fahrenheit 9/11, as well as the Oscar-winning Bowling For Columbine.
When a nomination is submitted on his behalf this year, it will be Moore's final opportunity to earn a place alongside other famous Davison alumni, like Michael Thorp (a class of '73 grad who used to host the local Easter Seals telethon) and Sally Bird (the class of '54 grad who oversaw the Davison choir for 40 years).
But if Don Hammond has his way, Moore will again be turned down.
"Would you want him as a role model? Would you want your son or daughter to be like him?" Hammond – a member of the Hall of Fame selection committee who has voted against including Moore – asked in an interview with the Associated Press.
"I haven't talked to anybody yet who's for him. The word to describe Michael Moore is 'embarrassing.' He embarrasses everybody."Hey, foreigners like him! Now that's what I call an endorsement. He's got the Canadian vote sewn up. Michael Moore is an even more disgusting, sweaty pig than you had most likely imagined. Get a load of this!
The committee meets on Feb. 11 to choose the year's inductees.
Ryan Eashoo, another Davison alumnus, is determined to secure a place for the outspoken documentarian.
"We've been blacklisted," Eashoo said. "I'm a huge Michael Moore fan. He's a great producer, great filmmaker, always sticking up for minorities. He's kind of an underdog."
Since there isn't a limit on how many nominations can be submitted in support of any former Davison student, Eashoo has been collecting signatures to bolster Moore's bid.
He has collected about 300 nominations so far, and has even sent faxes to nearby Canadian cities looking for Moore supporters.
"There's more interest in other countries, frankly," he said, adding that he thinks Moore is "the second-most-popular person from Michigan, behind Henry Ford."
As for Hammond, he has bad memories of when Moore served on the Davison Board of Education.
Moore was 18 at the time, and Davison says he remembers the future Academy Award winner taking off his shoes and socks at a board meeting and picking at his toes.
He also apparently walked out of a board meeting, telling the other members "I don't want to sit around with you bums."
"Davison is a small town," Hammond went on. "The people here don't like people making fun of them. Michael Moore once said he likes to go back to Davison because he's the thinnest person in town. We're not all that fat."
North Korea has launched an intensive media assault on its latest arch enemy - the wrong haircut.N Korea wages war on long hair
A campaign exhorting men to get a proper short-back-and-sides has been aired by state-run Pyongyang television.
Pyongyang television started the campaign last autumn with a five-part series in its regular TV Common Sense programme.
Stressing hygiene and health, it showed various state-approved short hairstyles including the "flat-top crew cut," "middle hairstyle," "low hairstyle," and "high hairstyle" - variations from one to five centimetres in length.
The programme allowed men aged over 50 seven centimetres of upper hair to cover balding.
It stressed the "negative effects" of long hair on "human intelligence development", noting that long hair "consumes a great deal of nutrition" and could thus rob the brain of energy.
Men should get a haircut every 15 days, it recommended.
In the weeks and months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, filmmaker Marc Levin kept hearing from New York City cab drivers that no Jews had died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. One Egyptian driver not only repeated the canard that "Jews were warned about 9/11," but posited that the alleged heads-up was consistent with "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the notorious fictional 19th-century account of a meeting held by Jews to plot world domination.Read the rest, I'm really looking forward to seeing this film: Filmmaker Confronts 'Protocols' Myth in Documentary
"I just kind of flipped out," Levin said, recalling his reaction. "I said, 'My great-grandfather was at that meeting.' The cabbie didn't know what to make of that exactly."
Then Levin heard that an Arab American newspaper in Patterson, N.J., had started serializing "Protocols." That did it. He became determined to use his craft to document the re-emergence of "Protocols" and antisemitism in the wake of 9/11.
Anyone noticed that the iPod Shuffle is the first and only digital music player ever released to NOT have a "Repeat Song" feature? Prety suspicious, huh? I bet the clever engineers at Apple are already hard at work with their *next* player... the iPod Repeat! Simple intuitive interface! Listen to your favorite song over and over again-- WITH NO USER INTERVENTION REQUIRED!