Saturday, June 17, 2006

Live BE Radio Tonight at 8pm EST

Hello everybody, and get ready for another production of Live BlogExplosion Radio! If you’re around your computer on a Saturday night, celebrate with friends, fun and good music on BE radio.

BE Radio goes live at 8 pm every Saturday night, and while I (your friendly neighborhood Nomad) am the DJ, you control the show. I’ll play your requests, dedicate songs to other listeners, promote your blog, and even help you earn credits that will drive traffic to your site.

It’s a fun time for all, and most listeners hang out together in Shoutbox, BlogExplosion’s chat room where bloggers from around the world get together and hang out.  Feel free to turn on your cam and earn credits in our dance contests, or look at other people’s cams and see the people whose writings you read every day. Plus, tonight is silly hat night in Shoutbox (not required but awfully fun) so it’s bound to be a good time.

Do you have a request or dedication for tonight?  Feel free to submit it here!  Want me to read a headline from your blog on the air?  No problem, just give me the URL and I’ll get it done. Want me to host a contest where people will come to your blog looking for a specific piece of information so they can earn credits?  Awesome, just let me know.

But any way you slice it, come on over to BE Radio tonight, Saturday night at 8pm EST for the third edition of live BE Radio, and get ready for some fun. And bring your smile, because we’re gonna have a party.

BE Radio: Radio for bloggers, by bloggers, and yes, even about bloggers!


Posted by Scottage at 10:55 AM / | |  

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

On the LunaStone site is a great meme, the 13 places I want to visit.  As a nomad, I’ve been a ton of places, but there are still many places I have not been that I want to go to, so I decided to participate.  So, check out my list, and feel free to tell me where you would like to go.  One note: I’m going to go in reverse order, so the place I want to go most will be the last place listed.

13. Seattle – A great music scene makes this an attractive place to visit, while the rain makes it so that I wouldn’t want to live there.

12. Iraq – OK, this would have to be a short visit, but I always believe it’s hard to comment on a location unless you’ve experienced it, so I need to get there at some point.

11. Greenland – Another situation where I read so much about Greenland, especially in reference to global warming, that I would like to see it for myself.

10. Hawaii – You know, I’m not really a fan of resort places, and haven’t been to many. But Hawaii looks well beyond spectacular, and I would like to make it there once in my life, if only for a short time.

9. Thailand – I know this will sound terrible, but I want to go to Thailand for the food.  Yes, it’s supposed to be a beautiful country.  But I love cooking Thai food, and would love to test real, authentic Thai food.

8. Italy – For Italy I need a significant other to share it with me. But from what I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen, there’s no more romantic location on the earth, and I would like to experience it first hand.

7. South Africa – South Africa is supposed to be beautiful, but admittedly much of that beauty would be similar to beauty I’ve seen in other parts of Africa.  But having read so much on South Africa and its political woes, I would like to live there for a few months, and really experience the country.

6. Greece – I love ruins and the history they represent.  There’s so much to learn about our own past by looking at the ruins of past societies.  I’ve seen a great deal of that in places like Israel, Egypt, and locals in Europe, but I haven’t seen Greece yet, so it has to be on the list.

5. The Moon – Others have went, why can’t I?

4. China – There is so much that isn’t known about China, and so many different cultures in the country that I would like to experience. I think a bike ride across the country would be an amazing experience.

3. Mt. Everest – I love to mountain climb, but the doctors have made it quite clear that I only have one good climb left in me, at most.  Wouldn’t it be great to make it a great climb?  I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro (to a lower peak, but still a great, beautiful and tough climb), so that leaves Everest.

2. Japan – Whether it’s because of the Japanese women, their art, or their attention to detail found in every facet of Japanese life, I’ve always wanted to go, and I’m sure I will make it there eventually.

1. Australia – So much untouched land, so much to see and do, Australia has always been a dream for me. I’m not talking spending all my time in a city (although Perth is supposed to be in the middle of nowhere and truly beautiful), and I’m not talking a short visit.  I need to go there for a year or two, and really soak in all the country has to offer.

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Posted by Scottage at 11:48 PM / | |  

Economy Deteriorates in Palestine; An Opportunity for New Peace Negotiations?

Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar returned yesterday from a 7 country tour with a substantial gift: $20 Million!  The money will bring some relief to the citizens of Gaza. Over 160,000 government workers in Gaza have been without salaries for over 3 months and are literally starving to death. However, there’s no indication that the money was earmarked for the Palestinian people.

The money has now been confiscated by Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential guard, and Palestinian Health Minister, Bassem Naim, has indicated the money will be used to pay salaries. The money was found when Zahar’s 6 suitcases were x-rayed at the Rafah crossing, marking the second time a Hamas official has been caught smuggling funds into the country in as many months.

Past peace agreements between the Palestinians and Israelis guarantee certain monies will be provided by Israel to Palestine as retribution for the Palestinian loss of land. However, Israel has refused to pay these funds, and has been backed in this decision by the US and the West, until Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

The victims have been the Palestinian people, who, in the absence of salaries and food have now turned to civil war to push the Hamas government to satisfy their human needs. For the second day this week, hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators burst into the parliament building in Ramallah, demanding money to buy food.

"They drink mineral water in here when we can't afford to buy milk for our babies," cried one man inside the chamber. Another protestor shouted, "They are getting fatter while we are getting thinner."

Abbas, PA Chairman and the recognized leader of Fatah and a moderate, has been pushing a referendum to force Hamas to implicitly recognize Israel. But Hamas, whose charger calls for the destruction of Israel, has been unwilling to make that move, and as such has not received any monies from Israel or the West, leaving the Palestinian people in dire straits.

What’s more, there is no plan to alleviate the economic hardships, or if a plan exists it has not been shared with the Palestinian people. The $20M brought into the country represents only a drop in the bucket for the starving Palestinian people, and many are fed up with the Hamas leaders, who are getting paid and are able to eat while their constituents are left hungry.  

"It is the workers' right to ask for their salaries. We know they are facing terrible economic problems. The situation has been going on for four months now," Abd al-Karim said.

The Palestinian MP also blamed the government for not sharing information about its plans with the people.

"The government does not tell the employees or citizens about its plan to face this problem. That is why I say it is the employees' right to demonstrate."

Many of my Israeli friends believe the Palestinian people have brought this on themselves by electing Hamas in the first place. More than one Israeli has told me that, having elected a government that is clearly hostile to Israel, Palestine must experience the ramifications of their actions, and pay the price which, in this case, is starvation.

Perhaps we need to examine the situation from an alternative perspective. First, we need to be honest and recognize that Hamas was elected out of a sincere frustration with the growing strife between Israel and Palestine within the country. The construction of the fence, for many Palestinians, showed the inability for their government to stop Israel from determining their future, and that was unacceptable.

But now these same people have seen how bad the alternative can be, and perhaps this provides Israel with an opportunity to find a peaceful resolution to the 60-year-old conflict.  If we can find a way to work with Abbas towards a resolution that includes feeding the hungry people of Gaza, the Palestinian people would be more open to such a suggestion now than ever before, and might even be willing to disband the Hamas government to achieve such a peace.

I understand the unwillingness to negotiate with Hamas, so long as they call for the destruction of Israel.  However, the members of Hamas are not the victims here; the victims are the people of Palestine, who have done nothing worse than electing a government which offered them some hope of a better future.

I believe its time to explore the situation, and see if a solution is available that will help these people and provide Israel with what it truly desires: a peaceful coexistence with the Palestinian people.

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Posted by Scottage at 9:10 AM / | |  

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rules of Warfare in Terrorism?

“The Rules of warfare, as we used to know them, are out the window.  I mean, there’s no rules of warfare.  It’s just if you can take innocent life to shake somebody’s will, or to create consternation in society, just go ahead and do it.” ~George W. Bush

I just listened to the president’s one-hour press conference upon returning to the United States from his surprise trip to Iraq. In general, I found the press conference slightly more interesting that listening to the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons (wah wah wah wah…). The speech and follow-up questions were filled with typical Bush rhetoric as he still tries to bolster support for his policies, particularly in Iraq.

But during the Q & A, Bush made the very interesting comment above that deserves a bit of analysis. And an important question, a vital question, is whether the terrorists have a true plan of action, which includes rules of warfare that govern their actions.   Because I believe that by understanding the motivations and goals of terrorists, we can begin to fight them, and to prevent terrorist attacks.

Many believe that the goal of terrorism is to take innocent life, but I disagree. In reality, I believe that the actions of terrorists have a specific goal, to inject fear into the normal day-to-day actions that comprise our lives.  By doing this, the fabric of society begins to break down, and societies become more closed and insular, protecting themselves at the cost of the liberties and values that the target countries hold dear.

I am not of the mindset that terrorists are mindlessly evil, or that they have no concern for the human lives they take. To the contrary, I have known some people who have later joined terrorist organizations, and at least they started out believing in the sanctity of human life. I believe that later, perhaps in desperation, they have been willing to take innocent lives to promote their cause.  The distinction helps us prevent further attacks.

By realistically examining the goals of terrorism, we can begin to see patterns in their attacks, and identify potential future targets.  Most attacks are perpetrated on every-day-life events. Attacking a work-place, a bus ridden daily, or a crowded outdoor marketplace are common targets, not just because the terrorists have found ways to infiltrate security, but because it creates a fear of living your normal life.

Our administration is consistently talking about bolstering security to unheard of levels for special events, but rarely if ever are these events attacked. In “The Sum of Al Fears” the Super Bowl is attacked with a nuclear device, with deaths over 100,000. But in reality, these type of attacks are not carried out, in Israel, Iraq, or the United States, because these attacks do not carry out the terrorist objectives of injecting fear into normal life.

While I lived in Israel, statistics indicated that 1 in 12 terrorist attacks succeeded, and thus there was an unwritten rule that all terrorist attacks would attack locations with more than 12 potential victims. But events like the Peace Now rallies in Kikar Tzion, with tens of thousands of potential victims were never attacked, because that is not normal life, and do not fulfill their goals.
Similarly, we look upon the horror the attacks on the World Trade Center, but should also recognize that, again, they were targeting the workplace for thousands of Americans, and as such were attacking our daily existence. Imagine if they had coordinated the attacks on the planes instead on a Sunday and flown 4 planes into 4 football stadiums.  The cost in human lives would have been much higher.

Is terrorism evil?  In my mind, absolutely yes! But is it random? Are there no rules of war that are followed by our adversary? I don’t think so. I think terrorists have rules of warfare that our government has not been able to identify as of yet, and as such we are less capable of defending ourselves against imminent attacks.

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Posted by Scottage at 11:32 AM / | |  

Monday, June 12, 2006

Support the Defense Authorization Bill!

I almost missed it, but later this week Senate will vote on the Defense Authorization bill, which calls for the removal of all troops from Iraq by January 2007.  This is not a “dump and run” bill, but rather endorses a plan created by a number of ex-army generals that I posted a few months ago.

The bill is based upon a phased withdrawal from Iraq utilizing the Iraqis already trained to fortify key areas, while leaving some US troops in other locations around the region. These troops would be available to train more Iraqis and respond to urgent issues, in Iraq and other countries, such as Iran.  I wrote on this plan 4 months ago, before my site crash, and will try to restore it sometime tomorrow so you can get more information on the plan.

Meanwhile, this bill has been submitted by 4 Senators: Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, and John Kerry. The specifics of the legislation are not clear, but it appears that it will be voted on this week.  And the Peace Action Education Fund, a site which I support and encourage you to as well, is organizing a campaign to write Senators, in hope they will support the bill as well.  

This is a great thing to do, and it takes one minute at most.  You enter your zip code, and it determines the appropriate Senators to write to. The letter it generates is below, but you can alter it if you wish to.  And it’s sent, and you’ve done your good deed for the day.  Plus, you and I both know the challenges faced by politicians who speak out against the government, so these politicians could really use our encouragement to do the right thing.

Remember, no one is asking if you feel like we should or should not have entered the war. The question is if we should be in Iraq now.  And if you feel, like I do, that our soldiers should not be in Iraq now, then please support this bill, and write your senators.  Sorry for the solicitation, but this is a worthwhile cause, in my book.

The Letter:
Co-Sponsor and Support Amendments to End the War

As one of your constituents and a member of Peace Action, I write to ask you to co-sponsor and support the efforts of Senators Boxer, Feingold, Harkin and Kerry to bring our troops home from Iraq by the end of this year.

I believe that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the insurgency and violence in Iraq. Only when we remove our troops from Iraq will the Iraqi’s be empowered to control their destiny.

The United States invaded Iraq on false pretenses. The Iraq War has cost us too much in American and Iraqi casualties, in our pocket books and in good will in the international community. It is time to bring our troops home as soon as possible and to make efforts to ensure that Iraq is rebuilt.

Please co-sponsor and support an amendment that could be offered in the Senate in the next week to require the redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of this year.

I look forward to your response and your early support and co-sponsorship of this critical legislation.

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Posted by Scottage at 11:54 PM / | |  

Movers and Shakers hold Secret Talks

In Ottowa, “the world's political elite, top thinkers and powerful business folk” are holding secret meetings to discuss the most pressing issues in the world today. The annual event, called The Bilderberg Conference, includes such big names as Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In all, 130 of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people have been meeting in Ottowa this weekend.

The first conference was held in 1954, and to this day no outsiders know of what is discussed behind the closed doors of the meeting.  This has led to a number of theories about the nature of the talks and the purpose of the group, and a great deal of suspicion.  

Conspiracy theorists who follow the group accuse it of plotting world domination at its informal annual gatherings.

But, Richard Perle, former US defence policy advisor, upon his arrival in Ottawa, denied allegations the group crafts public policy behind closed doors. "It discusses public policy," he stressed to a Citizen reporter.

A statement from the group said the meetings were private to encourage "frank and open discussions."

Admittedly, I find it odd that none of the major American media outlets are reporting on this.  But I like the idea of the conference. I figure, you put that many intelligent people in a room talking, they’re bound to have at least one valuable idea, right?  What the world needs is more communication between these intelligent people, so they can work together to find best solutions for some of the problems we face today.  I only wonder how I can get an invite.

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Posted by Scottage at 1:47 AM / | |  

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Haveil Havalim #73

Hey all, welcome to this weeks edition of Haveil Havalim, which is a weekly roundup of the best posts from around the Jewish Blogosphere.  If you happen to question the necessity of examining the best posts from the Jewish Blogosphere, check out a brilliant post on the nature of the J-Blogosphere by Soccer Dad on the subject.  

Inside Israel

Onwards and upwards. I start with a post that brough back great memories, as Irina of the Ignoble Experiment describes her first trip to Israel in the most moving of fashions, continuing here,  West Bank Mama tells us of her contributions to the war in South Lebanon, and the contributions of others.  Israel Perspectives writes that he has not given up on Israel, while others have. And Inside Israel provides an update on the Ein Tzurim caravilla frustrations.

Greetings from French Hill writes an interesting post on a soldier who met an untimely death. Shiloh Musings vents her frustrations at Olmert’s present government and their unwillingness to enforce Israel’s security, and Israel Matzav reports that PA Prime Minister Haniyeh has three sisters living in Israel as full citizens. Plus, Faith in Nathan notes that Elie Wiesel wants Israel to absorb refugees from Darfur, but does not even live in Israel himself.

On a more day-to-day level, Ra’anana Ramblings tells about his experiences with the recent rolling blackouts throughout the country. Israelity writes a post on Sheinkin which really brought me back to my apartment only a block off the amazing rehov.  And SerandEz’ post on Another Large Jewish Riot is definitely worth a read.

On the lighter side, The Muqata has a very funny post on what to name your kids to prevent them making Yerida.


On the religious side, Mottel does a brilliantly descriptive post on performing Tahara, the ritual washing of a deceased Jew, in Vilna. Life in Israel wrote an eye opening piece about the trials of survival on a Kollel salary in A Faulty System. Me-Ander talks about studying Torah the night of Shavuot.  And Psycho Toddler talks about the Boal Korehs, or Torah readers, in the post Reading Masters.

On the Fringe talks about halachic decision making and one of her favorite bloggers on the subject. The Velveteen rabbi does a very strong piece on the nature of Transcendence. And Seawitch observes that Jews stand while praying, as opposed to the various prayer positions for other religions.  Not the Godol Hador writes of his determinations for Proof of Judaism, which has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. While the Muqata speaks on the Revenge of the Kannoim, and one poor author that incurs their wrath.

Shiloh Musings gives us An “Up To Date” “Yiddish Curse”, Unenlightenment provides a very enlightening review of the book Unchosen, and A Simple Jew writes of Returning To The World after his wife gave birth to their third child (mazel tov, ASJ!).  And Slightly Mad has a funny post about a death sentence for not-so-polite religious parrot.  Treppenwitz tells a moving story of giving his children the Kohanim blessing.  Alas Git speaks of his first foray into the world of Orthodox online dating.  And A Simple Jew Reports of two recent passings from the Orthodox community.  

Diaspora Judaism

The Colossus of Rhodey produced an excellent piece on the censorship or firing of university professors who give pro-Israel lectures or potentially offend Muslim students.  Revealing the reverse side of the issue, Solomonia does an in-depth post on a high-school physics teacher in Sommerville, MA who teaches his students his pro-Palestine views, and promotes the cause of divestment from Israel.

The Jewish Connection tells the story of a sitcom writer trying to keep Shabbat in Hollywood.  Random Thoughts talks about Religion in Schools and tolerance (or intolerance) in the American educational system.  Letters of Thought contains a very interesting piece on The Eastern European Jew – Today. Shiloh Musings suggests a boycott of Swedish liquors.  And the Life-Of-Rubin speaks on how the world treats Israel’s handling of terrorists.


Reporting on the state of Palestine and Islam today, Israel Matzav speaks about the inaccurate portrayal by Al-Guardian of a deported worker for Islamic Relief, and confirms the ties of the group to Hamas. Daled Amos provides a thought provoking post comparing Hamas with Lehi, the Israeli terrorists of the 1940s. And Somewhere On A1A speaks about the search for moderate Islam in Islamic Imperialism.

Meryl Yourish examines Hamas’ recent demands for funds from Israel, and Mensa Barbie wonders why Muslim support for Palestine doesn’t include financial support, forcing Hamas to threaten a siege on national banks. And Israel Matzav notes that the Palestinians did have enough money to purchase 111 truckloads of televisions.

AbbaGav takes a humorous look at Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh’s new education initiative.  Boker tov, Boulder reports that Jordan’s King Abdullah will not allow the relocation of the Palestinians to Jordanian soil, while Israel Matsav says King Abdullah fears a Palestinian State.  And Elder of Zion talks about AP’s pro-Hamas bias.


The Pragmatician has a thought provoking piece called Pain Hurts that you should definitely check out. Moving On has a heart-wrenching piece called Nechama, Where Are You?. Eteraz wrote a fascinating article on the Myth of the Juedo-Christian West, while SimplyJews defines Post Zionism, and calls out a few writers who ascribe to this philosophy.

Soccer Dad writes a great post on the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and I guarantee it will get you thinking on your true views of Israel. It got Judeopundit thinking, and he wrote another excellent post on the topic.  And if you want some philosophy from yours truly, try out A Look Into the Future.


For starters, check out this really funny Dry Bones on al-Zarqawi’s death, and Yaakov Kirschen’s Dry Bones site. Similarly, OrthoMom thinks al-Zarqawi’s corpse has been tastefully framed by the pentagon.  And Israpundit notes that at least he suffered.

The Hashmonean gives us links to the first reports of the killing of al-Zarqawi, while IsraellyCool breaks the story as it comes across the wire in Australia. Secular Blasphemy tells of the intelligence hunt that lead to bagging al-Zarqawi.  Tel Chai nation indicates the terrorist has gone to hell, and lists over 60 other writers who agree. Jewlicious should be added to that list (as should I).

Tikkun Olam asks a very important question: Why Wasn’t al-Zarqawi captured?  DesertPeace writes a very intriguing opinion, asking if al-Zarqawi is the real enemy.  Meryl Yourish has a contest asking for al-Zarqawi’s last words, with 11 hysterical responses so far, while Kesher Talk provided his own 10 comical last words by the Al Qaeda leader.

Other Sites

Finally, there is a new aggregator of Jewish posts.. JBlogosphere automatically produces a link to any posts produced by Jewish bloggers who have registered.  I use it constantly to review posts from other members of the Jewish blogosphere, and while it may not provide the feedback of Haveil Havelim, it most certainly is an excellent resource.  Try it out!

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Posted by Scottage at 3:48 AM / | |