November 30, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 11/30/2007

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Iraqis' Quality of Life Marked By Slow Gains, Many Setbacks - BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 -- This war-battered city, according to U.S. statistics, now receives an average of 11.9 hours of electricity a day, far more than earlier this year. But don't tell that to Ghaida al-Banna. (READ MORE)

FBI's Gun Ban Listing Swells - Since the Virginia Tech shootings last spring, the FBI has more than doubled the number of people nationwide who are prohibited from buying guns because of mental health problems, the Justice Department said yesterday. (READ MORE)

Processing of Iraqi Refugees Improves, Officials Say - Bush administration officials said yesterday that they are stepping up the processing of Iraqis who wish to come to the United States, but officials cautioned that the complexities of the two immigration programs involved will limit the number of entrants in the next few months. (READ MORE)

Globally, Deaths From Measles Drop Sharply - Worldwide deaths from measles have fallen by two-thirds since 2000, the result of stepped-up immunization efforts and the distribution of vitamin A capsules in developing countries, a partnership of five health organizations said yesterday. (READ MORE)

The Trial Bar on Trial - The barons of the tort bar must have thought 2007 would be a very good year: Some of their biggest cases (Katrina, Enron) were set to pay out, and a Democratic Congress meant no more worries about legal reform. Talk about reversal of fortune: As the year ends, we are witnessing nothing short of the dismantling of what are alleged to be major tort criminal enterprises. (READ MORE)

CNN Hit for Planted Questions - CNN intended for political sparks to fly during Wednesday"s Republican presidential debate, but outrage and accusations of partisanship were directed at the network instead. (READ MORE)

Intelligence report hits China deal - U.S. intelligence agencies informed a Treasury Department-led review committee recently that a merger between 3Com and a Chinese company would threaten U.S. national security, The Washington Times has learned. (READ MORE)

Immigration group: Huckabee a 'disaster'- Groups that support a crackdown on illegal aliens haven't settled on their champion in the race for the White House, but there's little doubt which Republican scares them most — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. (READ MORE)

Sudanese call for teacher's death - Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied today in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad." (READ MORE)

From the Front:
From an Anthropological Perspective: Persecution of a Family - During the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, many families were persecuted. One such family, the Aswads, lost their father and five of eight sons on allegations of being members of the Al Daawa Party (the political party of current Prime Minister Al Maliki). The Association of Free Prisoners kept files on this and other families to track such persecution given is pervasive nature. Saddam made membership in Al Daawa illegal and punishable by death. In some ways, allegations Saddam made membership in Al Daawa illegal and punishable by death. In some ways, allegations and resulting executions resemble the witch hunts that marked colonial American history. A jealous neighbor, business partner, co-worker, or relative could wreak havoc on a family or individual by informing intelligence agents in the Baath Party that their enemy was in Al Daawa. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Still Unsure About the Surge Strategy - While politicians such as Joe Biden and John Murtha struggle to figure out whether the surge strategy is working, life goes on in Iraq. Biden just called the surge "a fantasy," and Murtha just admitted that it's working. So now we are faced with a situation. What's the next step? Report news? Of course not! It is time to say improvements are too slow, and they exploit the Iraqi people. WaPo reporters know what to do: "As violence continues to dip across Iraq, U.S. officials say they will increasingly shift their barometers of success from security to basic services -- electricity, gasoline, water and sanitation -- that reflect whether life for Iraqis is returning to normal." (READ MORE)

Northern Disclosure: Somedays I should Pay the Army for what they do for me! - One thing that my Father has always impressed upon me was the value of an honest days pay for an honest days work. When I was younger I didn't receive an allowance I recieved a wage for the work or chores I did around the house. This was based of a basic contract outlining the daily task and its value. I did, even as a young boy try to bid higher and fight for better wages but my Father was firm he didn't run a Unionized shop. As many can relate being in the military or striking out from home one is faced with a bounty of friends and places that he/she would love to visit and return too. This however takes available time and more importantly the funding to make it all possible. Since being in the Army I have worked with the highest caliber of men and women in exotic to not so nice places. (READ MORE)

This War and Me: Dont Come Home Soon: Explained - I feel I need to explain my frustrations I expressed in my previous entry. I mentioned many months ago that the emotions I go through here are from one extreme to the other. There are times when I am very proud and excited to be here and other times where I am deeply depressed. I don't use the word 'depressed' lightly. I don't mean I get sad or feel down. I mean I reach a point where I sometimes pray that a rocket or gunman's aim will not stray. I don't want to hurt myself, but at times, I would feel relieved to 'come home soon'. There are times when I need to feel that every day is just one more day of being closer to going home and being with my family. There are times when I don't care what 'significant day' it is back home. Sometimes I don't care it is my birthday, anniversary, Valentine's, St. Patties Day or even Christmas. (READ MORE)

Sgt Hook: TIME - Time flys. Marking time. Time out. So little time. Time to go. Where has the time gone? Time’s up. Miller time. We focus a lot on time. We spend our days looking at our watches, checking calendars, marking the passage of time. Some count down a 15-month deployment to Iraq, others time how long it takes to run 2-miles. We track the amount of time it takes for a letter to make it from Afghanistan to Idaho or how much time is spent in a hot landing zone picking up wounded warriors. Some of those same wounded warriors will spend a lot of time getting fixed up by the amazing docs and medical staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Some wounds take a long time to heal. Many will live at WRAMC for a longer period of time than they had deployed. All will mark the time until they can go home or rejoin their brothers and sisters in arms. Imagine if someone would give each of our wounded warriors a very special calendar with which to mark that time. Imagine no more… (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: A modesty proposal - Afghan girls can be hard to photograph. I caught her as she uncovered her face.Whether they are shy or the culture encourages them to hide from men, once my camera points to most of these girls, they hide their faces or run away. While such modesty is frustrating as a photographer, as the father of two girls I sort of like it. I was recently around a group of children in downtown Ghazni, handing out some candy and asking them their names. As is usually the case, girls giggled among themselves and looked at me, but when I turned to look at them or pulled out my camera for a photo, they turned their heads away or covered their faces. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Kimberly A. Strassel: Fred's Folly - On Fox News this Sunday, Fred Thompson laid out the most creative tax proposal yet in the race for president. It should have been an important moment, the point at which GOP aspirants finally dug into a core issue and went a few rounds over marginal rates and corporate levies. Instead, nothing. The Thompson plan inspired little fanfare, less press and didn't even merit time during this week's GOP debate. The black hole says everything about the mess that is the Thompson campaign, and just as much about today's intellectually bereft Republican primary campaign. (READ MORE)

Peggy Noonan: Death, Taxes and Mrs. Clinton - I will never forget that breathtaking moment when, in the CNN/YouTube debate earlier this fall, the woman from Ohio held up a picture and said, "Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards, this is a human fetus. Given a few more months, it will be a baby you could hold in your arms. You all say you're 'for the children.' I would ask you to look America in the eye and tell us how you can support laws to end this life. Thank you." They were momentarily nonplussed, then awkwardly struggled to answer, to regain lost high ground. One of them, John Edwards I think, finally criticizing the woman for being "manipulative," using "hot images" and indulging in "the politics of personal destruction." (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: Rudy Giuliani Would Be Our Bill Clinton - Perhaps the biggest oddity of the Republican primary season so far has been that GOP voters keep saying that they want another Reagan, the candidates keep comparing themselves to Reagan at every opportunity, and yet the man who is leading in the national polls, Rudy Giuliani, is about as far apart from Reagan as it's possible to get ideologically while still remaining in the Republican Party. Rudy Giuliani is no Reagan. What he is, and what he would be if he gets the nomination, is our Bill Clinton. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: Whose Right to Bear Arms? - There long has been a legal, almost philosophical, question hanging over the Second Amendment. While it protects the right to keep and bear arms, is that an individual right or may it be exercised only in connection with the state's need to maintain a militia? The exact wording of this much-disputed amendment has been the subject of many an historical and even grammatical debate. To quote the sacred text itself: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (READ MORE)

Lorie Byrd: Denying Progress in Iraq in 2008 - If you thought Bill Clinton’s recent convoluted claim that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning was hard to swallow, just imagine some of the verbal gymnastics we are likely to witness over the next year if progress continues in Iraq. The Democrats running for President are now trying to appeal to their anti-war left base primary voters, and most congressional Democrats are still using the same old “Iraq is a hopeless failure” lines, but if the mission in Iraq is seen as anything close to a success next year the time between the primary and the general election will be spent by many Democrat candidates trying to find a way to get on the right side of the issue. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Kent State Fires Chair and Terrorist Sympathizer - My old buddy John Jameson just got fired from his job as Chair of the History Department at Kent State University. This action was a result of his decision to grant – without proper authority - a paid leave to terrorist supporting professor Julio Pino. Generally, it isn’t a good idea to let Muslim professors who advocate the mass killing of Jews and American troops go to the United Arab Emirates on paid leave. This is especially true when you don’t seek required approval from the higher administration. (READ MORE)

Paul Weyrich: The Need To Control Air Passengers Who Are Threatening To Other - Perhaps you have heard of the "Flying Imams" lawsuit, brought on by an incident on U.S. Airways in November 2006. The lawsuit against U.S. Airways and the United States Government was filed by six Muslim clerics who claim discrimination because they were removed from their flight before take-off on account of "suspicious behavior" noted by both the flight crew and fellow passengers. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in a separate trial recently brought by the United States Attorney General against terror front organizations, announced the imams' lawsuit earlier this year. The lawsuit originally included fellow passengers as defendants as well as U.S. Airways and the U.S. Government, although these passengers were removed after a public outcry. (READ MORE)

Oliver North: Peace Process? - As my FOX News team left the United States for our ninth embedment with U.S. combat troops in Iraq, the headlines were all about the resurrected "Mideast peace process." European papers touted the conference in Annapolis, Md., as a "long overdue breakthrough" because Syria attended. Buried deep in all these stories is the observation that Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas all have condemned the conference and its goals. It's doubtful that radical Islamists such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Hezbollah's Sheik Hassan Nasrallah or Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh ever will accept Israel's existence or Western-style secular, consensual government in the Middle East. (READ MORE)

Jonah Goldberg: Cell Mates are in Full Backpedal - By now you've probably heard that scientists have discovered an elegant way to create the equivalent of embryonic stem cells (ECS) without having to create - and destroy - embryos. They just reprogram some skin cells and, voila, bypass all the controversial stuff. The long-promised miracle cures are still a long way off, if they're coming at all, and ECS research still has its boosters, but it seems pretty clear that stem cells have been decoupled from the abortion wars. Still, there has been one amazing breakthrough. Thanks to stem cells, journalists are finally growing backbones. (READ MORE)

Richard H. Collins: Hillary’s Albatross - Hillary Clinton owes a great deal of her popularity – her shrinking standing in recent polls notwithstanding – to an odd sort of nostalgia surrounding her husband. Rank and file Democrats generally hold him in high esteem and friends and critics alike admire his formidable political skills. Her eight years in the White House give her an aura of, if not actual, experience. But his recent statement that he was against the war in Iraq “from the beginning” points to the risks involved. Thanks to these almost offhand remarks, Bill once again made the news cycle about him and the potential negative impact on his wife. He also raised the difficult and unhelpful issue of the slippery nature of both Clinton’s positions on the war in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Rich Tucker: Bridge to Nowhere - When she won an Oscar a few years back, actress Sally Field memorably blurted, “You like me!” to her fellow Hollywood stars. It’s become commonplace for Americans traveling abroad to assume the opposite. As we skittishly pull out our passport, we nervously assume the natives won’t like us. But why not? In the Nov. 25 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, columnist David Rossie explains that “the United States, thanks to the Cheney/Bush administration, is about as popular world-wide as the Ebola virus.” He goes on to detail the “draconian penalties” handed down to some American bridge players (that’s the card game, not the congressional earmark game in which representatives attempt to direct billions of dollars to unnecessary hometown projects) who held up a sign reading “We Did Not Vote For Bush” after they won at an international competition. (READ MORE)

John McCaslin: Tribal Warfare - Terry McAuliffe left Washington yesterday, bound for Iowa — again. "I'm always in Iowa, I'm living in Iowa," the chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign tells Inside the Beltway. "And I'll be in Iowa from here on out: 35 more days." Until the Jan. 3 Iowa Caucus, that is, the first major contest of the 2008 presidential election. Mr. McAuliffe remains "upbeat" about Mrs. Clinton's chances for what would be her first primary victory over her closest Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose candidacy is suddenly further illuminated by the star power of Oprah Winfrey. Whatever support in Iowa Mrs. Clinton can't muster for herself, the New York senator will rely on her husband, former President Clinton, to counter Miss Winfrey's cheerleading. (READ MORE)

Herb London: The Bad News Is The Good News Is Ignored - More than a decade ago Ben Wattenberg wrote a book with the marvelous title, The Good News Is The Bad News Is Wrong. If that book were republished today I would change the title to The Bad News Is The Good News Is Ignored. It isn’t surprising that in the world of media reportage only bad news counts. The problem with this condition is that it feeds a generally one dimensional view of politics, a misperception of the world that promotes weltschmerz and despair. Most of the reports about Iraq, for example, emphasize sectarian violence, failed policy and tactical errors. Overlooked, with rare exceptions, is that the “surge” and an emphasis on counterinsurgency have had a profound effect on the war effort. Civilian deaths have fallen 77 percent year over year, while military fatalities have declined by 64 percent. (READ MORE)

The Sandmonkey: The Teddy Bear Lady charged in Sudan - For inciting religious hatred. See, I told you , you can't name a cuddly toy after our Prophet without us getting mad at you. But what's really amusing is the school's response: “Several Sudanese newspapers ran a statement Tuesday reportedly from the school, saying the administration ‘offers an official apology to the students and their families and all Muslims for what came from an individual initiative.’ It said Gibbons had been ‘removed from her work at the school.’”While despicable, I believe the school's action is understandable: They don't want to get killed, especially not over a freaking Teddy Bear, and in Sudan, especially in this case, that's actually a possibility. Would you wanna lose your life because of a Teddy Bear political crisis? (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Hamas calls for the end of Jews in “Palestine” - Yesterday, Hamas made quite clear exactly what they think of the nation of Israel: “Hamas on Thursday called on the UN to rescind the 1947 decision to partition Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. The group said in a statement, released on the 60th anniversary of the UN vote, that ‘Palestine is Arab Islamic land, from the river to the sea, including Jerusalem… there is no room in it for the Jews.’ Regarding the partition decision, Hamas said that ‘correcting mistakes is nothing to be ashamed of, but prolonging it is exploitation.’” This is the same organization that Jimmy Carter has been urging Israel to deal with for years. Because he’s really, really sure that Hamas wants peace with Israel. (READ MORE)

Cassy Fiano: More Iraq news that you won't see in the MSM - At least not prominently. No, it'll probably run somewhere around page A-16 or so in a little teeny, tiny column, where no one will see it unless they're really looking for it. In the QUAGMIRE! that is Iraq according to Dems, deaths have been dropping. Citizens have been returning. Progress is being made, and victory is inevitable, if Democratic leaders will only let us achieve it. A sign of our coming win in Iraq: "In the Iraq war, November has been one of the more deadly months for U.S. troops. However, this November has been the quietest since the U.S.-led coalition ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003." (READ MORE)

Nick Grace: Bin Laden: Message to the European Peoples - Osama bin Laden’s awaited speech, titled “Message to the European Peoples,” was released on the Internet this evening. It was first delivered to al Jazeera approximately 9 hours before its public distribution on the Internet and was also the second new as-Sahab product disseminated on November 29. This is bin Laden’s sixth appearance in 2007 and since September alone. “Message to the European Peoples” is the 90th video product produced by as-Sahab, al-Qaeda’s central media wing, this year and actually comprises of three videos and a stand-alone audio file. The three videos are individually subtitled in German, English and Pashtu. The videos were posted by “Ekhlaas Correspondent” on behalf of al-Fajr Media, which regularly posts communiques and messaging products on behalf of frontline al-Qaeda nodes. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Santa Cruz Sheriff Says Illegals Aren’t ‘Criminals’? - The AP has used the somewhat heartwarming tale of an illegal alien who found an American boy and his mother suffering from a car accident in the Arizona desert and stayed with them until help arrived as an excuse to plead that illegals aren’t “criminals” and should somehow be given a break. The AP tried to pin this wild leap in logic on Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, but they offer no quote marks around the sentence, so it is hard to say if the Sheriff really said that or the AP was extrapolating and putting words in the Sheriff’s mouth. Still, that this one illegal did something morally right even while he was breaking our laws, does not erase all the illegalities and law breaking that every other illegal immigrant has done over the last 30 years. (READ MORE)

Sister Toldjah: CNN’s Plantgate continues - I tell ya, the more news that comes out about the liberally biased questioners at CNN’s Republican YouTube debate, the worse they look. Malkin’s latest column addresses the number of questioners who have actually been found out to be Democrats, ‘unaffiliated’ supporters of Democrat policies, or at the very least people who have declared support for Democrat contenders. Brian at Liberty Pundit makes a great point about the seriously foolish John Edwards’ attempt at a “gotcha” moment with his comment on Olby’s show last night about Republicans supposedly being “too afraid” to accept questions from Democrats: "And you know what the kicker is? That the Breck Girl (John Edwards) had the nerve to go on Keith Olberdork’s show last night and say that Republicans were afraid to be asked questions from Democrats. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they answered them, didn’t they? Unlike Silky and his comrades, who refuse to go on Fox, lest they be asked a serious question by a moderator. Hyprocrite, thy name is Edwards. Sit down, buy some conditioner, and shut up, pretty boy." (READ MORE)

ROFASix: AAR on Republican Debate - Part I - Thirty-three questions were posed last night to GOP hopefuls running for President. This 'debate' was a joint effort by CNN and Youtube which means you can go back and watch it again at your leisure. It is well worth it. Here is my take on Question #2 onward. I am skipping #1 which was hardly a question. It was a guitar solo diddy about the politicians. It was cute and also valueless except for those who were looking solely for entertainment instead of a Presidential nominee. If you watched it live you no doubt soon were overcome with the sheer volume of it all. This approach lets you look at each question and evaluate the responses and the responders. Sometimes they answered the questions. But more often they used it as a 'bridge' to what they really wanted to say. It drives the question, are these candidates unable to answer a straight question, or do they simply have no idea how to answer them? (READ MORE)

Rhymes with Right: Even Murtha Admits it - John Murtha is forced by reality to concede he was wrong about the surge. Now if he will only admit he tried to railroad the Haditha marines for political purposes. “U.S. Rep. John Murtha today said he saw signs of military progress during a brief trip to Iraq last week, but he warned that Iraqis need to play a larger role in providing their own security and the Bush administration still must develop an exit strategy. ‘I think the “surge” is working,’ the Democrat said in a videoconference from his Johnstown office, describing the president's decision to commit more than 20,000 additional combat troops this year. But the Iraqis ‘have got to take care of themselves.’” (READ MORE)

McQ: Dems on Iraq: Now What? - Congressional Democrats risk looking like obstructionists on Iraq now that one of the staunchest anti-war critics in the House has declared "the surge is working". Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), one of the leading anti-war voices in the House Democratic Caucus, is back from a trip to Iraq and he now says the "surge is working." “This could be a huge problem for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, who are blocking approval of the full $200 billion being sought by President Bush for combat operations in Iraq in 2008. Murtha’s latest comments are also a stark reversal from what he said earlier in the year. The Pennsylvania Democrat, who chairs the powerful Defense subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, has previously stated that the surge "is not working" and the United States faced a military disaster in Iraq.” (READ MORE)

The Monkey Tennis Centre: Will Hollywood learn from its Iraq flops? - I've been meaning to post for a while on the disastrous performance of the various anti-Iraq war/War on Terror movies that have been released over the past few weeks. I'd not long started blogging when the buzz began about Lions for Lambs, Rendition, Redacted, In The Valley of Elah and the rest, and I posted on the subject here and here. At the time the Surge was just starting to show signs of success, and I wrote: ‘Hopefully continued progress in Iraq and Afghanistan will diminish the public's appetite for fictionalised bad news stories. […] and if movie-goers shun the anti-war polemics, then Hollywood will be hit where it hurts – at the box office – and might just get the message.’ Continued progress was far from guaranteed at that point. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Taking the fight to al Qaeda in the North - As al Qaeda in Iraq attempts to re-establish its networks in the Northern provinces, the Iraqi military and Multinational Forces Iraq have been shaping the battlefield in the north for a showdown with the terror group. Iraqi and US forces received a big boost the past week when a significant number of Iraqis formed a Concerned Local Citizens group in the region. Meanwhile, the Islamic Army of Iraq in Mosul has vowed to dig in and fight the Coalition. Iraqi and US forces have been focusing on the northern region – (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: I Have Not Yet Begun to Give Up! - Don’t Give Up the Surrender! Damn the Factedoes, Full Surrender Ahead! Inspiring words from American history, updated for current circumstances. But the last word on surrenderism, of course, came from McAuliffe, Bastogne, Christmas 1944. His enigmatic, Kraut-confusing response is marvelous in how it can used equally well to express defiance as to describe surrenderism … “Nuts!” Which brings us to Murtha, a diehard surrenderist now beginning to recognize his position is untenable, putting out capitulation feelers. (READ MORE)

Patrick Lasswell: Reconsidering the Oregon Guard Deployment - Open Letter to KINK-FM in Response to Their Latest KINK Considers Broadcast: Jacob, When I was in Kirkuk earlier this year, the locals pointed out the American patrol passing by as something they appreciated because it was helping them beat the terrorists. The police chief I had lunch with was looking forward to getting new Iraqi Police units in that were going to break the insurgency in Kirkuk. Everything in Iraq is complicated, so I find it disturbing that your comments regarding the war there is so incredibly simple. You may have heard the old saying that for every complex problem there is a simple solution, and that solution is invariably wrong. So it is with your tantrum regarding the Oregon National Guard's upcoming deployment to Iraq. (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

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