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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Friday Fun 

I'm away for the day... I've got more important things to do.
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Nutso 

Atrios has gone off into tinfoil hat territory with this prediction:

If the polls are close in the general election, there will be at least one major assassination attempt against the Dem. nominee.
Well, I guess I don't have to listen to him any more.

Or Hesiod.

More of the same in comments here, here, here, here, and here.

I'm sure they're still busy piling on the paranoid theories. And I thought this kind of thing was reserved for Democratic Underground, and way below the level of a respected blogger like Atrios. Guess my impression of him was wrong.

And really... they're afraid of the Democratic candidate being assassinated? Apparently they don't realize that the vast majority of vitriolic hatred is coming from their side of the aisle, not the right.
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Muslims in France 

Le Monde has the transcript of a chat co-sponsored by Le Monde and France 5's political talk show "Ripostes," with Hamida bin Sadia. She is the French-Algerian spokeswoman of the group "Une ├ęcole pour tous-tes." The discussion ranges from the proposed ban on Muslim headscarves in schools, to the integration of immigrants into French society, to racism and Islamophobia. Her comments, while measured, clearly point to her dissatisfaction with the progress of integration and secularism as it is applied in France.

The transcript is in French, but I will hopefully get around to translating some of it later. If you read French, it's worth a look.
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Stop cooperating, start eliminating 

Here's a very good reason not to trust, negotiate with, or tolerate the existence of Hezbollah:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah will kidnap more Israelis to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners, if necessary, the militant movement's leader warned Thursday.

Speaking at a mass rally to welcome 21 Lebanese prisoners freed by Israel hours earlier, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said his guerrillas could capture more Israelis to bargain for the freedom of Lebanese still held in Israeli prisons.
Tell me, what good has this prisoner exchange done, other than to confirm to terrorists that their tactics work? It's time to stop and wipe them off the face of the earth.
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Those crazy Swedes... 

As if we needed another reason not to emulate Europe...

The last sentence is just bizzare.

In contrast with most other countries, animal sex is not illegal in Sweden. It was decriminalized in 1944 in connection with the decriminalization of homosexual sex.
Now, I'm a live and let live kind of guy, but can you say "Rick Santorum?"
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Iraq bribes 

Members of the Iraqi Governing Council say they have evidence that anti-war nations took bribes from Saddam. This isn't the first sensational "story" to come out of post-war Iraq, and most have proven false. But this sounds somewhat plausible, so wait and see.
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Saudi rebellion 

The Straits Times (Singapore) says "Rebellion Brewing in Saudi City." That's an eye-grabbing headline, but the article itself isn't very convincing.

Al-Jouf has witnessed an extraordinary level of political violence in recent months.

The deputy governor, say local residents, was assassinated.

Also shot down was the police chief, executed by a group of men who forced their way into his home.

Even before these bloody incidents, the region's top Syariah Court judge was shot down as he drove to work early one morning.

Seven men have so far been arrested over the shootings, according to Saudi officials.

They admit that the attacks are linked, and that the seven may have been aided by as many as 40 others.
So three officials have been killed in recent months. It could be "the beginning of a revolution against the ruling al-Saud family" as the article suggests, but it sounds more like someone has a grudge against their local officials rather than revolutionary ambitions.

The region in question is the home of a prominent branch of the Al-Saud royal family, which appears to be the only evidence in support of a political motive. The article points to an overall rise in crime in the Al-Jouf region, which might help to explain the killings:

Archaeological sites, defaced by the graffiti of the alienated, are also littered with the evidence of widespread drug abuse.
Given that information, it's entirely plausible that the three officials were not killed for political reasons, but were, perhaps, cracking down on crime, and criminals wanted them out of the way. None of that is mentioned in the article, but it seems a reasonable assumption. While making a vague statement that the "vast Al-Sudairy clan" has "ruled the roost" in the region for decades, the article does not directly link the murdered deputy governor, police chief, and judge to the Al-Saud family, which is further evidence against a rebellious motive. They were officials of the Saudi state, and as such representatives of the royal family. But the article does not say that they were royals themselves.

Local displeasure with the royal family is mentioned, but that hardly seems unusual in Saudi Arabia. A lot of people in the kingdom are not happy with their rulers. But it seems premature to couch three murders in terms of a nascent rebellion. Assassinations of officials happen occasionally in Saudi Arabia, and the Straits Times has left me unconvinced that the events in Al-Jouf are a significant departure from the norm.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

UPDATE: Same author, slightly different article in The Independent. More detail about the scope of nationwide opposition to Al-Saud rule.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Bush is the Fuhrer! 

Yeah, we've heard it before. LT Smash has more... While it's not terribly surprising, it's certainly indicative of the derangement creeping into the nation's political discourse from the left side. Don't believe me? Check out Democratic Underground's General Discussion forum sometime. Go down a page or two and you're more likely than not to find Bush or Republicans in general referred to as Nazis. Try it, you'll see.
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Too smart to teach 

Joanne Jacobs brings us the story of a man who was turned down from teaching public high school students because he was too smart.

Recently, I interviewed with a school in one of the metro Atlanta counties, only to receive an e-mail from the principal stating, "Though your qualifications are quite impressive, I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate. It was felt that your demeanor and therefore presence in the classroom would serve as an unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could strive to achieve or become."
Nope, certainly wouldn't want to give those students a role model to emulate, would we? Truly mindblowing.

(Hat tip: James Taranto's Best of the Web)
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Columbia's final minutes 

Newsday has an interesting, and ultimately sobering story about the final moments of the shuttle Columbia, as pieced together by the mishap investigation. What got me is that the cabin may have remained intact for nearly a minute after the initial breakup or the orbiter. Sad stuff.
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20Q with Ayatollah Sistani 

Oh my dear lord... You MUST head over to Allah's blog RIGHT NOW.

REPOSTED. I wanted this back on top so more people could see it. It's just too good to miss.
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Monday, January 26, 2004

A refreshing dose of honesty 

At last, someone just comes right out and says it:

First of all, I'm not liberal. I'm just about (being) anti-United States.
Thank you, George Carlin, for having the guts to say what so many of your fellow celebrities don't have the guts to say.

(Hat tip: Drudge)
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Sistani is Iranian? 

I wasn't aware that Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is an Iranian citizen. But that's the jumping off point of this AP article about his influence in Iraq. Sistani's influence is probably unparalleled among the majority Shi'ite population, and his repeated demands for quick elections have put a kink in American plans. Thousands of portrait-carrying people have taken to the streets in support of Ayatollah Sistani's demands.

But how can a man who isn't even Iraqi be given a say in Iraqi domestic politics? Because he has thousands of followers who obey his every word. That's the nature of Iraq's Shi'a. They give their allegiance to prominent clerics, and Sistani is the BMOC.

Iraq is, of course, an ethnically and religiously diverse country, and the minority Sunni Arab population is starting to make an issue of Sistani's citizenship. An Iranian, they say, should have no role in shaping Iraq's constitution and elections. Some Shi'ites have joined in the criticism, including Muqtada al-Sadr, who is a minor Shi'ite cleric but equally revered as Sistani among his own followers.

On the face of it, I agree with the critics. An Iranian should have no role in shaping Iraq's future. But the fact is that Sistani's legions of followers aren't going away, and neither is their leader. For good or ill, Sistani must be given his due.
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French integration 

Today, the French High Council on Integration, under the auspices of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, released a report about the integration of immigrants in France. The article is in French, but below is my translation of a few key pieces.

Detailing the government's position in favor of the integration of immigrants, the Prime Minister desired on 25 October "to make sure the children of immigration who live in our country have all the same rights and the same duties."
Raffarin goes on to speak of the "struggle against discrimination." The report proposes a "contract of welcoming and integration."

I guess that banning the Muslim headscarf is anti-discriminatory and welcoming. Huh, go figure. Apparently in France, integration really means assimilation.

Someone forgot to tell these protesters that they're supposed to feel welcome and integrated.

This being France, it didn't end with the headscarf, of course. They descended farther into the depths of absurdity by contemplating bans on beards and even bandannas as religious symbols.

I have to be fair, though. France has come a long way in its acceptance of different cultures.

Oops, I didn't mean to include those links. France is a welcoming and integrated society after all.

Hypocrites.
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Picture of the day 

From AP.
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"Yeasty electronic democracy" 

Christopher Lydon hosted "The Blogging the President" on Minnesota Public Radio last night. The title above is his description of the world of political blogging. I just love the phrase... nice ring to it. Yeasty!

If you missed the program and want to check it out, it will be archived at Minnesota Public Radio's site, linked above, and mp3s will soon be available on the Blogging of the President site.

Josh Marshall, Jeff Jarvis, Atrios, and Andrew Sullivan were among the guests, and there was a fiesty and entertaining exchange between Atrios and Sullivan toward the end of the show.

Recommended.
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Sunday, January 25, 2004

Last full measure 

Sgt. Paul Smith of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion is thus far the only Medal of Honor nominee from the Iraq war. The St. Petersburg Times has his story.
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Time well spent? 

I'm not sure what the results of this ESPN poll say about America.

UPDATE: Okay, so that's not a static page... but what the poll asked was how people would spend their Sunday with no football. "12 hours of X-Box" was the runaway winner, with 51% of the vote, beating such lesser choices as "Get to know your family" or "Go to church." But alas, I can't find that poll now.
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