Media's Complicity

I have nothing in particular against Al Jazeera any more than any other media organization that seeks to present falsehood and their own political agenda. But this bit of news is interesting in unmasking the complicity of the reporters in terrorism.
The Spanish court also found al Jazeera television reporter Taysir Alony guilty of collaboration with al Qaeda and sentenced him to seven years in jail. Alony was not charged in connection with 9/11.

Yarkas, Alony and the 22 other defendants were expressionless Monday as the verdicts were read out in Spain's National Court at the conclusion of Europe's biggest trial of al Qaeda suspects.

The Syrian-born Alony, 50, was probably the best known of the defendants due to his interview with Osama bin Laden shortly after 9/11.

Prosecutors said Alony carried funds for al Qaeda. Alony professed his innocence in court.

Meanwhile in the US, Reports of anarchy at Superdome overstated:
NEW ORLEANS — After five days managing near riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.

The real total?

Six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.

State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been murdered inside the stadium.

At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies have been recovered, despite reports of heaps of dead piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been murdered, said health and law-enforcement officials.

That the nation's frontline emergency-management officials believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the news media and even some of the city's top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent.

The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

More at Michelle Malkin and Powerline.


Media War

A nice description of the media's role in the international war against terrorism. (HT Crossroad Arabia
I felt compelled to respond to news, published on our front page, that a teenager was forced against his will to bomb a Shi'a mosque in Iraq. The attack failed as the young man fled the scene; he later admitted to being forced to carry out this mission after being kidnapped, badly beaten and drugged by terrorists. A US military report confirmed his version of events.

He was not the only one; all terrorists are heavily sedated. They are drugged by a media, which gives credence to false stories, written according to its author’s mood, added to fabricate pictures and selected from an angle that serve the interest of terrorist groups, be it former Baath party members or Islamic extremists.

Another example of the MSM contribution to the war is here at Belmont Club.

Once upon a time we would confront such collaborators and enablers of our enemies. Now we protect their freedom to destroy us. Thank God their power and influence has waned, and waned much more than they realize. Reminds me of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.



Rita is expected to be a category five hurricane when it hits Texas. FEMA has not had sufficient time to be reformed but it does have new leadership. Texas will rely on its current disaster response system as well. This will serve as a test to see how the State of Texas will respond, as well as how the same FEMA with a different head. In essence, it is a test of the current system. I am still uneasy about greater role of the federal government in regional crisis.


Waging War

Since Vietnam, insurgencies and terrorists have learned a valuable lesson. They know they cannot compete directly with national powers, not just the major power like the US but also mid powers like Europe and Israel. The tactical battle they wage on the ground is not their true front line. For example, lets look at Iraq. (HT Wretchard)
Q How is the state of the insurgency different today than when you arrived to start your mission?

COL. BROWN: There's a significant difference from when we got here last October. Last October, we faced a foreign fighter that was very well-trained. I remember watching attacks out -- we had an attack that involved about 60 foreign fighters in a pretty complex ambush. By complex I mean three or four forms of engagement. They'll hit you with an IED, small arms, mortars -- a very complex attack. We saw that regularly in November and December. We also defeated -- in one of those fights, we killed 40 terrorists, and we did not lose anybody, and we defeated them every time they tried to do that against us. We really worked hard and aggressively at getting out. I mean, we conducted some 2,100 cordon and searches, and thousands of aggressive offensive operations -- 18 attacks a day against the insurgents back in that time period. I remember watching an attack and seeing the insurgents move against us, and I had to look and say, gee, are those our guys or their guys because they're moving very well around buildings. Now, that was November and December. What we saw is that that's faded away very quickly, as we captured and killed. And we killed some 550 enemy and captured over 3,000.

And as we got to February and March, we saw a completely different foreign fighter. We've captured Libyans. We've captured Saudi, Yemenis, Algerians. And many of these -- one Libyan that we captured about a month and a half ago -- he was clearly brainwashed. And he was told that, you know, what was going on here and brainwashed to come and be a -- what he thought was -- he was going to be a foreign fighter against this crusade against the Muslim religion. He got here. He saw that was not correct. They told he was going to be a suicide martyr. He said he didn't want to do that. When we happened to capture him, several other foreign fighters and the cell leader that was orchestrating them, he was very happy to talk to us about what he had seen and what they had done.

And very interesting that younger foreign fighter that we're seeing now -- very poorly trained. We would call them more like RPGs for hire. And we believe it's the -- we know that the leadership is severely disrupted. Again, from -- about 25 percent of the attacks were very complex prior to elections, as I described. Now we're down to five percent are complex. And we're at the lowest number of attacks by far over the last three months. And that is -- clearly the foreign network is disrupted. The leadership is severely disrupted. We captured Abu Talha, the number-two al Qaeda leader in the north of Iraq. And right after that we got Abu Bara, Madhi Musa (sp), Abu Zab (sp), the next six leaders that would step up and take over. Nobody's taken over now. It's not a very popular position because if they step up, they get captured or killed. And so they're really disrupted, totally different.

The other thing -- the other huge change is the population. And in a counterinsurgency, of course, the terrorists don't have to -- the people don't have to love them; they just have to remain neutral and not turn them in. And when we got here, the people were intimidated, and they were neutral. Now they are turning them in. We'd like to call it, you know, the terrorists swim in a sea of anonymity, and that sea has been taken away from them.

And for example, when we got here, they could fire mortars, and they did that. Three hundred mortar attacks a month was the average for the six months prior to us getting here. As we got the population more and more on the side of their government and their security forces, as they saw how the terrorists offered no hope for the future and their government did, they started turning these guys in. And in the beginning, a guy would fire a mortar; in a city of 2 million, it's pretty hard to track him down. Well, we've captured over 142 mortar systems, and now the average is six attacks a month in the entire province, from 300 to six.

And just a couple of weeks ago, when they did fire a mortar, the people told what they looked like, what their license plate was. In one case, they knew one of the individuals. The Iraqi army went out, tracked them right down, arrested them, and there you have it -- much different from that prior to elections, when, you know, they wouldn't say anything. It was -- we didn't see anything, and it was very hard to stop this.

So it just shows -- and again, I talked about the number of call- ins, the number of tips on the street, the cooperation of the people. The people have -- are fed up with the terrorist acts. I mean, I -- you know, I was -- witnessed one suicide VBIED that killed innocent women and children, and I've never seen evil like that. And the people -- Iraqi people saw that, and they know -- it's very clear to them that their government wants a brighter future for them, the Iraqi security forces want a brighter future, and the terrorists offer nothing but fear and intimidation and a very poor future.

The war as waged in Iraq, what we take to be the frontline, is being won. But this is not where our enemy wages their war to win. The true frontline is right in front of us whenever we turn on the TV to watch the news, or open our newspaper to read it. The enemy has relied on reports of their continued activities as sign of their power, regardless of whether they are being defeated on the field. They rely on the absence of good news reporting. And when necessary, they will fabricate the news and present it to us. Behold the rise of Pallywood as reported by Solomonia:
Last Thursday evening I attended a presentation given by Boston University Professor Richard Landes. The subject concerned the ways in which the Palestinian Arabs manipulate the foreign media - often with the foreign media's cooperation. The focus of the presentation was, of course, on the Muhammed al Durra hoax, and included large quantities of the unedited video from that day.

I saw Professor Landes give this presentation once before, and reported on it at length last September here: Truth is Essential - "The Mideast Conflict Through the Eyes of the Media" Report. Since that time, the al Durra hoax has begun to become accepted as such in an increasing number of places, and France 2 - the French media outlet primarily responsible for the slander - is very much on the defensive. Landes now has a much-improved and far more professional DVD set-up of his video, and the event was taped for use by CAMERA. I won't bother going into detail here again, you can read my previous piece, as well as CAMERA's extensive al Durra (or al Dura) backgrounder here for a timeline and explanation of the scandal. All the same issues of mainstream media refusing to be critical of Arab claims, holding Israel to a different standard and not being particularly interested in objective truth remain the same.

Due to the instability of an insurgent penetrated area, it is deem unsafe for the MSM to send in their reporters independently, or at all. The solution adopted appears to be either contract with the insurgents (whether the MSM realize this or not) for escort duty, or as subcontractor as translators and camera men, or even as independent contractors for the whole footage. This arrangement makes it possible for whole fabrication of the news as the insurgents would like to protray. And Belmont's Club analysis:
Some may argue that 'the Israelis and the US military are also cooking up stories', but that is beside the point: because the point is that nothing on packaged television can be inherently trusted, and Pallywood demonstrates that. If the 60 Minutes host can dish out fantasy -- as he unambiguously does in this case -- then who else can you trust? The answer in my view, is no one. An earlier post noted the existence of enemy "combined media-arms" teams. Col HR McMaster described their role in the enemy order of battle at Tal-afar in this way: "In each of their cells that they have within the city has a direct action cell of about 100 or so fighters. They have a kidnapping and murder cell; they have a propaganda cell, a mortar cell, a sniper cell -- a very high degree of organization here." Pallywood shows one of those "propaganda cells" at work in front of an Israeli checkpoint, and their product on 60 Minutes. How many products of propaganda cells may you have viewed lately?

Do not trust the mainstream media. But then what to believe? I suggest we all return to the analysis of intent and motives of the parties involved. Then make a preliminary judgment based on principles of ethics and history. Then consider whether what is being reported is consistent with this backdrop. Certainly there will be lapses of reason and straying from the desired path, all sides are human and all sides will err. But history is not built on news cycle.


United Nation Security Council Reform

Four nations are seeking permanent seats on the UN Security Council. I do not believe these will come with veto power currently held by the US, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom. The four aspirants are Japan, India, Brazil, and Germany.
US unveils criteria for aspiring UNSC members
The state department came out with its vision of UNSC reforms yesterday, saying "potential members must be supremely well qualified, based on factors such as commitment to democracy and human rights, economic size, population, military capacity, financial contributions to the UN, and record on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation".

The four are forming a coalition to obtain this change as a block. I believe this is a mistake as the group of four is less likely to garner support as a group rather than as a loose coalition or as individuals. From the Daily Yomiuri:
a proposal submitted by the so-called Group of Four countries--Japan, Brazil, Germany and India--to increase both the number of permanent and nonpermanent council members was scrapped without being put to a vote.

The group failed to secure support from African nations, which represent a large voting bloc, while permanent council members China and the United States attempted to kill the G-4 plan by any means.

I do not see the US wanting either Germany or Brazil as permanent members. The US will likely support Japan and India's aspiration, Japan more so than India.
‘‘Expansion of the (Security) Council will make it more effective, better than less effective,’’ US Assistant Secretary of State Kristen Silverberg told reporters.

She said for the eligibility of any country, the US considered its commitment to the organization, reflected by financial contributions and contribution to peacekeeping operations.

‘‘We also look at factors like regional diversity, size of the country’s population and size of economy,’’ Silverberg said.

‘‘Japan clearly meets those criteria,’’ she said.

Silverberg, however, said there may be ‘‘other countries’’ meeting the criteria and the US would be ‘‘interested’’ in working with other member countries in this regard.

On Monday, Indian hopes of support for its Security Council bid had risen with the US State Department unveiling its vision of UNSC reforms saying, “factors such as commitment to democracy and human rights, economic size, population, military capacity, financial contributions to the UN and record on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation” would count as qualifications.

China will likely oppose Japan's ascent, and will be tepid to India. It is unclear at this time where the rest of the veto-empowered members lean.

Politics aside, it seems clear that Japan should be a member as the number two economy in the world. Japan's lack of global force presence is by choice, not by lack of ability. This too is being reviewed. Japan would balance that of China in East Asia. India still has a way to go, but India is ascendant. Germany once could have made a claim, but its economic clout has descended to near zero growth. And there are enough Europeans on the council already (France, UK, Russia).

Brazil does not belong; Brazil is stuck in time. Geography and population count are not enough for Brazil. If so, we might as well include Indonesia. At least Indonesia would add Muslim to the mix. Interesting that there are no Middle Eastern power anywhere near any global threshold for consideration.

My thoughts. Japan should be included as a veto capable member of the UNSC.
India should have permanent seat in an expanded UNSC but without veto power.
Germany should not. Brazil should get one when Indonesia, Nigeria, or South Africa get one.

Update: Germany's weekend election will likely result in continued political and economic quagmire.


the Gulf

The Gulf coast spans from Texas to Florida, with Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama tucked between. One would think that New Orleans, being smack in the middle of this arc, as well as at the mouth of the Mississippi delta would be the reigning jewel. But it is not is it?
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville defined a long set of traits that made Americans "different," and that remain today just as valid: Americans are restless, inventive, pragmatic, entrepreneurial, socially mobile, and so future-oriented they are ready and eager sometimes to let go of the past. None of these things defined what once was New Orleans; in fact, that poor destroyed city played them in reverse: It was socially static, fairly caste-ridden, non-entrepreneurial (read hostile to business), and wholly immersed in its past, to the point where its main industry is marketing ambience and nostalgia. "New Orleans's dominant industry lies not in creating its future but selling its past," wrote Joel Kotkin in the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com. "Tourism defines contemporary New Orleans's economy more than its still-large port, or its remaining industry, or its energy production. Although there is nothing wrong, per se, in being a tourist town, it is not an industry that attracts high-wage jobs; and tends to create a highly bifurcated social structure. This can be seen in New Orleans's perennially high rates of underemployment, crime and poverty." New Orleans, in short, was the place you went to take a vacation, not to prosper in life and start a family, much less start a business. This lack of opportunity, or the upward ladder of social mobility, is perhaps one reason so many evacuees felt they were breathing fresh air when they landed in Houston, and are deciding to make it their home.

Let us look now at Houston, for it is the second city in this cosmic drama, and one in which Tocqueville would feel right at home. Like so many cities in the Sunbelt, it is expanding, entrepreneurial, based on the future, and the place where the "much celebrated American can-do machine that promises to bring freedom and prosperity to less fortunate people" comes roaring to life. "In l920, New Orleans's population was nearly three times that of Houston," says Kotkin. "During the '90s, the Miami and Houston areas grew almost six times as fast as greater New Orleans, and flourished as major destinations for immigrants . . . These newcomers have helped transform Miami and Houston into primary centers for trade, investment and services, from finance and accounting to medical care for the entire Caribbean basin. They have started businesses, staffed factories, and become players in civic life."

It is now no surprise that Houston is the place where in days they built a new city in and around the Astrodome, that has taken in 25,000 refugees from New Orleans, and is planning to feed, house, employ, and relocate most of them. Houston is the place where the heads of all the religious groups in the city--Baptists and Catholics, Muslims and Jews--came together to raise $4.4 million to feed the evacuees for 30 days, and to supply 720 volunteers a day to prepare and serve meals. If New Orleans was where the Third World broke through, Houston was where the First World began beating it back, and asserting its primacy. Are we surprised that the star of this show has been Texas, home of Karl Rove and both Bushes, widely despised by the glitterati as sub-literate, biased, oppressive, and retrograde?

There is much to be said for political policies and corruption influencing, or rather limiting, economic growth. And by economic growth I also mean wealth for the people.
Also interesting are the political leadership of Florida and Texas in the 90s. Care to name names?


Rebuilding the 3rd Coast

Just listened to President's W Bush speech on Katrina. I have a few thoughts.
1. The economic redevelopment plan for Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi could transform and propel three of the nation's poorest states into mainstream standings. I don't think anyone who has not lived in any of these three states can appreciate the significance of this second "reconstruction."
2. Looks like the federal government will assume a greater planning and interventional role for all national disasters. I have mixed feelings about this. I suppose the federal government could require a mandatory emergency plan for all major cities, one that meets a minimum standard in accordance with federal requirements. Once approved and a copy stored centrally, then the local and state governments can take the lead role in determining when the feds are called.
3. A very ambitious speech overall, I think it will be well received by Americans. And as reported by ABC News.


America's Allies

In addition:
Do you feel that ______ is a close ally of the U.S., is friendly but not a close ally, is not friendly but not an enemy, or is unfriendly and is an enemy of the U.S.?"
Rank Close Ally/Friendly---Rank in: 2003/Rank in: 2004
1 Great Britain 74%/18%---1/1
2 Canada 48/37---2/2
3 Australia 44/36---3/3
4 Israel 41/31---4/4
5 Japan 30/37---6/5
6 Mexico 27/47---5/6
7 Italy 26/43---6/7
8 South Korea 25/31---9/8
9 Germany 24/46---14/10
10 Sweden 23/44---12/12
Others of note
11 Spain 22/43---8/9
+12 Netherlands 21/41---10/10
+12 Taiwan 21/38---12/12
14 India 20/42---21/17
15 Norway 18/41---11/14
16 France 17/38---18/17
17 Greece 16/44---16/15
18 Brazil 14/38---14/17
+19 Russia 11/45---18/20
+19 South Africa 11/42---18/15
+19 Chile 11/35---22/22
+22 Colombia 10/33---22/24
+22 Argentina 10/38---17/20
24 Pakistan 9/24---22/22
25 China 5/36---25/25

Personal notes:
1. France was never that high
2. India has risen fairly fast
3. Where is Poland?


Looting and Liberty

Sure I have known about looting, but I never really gave it much thought. When Baghdad was liberated, it entered my mind and was assigned a seat in the waiting room. When I came to re-evaluate it, it was in the context of whether Iraqis are ready and capable of democracy. After all, at the first opportunity for free actions, they chose looting as self-expression of liberty. I know that the looting was over played in the media, but that it did occur was clearly demonstrable.
Now looting has re-entered my waiting room due to Katrina. At first I did not recognize it, for we were in a different country with a different people. And without a doubt it needed to be stopped. Even here civilization is a thin veneer. Which then made me realize that if we live that close to chaos here in the States, yet still are able to function as a democratic society, then certainly the Iraqi can as well. Funny enough, this made me feel a bit more certain that democratization of the Middle East can be successful.

As an aside, when the Kobe earthquake left many people homeless, order and respect appear natural to the Japanese. No looting was reported.
Speaking of Japan, congratulations to Koizumi and his reform platform electoral endorsement!


Katrina: State and the Feds

As witness by the response to Katrina, there needs to be a review not of blame but how things can be done better the next time. The state alone cannot be expected to handle such crisis and there is where the federal government should enter the picture. The question is how the feds enter the equation, at the call of the local/state government who best know the terrain devastated, or should the feds intervene as it sees fit. This last option seems rather presumptuous (having the available resources does not mean having the knowledge necessary to act) and smacks of big government and big brother.

A nice companion piece of the capability of the feds by Daniel Hanninger:
The popular impression left the past week-- that the government was wholly unprepared for Katrina--is not true. Significant U.S. military assistance was on alert throughout the week prior to Katrina's landfall. Why those highly trained and drilled assets did not move into New Orleans sooner is a question that should now sit at the center of a debate over who should have the authority--the states or the federal government--to be the "first mover."

According to accounts provided by several sources involved with preparations for Katrina, the Pentagon began tracking the storm when it was still just a number in the ocean on Aug. 23, some five days before landfall in Buras, La. As the storm approached, senior Pentagon officials told staff to conduct an inventory of resources available should it grow into a severe hurricane. Their template for these plans was the assistance DoD provided Florida last year for its four hurricanes.

And a week earlier than this, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued an executive order delegating hurricane decision authority to the head of the Northern Command, Adm. Timothy J. Keating. Four days later, as the tropical storm soon to be named Katrina gathered force, Adm. Keating acted on that order.

Before the hurricane arrived in New Orleans, Adm. Keating approved the use of the bases in Meridien, Miss., and Barksdale, La., to position emergency meals and some medical equipment; eventually the number of emergency-use bases grew to six. And before landfall, Adm. Keating sent military officers to Mississippi and Louisiana to set up traditional coordination with their counterparts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As well, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England ordered the movement of ships into the Gulf.

By the Pentagon's account, it carried out these preparations without any formal Katrina-related request from FEMA or other authorities. The personnel behind the massive military effort now on display in Louisiana--airlift evacuation, medical, supply, and the National Guard--was on alert a week before the hurricane. According to Assistant Secretary McHale, "The U.S. military has never deployed a larger, better-resourced civil support capability so rapidly in the history of our country."

So where were they on the two days of globally televised horror? Why, for instance, didn't DoD fly all this help close to New Orleans as soon as it saw Katrina coming? The answer, in military argot, is that you don't deploy troops beneath a bombing run; Katrina predictably would have wiped out any help put in her uncertain path, just as she rolled over the Big Easy's wholly unprotected "first responders."

Then there's American history, tradition and law. Once disaster arrives, several federal laws designed to protect state sovereignty from being swept aside by a Latin-American-style national police force dictate that a state's officials, specifically the governor, is supposed to phone the federal government and describe what they need. If asked by Homeland Security, DoD will send in the cavalry. But this is one audible at the line even Don Rumsfeld doesn't get to call.

And the limitation of the local/state government by Adrienne McPhail:
Once home to 500,000 people, with more than one-fourth living in poverty, New Orleans the city and Louisiana the state, failed their people long before the rains and winds of Hurricane Katrina tore through their state.

The murder rate in New Orleans is 10 times the national average. To test the response of the poor living in their numerous projects, last year researchers had police fire 700 blank rounds in a city neighborhood one afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire.

The city’s school system went broke this past year, as they were unable to pay their teachers. Meanwhile, dozens of school employees are under indictment for corruption.

Fifty-five of the state’s 78worst schools are in New Orleans. Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin was once the general manager for Cox Communications in southeast Louisiana. Prior to holding this position he had no experience in public office.

While there will be plenty of blame to go around in this tragedy, there can be no denying that the first line of defense in such disasters is the mayor, then the governor, then the federal agencies. The US Army Corps of Engineers have been building levees along the Mississippi River since the late 1800s and it was no secret in New Orleans that they were not built to withstand anything stronger than a Category 3 storm.


Battle for the Border

There is currently a combined US and Iraqi military offensive to clear the border of western Iraq with Syria. Not surprisingly there is little to no mention of it in the mainstream media. I guess in order to maintain the illusion that Iraq is Vietnam, the US military cannot be portrayed as taking any initiative for offense. Better maintain the charade that US soldiers are just hapless victims. But you can say no thanks to the MSM and reading the Fourth Rail.



A week has passed since Katrina hit the gulf coast. Plenty has already been written on it. Some are simply ridiculous in assigning blame to W Bush and or global warming. These are pathetic and their refutations are readily available elsewhere. In addition, the contest for political control of rescue effort between local/state politicians and the federal government in Louisiana is also pathetic. Take this story about medical relief. This situation must be resolved as a similar crisis can be a result not of a natural disaster but from possible terrorism attack. Finally, with all the attention going toward human rescue, lets also remember others needs rescue as well.
General contacts can be found here including for Lousianna SPCA.
Best wishes for the victims all.