Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dubai Ports World enforces Israel boycott

By Aussiegirl

Even if we conveniently ignore the ugly fact that the UAE does not recognize Israel, the fact that they enforce a boycott of Israeli goods would seem to raise legal questions about their operating in the United States. Will they enforce the boycott even on American soil? This would clearly be a violation of our law. Further we should be asking questions about whether or not they plan to run the ports based on Sharia Law as they do the ports in their own country.
Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.

"If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem," he said.

Bush's long standing love affair with India

By Aussiegirl

Let's reexamine our annoyance at those customer service calls that are taken in India. To his credit, President Bush seems to have recognized very early on the vital strategic importance of India as a counterweight to the dominance of China in Asia. As such, his visit there is extremely important. India must be wooed and won. The coming century will see Asia dominating the world stage. India is a strong democracy and with its roots firmly set in English law and even the English language, it is a natural ally to the United States and the free Western powers. An important and necessary trip.

The Washington Times

Bush seems to have had since the 1990s a gut sense about the importance of India and its economic dynamism, and its unique role as a developing country that is also a multi-ethnic democracy and a nuclear power. And it even speaks English. In his first campaign planning session in 1999 with Condoleezza Rice, his future national security adviser and secretary of State, to draft the main themes of what would become the foreign policy of Bush's presidential bid, it was the future president who would not let the meeting end until India had been discussed.
For Bush, the equation was simple. China was emerging as a serious strategic concern for the United States. Its breakneck economic growth was going hand in hand with an ambitious re-armament program and what looked like an ominous determination to re-absorb Taiwan, and to establish China as the dominant Asia power. For Bush, India was the obvious candidate to restore some balance to the prospect of Beijing's supremacy in Asia.
What Bush did not know at that meeting (but he heard it soon after) was that India's then Defense Minister George Fernandes, was on record saying that India's nuclear arsenal and its Agni missiles were aimed at deterring China, rather than focused on Pakistan.


By Aussiegirl

Dr. Walid Phares, writing on the Counterterrorism Blog, takes a closer look at the factors at play in this entire ports controversy. First he lays out the unfortunate fact that the matter has become politicized, and as such, has lost the needed focus on matters of security. He lays to rest the canards about "racism" and several other arguments put out by the DPW proponents before getting to the meat of the matter -- how exactly could this deal endanger our security and what methods would terrorists use to take advantage of this deal. This is what he had to say:


In the original explanation of the deal, officials reassured people with concerns that there was no threat coming from the UAE because “the company is to manage the administrative space of the ports operations exclusively, not the security areas.” While the argument is logical, that isn’t the logic of the would-be terrorists. Bureaucracy and security are intertwined when it comes to strategic penetration. Al Qaida teams aren’t going to play a Hollywoodian James Bond movie and we’re not going to necessarily see Dubai CEOs jumping on a freight boat strapped with kilograms of TNT. Things are not square and triangular in the Terrorism business, but more fluid. The Jihadists won’t be that obvious in their use of a potential infiltration. The deeper danger of penetration will be more complex: First, the enemy will penetrate from the UAE end, aided by Salafi or even Khumeinist sympathizers. This first line of defense could be breached by hiring elements to form a network inside the company, or subcontracted “hostile” entities in the future. Second, while moving inside the layers of the “management” the “net” could then hire elements coming from the American side. If we project that Jihadists are operating inside the US, a UAE company “managing” six main US ports would be a first rate opportunity for them to “connect.” Hence, one can project that once a “network” installs itself inside the corporation, it would be able to recruit US citizens and residents sympathizers with or part of the movement. A bridge would thus be established between the outside cells and the inside cells through a perfectly legitimate outlet.

Action would come once the bridge is operational. It could develop into multiple directions. General intelligence and spying in the US is only one possibility. Storing material in these sensitive areas is two. Learning about the security systems in these ports from the administrative end is three. Disrupting national security operations is four. The deeper the layers, the wider possibilities would open to the Jihadists. But the initial “hole” is what allows the chain to develop.

In Iraq violence continues

By Aussiegirl

If this is "teetering on the brink of sectarian civil war", I can't imagine how much worse civil war will be.

Civil War Looms With 68 Killed in Baghdad - Yahoo! News

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunnis and Shiites traded bombings and mortar fire against mainly religious targets in Baghdad well into the night Tuesday, killing at least 68 people a day after authorities lifted a curfew that had briefly calmed a series of sectarian reprisal attacks.

[...] The surge of violence deepened the trauma of residents already shaken by fears the country was teetering on the brink of sectarian civil war, threatened talks among Iraqi politicians struggling to form a government and raised questions about U.S. plans to begin drawing down troop strength this summer.

An Explosive Gas Deal

By Aussiegirl

Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post, takes a look at the Russia/Ukraine gas crisis and draws some conclusions regarding the prospects for democracy in Eastern Europe.

My own assessment of this deal is that it is probably the best that Yushchenko could manage given the circumstances. My understanding is that Ukraine still maintains control over the pipelines that run through its territory. It was one of Putin's objectives to seize control of these pipelines as he did in a similar gas dispute involving neighboring Byelorus. This is an important asset that Yushchenko managed to maintain in these nearly impossible negotiations.

There is no question that the U.S. has divided loyalties regarding Ukraine and Russia -- needing Putin's assistance in the matter of the nuclearization of Iran and in the war on terror in general on the one hand, but desirous of promoting democracy according to Bush's stated policy on the other.

Sadly, since the aftermath of the Orange Revolution when Washington and Bush basked in the reflected glow of a democratized Ukraine, Yushchnko and Ukraine have received precious little concrete and material support from either the United States, or from the EU countries.

Ukraine cannot go it alone against the Russian bear. The west is going to have to make up its mind what is more important to its long-term strategic goals -- a western leaning Ukraine, democratized and free, or a Ukraine swallowed up again by the Russian empire. Diplomacy is never an easy balancing act, but I fear that Condi Rice's schooling as a pro-Russia Soviet expert places her squarely in the Putin camp, while poor Ukraine once again gets the cold shoulder and is essentially told to sink or swim.

Condi Rice is Brent Scowcroft's protegee, the same Scowcroft who advised Bush 41 to tell the Ukrainians not to indulge in "suicidal nationalism" when they desired to declare their independence from the Soviet Union and from Moscow. At the time, his speech, delivered in Kyiv on the eve of the independence vote, so infuriated Ukrainians that it has forever been dubbed his "Chicken Kiev" speech.

Condi has always described herself as a "Russianist", and as such may not be able to see clearly that something has gone seriously amiss in Russia.

As Diehl puts it, in its own way, the gas deal between Russia and Ukraine may in its own way be as significant as the Palestinian vote when it comes to promoting democracy in a critical part of the world.

An Explosive Gas Deal

After a turbulent year of free politics, Ukraine has another crucial election, for a newly empowered parliament, scheduled for March 26. This time Putin has avoided open intervention in the campaign. Instead he triggered the gas crisis and presented his Ukrainian enemies with a choice: Swallow a mammoth midwinter price increase for the fuel Ukrainians use to heat their homes, just weeks before the election, or hand Russia a commanding long-term stake in Ukrainian energy infrastructure -- and the ability to trigger a gas supply crisis at any time. Yushchenko and Yekhanurov chose the second option, while also agreeing to divert some of the huge profits to undisclosed beneficiaries. When confronted by U.S. officials, they claimed that they had no choice; until now they have denied knowing who owns the shell company through which Ukraine will channel billions of dollars.

How to save democracy in Ukraine, and the chance it will someday spread back to Russia? As in the Middle East, the Bush administration faces some difficult choices. If pro-Western parties lead the next government -- something that is far from certain -- President Bush could press them to scrap the gas deal as a condition for taking the first step toward membership in NATO, a "membership action plan." But that would probably lead to a new face-off between Ukraine and Putin, in which Kiev would require U.S. and European support -- at a moment when those same allies are pleading for the Kremlin's help with the Palestinians and Iran.

Or the administration could decide to sidestep Putin's gas-fired imperialism, leaving a complicated issue to its present obscurity. The Ukrainians might eventually find a way to free themselves from Russia's chokehold. But they also might allow one of the signal democratic breakthroughs of the Bush years to suffer a crippling reverse.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Moslem intellectual property rights -- an oxymoron?

By Aussiegirl

Lifson makes some excellent points here, and what he finds only underscores the history of Islam throughout the ages. The so-called flowering of Islam in previous centuries, when we are led to believe that Islam was an enlightened culture that tolerated different religions and even benefited science, is a myth. In reality Islam always coasted on the achievements of the civilizations it conquered. Even the concept of zero is an Indian invention, not Arabic. As far as they are concerned, mankind needs nothing but the Koran. They'll happily live off the legacy of Western Civilization until it all grinds down, and then they'll live among the goats and sheep and drag everyone down with them -- if we let them.

The American Thinker

It becomes clearer with every day that the Islamist faction within the Muslim world has an idealized vision of society entirely at odds with foundations of American society, and with the values of modern civilization. Free speech (including cartoon speech), religious pluralism, or female equality are only starters, important though each of these principles may be to us.

The Islamist vision of the society to which all infidels will have to submit eventually is also profoundly hostile to improvements in technology.[...] Recently, I was reading an Islamist website and discovered the following logo in an advertising-like box:

“Oppose Intellectual Property”

It turns out that the very internet which is powering so much innovation and efficiency is being used to build a political movement to destroy all technological dynamism. These guys may be crazy, but they are smart. Intellectual property is the bedrock foundation of modern life.

Without the ability to protect (and profit from) intellectual property, there will be no innovation. Nobody will have an incentive to do things differently from the way they have always been done. The phrase for such a world is The Dark Ages.[...]At its heart, the Islamist vision is opposed to all technological change. Rather than a society characterized by continuing discoveries in medicine, telecommunications advances and new applications of micro-electronics to further delight the mind and body, these Islamists prefer (or think they prefer) a steady state society, roughly fixed at the seventh century, when Muhammad received divine revelations and laid down the optimal way to govern human existence for all time.[...]If they get their way, do they envision getting rid of all post-800 AD innovations? Or will they try to hold onto what exists, while allowing no further innovation? The mind boggles. Who will train the air conditioner repair men? How will they keep up with what already exists if nobody is interested extending in such knowledge? Everyone might as well just study the Koran in madrassas.

And that is the point

A sensible look at Portgate

By Aussiegirl

Today's Washington Times has a very sensible editorial on the ports deal, and why there should be congressional review of such transactions.

A deal on the ports-Editorials/Op-Ed-The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

A deal over ports is being hatched in Washington. The question is whether the deal and the uproar of the past week will persuade President Bush to make immediate and necessary maritime-security upgrades. Grandstanding there has been, but the concerns about this deal are justified. Proponents do themselves no favor, for starters, by suggesting that concerns about port security are motivated by racism. This is the cheapest of cheap shots.

[...] President Bush should explain why this deal is a step forward for port security, not a step backward, nor a deal that preserves the status quo. That's the standard his critics, ourselves included, will hold him to. Concern over current porous port-security arrangements, and then the injection into the mix of an Arab company that could be infiltrated (or in a reasonable if unlikely hypothetical scenario even willfully cooperate in terrorism) is what prompted the firestorm.

[...] We take assertions that the UAE is a reliable American ally with justifiable caution. Steven Emerson, a distinguished analyst, notes that as recently as last year Hamas couriers were dispatched to the West Bank or Gaza with UAE cash.
Much could be done to allay the justifiable fears if overall cargo and port security were improved. Questions should be asked about the oversight process, in which deals are approved with less than unanimous approval. In the event that the sale stands there must be safeguards to ensure that an Arab firm from an Arab country previously aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan does not compromise port security -- and the security of the United States.

Mark Steyn to Europe -- wake up before it's too late!

By Aussiegirl

Great line from Mark that the Jews are the canaries in the coal mine. In the same way, Europeans are the frogs in the cooking pot who fail to notice that the water's getting a bit warmer every day. Today they can still hop out and fight back. But what about a year from now? Since liberals are secularist and basically without faith, they are essentially unable to understand or believe in the fanatical Moslem's passion and determination to foist his religion upon the world.

Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes

In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.

Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

[... ]Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well:

''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''

Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law: Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. Four decades ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it's in the grip of sharia, and the other half's feeling the squeeze, as the death toll from the cartoon jihad indicates. But just as telling is how swiftly the developed world has internalized an essentially Islamic perspective. In their pitiful coverage of the low-level intifada that's been going on in France for five years, the European press has been barely any less loopy than the Middle Eastern media.

[...] The I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd have always spoken favorably of one-worldism. From the op-ed pages of Jutland newspapers to les banlieues of Paris, the Pan-Islamists are getting on with it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

English should be Ukraine's second language -- not Russian

By Aussiegirl

Sadly, the language issue is still a sore point in Ukraine. The author makes a good point that if Ukrainians are to learn a second language, they would do better to learn English if they mean to join the EU and the West. Clinging to Russian merely prolongs and cements the imperialist tie to the old Big Brother mentality and drags Ukraine backwards rather than carrying it forward into the future. Hat tip to Pawlina and Nash Holos.


On January 29 Dmytro Pavlychko again warned Ukrainians about the threat of Russian becoming the official second language. At a time when the educated in every country in the world, including China and Russia, are learning English as a second language, because English is the de facto world-language, Ukraine's neo-soviet Russophile politicians threaten to isolate the country from the rest of the world with their Russian language legislation and throw Ukraine back culturally 100 years.

Continued use of Russian for business and in the public sphere would send the message that 'capitalism speaks Russian;' it would reinforce Russophile orientations and the notion that Ukrainian is only suitable for domestic use. Russian as a second language would mean educated Ukrainians who want contact with the world would have to learn a third language.

Fifteen years after independence public life, business and the media is still Russian-speaking outside Ukraine's three westernmost provinces.

A fatal desire for order

By Aussiegirl

Nina Khrushcheva, Khrushchev's grandaughter, on the anniversary of her grandfather's famous speech denouncing Stalin, speaks about the fatal desire of Russians for order.

A fatal desire for order - Editorials & Commentary - International Herald Tribune

The 50th anniversary of the 20th Communist Party Congress in 1956, at which Nikita Khrushchev delivered his so-called "secret speech" against Joseph Stalin, is being ignored in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Only last year, there were many phone calls to my family asking for their participation in commemorative events. But those plans were drawn up before May 2005, when Russia celebrated the 60th anniversary of World War II with the sort of Stalinist "brutalist" pomposity reminiscent of Cold War days. Indeed, portraits of Stalin were on prominent display as the "great leader" in the Soviet victory over fascism.

Since that bout of totalitarian nostalgia, public criticism of anything Stalin has been shunted off to the side. Today, Stalin is the country's second most popular historic figure after Peter the Great. As victor in World War II and a champion of Great Russian statehood, he remains revered.

So while some television producers still want to proceed with the secret speech documentaries, television networks one by one have lost their original interest. It's not that they received a directive from the Kremlin - we are in 2006, not 1937. But they can see how the wind is blowing.

The secret speech, formally titled "The Cult of Personality and Its Consequences," set in motion a whole sequence of events. Inmates were freed from the Gulag, the country was opened a little to foreign visitors and products, and the dissident movement began.

Needless to say, Putinism is not Stalinism, and the secret speech, if ignored, is not silenced. Mikhail Gorbachev, who regards himself as Khrushchev's successor, is free to celebrate it at his private foundation.

The Iron Curtain and the Stalin monolith are no longer, and Putin has to please all audiences - including some remaining homegrown Russian liberals, and more importantly, his Western counterparts, whom he is eager to join as a full member in the Group of Eight and the World Trade Organization.

But the assessment of the impact of the secret speech as the beginning of "freedom from fear" - the slogan that prompted the 1956 anti-Soviet Hungarian uprising - is no longer in vogue.

Fear is what's back in vogue. Not just fear of power, but fear of freedom. After the uncertainties of Boris Yeltsin's post-Communism, this fear of freedom - the need to live with one's own decisions - makes Russians yearn for rulers who provide a sense of orderly life.

Stalin's order was unbreakable while he lived; Putin promises a new order in the form of his "dictatorship of law." Today fear of the Gulag seems to be less threatening than the freedom of choice that the collapse of Communism offered to every individual: you, not the state, are responsible for your victories and failings.

It's only logical then, that the secret speech is no longer considered a courageous political act that evens up other mistakes Khrushchev may have made - after all, he was calling for reform of a system he had participated in.

Though it was the first step toward overturning Communism, it is seen now as a moment of betrayal and disgrace - as the "murder" of the "Father of All Nations," Joseph Stalin.

The other 2006 anniversary - the anti-Communist Budapest uprising inspired by the secret speech - would not speak in Khrushchev's favor.

He saw himself a reformer, not an oppressor, seeking dialogue, even if heated, with his opponents. But his response to the Hungarians was typically Soviet - sending tanks to crush dissent - as if he were afraid of his own liberties.

In today's Russia, however, the Budapest clampdown might well be considered an achievement.

For as Putin declared last year, "The collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

The real catastrophe is that Russia's best opportunity to shed its brutal past is being lost in the popular desire for order and greatness - desires that Vladimir Putin is only too happy to pretend to fulfill.

(Nina Khrushcheva, a great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, teaches international affairs at the New School in New York.)

The civilisations of the modern world are more likely to collapse than collide

By Aussiegirl

Judging by what is going on in Iraq (we can only hope that reason prevails and that calm is restored) and in other parts of the globe, the tribalist mentality and history of the Islamic culture lends itself to the sort of sort of fratricidal violence discussed in the article below.

If the prospect of an all-out war between the Moslem states of the ME were not so dangerous to world and economic stability, one might even entertain the idea that this is the best we could hope for -- that the savage nations of Islam turn their blood lust on each other and save us the trouble. Of course the endless numbers of global repercussions resulting from such a war precludes our wholehearted endorsement of such an outcome. Let's hope that it is not beyond our powers to keep a lid on this powder keg which is known as the Middle East. But one can't help but feel that at least while they are at each other's throats they leave ours alone. Sad that we have come to the pass where such thoughts occur in the dark watches of the night.

Frankly, I think that Bin Laden and his supporters (which includes a wide array fellow-travelers, including even Ahmadinejad -- after all, haven't we heard from multiple experts in the field that it is entirely possible that Bin Laden has been sheltered since 9/11 in Iran at various times?) have decided for the time being against a strategy of staging another spectacular attack on American soil. It may be that they are too weak and scattered after being relentlessly hunted by the allies in the War on Terror since the attack. It may also be, as I have thought for some time, that the attack on 9/11 was more spectacular and successful than even Bin Laden had expected -- leading not only to a robust and violent military reaction by the United States (something he perhaps did not expect given the lack of reaction during the Clinton years), but also left him in the uncomfortable position of having to come up with something even MORE spectactular as a second act.

With all the increased security and attention that has been raised since 9/11, a spectacular follow-up attack is much more difficult to organize. We were caught unawares on 9/11 -- but we are on guard now. Failing that, I think it looks as though the next approach is one of economic destabilization brought on by attacks on oil installations and infrastructure such as we are seeing in Nigeria and now with the failed (bungled and rather puny) attack on a major Saudi refinery.

I can't help but say, however, that there is a part of me that wouldn't mind sitting back for a while and just watching them blow each other to smithereens, thereby saving us the trouble. Of course, that would mean a worldwide oil shock and dislocation of the world economy. Some choice.

Telegraph -- Opinion

It is nearly 13 years since my colleague and near neighbour, Samuel Huntington, published his seminal essay "The Clash of Civilisations?" in Foreign Affairs. As works of academic prophecy go, this has been a real winner - up there with George Kennan's epoch-making 1947 essay, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", on the containment of the Soviet Union.

"In this new world," wrote Huntington, "the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilisations… The fault lines between civilisations will be the battle lines of the future."[...]And yet, for all its seductive simplicity, I have never entirely bought the theory that the future will be dominated by the clash of civilisations. For one thing, the term "civilisation" has always struck me as much too woolly. I know what a religion is. I know what an empire is. But, as Henry Kissinger might have said, who do I call when I want to speak to Western Civilisation? Anyone who crosses the Atlantic as often as I do quickly learns how vacuous that phrase has become. [...]The really big problem with the theory, however, is right in front of our very noses. Question: Who has killed the most Muslims in the past 12 months? The answer is, of course, other Muslims.[...]The future therefore looks more likely to bring multiple local wars - most of them ethnic conflicts in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East - than a global collision of value-systems. Indeed, my prediction would be that precisely these centrifugal tendencies, most clearly apparent in Iraq today, will increasingly tear apart the very civilisations identified by Samuel Huntington.

In short, for "the clash of civilisations", read "the crash of civilisations".

UAE, that "great ally", still supports terror

By Aussiegirl

The fact that Dubai Ports World is a government-owned company is what really makes it entirely different from the British or any other company taking over. Newt Gingrich (that notorious racist and xenophobe) mentioned this today in his comments regarding this deal on Fox. Private companies are concerned with the bottom line, profits, and efficient management. Governments have different interests, and as recently as four years ago the interests of the Dubai government coincided with the likes of AQ Kahn, suicide bombers, Al Aqsa, and Bin Laden. Also the UAE votes against the U.S. 2/3 of the time in the U.N. Today, some of their interests may coincide with ours (or they may simply be interested in cornering the markets on control of the world's seaports). But tomorrow, their interests could be entirely different.
What does our support of the UAE say about our defense of democracy in the ME?
(In a related matter, see my recent post on a UAE think tank founder's defense of Martyr Moms.

Alex Alexiev on United Arab Emirates on National Review Online

Proponents of the Dubai Ports transaction make two main arguments that in their view prove conclusively that the deal is in the best interests of the United States: First, that guaranteeing our ports security means that they will remain in the hands of U.S. authorities and, second, that the UAE is a friendly country cooperating with the U.S. military in a variety of ways and thus contributing to the war on terror. What if, for the sake of argument, we agree that both of these assumptions are true, yet there are nonetheless compelling reasons to oppose the deal on national-security grounds.

[...] Much more serious than the nature of its government, though, is the evidence that the Emirates have for decades been one of the key financiers of radical Islamism and even outright terrorism. Indeed, if they have been a reliable friend and ally to anybody, it is to the House of Saud in its efforts to export the hateful Wahhabi creed worldwide. And it is this massive campaign over the years that has created the huge infrastructure of thousands of radical mosques, madrassas, Islamic centers, and “charities” that is the true breeding ground of hate, fanaticism, and terrorism.

[...] However the DP World controversy is resolved ultimately, it would have been worthwhile if it leads to a long-overdue debate on who really is friend and who is foe in the war on terror. It's something that we still do not seem to be quite sure about four and a half years after 9/11.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Islamic America -- so far only a novel, but only a novel for how long?

By Aussiegirl

Oh, my -- I feel a cold chill in the core of my being. Even the great and endlessly positive Mark Steyn is growing pessimistic -- we know we are in serious trouble. This is a battle of the long haul and as always, it is a battle of the soul. It is like the story of Faust writ large for the soul of the free world -- will it be seduced by the devil of decadence -- or the devil of Islam -- each one masquerading as the opposite of the other, when in reality, they are opposite sides of the same coin.

Macleans.ca | Culture | Books | What should I do, Imam?    

The second half of the Super Bowl began right after midday prayers. The fans in Khomeini Stadium had performed their ablutions by rote, awkwardly prostrating themselves, heels splayed, foreheads not even touching the ground. . .

At the speed history's moving right now, you gotta get your futuristic novels in fast, and Robert Ferrigno's is the first in the potentially extensive genre of Islamotopian fiction. In Prayers for the Assassin, the fun starts on the inside cover: a map of the Islamic Republic of America in the year 2040. The nation extends over most of the north and west of the Lower 48. Chicago, Detroit and the East Coast cities are ruined and abandoned, Mount Rushmore is rubble, and Seattle is the new capital. Catholics remain as a subordinate class to their Muslim rulers. The evangelicals -- the "peckerwoods" -- are hunkered down in a breakaway state called "the Bible Belt" (the old Confederacy), where they still have the Second Amendment and the original Coca-Cola formula: up north, they have to make do with Jihad Cola, which sucks big time. South Florida is an "independent unaligned" area, the Mormon Territories have held out, and the Nevada Free State remains a den of gambling, alcohol and fornication. And in the most intriguing detail on the map, there's a dotted line heading through Washington state to B.C. marked "Rakkim's route to Canada" -- the new underground railroad along which he smuggles Jews, gays and other problematic identity groups to freedom across the forty-ninth parallel.

[...] "Jill Stanton's proclamation of faith while accepting her second Academy Award would have been enough to interest tens of millions of Americans in the truth of Islam, but she had also chosen that moment in the international spotlight to announce her betrothal to Assan Rachman, power forward and MVP of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers. Celebrity conversions cascaded in the weeks after that Oscars night. . ."

Ayatollah Khomeini's designation of "the Great Satan" at least acknowledges that America is a seducer -- which makes it considerably more sophisticated an insult than that of Canadians who sneer at the U.S. as the Great Moron. What gives Prayers for the Assassin an unsettling compelling power is the premise behind that fictional Oscar speech. As that cop says, "Muslims were the only people with a clear plan and a helping hand." If it's a choice between the defeatism and self-loathing of the Piss Christified West and a stern unyielding eternal Allah, maybe it's Islam that will prove the great seducer.

Israel-Palestine -- joined at the hip

By Aussiegirl

Today's American Thinker has a short but excellent history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Regardless of Golda Meir's statement, quoted at the end of the article, peace with a Palestine that joyfully elects a Martyr Mom seems a long way off.

The American Thinker

History doesn’t solve problems, but it explains them, including the evolution of the intractable Israel-Palestine problem.

[...] Until 1948 all inhabitants of Palestine — Jews, Muslims, Christians, Circassians, Druzes, Bahais, and others — were called Palestinians. When they went abroad, they carried Palestinian passports, issued first by the Turks and later by the British, who conquered Palestine in 1917. And when, in 1922, the British and the League of Nations, the United Nations’ predecessor, established an official body to represent the Jews of that land, it was called not the Jewish Agency or the Jewish Agency for Israel, but the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

[...] Now why is it that the Arabs and other Muslims have rejected every opportunity to have a sovereign and peaceful Palestinian state next to the State of Israel? Why, in 2000, did Palestine Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat reject Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer to return to the Palestinians 95 percent of the Israeli-occupied territories, including a portion of East Jerusalem to be used as their capital? And why did Arafat respond by launching a suicide-bombing intifada?

Why did the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who knows very well that in 538 BC King Cyrus of Persia let the Jews leave Babylon and return to Judah, vow to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth? And why did Hamas leader Khalid Mish’al write in Britain’s Guardian newspaper soon after his party won the Gaza Strip election that “We shall never recognize the legitimacy of a Zionist state”?

[...] Muslims want Israel to disappear because of the geopolitics of their religion. Islam emerged in Arabia. In a short time it enveloped peoples and places as far away as Indonesia. So Islam developed the notion that once a non-Muslim land is conquered, it belongs to the Ummah, the universal community of Islam, forever. Should the Infidel retake his land, such as the Christian reconquest of Spain in 1492, the reconquest is temporary until Islam conquers the Infidel’s land again.

[...] The rejectionists cannot abide in their midst Infidel Unbelievers who also possess the attributes of sovereignty: a country, a flag, a language, an army, an anthem, and a culture. Even Israeli Arabs, like Ibrahim Sansour, a leader of the Islamic Movement, reject the Jewish state and the other Infidel states in the world.

“We wish to see the establishment of the Islamic caliphate without borders, and that is what scares the West.”

It should scare Israel and the entire Western world.

[...] When will there be peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

Long before the Palestinians began using suicide bombers and long before Palestinian mothers began to encourage their offspring to become suicide bombers, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir answered the question this way:

“There will be peace between us and our neighbors when they love their children more than they hate ours.”

Saudis thwart oil refinery attack

By Aussiegirl

The world's oil supply is definitely under radical Islamic attack. Look at the hostages siezed and the pipelines blown up in Nigeria -- this is already having repercussions in prices. If this had succeeded it would have damaged Saudi production as well. Add to that the instability of Chavez in Venezuela, who has threatened a cutoff of oil to the U.S. and as a backup already has a buyer for the CITGO stations and supposedly has lined up China as a purchaser of the oil otherwise going to the U.S. You have Al Qaeda and Hamas cooperating and working with Chavez, and you have a lot of bad actors who all hate America who could conceivably coordinate their efforts in a bid to destabilize oil prices and the world economy. Coming on the heels of the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Iraq and the fomenting of a civil war there, we have a very unstable situation being deliberately manipulated. It's going to be a bumpy ride for the next few months or year. Hang on!

CNN.com - Saudis thwart oil refinery attack - Feb 24, 2006

Saudi security forces have thwarted an attempted suicide attack at an oil processing facility in eastern Saudi Arabia, Saudi security sources told CNN.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, in a message posted on a Islamist Web site that has previously carried al Qaeda messages.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's all about feelings -- their feelings

By Aussiegirl

Ben Stein says it like it is, that protecting feelings goes only one way now, from us -- the West -- to them -- the Moslem, and that ultimately this is a matter of cowardice.

The American Spectator

Greeting, fellow Americans. I have some serious news for you about the war against the terrorists, the war we are fighting to protect our liberties and our Constitution against Islamic totalitarianism. We're losing, big time. I don't mean we're losing in Iraq, where our brave men and women are fighting well in difficult conditions and with the home grown doubters at their heels. Nor in Afghanistan, where our men and women in uniform are also fighting brilliantly.

No, we are losing our freedom here at home, and in a particularly nasty way. It has to do with those cartoons mocking Mohammed that were published in a Danish publication and have excited riots and burnings across the Moslem world and fear and terror in Europe.

[...] We will fight to the death to protect the artists who create Piss Christ, but we'll also fight to the death to protect the feelings of the people who hate us and kill our children. We have surrendered our free expression to people who are at war with us. They kill us in the name of a religion and we bow and scrape to that religion while letting people dump on Christianity and Judaism.

There's a word for this, beyond the words Stockholm Syndrome and the words Political Correctness. The word is cowardice. Or maybe an even shorter word: defeat. Wake up, America. This is serious.

Dollars for mosques

By Aussiegirl

It looks like Bush has discovered a new way to fight our Moslem enemy -- buy them off. So, we'll sell them our ports, and then to be even more generous, we'll rebuild the s shrine that the Moslems blew up the other day. Of course, we had nothing to do with the shrine's destruction, but that's OK, we'll rebuild it and thereby give the impression that perhaps we did blow it up. How's that for cleverness?

BREITBART.COM - Mosque Bombing an 'Evil Act,' Bush Says

President Bush said Thursday the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Iraq was "an evil act" intended to create strife. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned against characterizing the rising turmoil as a harbinger of civil war.

[...] He said the United States was serious in its commitment to help rebuild the Golden Mosque.

According to Iraq the Model, the [h]ead of the Sunni endowment sheikh Ahmed al-Samarra'I announces that he will allocate 2 billion dinars (~1.4 million $) for the rebuilding of the shrine from the treasury of the Sunni endowment. So if the money has already been pledged, why on earth does the Great White Father and Keeper of the Royal Purse, George Bush, horn in and pledge our own taxpayer money? He'll never learn that you can't buy the enemy off, that they hate us almost as their birthright, and that it's a battle in which only one side can emerge.

White House secret concessions to UAE company in ports deal

By Aussiegirl

Here's more information that makes questioning this ports deal even more important.

BREITBART.COM - Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement

The Bush administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

[...] Under the deal, the government asked Dubai Ports to operate American seaports with existing U.S. managers "to the extent possible." It promised to take "all reasonable steps" to assist the Homeland Security Department, and it pledged to continue participating in security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

The administration required Dubai Ports to designate an executive to handle requests from the U.S. government, but it did not specify this person's citizenship.

I just posted an article yesterday that described the L-1 visa procedure under which the Dubai company would operate, and the author of the article states that the L-1 visa process in connection with what would be a very large DPW port management operation could provide yet another avenue of entry into the US.

[...] In Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the agreement was thoroughly vetted. "We have to maintain a principle that it doesn't matter where in the world one of these purchases is coming from," Rice said Wednesday. She described the United Arab Emirates as "a good partner in the war on terrorism"
Taking the estimable Rice at her word, if North Korea or Iran or Syria decided to make a purchase, I guess that would be OK with her. How stupid!

The coming Mideast meltdown?

By Aussiegirl

It's interesting that this Askariya shrine is the site of the disappearance of the 12th Shiite iman, the one who figures so prominently in Ahmadinejad's religious fantasy. It's not beyond imagining that Iran may be behind this bombing, even though this is a Shiia shrine. It is in Iran's interest to foment an Iraqi civll war at this particularly dangerous time, when Iran itself is under increasing pressure because of its desire for nuclear weapons, and also because Iraq is on the verge of forming a new government. Just as we saw Iran's hand, along with other Islamist extremists, in fomenting the cartoon jihad as a way of distracting attention and rousing the Arab street to heights of frenzy, this may be just one more step in Ahmadinejad's plan to wage preemptive war against the West. He's not going to fight an open war, he's not going to launch a missile at Israel, he's more likely to wage a proxy war on many fronts at once. Look for increasing militant attacks in Gaza and other Mideast trouble spots. The Mideast cauldron is starting to bubble.

Shrine Attack Brings Civil War Warning - Yahoo! News

Insurgents detonated bombs inside one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, destroying its golden dome and triggering more than 60 reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques. The president warned that extremists were pushing the country toward civil war, as many Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame.

As the gold dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine lay in ruins, leaders on both sides called for calm: But the string of back-and-forth attacks seemed to push the country closer to all-out civil war than at any point in the three years since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

[...] In one ominous sign of how Shiites may react, Iraq's top Shiite cleric and the country's vice president hinted that local armed militias might play a bigger role in security in future, if the government can't protect such holy shrines.

Both Sunnis and the United States fear the rise of such militias, which Sunnis view as little more than death squads. American commanders believe they undercut U.S. efforts to create a professional Iraqi army and police force — a key step toward the eventual drawdown of U.S. forces.

[...] The new tensions come as Iraq's various factions are still unable to put together a government after the Dec. 15 elections. The president said the brazen assault on the shrine — the third major attack against Shiite targets in as many days — seemed aimed at destroying the talks.

[...] Tradition says the Askariya shrine, which draws Shiite pilgrims from throughout the Islamic world, is near the place where the last of the 12 Shiite imams, Mohammed al-Mahdi, disappeared. Al-Mahdi, known as the "hidden imam," was the son and grandson of the two imams buried in the Askariya shrine. Shiites believe he is still alive and will return to restore justice to humanity.

Iraq the Model, a valuable blog to follow for first-hand information on what is going on in Iraq, has this to say, reinforcing my own idea about the bombing:

I believe there are foreign terror groups behind this attack and I don't think local insurgent would do such a thing, simply because this particular shrine had been in Sunni territory for a thousand years and the residents of Samarra had always benefited from the movement of religious tourism and pilgrimage.

Things look scary here in Baghdad and I hope there won't be more updates to report as I can't see a positive thing coming out of this.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How much more do we have to learn about Portgate to realize it was a bad idea?

By Aussiegirl

Sally Vee just sent me this link to Counterterrorism Blog and an article that describes how a visa procedure connected with Dubai Ports World could allow terrorists into the country. Another reason to reconsider this engendered-in-secret deal and bring it before Congress.

The Counterterrorism Blog: US Ports, the UAE and US visas

If foreign nationals, aliens, are to be brought into the United States, what process will be employed for that purpose? These, perhaps, are all very legitimate issues the Congressional and other critics of this program may want to have resolved...if there is time for such resolution.

And since the topic of importation of aliens relative to this DPW port operation deal has now surfaced, please allow me to explain how that might easily happen. There is something called the "L-1" Intracompany Transferee nonimmigrant visa. It allows foreign companies with US-based operations...as DPW would be...to temporarily transfer managers or "skilled workers with specialized knowledge" into the United States to work at the US branch of the parent company. The L-1 aliens can stay, with extensions, for up to seven years in certain cases.

The visa application process for L-1 status does provide for the usual layered background check system to kick-in. However, as we have seen in many previous cases, terrorist alien suspects who are not yet on the radar screens of any Intelligence or law enforcement agencies or who utilize a solid false identity, slipping past those watch lists can and will happen. The L-1 visa process in connection with what would be a very large DPW port management operation could provide yet another avenue of entry into the US, perhaps without the culpable participation of DPW personnel, of terrorist aliens. Minimally, this should be another issue subject to very close and continuous review, particularly if the DPW deal goes forward. Hopefully, our Government knows more than we do and is here to protect us.

This article about the visa procedure was posted on February 22. Earlier, on February 20, someone posted an article about the recent and rapid expansion of Dubai Ports World and how this might be another source of concern. And this statement particularly troubles me: DP World’s senior management, they point out, draws mostly from a small circle of UAE nationals close to UAE’s traditional rulers.Well, who is it who refuses to recognize Israel? Who is it who considers the Taliban the legitimate government in Afghanistan? The "traditional rulers", of course. Does anyone wonder why we are concerned?

With the backing of the UAE government, DP World has grown rapidly from a small local port operation into an international conglomerate. In fact, DP World’s rapid expansion into the world’s third largest port operator raises some questions about its ability to oversee and administer its vast holdings, especially in the light of worldwide security requirements. The P&O acquisition brings an additional 29 container terminals, many in Europe as well as the United States, and the logistic operations of more than 100 ports under DP World’s control. It also gives DP World operational control over ferries running between the UK and France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain. Much of this expansion has been supported by the UAE Government and the huge inflow of petro-dollars. But, DP World’s acquisition of P&O is reportedly being financed mostly through a (syndicated) term loan facility through Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank.

[...] DP World and senior UAE government officials pressed hard for, and got, quick UK and US government approval for the P&O takeover. The transaction was reportedly vetted and approved by the US Department of Homeland Security and TRANSEC, the UK’s Department for Transport's Security Division. It was also approved by the US Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment. Nevertheless, security experts in both the UK and US remain dubious. They question the wisdom of turning over control of so many major ports around the world, and particularly in the US, UK and Europe to this relatively new UAE based company. DP World’s senior management, they point out, draws mostly from a small circle of UAE nationals close to UAE’s traditional rulers. The concerns they express range from possible relaxation of security measures to potential infiltration into DP World’s administrative cadre by Al Qaeda supporters. Al Qaeda operatives working inside DP World might have access to sensitive port information including layout, vulnerabilities, and cargo and container movements. After-all, they point out, the UAE has a less than stellar record when it comes to dealing with terrorism. Critics note that the UAE was one of three countries that recognized the Taliban. And, UAE based charities and financial facilities have been implicated knowingly, or unwittingly in financing various Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups. The UAE was used as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks. The critics also point out that lax controls at UAE ports made them a convenient transfer point for shipments of nuclear components smuggled to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

When dealing with the deaf, it is sometimes necessary to scream

By Aussiegirl

Lee Harris, author of Civilization and Its Enemies, admits that Michael Savage was right -- and he was wrong.

TCS Daily - Any Port in This Storm

It is not easy to flabbergast me. But over the course of the last week, I have been utterly stupefied by revelations of what the popular radio talk show host Michael Savage has called "Portgate."

I first heard about "Portgate" from a friend who had been listening on his car radio to Michael Savage last Thursday. Savage, true to form, had been ranting and raving about something -- something about how the Bush administration had made a deal with a company owned by the United Arab Emirates to provide security for six of our nation's vulnerable ports. It was all a bit confusing, and my first response was, "What nonsense. How could anyone believe such tripe? Such a story could not possibly be true. That's what you get for listening to Michael Savage." And so forth.
In my defense, let me explain that I had sound and cogent reasons for my savage response to Mr. Savage's story.

[...] Wrong again! (Michael Savage 3, Lee Harris 0)

[...] There are many people who don't like Michael Savage's raucous ranting and raving -- people like me who prefer logic and reason; but, unfortunately, there are times when the only rational thing to do is to rave and rant. This is one of them. If the Bush administration is so far out of touch with reality as to defend the "Portgate" deal to an incredulous and dumbfounded American public, then maybe it is time when all of us need to take a lesson from Michael Savage, and learn to rant and rave ourselves. When dealing with the deaf, it is sometimes necessary to scream.

Another race-card smear, this time from Mansoor Ijaz

by Aussiegirl

Hmmm -- I think Ijaz would have made a more effective argument that this is not such a bad deal and that we could trust Dubai, if he had not started his argument with an ad hominem smear against anyone who disagrees with or has questions about the deal. To smear all opponents with the bomb-throwing "racist" card is standard lib operating procedure. So anyone who has concerns has their hackles immediately raised by being unfairly accused of having only the basest motives for questions.

We can ask a question -- if the Dubai government still recognizes the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, we can assume it views the present regime of Karzai as illegitimate. As such, is it actively supporting the Taliban insurgents who are currently fighting our allies there and spilling the blood of American soldiers? Are these the actions of a newfound ally in the war on terror?

Mansoor Ijaz on Port Security on National Review Online

Islamophobia, not national security, is at the heart of the raging controversy on Capitol Hill over a United Arab Emirates-based company, Dubai Ports World, assuming ownership and management responsibilities at six major seaports in the United States. U.S. lawmakers might bristle at the thought of letting the UAE own and operate U.S. ports. After all, it was a citizen of the UAE, Marwan al Shehhi, who piloted United Airlines Flight 175 into the second World Trade Center tower, and it was through the banks of this country that the 9/11 attacks were partially financed. But their fiery rhetoric and threats of congressional action mask an increasingly patronizing racism fueled by illogical paranoia rooted in past events. Let's deal with what the UAE is now.

Simply put, the reaction to the Dubai deal is un-American.

[...] It is understandable that American politicians would want to seek clarifications, safeguards, and accountability on the DP World deal in honor of all those who were mercilessly murdered on that tragic September morning. But the best way to honor their memories is to use the Dubai deal as a model to build effective bridges to the Arab and Muslim world — as we did in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan — instead of erecting barriers that reveal America's paranoia and fear about some Islamist doomsday scenario no one can predict, all the while alienating the very people we need to help raise up the Muslim world's disaffected so they are not so desperate to tear us down.

Reclassify the classified -- what's going on here?

By Aussiegirl

Since this has been going on for the last seven years, this reclassification program is obviously not connected to Port-Gate. What it has in common with Port-Gate is what one person calls the administration's overall embrace of secrecy. This drive toward secrecy can produce bizarre, irrational results, like reclassifying a 1948 CIA memorandum about floating balloons over Iron Curtain countries. Shades of the Soviet days when they literally airbrushed people out of existence, in an attempt to change history.

U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review - New York Times

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.

[...] Among the 50 withdrawn documents that Mr. Aid found in his own files is a 1948 memorandum on a C.I.A. scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It was reclassified in 2001 even though it had been published by the State Department in 1996.

[...] But the historians say the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security. They say it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts on government secrecy believe the C.I.A. and other spy agencies, not the White House, are the driving force behind the reclassification program.

"I think it's driven by the individual agencies, which have bureaucratic sensitivities to protect," said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, editor of the online weekly Secrecy News. "But it was clearly encouraged by the administration's overall embrace of secrecy."

And these suicide-bomb lovers are our "allies"?!

By Aussiegirl

I found this quote by the UAE Think Tank Founder over at Little Green Footballs. The idea of calling these people, who revere Martyr Moms, "allies" and giving them some control over six of our ports becomes even more bizarre.

lgf: UAE Think Tank Founder Hails Mothers of Suicide Bombers

Al-Hamadi: Haven’t we heard about the blessed mothers in Palestine who go to their sons and prepare them for martyrdom for the sake of Allah? The son sets out and on his way, he calls his mother from his cellphone, and tells her: “I’ve arrived at the place, I am going in.” Then he says, “I’m ready,” and the mother guides him and encourages him until she hears the bombs go off over the cellphone. Then she bows, thanking Allah for granting her son martyrdom for His sake. Then she utters cries of joy and refuses to accept condolences. She does not open a grieving tent, but rather a congratulation tent, because Allah granted her son martyrdom. Such Hansaa-like women have appeared again in our times. Some of these women commit martyrdom themselves. They may be married women or students, but even so, they are not tempted by this life, and they carry out martyrdom operations for the sake of Allah.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Shedding some more light on the curious connections behind the ports deal

By Aussiegirl

This latest news -- or shall we call it a scandal -- about the ports deal, along with watching Bush stamp his little foot and declare that he will veto any congressional bill, has given me a royal headache.

If this is such a good idea then why go the route of "trust me and shut up" and threaten a veto? Why not say -- the deal is a good one and if Congress and the people want an airing of the factors behind our decision we welcome such an investigation which we are sure will reassure everyone that this deal is in our best interest. What is the point in arrogantly threatening a veto and demanding that everyone acquiesce in his executive power without a public review when he sees that there is an overwhelming negative public and bipartisan opposition to this plan? Why is he so adamant and angry about this?

It's like handing over the keys to your house with your sleeping children inside to a "reformed" pedophile neighbor just to prove that you are tolerant and trust him. Bush has singlehandedly empowered the dems on the one issue they were vulnerable on. It's simply incomprehensible -- and now they are bringing out the "race card" just like they brought out the "sexist" card with Miers.

I'm going to go and watch the ladies figure skating until my headache clears -- but don't worry, I'll be blogging more about this tomorrow

New York Daily News - Home - W aides' biz ties to Arab firm

The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The ties raised more concerns about the decision to give port control to a company owned by a nation linked to the 9/11 hijackers.

No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as does fear

By Aussiegirl

Edmund Burke said this in 1756, and the cartoon crisis has injected this fear into many publications and many places. At least the Phoenix editorial is brave enough to speak openly of its fear.
When fear cows the media - The Boston Globe, By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist February 19, 2006

THE PHOENIX is Boston's leading ''alternative" newspaper, the kind of brash, pull-no-punches weekly that might have been expected to print without hesitation the Mohammed cartoons that Islamists have been using to incite rage and riots across the Muslim world. Its willingness to push the envelope was memorably demonstrated in 2002, when it broke with most media to publish a grisly photograph of Daniel Pearl's severed head, and supplied a link on its website to the sickening video of the Wall Street Journal reporter's beheading.

But the Phoenix isn't publishing the Mohammed drawings, and in a brutally candid editorial it explained why.

''Our primary reason," the editors confessed, is ''fear of retaliation from . . . bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do . . . Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and . . . could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year-publishing history."

[...] Like the Nazis in the 1930s and the Soviet communists in the Cold War, the Islamofascists are emboldened by appeasement and submissiveness. Give the rampagers and book-burners a veto over artistic and editorial decisions, and you end up not with heightened sensitivity and cultural respect, but with more rampages and more books burned. You betray ideals that generations of Americans have died to defend.

And worse than that: You betray as well the dissidents and reformers within the Islamic world, the Muslim Sakharovs and Sharanskys and Havels who yearn for the free, tolerant, and democratic culture that we in the West take for granted. What they want to see from America is not appeasement and apologies and a dread of giving offense. They want to see us face down the fanatics, be unintimidated by bullies. They want to know that in the global struggle against Islamist extremism, we won't let them down.

North Korean Cheerleaders Sent to Prison

By Aussiegirl

Imagine being arrested for telling what you saw in another country!

Guardian Unlimited World Latest North Korean Cheerleaders Sent to Prison

Twenty-one members of North Korean cheering squads who traveled to South Korea for international sports events are being held in a prison camp for talking about what they saw in the South, a news report said Friday.

For a truly horrendous account of prison life in North Korea, please read this riveting book: Eyes of the Tailless Animals.

They could have just asked Jack Bauer

By Aussiegirl

If you ever stumble into an episode of "24" and find that you have to dive under water to escape a hail of terrorist bullets, here's what you need to know to avoid being killed -- of course Jack Bauer would probably have plugged them full of holes before you even got your hair wet!

New Scientist Back Page - Dive, Dive!

In films, a hero often evades bullets by jumping into a river or lake. How far below the surface do they need to dive?

Any object moving through a medium experiences a drag force tending to slow it down. For a denser medium like water, the drag force is much larger than it is in air. Water is 700 times denser than air. The drag force on the bullet scales as the square of the velocity and is also proportional to the surface area of the moving body.

Knowing this, one can set up an equation of motion for the bullet, which gives the distance over which its velocity is considerably reduced. The formula involves the velocity, mass and size of bullet, the density of water, and the drag coefficient.

For a typical bullet with a velocity of 300 metres per second, the depth over which it slows in water is barely a few metres. So a 3-metre dive below the surface is more than adequate

Darwin's revenge -- Australia invaded by toxic toads!

By Aussiegirl

"They are moving around 55km a year on average, which is a long way to hop if you are a toad," said Dr Phillips. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Toxic toads 'threaten disaster'

The toxic cane toad in Australia is evolving into an "eco-nightmare" capable of covering huge distances, a study in the journal Nature reports.

Scientists say the species Bufo marinus is developing a leggier, faster-moving form that is now hopping out rapidly across the continent.

[...] They kill snakes, lizards, water birds - even crocodiles and dingos.

[...] They were first introduced to Queensland from South America in 1935, in an attempt to wipe out cane beetles, a pest that was destroying sugar crops in north-east Australia at the time.

Since then, the toads have been sweeping through Australia leaving a trail of dead creatures in their wake.

[..] The scientists say the toads are causing an "ecological nightmare".

So far, researchers have been unable to find a successful way of controlling the ever-spreading invaders, which are now on the cusp of invading Darwin.

Imagine, a household method of killing anthrax!

By Aussiegirl

Let's hope we don't undergo another anthrax attack, but knowing that a hot iron can destroy the bacteria is comforting. Not comforting at all is that fact that according to the article the 2001 anthrax attacks remain unsolved.

High school senior discovers ironing deactivates anthrax - PittsburghLIVE.com

Protecting yourself from biological weapons might be as simple as using a hot clothes iron.
Through a project for a statewide science competition, Central Catholic High School senior Marc Roberge discovered truth in the urban legend that ironing can kill anthrax spores in contaminated mail.

His findings will appear in the June edition of the Journal of Medical Toxicology, which publishes peer-reviewed research papers. It is an accomplishment usually reserved for Ph.D.-level scientists and physicians.

[...] Instead, he substituted a more heat-resistant but harmless bacterial spore from the anthrax family that scientists often use as a surrogate.

Marc Roberge placed paper strips laden with millions of spores inside standard envelopes, and then ironed the mail at various dry heat settings for up to 15 minutes.

He found that an iron adjusted to the hottest setting -- at least 204.5 degrees Celsius, or 400 degrees Fahrenheit -- and used for at least 5 minutes destroyed all spores so no bacteria would grow. The iron didn't open the letters or make pen-written addresses hard to read, Roberge said.

[...] Based on Roberge's findings, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center bioterrorism expert Dr. Michael Allswede doesn't recommend that people routinely press their mail.

"But should there be another threat like the anthrax attacks in 2001, it would be one of the techniques that could be used by regular people," he said.

Bush administration prepares to play race card in ports controversy

By Aussiegirl

Frank Gaffney offers some commonsense and face-saving ways to get out of this political blunder, and lists three new factors that have come to light that make this UAE deal an even greater folly. Unfortunately, it appears that the Bush administration is going to follow its earlier Harriet Miers strategy and plans to begin accusing opponents of this policy of being racists and xenophobes.

Townhall.com :: Columns :: A Harriet Miers moment by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. - Feb 20, 2006

The federal bureaucracy has made a strategic mistake that threatens to cost the President dearly. The question is not whether the ill-advised decision taken last week by the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known by its acronym, CFIUS, pronounced syphius) will be undone. Rather, the question is: By whom -- and at what political cost to Mr. Bush?
In the latest of a series of approvals of questionable foreign takeovers of American interests, CFIUS has given the green light to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to acquire contracts to manage port facilities in New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans. The company, Dubai Ports World, would do so by purchasing a British concern, Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (“P and O”).

[...] In fact, that seems virtually certain now that talk radio, the blogosphere and the public have become aware of – and white hot about – this transaction. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and of Capitol Hill have made known their determination to prevent the transfer of control of U.S. ports to the UAE. In particular, Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer have been quick to seize on this issue as an opportunity to burnish their national security credentials at the expense of President Bush and his party.

[...] Call it a Harriet Meirs moment. Politics being the art of the possible, it is time to recognize that the Dubai Ports World deal is neither strategically sensible nor politically doable. It is time to pull the plug, and to reform the secretive interagency CFIUS process that allowed this fiasco in the first place

Monday, February 20, 2006

Herb Meyer asks, what would Chris Matthews do?

By Aussiegirl

Herb Meyer channels Chris Matthews, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, and Nancy Pelosi in his delightful imaginary romp into an alternate political universe.

The American Thinker

For more than a week now, the press has been beating up on Vice President Dick Cheney for his handling – or, rather, for his mis-handling – of how the accidental shooting of his friend while on a hunting trip in Texas was disclosed. The theme that runs through all this criticism is that the Vice President made a terrible mistake in not arranging for news of the shooting to be disclosed immediately, rather than waiting 14 hours to put out the word.

But what if Dick Cheney hadn’t stiffed the press? Let’s conduct what scientists call a “thought experiment.” Let’s press the rewind button and go back to the very moment of the accidental shooting….

Cheney spots a quail, pulls the trigger—and to his horror Harry Whittington falls to the ground. Without a moment’s hesitation the Vice President reaches into his pocket, pulls out his cell phone, and calls NBC News White House Correspondent David Gregory.

Gregory? This is Cheney. I’m hunting in Texas and I’ve just accidentally shot my friend.


Thirty seconds ago, maybe forty. Took a while to find your number.

Is he dead or alive?

Don’t know. But I thought I better call you to get the word out fast.

While this conversation is taking place, another conversation is taking place on television:

Welcome to Hardball, I’m Chris Matthews. According to a new MSNBC poll, the Bush Administration is now the most hated and distrusted Administration in our country’s history. The question is, why. My guests today have two very different perspectives on all this. Nancy Pelosi is the House Democratic leader, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel is the highly-respected editor of the non-partisan magazine, The Nation. It’s a pleasure to have you ladies on the show today. I must say, both of you are not only brainy, but gorgeous – I mean, really hot. I wonder why it is that Democrats aren’t afraid of smart, good-looking women. I was just talking with my kid brother in Philadelphia – did I mention he’s just been nominated for Lieutenant Governor – and he was saying…..Wait a minute. We’ve got breaking news from David Gregory. David, you’re on the air.

Chris, the Vice President has just shot his friend in Texas. Right now, that’s all we know, but –

My god, David, you really are a great reporter. What a scoop. You’re amazing. What you’re saying is that Cheney’s first thought was the public-relations, that all he really cares about is getting out first with the news so that he can control the spin

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cheney -- pretty in pink

By Aussiegirl

Everybody's missing the point -- somebody in Cheney's camp has a very sly sense of humor -- the pink tie is an obvious sarcastic reference to Hillary's "Pretty in Pink" media interview and mea-sorta-culpa where she wore the pink twin sweater set. Good one by the Cheney crowd for displaying this kind of subtle wit. A sartorial wink!

Chron.com WHITE HOUSE WATCH: Cheney's tie raises eyebrows

It was a moment made for anti-macho pink.

For his relatively emotional mea culpa on Fox News last week, Vice President Dick Cheney confounded fashion expectations and donned a soft-pink necktie.

That's right — Dick Cheney, often depicted by critics as the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.

Imagine Jane Austen's England under sharia law

By Aussiegirl

The author of this alarming article converted to Christianity from Islam--and mentions that in some Islamic countries apostasy is punishable by death. Given his backgound he's in a good position to make accurate observations about the current state of cultural health in England--and the prognosis is not good at all.

Telegraph | News | 'The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state'

For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.

"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.

[...] Dr Sookhdeo adds that he believes that "in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim sharia law.

"It is already starting to happen - and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue."

[...] Islamic clerics do not believe in a society in which Islam is one religion among others in a society ruled by basically non-religious laws. They believe it must be the dominant religion - and it is their aim to achieve this.

"That is why they do not believe in integration. In 1980, the Islamic Council of Europe laid out their strategy for the future - and the fundamental rule was never dilute your presence. That is to say, do not integrate

[...] "If the Government does not do all of those things then I fear for the future, because Islamic communities within Britain will form a state within a state. Religion will occupy an ever-larger place in our collective political life. And, speaking as a religious man myself, I fear that outcome."

Mark Steyn chews the Sunday fat

By Aussiegirl

Steyn focuses our attention on the fact that we have two widely and dangerously divergent outlooks on the world -- the realistic one that recognizes the terrible dangers that are gathering in the world, such as a nuclear Iran headed by a fanatic who believes in the coming apocolypse and the return of the Mahdi, the emergence of Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt as legitimately elected governments sworn to Israel's destruction, the increasing erosion of our values and freedoms such as we see with the Prophet cartoons, and on the other hand we have what appears to be either a completely duped and deluded establishment and media, or one that is secretly complicit and encouraging of the Islamist movement for some crazy reason probably having to do with their own leftist hatred for Western Civilization and for their own culture. We might as well be talking to blithering idiots or mad hatters for all the common ground we share with the likes of David Gregory and so many media and government types in the West. The tragic part is that we are slip-sliding towards Armageddon while the press idiots fume over the totally ridiculous.

Cheering tidbits lighten otherwise grim week

In an otherwise grim week -- at least on unimportant peripheral matters like Iranian nukes -- three things cheered me up. The first was the decision of Iran's bakers to rename Danish pastries "Roses of the Prophet Muhammed pastries.'' Has a ring to it, don't you think? If they're looking for a slogan, how about "Iranian pastry: There's nothing flakier. Except our president."

[...] It's easy to be tough about nothing. The press corps that noisily champions "the public's right to know" about a minor hunting accident simultaneously assures the public that they've no need to see these Danish cartoons that have caused riots, arson and death around the world. On CNN, out of "sensitivity" to Islam, they show the cartoons but with the Prophet's face pixilated so that he looks as if Cheney's ventilated him with birdshot and it turned puffy and gangrenous. C'mon, guys, these are interesting times. Anyone can unload the umpteenth round of blanks into the bulletproof Chimpy Hallibushitler, but why not take a shot at something that matters?

Or perhaps it would just be easier to change the term ''free press'' to the ''Roses of the Prophet Muhammed press.''

Victor Davis Hanson predicts the future--let's hope he's right

By Aussiegirl

He has some interesting predictions, which, if they all come true, will make the West a lot safer.

RealClearPolitics - Commentary - What Will Europe Really Do? by Victor Davis Hanson

Nothing is quite as surreal as the Islamic world’s fury at the liberal and innocuous Danes. How could anyone wish to burn their embassies and kill their citizens, when they have always offered all the politically correct, multicultural platitudes and welcomed in any and all from the Middle East?

Now the furor over the cartoons, coming on the heels of the bombings in Madrid and London, the French rioting, the murders in Holland, and the failed European negotiations with the Iranian theocracy have shaken Europe to its foundations.

[...] Don’t look, however, for any overt expression of alarm. It is too much to ask of the European Union for now to go on the record supporting the right of Danish free expression or to demand an embargo of Iran as it approaches nuclear autonomy. Instead, expect the European reaction to be far more subtle: the same old public utopian rhetoric, but in the shadows a newfound desire to galvanize against the threat of Islamic fascism.

[...] So now Europe is being thrust right into the middle of the so-called war against Islamic fascism. Once threatened, it will either react with a newly acquired Churchillian maturity to protect its civilization, or cave, in hopes that even more Chamberlain-type appeasement will satisfy the Islamists.

It should be a fascinating spring ahead.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Will there be a Jingjing and Chacha in our future?

By Aussiegirl

So far we don't have cute little policeman icons moving up and down our computer screens...yet. But there are probably any number of politicians and assorted others who wouldn't mind introducting them--and writing our own version of "Song of the People's Police". What a dreadful scenario! And what in the world are “feudal superstition” and the “honour of national institutions”?

FT.com / Asia-Pacific / China - China's virtual cops pinpoint web dissent

With their big blue blinking eyes and their quirky personal websites, there is no denying the cuteness of the cartoon cops at the front line of China’s battle for control of the internet.

But the role played by Jingjing and Chacha, the animated online icons recently introduced by police in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, is entirely serious.

The cartoon couple patrol the city’s news and discussion websites to scare off anyone who might be tempted to use online anonymity to break China’s laws, says Chen Minli, director of the Shenzhen City Public Security Bureau’s Internet Surveillance Centre.

“Now internet users know the police are watching them,” Ms Chen says in an interview at the Bureau’s gleaming new 28-storey building in central Shenzhen.

[...] In a demonstration at the Surveillance Centre, part of an internet division that has seen its staff more than double to 100 in less than a year, officer Xu Qian shows how the Jingjing icon keeps pace whenever a user of a local discussion website scrolls down a page.

“He is just like a policeman, interactively moving along with you. Wherever you go, he is watching you,” Mr Xu says.

By clicking on the icons, users can report crimes or learn about the rules on online conduct. Jingjing and Chacha also have their own websites with a selection of music including the “Song of the People’s Police”

[...] China’s internet laws do not stop at such crimes. Users are also barred from a range of offences including the posting or even consultation of content judged to challenge the political order, incite secession, promote “feudal superstition” or harm the “honour of national institutions”.

[...] In any case, she says, overseas critics should not judge China by their standards.

“In my family, if my child does not lay her chopsticks down properly, then I will smack her, but maybe in your family you are too relaxed about such things,” Ms Chen says. “Each family has its own rules and countries are the same.”

Friday, February 17, 2006

More reasons to be worried about the ports deal

By Aussiegirl

Debbie Schlussel, whose blog I visit regularly, has some new and alarming information on the background to the ports deal, and why we should be very worried. Be sure to read her whole piece.

Debbie Schlussel

While everyone is justifiably outraged by America's relinquishment of six major ports to a Dubaian company, Dubai Ports (also, called DP World), the real outrage should be this:

Where was the outrage in the last 4.5 years? Why has our country continued to maintain great relations with the governments of Dubai and its larger federation of emirates, the United Arab Emirates? Since we've never disciplined or even scolded either Dubai or the larger UAE, they have been free to operate as usual.

[...] And there's more on the larger UAE, which unfortunately has a good friend in a certain President's brother.

More alarming developments from the land of our forefathers

By Aussiegirl

Wesley Pruden, in today's Washington Times, looks at the alarming anti-free speech developments in Britain, where our own free speech guarantees were invented. What he finds is truly alarming. Especially frightening are his final paragraphs, which I quote below.

Free speech takes a British pounding-Nation/Politics-The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Our British cousins, who invented most of the guarantees of freedom we improved on and now take for granted, are learning what happens when you tinker with free speech.
Tony Blair provoked humiliating opposition in Parliament, trying to impose one law prohibiting disrespect of religious faith, another to prohibit "glorification" of terror, and still another to require his countrymen to carry national identification cards as if they were no better off than Frenchmen.
But the appetites of the nibblers are never sated. A watered-down but still lethal version of the so-called religious and racial hatred bill is on its way into the law books.

[...] Hundreds of Christian churches across Britain, including congregations of Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, submitted a letter warning the government that legislation criminalizing religious practices will worsen the tense relations between Christians and Muslims. "The mere quoting of texts from both the Koran and the Bible could be captured and criminalized by this law," the churchmen said. "Extremists have shown themselves willing to use malicious prosecution to further their purposes and this law would present such prosecution opportunities against all religious communities." Some moderate Muslims have joined the protest.
The Rev. Dan Naillah, an Australian Pentecostal pastor, told the House of Commons that he ran afoul of similar legislation in his country by merely quoting from the Koran at a seminar on Islam. An Islamic council filed a protest, saying that Mr. Naillah had not shown proper deference to Islam, and found a judge who agreed. Mr. Naillah and an associate were ordered to apologize and take out $30,000 worth of newspaper advertisements to explain the court's ruling. If they don't, they risk seven years in prison.

Oxford University once again takes the intellectual wimp-out

By Aussiegirl

Oxford University showed its true colors once again by hosting an anti-Israel "week". Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the hallowed halls of Oxford. I'm surprised that Hamas didn't send along any speakers to further inflame things.

Oxford holds 'Apartheid Israel' week

Oxford University is this week holding an "Israeli Apartheid week." Hosted by the Palestinian Society, and sanctioned by the university's student union, flyers state it is to commemorate the "30th anniversary of the international convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid."Fliers show a caricature of two Israeli soldiers beating a Palestinian man with maps of Israel, stated as Palestine, and South Africa. The conference's themes are apartheid and Zionism, divestment and resistance.
[...] Adrienne Rivlin, ex-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society and current Graduate Chair, said, "Given the current political climate, it's deeply concerning that the Palestinian Society should choose such an inflammatory title, designed to be provocative and reinforce preconceived prejudices, rather than trying to build bridges and foment dialogue. Israeli and Jewish students on campus unfortunately can only feel intimidated by their actions."

What follows is from an article I found published shortly after 9/11, with this title: Even Pacifists Must Support This War, Those who refuse are reminiscent of the Oxford Union in 1933.
When We Must Fight

In 1933 the Oxford Student Union conducted a famous debate over whether it was moral for Britons to fight for king and country. The exquisite intellects of that leading university reviewed the many ways in which British colonialism exploited and oppressed the world. They cited the ways in which vengeful demands made of Germany in the wake of World War I had helped to kindle nationalism and fascism. They saw no moral difference between Western colonialism and world fascism. The Oxford Union ended that debate with this famous proclamation: "Resolved, that we will in no circumstances fight for king and country."

Von Ribbentrop sent back the good news to Germany's new chancellor, Hitler: The West will not fight for its own survival. Its finest minds will justify a silent surrender.

In short, the best-educated young people of their time could not tell the difference between the deficiencies of their own nation, in which liberty and democracy were cornerstones, and a dictatorship founded on racism, tyranny and fear.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Refrains of Dissent

By Aussiegirl

In Soviet times there was the famous Samizdat, which in Russian means self-published, but there was also a lesser known phenomenon called Magnitizdat, or self-publication of reel-to-reel protest songs. Read about the brave artists who risked everything to express their deepest beliefs and feelings. A testament to the indominatibility of the human spirit. Hat tip to Pawlina at Nash Holos.

American RadioWorks - Unmasking Stalin: A Speech That Changed the World

"They called it magnitizdat, or self-publication on reel-to-reel tape recorder, and it was a brand new medium for Soviet dissidents. Vladimir Kovner was there at its birth.
'In 1961 was the first major recording of Okudzhava,' Kovner recalls. 'It was in a communal apartment in front of 20 people, all friends. We had a couple of tape recorders on a small table, with some vodka of course, and that was it.'

Pre-1972 Soviet-era photo of Bulat Okudzhava

The performer that evening was Bulat Okudzhava, a poet and former soldier whose father was executed during Stalin's Great Terror. In the late 1950s, Okudzhava began setting his poems to a spare guitar accompaniment and performed them at small gatherings of friends. Unofficial recordings of those performances, such as the one Kovner taped in 1961, began to circulate. Those recordings created a movement.
'At the time there were only songs approved by the Union of Song Writers, and all of them glorified Soviet power,' Kovner explains. 'Okudzhava glorified women, love, mothers. When he sang about war, his songs were sad. He never glorified war. That point of view was incredible. And those songs accompanied by just a guitar were very attractive to us.'
Listen to Clouds, a magnitizdat song by Alexander Galich.
By Aussiegirl

A fascinating look into the indomitability of the human spirit and the need to express one's soul honestly and openly even in the face of oppression and persecution.

Soon, other guitar-poets began disseminating recordings. Copies of their performances spread quickly and beyond the reach of the Kremlin's control.
'We would just give a copy to our friends and acquaintances,' recalls Vladimir Frumkin, an early disseminator of magnitizdat. 'And they would make copies and give it to their friends. It was a geometrical progression because in the end, millions of copies were circling around.' "