discarded lies: monday, december 18, 2017 8:35 pm zst
a twirl in life
daily archive: 11/06/2004
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Militant Secularism
Myself, I like secularism. I would like to see Saudi Arabia be secular one day too. And Iran, and all the little shitty Gulf countries.
Surveying the world beyond the cloistered walls of its Roman enclave, the Vatican sees much to worry about: Terrorism, war, AIDS and poverty are ravaging the lives of many of its constituents around the globe.

But of all the ills afflicting the modern world, none is causing deeper concern than the rising tide of what Vatican officials call "militant secularism" washing over Europe.

The symptoms of that have been piling up fast recently.

In traditionally Roman Catholic Spain, a new socialist government is aggressively promoting legislation that will permit gay marriage, facilitate abortion and speed up divorce.

In historically Catholic France, the government's ban on the display of "conspicuous" religious symbols in state institutions stirred controversy because while it prevented Muslim girls from wearing veils to school, it also outlawed Christian symbols such as crucifixes.

And perhaps most galling of all, the new European constitution signed with much fanfare last week just across the Tiber River from the Holy See contained no mention of Christianity, despite a vigorous campaign led by the pope for a reference to Europe's "Christian roots" to be included in the preamble.

Vatican officials say they accept that a Europe with a growing Muslim population cannot describe itself as Christian. But the absence of any reference to Christianity was a bitter blow for an institution that over centuries has laid down the law for the continent's secular rulers.
`Secularism' in Europe vexes Vatican
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Macedonia
You know something? It's bad enough that Americans have to be careful in ME countries. But Americans having to be careful in Europe? And I'm really sick and tired of Greek anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and all the antis that go with that. Enough is enough. We should grow up.
The U.S. Embassy in Athens warned Americans in Greece on Saturday to exercise caution and heighten their level of security following Washington's formal recognition last week of Macedonia under that name.

Greek politicians and religious leaders have widely condemned the U.S. decision to recognize the tiny Balkan nation under the name Macedonia, fearing it could lead to a territorial dispute. The move is expected to stoke traditionally strong anti-American sentiment in Greece.

In an e-mail sent Saturday to U.S. citizens living in Greece, the embassy warned of possible protests and said "for the time being, all Americans in Greece should also heighten their individual and family sense of and attention to personal security."

Later Saturday, about 100 people gathered outside the U.S. consulate in the northern Greek port of Thessaloniki to protest the American decision.

Greek officials did not immediately comment on the embassy statement, which also was posted on the embassy's Web site.

Athens has argued that use of the name Macedonia implies territorial claims toward Greece, which has a neighboring province with the same name. Greece lodged a formal complaint with the United States on Thursday following Washington's recognition of Macedonia.

Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and joined the United Nations under the provisional name "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" to sidestep Greek objections. Athens uses the U.N. acronym, as do international organizations.

Greece has threatened it may veto Macedonia's bid to join the European Union and NATO.
U.S. Embassy Warns Americans in Greece
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Saudi Clerics' Fatwa Meddles, Urges Iraqi Jihad Against US Forces
Saudi Religious Scholars Support Holy War Against U.S. Forces in Iraq - from TBO.com:
Prominent Saudi religious scholars urged Iraqis to support militants waging holy war against the U.S.-led coalition forces as American troops prepared Saturday for a major assault on the insurgent hotbed of Fallujah.

The 26 Saudi scholars and preachers said in an open letter to the Iraqi people that their appeal was prompted by "the extraordinary situation through which the Iraqis are passing which calls for unity and exchange of views." The letter was posted on the Internet.

"At no time in history has a whole people been violated ... by propaganda that's been proved false," Sheik Awad al-Qarni, one of the scholars, told Al-Arabiya TV.

"The U.S. forces are still destroying towns on the heads of their people and killing women and children. What's going on in Iraq is a result of the big crime of America's occupation of Iraq."

In their letter, the scholars stressed that armed attacks by militant Iraqi groups on U.S. troops and their allies in Iraq represent "legitimate" resistance.

The scholars were careful to direct their appeal to Iraqis only and stayed away from issuing a general, Muslim-wide call for holy war. They also identified the military as the target, one that is considered legitimate by many Arabs who view U.S. troops and their allies as occupiers.
Anything else?
The clerics issued a fatwa, or religious edict, prohibiting Iraqis from offering any support for military operations carried out by U.S. forces against insurgent strongholds.

"Fighting the occupiers is a duty for all those who are able," the letter said. "It is a jihad to push back the assailants. Resistance is a legitimate right. A Muslim must not inflict harm on any resistance man or inform on them. Instead, they should be supported and protected."
Got it. Kill the Americans. Shelter the mujahideen. It is your duty. And yet
The independent scholars - some of whom have been criticized in the past for their extremist views - apparently did not want to antagonize the Saudi government, a U.S. ally, or appear to be flouting its efforts to fight terrorism.

Saudi Arabia has sealed off its long border with Iraq and bars people from crossing into that country. Its most senior clerics issued a statement last year saying the call for jihad - or holy war - should only come from the ruler and should not be based on edicts issued by individual clergymen.
This is how you avoid antagonizing the Saudi government? By calling for only Iraqis to kill Americans and declining to encourage Saudis to?
Maybe the Saudi government should be a little more antagonistic with these guys.
And what Saudi statement would be complete without a little wild-eyed anti-semitism?
The scholars said inter-Iraqi fighting would cause "great damage to the Iraqis and give a free service to the Jews who are infiltrating into Iraq and to the coalition forces which exploit differences to consolidate their domination."
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Bin Laden Threat Assessment
IntelCenter offers a PDF threat assesment of Osama bin Laden's latest. They're a lot less sanguine about it than I am, although they are in the fearmongering business. They think an attack is probably coming within sixty days. They lay out the parallels in all his addresses directed at the American people:
  • reciprocity
  • unjust motivations of GWB for Iraq action
  • American people bear all responsibility for our leaders' actions
  • peace is available to those who obey Osama
  • extensive explanation of his own actions and why they're justified
  • Threats
They also show how he's actually appeared in this "lectern" guise before, it's not a new thing as several of us were speculating and does not indicate necessarily that he's lost his legs.
Make of it what you will. I ain't skeert.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Reflections on the Intifada
Palestinian columnists are assessing the intifada and the harm it has caused the Palestinian people:
The gravest damage [to the Palestinians following the Intifada] is the growing prevalence of a negative culture that glorifies death and treats reality as predestined fate, from which one cannot extract oneself, [a culture] that prefers a return to the roots contrary to the course of history, in an effort to escape the complex reality and to hide behind the distant past.


But unfortunately, the suggestions on how to fix the damage remain vague:
Ghassan Al-Shak'a wrote in Al-Quds: "Since the responsibility lies both with the PA and the Palestinians, great courage is needed to carry out a 're-evaluation,' openly and not behind closed doors, in order to institute law and order and to maintain a serious dialogue that will be based on interests and not sentiments. In addition, new methods of struggle must be adopted, which will be in line with reality..."
A Palestinian Account of the Four Years of the Intifada
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Infidel Enemies Of Islam
Will Islam change before Europe does?

European Debate of Islam Heats Up
A five-page letter pinned to the body of a Dutch filmmaker brutally murdered after making a movie critical of Islam called for Muslims to rise up against the "infidel enemies" in the West.

Other messages — later left at the sidewalk shrine where Theo van Gogh's throat was slashed — dripped with equal venom against radical Islam. "Enemies live among us," read one missive in a bed of flowers, votive candles and crosses.

Europe's complex interplay with Islam appears to stand at a tipping-point and Tuesday's slaying of the 47-year-old filmmaker as he was riding his bike down a busy boulevard in Amsterdam could indicate one direction in which it is headed.

"The Muslims say they're scared," said mourner Nicolette Toering. "No, we're scared."

Dutch authorities were investigating whether the chief suspect, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan man detained shortly after the attack, acted alone out of rage or had links to wider extremist networks.

The attack has underscored the hard political and social choices that European leaders face about Muslims and the wider Islamic world.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Middle America
One of the more charming moments on election day was the item on the news showing President Bush visiting a group of Republican campaign workers in Ohio who were phoning voters at random to seek their support. Mr Bush decided to make a call himself. "I can assure you it's me," he could be heard telling the voter. He or she seemed at first not to believe that the President was telephoning in person. It was yet another brave deed on Mr Bush's part. Middle America is not as conformist as its mockers would have us believe. A random telephone call in that vast region could easily result in the telephone being answered by a serial killer, a transvestite, a novelist or modernist composer.

Middle America has produced people in each of those categories. Not all of them are good enough, in their respective fields, to practise in New York City. So Mr Bush could easily have telephoned someone whose occupation or disposition ensured that they would be hostile to him, though there is less evidence that serial killers are as anti-Bush as novelists. More exit poll guidance is needed here.
Middle America is not as conformist as mockers would have us believe
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Terrorism is part theatre
It was called "Operation Baghdad" and, to be sure, the headless bodies of the three police officers recalled the violence in that city. But these attacks happened in Haiti, not in Iraq.

The brutal beheadings in Iraq appear to have inspired militants in other parts of the world who are drawn to the shock value of the horrifying attacks and the intense publicity they attract.

Thailand and the Netherlands are two other countries where suspected extremists recently beheaded or slit the throats of their victims in what appear to be copycat attacks.

Rime Allaf, associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said beheadings are spreading because the practice "has so horrified us in the West."

"It achieves results and it makes the headlines," Allaf added. "People are talking about groups that we've never heard about before."

The horrifying tactic has spread as far as the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, where loyalists of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide seized on the Iraqi beheadings as a symbol of strength and intimidation.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Egyptian Columnist: Bin Laden's Tape Of Capitulation And Bankruptcy
This appeared in Arabic in the Egyptian daily Al Ahram ("The Pyramids"), via MEMRI, Dr Ma'moun Fandy wrote this exploration of bin Laden's attempt to surrender while pretending we were the ones surrendering, confirming Wretchard's insight into it:
"The most important thing in the tape is his sincere admission that he is the man who had planned the September 11 attacks. He specified the motives that justified this operation, which began to ferment in his mind since Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982…

"The main point in this case is that Osama himself admitted to carrying out the operation which his friends and disciples were denying for a long time. And here we have evidence, in sound and image, that the man [i.e. bin Laden] is the primary [party] responsible for the events of September 11 and that neither the Mossad nor the CIA were behind the [events], as the low-ranking [Arab] commentators have claimed. Nor the Serbs, as the senior political commentators have claimed."
But the second most important part of the tape is that to prickly Arab perceptions, it's a huge, humiliating climbdown, especially because the American people essentially yawned and reelected Bush. His sharaf and wijh (honor and face) now demand a megaterror attack, as promised, on a red state, which he can't deliver. Osama made a major blunder, a major political miscalculation due to his delusions. America called his bluff, and I am convinced it will turn out that he had no capability to strike us in our homes at will, not at all, and will continue to lack such capability. Follow the jump to read the humiliating insult that he delivered to Osama.

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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Second Terms And Presidential Freedom Of Action
George Friedman in StratFor's newsletter (article is subscription-only, which is why it doesn't appear anywhere on that link to their site) has a piece in which he thinks about what role expectations about American pressure, and strategic calculations about Bush's second term, will play in the entire world's behaviors.
THE GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT

The Second Term
November 05, 2004 0503 GMT

By George Friedman

The election is over and the worst did not happen. The United States is not locked in endless litigation, with the legitimacy of the new government challenged. George W. Bush has been re-elected in a clear victory. Depending on your point of view, this might have been the best imaginable outcome or the second-worst possible outcome. Possibly, for some, it is the worst outcome, with complete governmental meltdown being preferable to four more years of Bush. However, these arguments are now moot. Bush has been re-elected, and that is all there is to that.

This means that for slightly more than four years the United States will be governed by a president who will never run for political office again. In general, two-term presidents tend to be less interested in political process than in their place in history. They tend to become more aggressive in trying to complete their perceived missions, and less cautious in the chances they take. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all encountered serious problems in their second terms, most due to their handling of problems they experienced in their first terms. Nixon had Watergate, while Reagan was handling Central American issues and hostages. Clinton wound up impeached for his handling of matters in his second term. Going further back in the century, Woodrow Wilson had the League of Nations fiasco in his second term, and Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court. Dwight Eisenhower alone, his place in history assured, did not suffer serious setbacks from misjudgments, unless you want to view Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin and the shooting down of the U-2 over Soviet air space as personal failures.

Second-term presidents tend to look at re-election as vindication of their first-term policies and as a repudiation of their critics. They see themselves as having fewer constraints placed on them, and they become less sensitive to political nuances.

Bush is an interesting case because he was not particularly sensitive to political nuance in his first term. It is difficult to remember a president in his first term who was less constrained by political considerations or political consequences. For better or worse, Bush did not govern with one eye on public opinion polls. As we learned in the course of his term, he was not particularly flexible, even when he was running for re-election. We therefore need to imagine a George W. Bush who is not relatively, but completely, indifferent to political nuance.[Ed: yes, for which I am very grateful]
Much much more, after the jump

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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Palestinian Disinformation: Arafat "Opened Eyes, Communicated"
Dateline: 4:34 am EST. Arafat opened eyes, communicated with doctors, AFP reports:
Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat opened his eyes late yesterday and was able to communicate with doctors who were ``encouraged,'' Agence France-Presse reported, citing Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

The 75-year-old Palestinian Authority president was flown from his West Bank compound in Ramallah to a French military hospital near Paris a week ago for treatment of a blood disorder. Israeli media reported Arafat brain dead on Thursday, which was denied by Palestinian officials.

Arafat's health ``has not reached a stage that is irreversible, as some media have reported, and we hope his condition will improve in the coming days,'' AFP quoted Nabil Abu Rudeina, an Arafat adviser, as saying today.

Arafat's physical decline has prompted Palestinian officials to seek at least a temporary arrangement to maintain political unity and ensure security in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Machines are keeping Arafat alive until his family and officials from France, Israel and Egypt decide where he will be buried, two unidentified Bush administration officials told the Associated Press.
I don't buy it though. I read the story in the arabic version of Yediot Aharonot here and noted:
مصادر مقربة من الرئيس عر?ات تقول إنه يست?يق بين الحين والآخر، ي?تح عينيه ويتمكن من الاتصال بأطبائه. مسؤول ?لسطيني ر?يع المستوى: الأطباء سيشخصون مرض عر?ات خلال ثلاثة أيام وسيتمكنون من السيطرة عليه...
meaning "sources close to the Rais Arafat say that he awakens from time to time, opens his eyes and is able to communicate with his doctors. Said Palestinian official Rafi' Almustawi: the doctors will issue a diagnosis within three days, and will have a better grasp of his situation." Later it says
وقالت مصادر ?لسطينية، من بينها مصادر ر?يعة المستوى، الليلة الماضية، إن تحسنـًا طرأ على الحالة الصحية للرئيس عر?ات، وإنه تمكن من التحرك ?ي سريره، ?تح عينيه وتحدث إلى الأطباء.
And said Palestinian sources, among them Rafi' Almustawa, last night that a marked improvement has occured in the health status of Rais Arafat, and that he was able to move in his bed, open his eyes and speak to doctors.
Why is AFP in translation making it sound like he said it was a one-time event, but the original in Yediot Aharonot implies that he's waking up rather more often than just once? Additionally, why is AFP reporting only opening his eyes and "communicating" while Yediot is saying "moved in his bed" and "speak[ing]" to the doctors? "Speaking" is rather more arduous than "communicating"! You can communicate just by blinking your eyes for yes or no. Are they tailoring the news-and its relative credibility-to the credulity of the audience? Saying one thing to Arab audiences and one to Western ones? Not an uncommon practice from the Palestinians. Anyway, the original source of this news is an Arab journalist reporting the words of a Palestinian spokesliar in a newspaper intended for Arabs to read; sum total credibility: zero. I think the "diagnosis within three days" thing means he'll be declared officially dead within three days, or they decided they need three days to get whatever it is they need done while he's still legally alive, done. Meantime Suha'll just keep him hooked up to that life support.
3 days. From Saturday afternoon, Israel time. So he's gonna be unhooked from life support on Tuesday. They'll be infighting all weekend and stealing the money on Monday.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Truth Behind Beslan
Are we going to learn the truth about what happened in Beslan? Russian Commando Says Officials Concealing Truth Behind Beslan — Newspaper
Vassily refuted official reports that commanding the group of hostage-takers was a rebel by the name of Khuchbarov, as the Prosecutor General’s Office claimed. According to the serviceman, the group was led by Shamil Basayev’s personal bodyguard Magomed Yevloyev, aka Magas. Khuchbarov was his right-hand man.

After the storming as many as 47 assault rifles and 3 grenade cup discharges were seized, which also partially proves that more than 32 rebels had seized the school, Vassily said. Moreover, only 15 rebels carried out the hostage-taking operation on Sept. 1, most of their accomplices by that time had already entered the school building and occupied their positions.

?One thing proves that the seizure had been planned in advance. In summer all the tall trees around the school building were cut down. To all appearances, the rebels had been preparing a field of fire. Some 15 rebels arrived in Beslan four days before the seizure. Police received numerous calls about suspicious looking people, but no measures were taken,“ said Vassily.

There were apparently four female bombers among the rebels, not two, as officials claim. Vassily said one of the rebels was a Beslan resident, an ethnic Ossetian. When one of the teachers recognized him, even though he had not taken off his mask, they cut her throat.
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