Iraqi sources have told a Saudi newspaper that al-Qaeda's man in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has been arrested. Al Watan daily said Sunday that the official announcement on the arrest was delayed until a new Iraqi government is in place. The purported arrest supposedly took place on the Iraqi - Syrian border, the report added.I'm not putting too much faith in this one, folks. If he was arrested before early February, wouldn't Allawi love to trumpet that for electoral gain, instead of getting crushed at the polls mainly over law and order concerns?
It should be mentioned that CNN aired on Saturday new pictures believed to show al-Zarqawi, who is America's most-wanted man in Iraq.
The Saudi paper said that the arrest of al-Zarqawi was completed ahead the recent visit of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Iraq. This visit took place early February.
The other day in the Guardian Martin Kettle wrote: ‘The war was a reckless, provocative, dangerous, lawless piece of unilateral arrogance. But it has nevertheless brought forth a desirable outcome which would not have been achieved at all, or so quickly, by the means that the critics advocated, right though they were in most respects.’Steyn on the Arab Street, and his wife's hilarious confrontation with a man proudly sporting a Free Tibet sticker, after the jump...
Very big of you, pal. And I guess that’s as close to a mea culpa as we’re going to get: even though Bush got everything wrong, it turned out right. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? In a few years’ time, they’ll have it down pat — just like they have with Eastern Europe. Oh, the Soviet bloc [the Middle East thugocracies] was bound to collapse anyway. Nothing to do with that simpleton Ronnie Raygun [Chimpy Bushitler]. In fact, all Raygun [Chimpy] did was delay the inevitable with his ridiculous arms build-up [illegal unprovoked Halliburton oil-grab], as many of us argued at the time: see my 1984 column ‘Yuri Andropov, The Young, Smart, Sexy New Face Of Soviet Communism’ [see the April 2004 Spectator column ‘Things Were Better Under Saddam: The coalition has destroyed Baathism, says Rod Liddle, and with it all hopes of the emergence of secular democracy’ — and yes, that really ran in these pages, on 17 April, not 1 April.]
Pope John Paul II’s recovery from his tracheotomy in the Gemelli Hospital in Rome will have delighted his well-wishers, but it may have come as a disappointment to the Pope himself. He would like to die in harness and, realising that he can no longer pull the barque of the Church with the same vigour as before, hopes that God will call him sooner rather than later to enjoy an eternal repose. Journalists, too, are impatient to start the circus that they have prepared for so long, and some Curial cardinals seem to think that it is time for a change: no Cardinal Secretary of State since the 13th century has suggested the possibility of a Papal resignation as did Cardinal Solano.That would be pretty funny, two living popes fighting. "But I'm infallible!" "Me too, you idiot!"
That precedent is not a happy one. Pietro di Murrone, a devout hermit, elected Pope Celestine V in July 1294 at the age of 79, could not cope and five months later he was encouraged to resign by Cardinal Benedetto Gaetani. Once Celestine V had taken his advice, Gaetani was himself elected Pope as Boniface VIII and immediately imprisoned his predecessor in Castel Fumone. As was to be made painfully clear a century later with the Great Schism — with one pope in Avignon and another in Rome — it is disastrous to have two popes each claiming to be infallible. Do the powers belong to the office or the person? What if, for example, the new pope decided to permit artificial methods of birth control or ordain women priests? One cannot imagine Pope John Paul II, with or without Parkinson’s disease, letting that pass without comment.
Of course that is precisely what the liberal constituency within the Catholic Church hopes that a new pope would do. He would allow women to be made priests, let priests marry, go easy on gays, let Catholics in second marriage take the Eucharist, and Anglicans too. He would temper the Church’s objection to stem-cell research, take a less absolute line on abortion, permit birth control and allow Catholic agencies to distribute condoms to prevent the spread of Aids.
It is difficult to come up with the name of a cardinal who would meet the liberals’ aspirations were he to be made pope; their best hope would be the Archbishop of Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels. However, 93 per cent of the 135 cardinals entitled to vote in the consistory were appointed by Pope John Paul II and, though there may be nuances in their commitment to the line he has followed on these controversial issues, none is known to have opposed it.
It is possible, of course, that some cardinal may have dissenting ideas that he has thought best to keep to himself, but it seems unlikely that any would or could radically alter Church teaching on matters of faith and morals. Pope John Paul II has not just appointed orthodox bishops and cardinals, he has also drawn a line in the sand which his successors cannot cross without destroying the authority and credibility of the papacy itself.
Thus the teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests has been pronounced infallible and, despite much rhetoric in favour of Christian unity, the Church of England remains, in the words of a recent Vatican document endorsed by the Pope, not a Church ‘in the proper sense’. It is difficult to see how a new pope could alter such a ruling or, for that matter, why he should want to do so.
This article in today's edition of the Berlin newspaper Die welt (entitled “When we win, Syria’s regime will fall") is well worth reading. First of all, it explains that the ultimate ambition of the Lebanese demonstrators is regime change in Damascus:The Arab street is made up of neocons? Who knew?Wenn die Syrer den Libanon verlassen, dann "ist das auch das Ende des syrischen Regimes", sagt Alan Merhi. Alle Anwesenden geben ihm recht - denn es ist Geld aus dem Libanon, mit dem sich das Baath-Regime in Damaskus finanziert. "Sie kontrollieren die Casinos, die H�fen, sie nehmen 50 Prozent unserer Steuern, sie haben sich an den 40 Milliarden Dollar bedient, die dem Land nach dem B�rgerkrieg f�r den Wiederaufbau geliehen wurden", sagt Merhi. Gerade das mache die Lage gef�hrlich. "Die Syrer werden nicht ohne Gewalt gehen. Sie werden versuchen, im Libanon einen neuen B�rgerkrieg zu entfachen. Aber es wird diesmal nicht funktionieren."
(When the Syrians leave Lebanon, that “will also spell the end of the Syrian regime," says Alan Merhi (a 23 year old graphic design student camping out on the square, JL). All the others agree with him – it’s Lebanese money that pays for the Baath-regime in Damaskus. “They control the casinos, the harbours, they take 50 percent of our taxes, they took the $40 billion in reconstruction loans that the country received after the end of the civil war," says Merhi. That makes the situation all the more dangerous. “The Syrians won’t leave without a fight. They will try to start a new civil war in Lebanon. But this time round they won’t succeed.")
And again in the final paragraph:"Sie wollen Zwietracht s�en, Schl�gereien anfangen", sagt Eddie. Aber "keine Chance, wir halten zusammen. Bevor wir aufgeben, hat Assad in Damaskus das Handtuch geworfen."
(“They want to create discord, start riots," says Eddie. But “no chance, we’ll stick together. Before we’re through, Assad will have thrown in the towel in Damascus.")
Beyond this remarkable embrace by the Arab street of the Bush doctrine of regime change, however, there is also a reference to a story which, if true, would be extremely significant, and perhaps a sign that Baby Assad may be losing his grip:Vor allem aber habe die Jugend in Damaskus ihre Augen auf Beirut gerichtet. "Die Syrer sind ja auch Gefangene ihres Regimes, wie wir", sagt er. "Vor zwei Tagen haben in Damaskus Studenten gegen das Regime demonstriert, so etwas hat es noch nie gegeben. Jetzt sind sie wahrscheinlich im Gef�ngnis, denn seither gab es keine Aktionen mehr."
(“The eyes of young people in Damascus are fixed on Beirut right now. “The Syrians are as much prisoners of their regime as we are, after all," he says. “Two days ago in Damascus students staged a protest against the regime, something that has never happened before. Most likely, they’re all in jail now, because since then there have been no new demonstrations.)
The range of horror in the many crimes of the DPRK and its mentally damaged "Dear Leader" murderer-freak is demonstrated in many different ways in many different stories, not the least of which is the depravity shown in the events surrounding the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by the government of North Korea.Go read the whole thing, and watch the Flash animation. A taste:
Imagine yourself on a date with your lover on a beautiful sandy beach, or walking down the street to your local grocery store. Suddenly you are grabbed, blindfolded, gagged, and stuffed in a bag. You are taken on a small boat and later on a cargo vessel to a land where nobody speaks your language and no one allows you to contact your family for a quarter of a century.As usual, totalitarian Communist dictatorships show so much regard for innocent people's lives. The sooner this evil regime is eradicated from the earth, the better. I look forward to the rest of this series, Photios!
That's what happened to the citizens of Japan. They were abducted by the North Koreans under the order of their leader, Kim Jong Il. And WE WANT THEM BACK.
On September 17, 2002, Chairman Kim Jong Il, after denying the fact for decades, finally admitted to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that North Korea had abducted Japanese nationals. Why did he admit it? Because he wants our food. He wants our money.
Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, the parents of Megumi Yokota are still spending sad days worrying about their missing daughter. Sakie says "Megumi was forced into the dark hold of a spy ship and taken away to North Korea. I am told that she was shouting for help, wailing 'Mom, Mom' and scratched the wall of the hold until her fingernails peeled off. How desperate and terrified she felt."
On Mexico's Mean Streets, the Sinners Have a Saint: The Catholic Church has condemned Santa Muerte services as devil worship, and law enforcement authorities have linked the cult to violence committed by drug traffickers and child prostitution rings. In a spate of killings in the northern state of Sinaloa this year that left more than 50 people dead, authorities reported finding tattoos, rings and pendants bearing the image of the Santa Muerte on the bodies of many of the victims.Here's some more background on this cult: 'St. Death' calls to the living in Mexico City, Saint Death offers Mexicans solace
Homero Aridjis, a novelist and poet, recently issued a novel based on the growing appeal of Santa Muerte. He said that most of the followers seek protection from the evil that lurks in their lives. Others, he said, seek darker blessings no other saint would approve.
"Some ask her for protection from harm," said Mr. Aridjis. "But others ask for protection from harm even as they do harm to others.
"She is their accomplice."
Housewives, Hoodlums Fight for Mexico Death Cult: Dressed in white and clutching statuettes of their beloved skeleton saint, followers of Mexico's fast-growing Santa Muerte death cult marched across the capital on Friday to demand recognition of their faith.
Angered by the Roman Catholic Church's disapproval of their ghoulish cult and a government bid to strip their main shrine of its license, housewives marched alongside petty criminals chanting: "Listen, government, the Saint is fighting."
"We are being persecuted," said Catholic Bishop David Romo, who has become the black sheep of Mexico's Catholic church for leading services to the bejeweled, scythe-wielding Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, in the rough Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito.
(insert scary sounds here)