Friday, January 20, 2006

Terrorist Attack in Tel Aviv Traced to Iran and Syria

And so it begins! The first signs of cooperation between Iran and Syria against Israel were yesterday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, and it won’t be the last. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar Al-Assad released a joint press statement saying: “Continuing the resistance is the only way to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation and put an end to the occupation of holy Islamic lands.” Not exactly comforting words, huh?

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz indicated that “Damascus is the only place where the Iranian president is still welcomed.” While that may be true today, don’t bet on it being true tomorrow. The Iranian nuclear program, and the potential of an Iranian nuclear bomb, significantly elevates the image of Iran in the Middle East. This power will make Ahmadinejad a welcome guest in any Islamic nation.

Every day that the US and other Western powers show their potential weakness in Iraq is a day that Iran grows stronger in the eyes of the other Islamic nations. The thought of an Islamic country that has the power to directly combat the Western nations is the dream in the Middle East. And the stronger Iran is perceived to be, the more chance that Islamic countries will ally with the vastly-fundamentalist nation.

This is only the beginning. Between our futile efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and our lack of effort to cease the Iranian nuclear program, we are heading towards a very dangerous situation. Bush has to find a way to stop this now, and change the direction we are heading, before the situation gets out of control.


Posted by Scottage at 11:21 AM / | |  

France Threatens a Nuclear Response to Terrorism

French President Jacques Chirac said yesterday that, should France be the target of a major terrorist attack, they would respond with nuclear attacks. It was tough talk from Chirac, and perhaps dangerous talk; but it is the only type of talk that will get listened to by leaders from the Middle East, and I suspect it will be the type of deterrent that France hopes for.

The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part. This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.

France has reduced the number of missiles hosted on submarines so they could perform a more targeted strike, a clear signal to terrorist states that drastic measures could meet with swift response. Take note, President Bush, this is how you get your point across in the Middle East.


Posted by Scottage at 12:38 AM / | |  

Suicide Bombing In Tel Aviv No Surprise

There is a long tradition in Israel that major political or diplomatic events are preceeded by death and destruction, normally in the form of suicide bombings or targeted assassinations. Thus it was no surprise to me to see that a suicide bombing had occurred in Tel Aviv. I was just thankful that no one, save the bomber himself, was killed.

Now it is incumbent upon both Abbas and Olmert to see past the incident, and the others that may follow shortly, and go forward with the election. These actions are geared towards preventing, in this case, the elections, and giving in to these tactics will only encourage their use in the future, and delay crucial steps on the path towards a better future in the region.

Both Abbas and Olmert are new leaders, and while Olmert has been mayor in Jerusalem for a long time, it’s still hard to predict how he’ll react to this type of tactic. Let’s hope both leaders have the courage of their convictions, and are not swayed by the acts of extremists.


Posted by Scottage at 12:18 AM / | |  

The Next Generation of Prison Systems

The Netherlands has introduced the next generation in prisons. In their new detention center, inmates wear electronic wristbands to track their movement, cells are monitored with motion-recognition software, and there are microphones everywhere to analyze sounds and determine if a violent confrontation is occurring. Cameras are only found in public spaces, and not in bunks or bathrooms.

Inmates sleep in 6-man dormitory rooms. They do their own coking and washing, and create their own schedules using touch-screen monitors. There are limited options for activities, including drug education classes and exercise, and inmates are locked in their cells at night. The prison saves considerable money in prison guard salaries, and the cost per inmate per day is $125, versus $170 at other Dutch prisons.

The system seems intelligent. The US spends far too much on our prison system, and reform is long overdue. I would suspect that eventually inmates will find ways around the noise sensors, and violence would become a problem. But assuming we could work out the various kinks that may be inherent in this system, it is an option which I believe the US should evaluate.


Posted by Scottage at 12:02 AM / | |  

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Syria backs Iranian Nuclear Program

I have been saying all along that the Iranian goal is to show that they have some power against the Americans, encouraging other Muslim nations from following Iran, and banding together against the western countries. This is the first step in that process, and a very dangerous step.

Every day that we show the inability to achieve a decisive victory in Iraq is another day that our troops are spread out and unable to answer other threats in the region. And every day brings another suicide attack with major US losses, with no real movement towards stability in the country. These are all victories for the Muslim world, and provide Iran with a bit more ammunition for its claim that they can challenge the West.

We tell ourselves that Ahmadinejad is a madman, that no one would follow him. We believe that the risk will be limited because he is such an extremist, and no one could really take him seriously when he challenges the West. And yet, here he is, gaining the support of Syria, one of the strongest countries militarily in the region, and a country with a long history of brutality.

And this will not be the last country to stand behind Iran. As our vulnerability becomes more and more evident, other countries who feel like they have been neglected over the years will fall behind Iran, believing that perhaps Iran can give them a better future. And the number of countries that would back Iran if it became a nuclear power would increase even more.

This is the worst case scenario, or the beginning of it at least. Let’s hope that Bush can show the strength necessary to prevent more countries from backing Iran, and bring us back into a situation where other countries respect us, and even fear us. Otherwise, I’m not so sure I like the scenarios I see for the near future.


Posted by Scottage at 6:28 PM / | |  

The Bin Laden Tape

As I’m sure the entire world knows by now, a tape was released today which is apparently a message from Osama Bin Laden, probably recorded at least after November 2005 and perhaps post-January 11th, 2006, though there are no concrete confirmations that Bin Laden was speaking or of a date of recording. The address marks a big change from his earlier remarks that we heard a year ago and before: while those messages were threats towards the leaders of the Western countries, this message is an appeal to the American people.

When I first read this story on CNN, I knew that there would be many sides to this tape, and looked for a second source. I was shocked at the difference between the tenure of the story on CNN and the tenure of the store on Al-Jazeera. The Al-Jazeera article, titled Bin Laden Offers Americans Truce, focus on the diplomatic side to the message, and the desire to come to some mutual understanding to stop the bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CNN story, entitled CIA Believes Terror Tape is of Bin Laden, focuses on the threat of new attacks.

The dichotomy really points out the challenging situation being faced by the US today. We are being scared into believing that action is required. And while yes, the threat of terrorism is real and very scary, we need to take a more realistic approach to Middle East politics, and get at the roots of the problem as opposed to simply combating the symptoms. Our present wars cold take out many leaders from the Islamic nations. But unless we find ways to work with them, the problems will only recur with new leaders. And the price we pay will be American lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are times where military might is necessary, and there are many situations like that in the Middle East. Only shows of power are respected there, and sometimes we need to show our muscles. But quick shows of power can be effective and less costly, while protracted missions like we’re seeing in Iraq only serve to show the vulnerabilities of our military in an environment where the enemy lives amongst the people. This is a lesson we should have learned in Vietnam or in Beirut, but evidently the lesson is being repeated.

Some very interesting things were pointed out in the Al-Jazeera article that are not being publicized by the American media. For example, after looking through coverage in 4 American presses, I found mention of the reference to the opinion polls, as a indicator of the date of the message, but never found mention of the entire opening passage:

This message is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end those wars. It was not my intention to talk to you about this, because those wars are definitely going our way. But what triggered my desire to talk to you is the continuous deliberate misinformation given by your President [George] Bush, when it comes to polls made in your home country which reveal that the majority of your people are willing to withdraw US forces from Iraq.

We know that the majority of your people want this war to end and opinion polls show the Americans do not want to fight the Muslims on Muslim land, nor do they want Muslims to fight them on their [US] land. But Bush does not want this and claims that it is better to fight his enemies on their land rather than on American land. Bush tried to ignore the polls that demanded that he end the war in Iraq.

This is a call for peaceful resolution, but meets with the common response from Scott McClellan: “We must confront threats before it is too late…before the attacks reach our shores.”

Now I don’t trust Al Queda, and I certainly don’t want to have the threat of terror over my head at some time in the future. But I don’t believe the war in Iraq really has to do with terror, and I don’t believe we’re accomplishing any real gains in either country in the war on terrorism. So how about we explore the first offer of peace we’ve heard in a long time, and see if we couldn’t find a path to get us out of Iraq, and save our troops? And who knows, along the way se might find a way to respect the needs of the Islamic nations enough to avert a more serious war.


Posted by Scottage at 3:11 PM / | |  

Call for Embargo of Israeli Goods

Generally speaking I find the Palestine Chronicle to be a fairly moderate and fair media source from the Palestinian side of conflict. Thus I was surprised to find their lead story calling for an economic boycott of Israeli goods.

But after reading the article, while I must admit that I believe some of the facts are exaggerated to make the Israelis seem worse then they are, the premise is definitely accurate. By the basic definitions put forth by the United Nations, Israel is guilty of a number of human rights violations, and if these violations were committed by any other country, there would be stiff penalties.

The article sites illegal killings, torture, and house demolitions as the three main human rights violations. Generally speaking, I believe that most of the killings referred to are targeted strikes at terrorists and self defense in situations where troops have been attacked, but that certainly does not account for all the killings. Still, I would take issue with lines like saying Israeli soldiers "entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."

Torture was outlawed in 1999, and considering the stink over the torture case then, I doubt that torture is still being used today. How much it was used in the past may be in question, but that it was used is no question at all. And the house demolitions have been disgraceful. Between the demolition of houses of anyone associated with terror strikes and the demolition of homes in order to build the fence, that practice of destroying everything a person has worked for in one fail swoop is just horrible.

I do believe that Israel does what it needs to do to survive, and that a huge part of the reason that Israel gets a free pass on many of their atrocities is because people recognize the extreme difficulty of Israel’s plight. People know that between the terrorism and the multiple countries looking to attack Israel at any time, Israel needs to find ways to protect itself. But that doesn’t account for everything, doesn’t excuse Israel for all it’s done to the Palestinian people.

I certainly hope there’s no embargo against Israel, but I’m biased. If I was on the other side of the table, I’m sure I would be calling for the embargo, and would be justified asking for it. Still, I hope it doesn’t happen.


Posted by Scottage at 1:04 AM / | |  

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

First Date

Is there anything better than a first date that goes right? I mean, who knows where it will lead, but for one night, things are perfect. I had a first date tonight, and she was amazing. Beautiful, nice, fun, really cool! She is from Philadelphia, and likes a lot of the same things I do. She’s very bright, very independent, and seems like a really good person.

But what’s really cool is the flow of the evening when you’re with someone on that great first date. You know, you could sit in the Sushi restaurant for hours, just talking, getting to know her. Every moment seems like a new revelation, and you just want it to last forever.

I have no idea where this is heading, if she’ll be Miss Right, Miss RightNow, or Miss Take. But nothing can ever replace the memory of that perfect first date. And who knows, maybe date 2 will be just as good.


Posted by Scottage at 11:03 PM / | |  

Graduation Music Meme

Graduation Music Meme

OK, this is very cool! Evidently this meme, the Graduation Music Meme, has been around for a few years, and thousands of people have done it. Well, now add me to that list.

I found this scrivenings blog first. Basically, you go to musicoutfitters, type the year of your high school graduation into the search engine, and you’ll get a list of the top 100 songs from that year. Now, underline your favorite, strike out any you hate, make bold the songs you like, and leave untouched the ones you don’t care about or don’t remember.

From the looks of this list, 1986 wasn’t a great year for music. My favorite was the John Cougar Mellencamp, and many of the songs from that album should have made this list. There were a lot of good songs that year, but not a lot of great ones. I think I needed to be born about 6 years earlier. Anyway, here’s my list:

1. That's What Friends Are For, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, and Gladys Knight
2. Say You, Say Me, Lionel Richie
3. I Miss You, Klymaxx
4. On My Own , Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald
5. Broken Wings, Mr. Mister
6. How Will I Know, Whitney Houston
7. Party All The Time, Eddie Murphy
8. Burning Heart, Survivor
9. Kyrie, Mr. Mister
10. Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer
11. Greatest Love Of All, Whitney Houston
12. Secret Lovers, Atlantic Starr
13. Friends And Lovers, Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring
14. Glory Of Love, Peter Cetera
15. West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys
16. There'll Be Sad Songs, Billy Ocean
17. Alive And Kicking, Simple Minds
18. Never, Heart
19. Kiss, Prince and The Revolution
20. Higher Love, Steve Winwood
21. Stuck With You, Huey Lewis and The News
22. Holding Back The Years, Simply Red
23. Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel
24. Sara, Starship
25. Human, Human League
26. I Can't Wait, Nu Shooz
27. Take My Breath Away, Berlin
28. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco
29. Papa Don't Preach, Madonna
30. You Give Love A Bad Name, Bon Jovi
31. When The Going Gets Tough, Billy Ocean
32. When I Think Of You, Janet Jackson
33. These Dreams, Heart
34. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone), Glass Tiger
35. Live To Tell, Madonna
36. Mad About You, Belinda Carlisle
37. Something About You, Level 42
38. Venus, Bananarama
39. Dancing On The Ceiling, Lionel Richie
40. Conga, Miami Sound Machine
41. True Colors, Cyndi Lauper
42. Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins
43. What Have You Done For Me Lately, Janet Jackson
44. No One Is To Blame, Howard Jones
45. Let's Go All The Way, Sly Fox
46. I Didn't Mean To Turn You On, Robert Palmer
47. Words Get In The Way, Miami Sound Machine
48. Manic Monday, Bangles
49. Walk Of Life, Dire Straits
50. Amanda, Boston
51. Two Of Hearts, Stacey Q
52. Crush On You, Jets
53. If You Leave, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
54. Invisible Touch, Genesis
55. The Sweetest Taboo, Sade
56. What You Need, INXS
57. Talk To Me, Stevie Nicks
58. Nasty, Janet Jackson
59. Take Me Home Tonight, Eddie Money
60. We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off, Jermaine Stewart
61. All Cried Out, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force
62. Your Love, Outfield
63. I'm Your Man, Wham!
64. Perfect Way, Scritti Politti
65. Living In America, James Brown
66. R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A., John Cougar Mellencamp
67. Who's Johnny, El Debarge
68. Word Up, Cameo
69. Why Can't This Be Love, Van Halen
70. Silent Running, Mike and The Mechanics
71. Typical Male, Tina Turner
72. Small Town, John Cougar Mellencamp
73. Tarzan Boy, Baltimora
74. All I Need Is A Miracle, Mike and The Mechanics
75. Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald
76. True Blue, Madonna
77. Rumors, Timex Social Club
78. Life In A Northern Town, Dream Academy
79. Bad Boy, Miami Sound Machine
80. Sleeping Bag, ZZ Top
81. Tonight She Comes, Cars
82. Love Touch, Rod Stewart
83. A Love Bizarre, Sheila E.
84. Throwing It All Away, Genesis
85. Baby Love, Regina
86. Election Day, Arcadia
87. Nikita, Elton John
88. Take Me Home, Phil Collins
89. Walk This Way, Run-D.M.C.
90. Sweet Love, Anita Baker
91. Your Wildest Dreams, Moody Blues
92. Spies Like Us, Paul McCartney
93. Object Of My Desire, Starpoint
94. Dreamtime, Daryl Hall
95. Tender Love, Force M.D.'s
96. King For A Day, Thompson Twins
97. Love Will Conquer All, Lionel Richie
98. A Different Corner, George Michael
99. I'll Be Over You, Toto
100. Go Home, Stevie Wonder


Posted by Scottage at 2:46 PM / | |  

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Iran Calls for Nuclear Talks

While the Big 6 (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China) determine whether to pass the Iran situation to the UN Security Council, and while they debate sanctions, Iran is requesting more talks. An Iranian source in Vienna said Iran was ready to "remove existing ambiguities regarding its peaceful nuclear program through talks and negotiations."

They Big 6 have not agreed to those talks so far, although China is in favor of them.

Fortunately, at least 4 of the nations recognize this for what it is: a stalling tactic by Iran, allowing them to continue their nuclear research while waiting for and taking part in talks. Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh, Iranian rep to the IAEA, said the recent resumption of nuclear fuel research was “irreversible,” which really speaks to the futility of any talks with Iran.

Don’t take the bait here. If Tehran has gained bomb-grade fuel, development of weapons is only a short step away. We must deal with this situation immediately, before it is too late.


Posted by Scottage at 11:21 PM / | |  

Election Observers for Palestinian Elections Threatened

This is the first I had heard that the election observers in Palestine for the January 25th elections have been threatened, and told to leave the country. The article seems to indicate that this is a fairly common thing, and that the National Democratic Institute, who monitors elections worldwide, has assessed the threat and is comfortable monitoring the elections, feeling they are not putting their people in harms way.

What is to be gained from these threats? Perhaps the PA recognizes that Hamas is going to take the election, and hopes to use their present position in government to steal the election. But with Abbas indicating that he is ready to step down and the party in disarray verging on all-out chaos, that seems unlikely. Maybe a faction group then, or certain particular politicians, who believe they can grab hold of some of the power that’s up for grabs?

Or maybe what is to be gained is the respect of the Palestinian people. Perhaps they feel that they do not need the West to watch over them like they are school children, incapable of holding a fair election. Perhaps the Palestinian people are pushing the moderators out because this is a big moment for the Palestinian people, the moment where they are claiming a national identity, and having the West overseeing it somehow lessens that moment.


Posted by Scottage at 11:01 PM / | |  

US Interference in the Israeli Election Process

An interesting article was posted today in the Jerusalem Post about the US trying to sway the Israeli elections. It notes that the US backs leaders that are willing to make concessions and return land in exchange for peace, often to the detriment of the Israeli people, since the Palestinian goal is not peace but the destruction of the state of Israel.

I think that the author is correct that some of the governments backed by the US have not served the best interest of the Israeli people as concessions have not been coupled with proper security to ensure the success of these concessions. But I’m unwilling to say that the Palestinian goal is still the destruction of the state of Israel, and what’s more, I think the article ignores the fact that the US tries to influence the Palestinian elections as much or more than the Israeli elections.

As I’ve talked about in other posts, there are really at least two distinct groups in the Palestinian community: the Israeli Palestinians, who have been living inside of the state (although sometimes in the occupied territories) since 1967 and the Diaspora Palestinians, who have been living abroad since the 1948 or 1967 wars. While these Diaspora Palestinians often dream of seeing their old homeland restored to a Palestinian state, most Israeli Palestinians I talk to simply want a better quality of life, and are willing to make some compromises to escape the yoke of their oppression.

Yasser Arafat was clearly a Diaspora Palestinian, and his return to the country in the early 1990s does not change that fact. So citing the money that money provided by the international community for the improvement of the Palestinian condition of life has been diverted to terrorist activity is unfair, as this was the practice of Arafat, and there is no proof that present leaders of the Palestinian people would do the same.

What’s more, while I abhor terrorism and have almost been the victim of it a few times while living in Israel, who is to say that the diversion of money to terrorism wasn’t in an effort to improve the Palestinian quality of life. In Palestine, where Israeli closures of the territories and missile strikes are all too common, it is essential for the Palestinian people to negotiate from a position of strength if they are to provide a better life for their people. And as the Palestinians could never compete with Israel with conventional military options, terrorism has been the only available option.

Don’t get me wrong; I do not, in any way, shape or form support terrorism. It is a plague on our time, and the world would be a better place if terrorism could be prevented in total. But for the Palestinians to achieve a Palestinian state, where they govern themselves and are insulated from occupation of the Israeli military machine, they need Israel to respect the state. In that region, power is respected. This is the only power the Palestinians have been able to find over the past 58 years.

It should also be noted that, as much pressure as the US brings to bear on the Israeli elections, they bring more pressure to the Palestinian elections. Look at the weight they’ve thrown behind Mahmoud Abbas. I am a fan of Abbas’ policies and apparent beliefs, but the present situation in Gaza is proof that he will never be the voice of the Palestinian people. Our staunch backing of the candidate over Hamas is a clear indication that we don’t trust Hamas as a partner for peace.

But again, the Palestinians need a leader who can negotiate from a position of strength, just like the Israelis do. At present, this is not Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. I don’t trust Hamas because of their terrorist past, but I am not a Palestinian, so how can I justifiably claim they are not the correct group to have at the negotiating table representing the Palestinian people.

In the end of the day, if you want any hope for a lasting peace, both sides need to choose a leader for themselves, a leader who can negotiate from a position of strength. And the only way to do that is to have elections free from the influence of the United States.

I am an Israeli citizen living in the US, and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on Israeli events and issues. But I would not vote in an Israeli election today, because I do not live there anymore, and the events taking place inside the country are not experienced first hand by me. Without being there, how can I say what’s best for the Israeli people? And I could never say what leader would be best for the Palestinian people, since I never walked a mile in a Palestinian’s shoes.

If this is the case, how can the US hope to know who will best represent the Israeli or Palestinian people at the negotiating table. Instead, let’s leave both sides to determine who best speaks for them, and who has the best chance of bringing about a resolution that ensures a safe and prosperous future for their people.


Posted by Scottage at 11:30 AM / | |  

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Random 10

Top 10 Songs that came up in my random play this weekend:

1. Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones
2. Jump, Jive An’ Wail (Live) – Brian Seltzer Orchestra
3. Beginnings – Chicago
4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 1-5 – Pink Floyd
5. Heaven – Los Lonely Boys
6. Gotta Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan
7. 5446 That’s My Number/Ball and Chain – Sublime
8. Smooth – Santana
9. Loves Me Like A Rock – Paul Simon
10. The Weight – Aretha Franklin


Posted by Scottage at 1:08 PM / | |  

Abu Tir Arrested Again

Yesterday, I posted an entry about a potential moderate from Hamas, Mohammed Abu Tir. Today, Israel arrested him again, while rounding up four Hamas politicians on the ballot to try and prevent them from being elected.

Israel announced today that they would let East Jerusalem Palestinians vote in the January 25th election, but that they would not allow Hamas to campaign in East Jerusalem, and proceeded to arrest the four Hamas politicians. This, of course, brought quick condemnation from Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians.

I understand that Israel is hoping against hope that Hamas does not win the election. But at a certain point Israel is going to far to try to win its agenda and all that can be achieved is a backlash from the Palestinian community. The elections are a week and a half away, let the Palestinians democratically elect the best government to represent their interests, and find a way to work with that government.


Posted by Scottage at 2:20 AM / | |  

McCain Sites Military Force as Option, but Last Option, in Iran

Republican Senator John McCain, a Presidential hopeful in 2008, indicated that while we must focus on diplomatic action to stop Iran’s nuclear activities, military action has to be left open as a possibility. "There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option; that is a nuclear-armed Iran," he said. "The military option is the last option but cannot be taken off of the table."

This comes the same day as Iran notified the world that if the UN imposed sanctions on Iran, the strain on their energy program would affect their economy, forcing them to raise the price of oil to over $100 a barrel. Iran is the 4th largest producer of oil, and the price of a barrel of oil only recently increased to $64. "If the price of oil has to go up, then that's a consequence we would have to suffer," said McCain.

"This is the most grave situation that we have faced since the end of the Cold War, absent the whole war on terror. The Iranians showed their face when their president came to the U.N. and advocated the eradication of the state of Israel from the earth. "We must go to the U.N. now for sanctions,” McCain said on Meet the Press this week.

Democrats have been saying this now for a week, but this marks the first time a republican has come out and admitted that a military option is an option in Iran. And anyone who has read my blog before knows that I am a huge believer that a military option, basically bombing nuclear facilities in Iran, is the only option that will really work in this situation.

Stories came out this weekend that Iran has spread their nuclear program over 200-300 different sites, to thwart a bombing effort, and that some of these enrichment facilities may be located underground below populated areas. I’m not sure of the validity of this, but I do read Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric, and I know he can’t be allowed to possess a Nuclear weapon. It’s just nice to know the Republicans are coming to the same conclusion.


Posted by Scottage at 2:10 AM / | |  

Ex-Syrian VP Forms Government in Exile

A week ago I published a post about ex-Syrian VP Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who has relocated to Paris and made accusations that Syrian President Bashar Assad assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. I indicated that we need to be ware of Khaddam, that he obviously has political aspirations of his own, and any information he gives will be tainted by those aspirations.

In a new interview, Khaddam has indicated he is forming a government-in-exile, and that Assad’s regime will not last out the year. “His fall has begun. I don't believe his regime will survive this year. The internal pressure and the international pressure through the Hariri investigation are growing with each week." In the same interview, he backtracked a bit on the Hariri accusations, indicating that Assad “must have” ordered the assassination, indicating he has no direct knowledge that Assad did order the assassination.

Nothing new here, folks. A Middle Eastern politician looses a struggle for power, and then says all the right things to try to gain the support of a bigger military power, in this case the Western nations, hopefully ousting the present regime and winning back power for the politician. Political leaders in the Middle East have been doing this forever, and many times have been successful in drawing the US and other Western nations into conflicts where we don’t belong, such as Lebanon in 1983.

Don’t fall for it! I don’t see Assad loosing power in Syria, but if he would, do we really think we’ll get better with Khaddam? All we will do is further alienate the Muslim nations by involving ourselves in yet another potential crisis where we don’t belong. With interests already in Iraq and Iran, two powerhouse Middle Eastern countries, we are already spread thin; Syria is yet another huge Middle Eastern country and one where we don’t belong.

Let the situation play out naturally, and see where it takes us. Considering our present position in the region, this is the safest and smartest course of action at this time.


Posted by Scottage at 1:55 AM / | |  


Tonight was the first night of the new season of 24, and if you didn’t see it, let me tell you that it did not dissapoint. It was non-stop action throughout the two episodes shown tonight, and even though it was only the beginning of the season, I was dying to see the next episode by the time the first two hours of the show were completed.

Already the show has challenged its viewers. Only two episodes in, and two of my favorite characters have already been killed off. Jack has already made one ruthless killing, and brutalized a ton of different government agents. Strangers are already being dragged into the scenario, and conspiracies are forming. A great friend and I are already discussing plots, subplots, and theories, and neither of us can wait for tomorrow night, when there will be two more episodes.

And the best part is that there are no weeks without episodes. Unlike every other show on television, 24 plays on consecutive weeks, without breaks for holidays or specials. It gives the show a flow and a rhythm that really helps keep the plot moving. And it means that we don’t need to be waiting for the next juicy piece of the puzzle, like we always are with Lost.

If you haven’t checked out 24 yet, do so. You will be shocked how good a show this is, and you’ll be hooked immediately. And if you love the show, write back here, and say why you love it. And no matter what, get psyched for tomorrow’s episodes.


Posted by Scottage at 1:37 AM / | |  

Monday Music Mambo

1. Name three songs that have the word "rain" or "water" in the title.

The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin
Gimme Some Water – Eddie Money
Let it Rain – Eric Clapton

2. Ever been to a concert where it was raining? If not, is there a band or festival that you would want to see even if it meant standing in the rain?

I went to the Three Dog Knight show, outdoors in the rain this past summer at a Niagara Falls Casino. It was a great show, even though it got stopped once for the rain. Pouring down, lightning and thunder made it all the more fun.

3. You're a movie producer, and you need a soundtrack for a weather scene. Pick songs that you think would fit with the following pieces of action:

a) Clouds coming in

Echoes – Pink Floyd

b) Rain starts to fall, wind starts to blow

Funeral For a Friend – Elton John

c) Sun finally comes along and makes everything better again

Samba Pa Ti - Santana


Posted by Scottage at 1:28 AM / | |  

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Iran to Hold Holocaust Conference

Iran is going to hold a hold a conference to research the Holocaust and its impact on the future. What a joke! How can Iran hope to hold a conference on the validity of the Holocaust, knowing that most of the experts are Jewish and would never travel to Tehran while he’s in power? Easily. They intend to ignore the Jewish position all together.

Part of me says good, perhaps Ahmadinejad will learn something about what really happened, and stop his rhetoric. But I know better. There could never be a fair evaluation of the Holocaust by anyone supported by Iran’s present leadership.


Posted by Scottage at 7:17 PM / | |  

Peace between Israel and Palestine: Hamas Promises to Negotiate with Israel

Israel has decided to allow the Palestinian population in Jerusalem to vote in the election later this month. Present opinion is that support is extremely strong for Hamas in Jerusalem, and most people believe that this decision, while necessary, will seal the election for Hamas.

Perhaps in preparation for this possibility, or perhaps in an effort to pick up more votes from centrist Palestinians, the #2 person in Hamas, Sheikh Mohammed Abu Tir, has clearly stated that not only will Hamas negotiate with Israel, but he’ll “negotiate [with Israel] better than the others, who negotiated for 10 years and achieved nothing.” He indicates that Hamas’ agenda has changed, as signified removal of sections in their constitution which call for Israel’s destruction.

"In the past, it was said that we don't understand politics, only force, but we are a broad, well-grounded movement that is active in all areas of life. Now we are proving that we also understand politics better than the others," Abu Tir said. These are amazing words from a man who has spent the better part of 30 years in Israeli prisons or detention centers. You would think he would be angrier, bitterer. But instead this sounds like the words of a moderate, even-tempered leader.

This raises more questions for me then it answers. Is Abu Tir on the level, are these actually his beliefs, or his he saying what he believes either the Palestinians, the Muslim world, or the entire world wants to hear? Of course I want to believe he would be a good partner for peace, but I must admit to being skeptical, having been burnt by trusting before. But perhaps this situation can’t be solved without a bit of trust. If so, many of us will have to give Abu Tir the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, whether I trust him matters little, whether Israel trusts him matters a great deal. Will Israel go to the negotiating table with an organization that has committed so many terrorist attacks? Will they go to the table with an organization that probably, either directly or indirectly, use terrorist attacks to serve their political agenda? Part of what makes Hamas say they will be a better negotiator is that they are stronger than the PA, and that Israel fears Hamas, and will not take advantage of Hamas. Israel only fears Hamas’ terrorist capability, so terrorism will have to be part of the Hamas agenda.

I think it’s telling that Abu Tir, the #2 man in Hamas, made this statement, as opposed to Mahmoud Zahar, #1 in Hamas. It’s sort of like the vice presidential candidate making a promise as opposed to the presidential candidate during an election; with the #2 making the statement, the #1 person can later decide not to follow through on the promise. Maybe Abu Tir is a moderate, a partner for peace, but if Zahar is an extremist, Tir’s moderation will do little to help the situation.

As chaos ensues in the Gaza strip, less and less confidence is shown in the PA and in Abbas. The Palestinians don’t respect him, and the Israelis know that he is not the voice of the people. If Abu Tir is on the level and is representative of the Hamas party in general, perhaps they will turn out to be a better partner for peace than the PA, although I’m sure they’ll be a tougher partner. But before anyone will consider Hamas a real partner for peace, they have to prove they’re trustworthy.


Posted by Scottage at 6:49 PM / | |