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Fierce battle rages for Taliban stronghold
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Africa Subsaharan
Merkel Admonishes Mugabe At European-African Summit
Ending speculation as to whether leaders at the European-African summit that opened Saturday in Lisbon would confront President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe over his human rights record and the economic meltown there, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the gathering that the crisis "damages the image of the new Africa." Diplomatically raking Mr. Mugabe over the coals, Ms. Merkel said in a keynote speech to 80 leaders from the European Union and African Union that, "Nothing can justify the intimidation of those holding different views and hindering freedom of the press," a reference to Harare's repression of opponents and strictures on the media. Ms. Merkel told her audience, which included Mr. Mugabe, that “the current situation in Zimbabwe damages the image of the new Africa.”

Conspicuously absent was British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who boycotted the summit over Mr. Mugabe's participation. Mr. Brown lost the diplomatic battle with those EU leaders including Ms. Merkel who argued for inviting President Mugabe to that the Zimbabwe crisis could be taken up on the sidelines of the trade and aid summit. Other EU member nations who declined to send heads of state or government were the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania and Cyprus.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates told the leaders that the Zimbabwe crisis had blocked the summit for years and that accelerating the development of Africa required a dialogue which is “frank and open, with no taboos or sacred cows."
Posted by: Fred || 12/09/2007 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [273 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Ms. Merkel told her audience, which included Mr. Mugabe, that “the current situation in Zimbabwe clarifies damages the image of the new Africa.”

Angela dear: Your people in Namibia Südwestafrika need you. Send a strong message to all of those buggers, TAKE IT BACK.

Posted by: Besoeker || 12/09/2007 3:35 Comments || Top||

#2  Er, no. Next to the Belgians, the Germans were the most bestial colonists in all Africa. The history of German colonization of Namibia is a shameful one.
Posted by: Steve White || 12/09/2007 13:52 Comments || Top||

#3  Yes Steve, happily, all is quiet now and very peaceful in the old Colonial Congo these days.
Posted by: Besoeker || 12/09/2007 13:56 Comments || Top||

#4  The liberals are correct [gasp!] in noting that a fair bit of the problems of Congo today are the result of a century and a half of brutal, rapacious colonialism by the Belgians. Not all, but not none either.

And Namibia was about as bad.

So let's remember that the Euros have a fair bit of blame for Africa. Doesn't excuse current behavior, but does help us understand what needs to happen to fix the problems.
Posted by: Steve White || 12/09/2007 15:28 Comments || Top||


Fresh clashes in DR Congo
Clashes resume in DR Congo as government backed troops advance into territories held by rebels loyal to General Laurent Nkunda.

The recent outbreak of clashes follow the army's capture of a rebel headquarters in the east DR Congo town of North Kivu. Nkunda has rejected government demands to disarm his rebels and claims that he will continue to defend his own Tutsi community against Rwandan Hutu extremists that he holds responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide and are currently situated in east DR Congo. The United Nations has issued a warning to the thousands of Congolese civilians in the vicinity of the clashes to leave their homes.
Posted by: Fred || 12/09/2007 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [255 views] Top|| File under:


Court orders arrest of former Liberian leader
A criminal court has ordered the arrest of Liberia's ex-president Gyude Bryant on allegations that he embezzled $1,3-million while in office. Bryant, who led the nation for two years as a transitional president following the end of Liberia's 14-year civil war, stepped down in 2005 after Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf won democratic presidential elections. Bryant's government was accused of mishandling the nation's finances.

A Liberian court issued the arrest order on Thursday after Bryant failed to show up in court twice this week. Bryant, who had been granted bail, now should be held at Monrovia's central prison until he answers to the charge, according to the court. Late Thursday, Bryant said that he had heard about the arrest warrant but that it had not yet been served. "The processes are unjust; there are lots of injustices being done to me," he said.
This article starring:
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Gyude Bryant
Posted by: Fred || 12/09/2007 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [261 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Released again.
His tenure was clouded with accusations of corruption. I can't say how much was real and how much was slander, but I'd be astonished if he had been completely on the straight and narrow.
Posted by: James || 12/09/2007 7:47 Comments || Top||

#2  Since he replaced Chuck, I'd call Ellen taking office his greatest accomplishment -- and forgive him a lot for it.
Posted by: Fred || 12/09/2007 9:04 Comments || Top||

#3  Yup. Where's the 'Reconciliation Commission' when you need it?
Posted by: Steve White || 12/09/2007 13:53 Comments || Top||


Caucasus/Russia/Central Asia
Russia test-fires ballistic missile
MOSCOW - Russia on Saturday successfully test-fired an inter-continental ballistic and other weapons that are able to pierce anti-missile shields, Russia’s state news agency RIA said, citing a spokesman for rocket forces. The RS-12M Topol, called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO, was successfully launched at 17:43 p.m. (1443 GMT) from Kapustin Yar firing range in southern Russia, RIA said.

‘The launch was carried out with the aim of confirming the stability of the fundamental flying and technical characteristics of this class of missile,’ Rocket Forces spokesman Alexander Vovk told RIA. He also said the test was part of a trial of weapons that could pierce anti-missile shields. It was unclear what other weapons were tested.

As configured in 1985, the Topol has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,215 miles), and can carry one 550-kiloton nuclear warhead. The 20.5 metre (67 ft) long missile was designed in the 1970S and made its first flights in 1982.
Posted by: Steve White || 12/09/2007 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [267 views] Top|| File under:

#1  So what means does this behemoth use to pierce anti-missile shields? Juking past interceptors? A proximity fuse ought to solve that.
Posted by: gorb || 12/09/2007 1:29 Comments || Top||

#2  If the Russians want to waste their money on useless giant nukes, let them. You can tell by how many times they fire them, and how gleefully the press reports them, that they're really anxious to use one someday.
Posted by: gromky || 12/09/2007 5:08 Comments || Top||

#3  If this system is anything like their anti aircraft systems, I'm sure it will be a dandy!
Posted by: badanov || 12/09/2007 6:21 Comments || Top||

#4  Like most everything else the Russians produce in media hype, it is overblown.
Posted by: DarthVader || 12/09/2007 8:59 Comments || Top||

#5  The recent successful air-intercept by a US F16 will only add more fuel to the fire, espec as it increases the importance of forward GMD ground and air bases e.g. in EASTERN EURO [+ JAPAN-SK?].
Posted by: JosephMendiola || 12/09/2007 18:06 Comments || Top||

#6  ION, WAFF.com > CHINA > CHINA HAS STARTED DEVELOPMENT OF ITS OWN STEALTH BOMBER. Can be launched from China and strike the USA wid LR 3000-km standoff ALCMS; + CHINA AND FUTURE WAR.
Posted by: JosephMendiola || 12/09/2007 18:39 Comments || Top||

#7  It means the Russians have demonstrated that they are still a potent threat and a power to be dealt with on an even (or near-even) basis with the west.

Unlike the Frogs, who haven't test-launched a bird in many years.
Posted by: Kojo Cloque4172 || 12/09/2007 19:58 Comments || Top||


Europe
Gaddafi's spending spree in Gay Paree
PARIS - Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi is planning to sign contracts in France next week to buy a nuclear reactor and Airbus planes worth over three billion euros, it was reported Saturday. Le Figaro newspaper quoted Gaddafi’s son Seif Al Islam Gaddafi as saying there were also plans to buy military equipment during the visit starting Monday - his first to Paris for 34 years.

The reported purchasing plans of Gaddafi - now restored to broad international acceptance - has raised eyebrows, with former presidential candidate Francois Bayrou of the Democratic Movement saying ‘I’d never have thought it would get this far.’

Gaddafi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy already signed a series of contracts last July on delivery of French nuclear technology and military equipment. The subsequent agreement in which France is to supply Libya with a nuclear reactor for the desalination of sea water sparked criticism from both parties in Germany’s ruling coalition, although government sources claimed it had not caused a rift in bilateral relations.
Posted by: Steve White || 12/09/2007 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [258 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Is he getting new supplies to turn over to the U.S. the next time things get interesting?
Posted by: trailing wife || 12/09/2007 19:06 Comments || Top||

#2  I hope their reactors fare better than airbus.
Posted by: Redneck Jim || 12/09/2007 20:12 Comments || Top||


Turkey ruling party plans to ease headscarf ban
Turkey's ruling AK Party, which has Islamist roots, signalled yesterday it plans to ease a ban on the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in universities under a new draft constitution. "This (new) constitution will solve the headscarf problem in a more libertarian spirit," Dengir Firat, a deputy chairman of the AK Party, told CNN Turk television.

The AK party has hinted many times that it wants to modify or if possible remove the headscarf ban, which also applies to government offices. Any moves to scrap the ban is sure to revive tensions between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's centre-right AK Party government and Turkey's secular elite, which includes powerful army generals, top judges and university rectors.

The secularists view the headscarf as a symbol of political Islam and, therefore, as a direct challenge to Turkey's separation of religion and state. They also distrust the AK Party because of its Islamist past and the fact the wives of Erdogan and other senior ministers wear the headscarf. The secularists tried earlier this year to block the election by parliament of the AK Party's Abdullah Gul as Turkey's president. Gul finally became president in August after Erdogan called a snap parliamentary election his AK Party won.

The AK Party is due to publish its draft constitution on December 15. It has said the draft, due to replace a text dating back to a time of military rule in the 1980s, will boost individual freedoms in Turkey, a European Union candidate.
Posted by: Fred || 12/09/2007 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [265 views] Top|| File under: Global Jihad

#1  "This (new) constitution will solve the headscarf problem in a more libertarian spirit,"

Because leaving women at the mercy of their families is "libertarian". Though it should be admitted that American libertarians want to abandon muslim women to their fate, the Turks are just following suit.
Posted by: Excalibur || 12/09/2007 8:18 Comments || Top||


India-Pakistan
Eight nuclear reactors to come up across the country: BARC
KANPUR: In order to meet the ever-increasing power demands and to make the country self-reliant in the field of nuclear power, work is underway to construct eight nuclear power plants across the country. Eight nuclear power reactors, each having capacity to produce 700 megawatt of electricity, are being set up across the country in order to make the nation self-dependent in producing nuclear energy, director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Shrikumar Banerjee said at the Indian Institute of Technology here on Sunday.

"For this, there is a requirement of around 80,000 ton of Uranium to run those reactors for 60 years," he said, adding that the country has enough resources of uranium and recently it has been found in Andhra Pradesh and Meghalya also.

Banerjee also said that the country is looking at the target of generating 15 to 20 per cent electricity through nuclear energy, which presently is three per cent, by the next 15 years. The scientists are also working on to prepare new design of the reactors so as to increase their life from 40 to 60 years, he added.

In India, only nuclear reactor at Tarapore in Maharashtra has the capacity to produce 540 mega watt of nuclear energy.
Posted by: john frum || 12/09/2007 10:46 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [312 views] Top|| File under:

#1  The sane solution to nuclear energy in most of the world is the pebble bed reactor. It is small, and produces less energy, but otherwise it is efficient, cannot meltdown, and cannot produce plutonium. It has minimal other waste.

China has plans to build hundreds of them. It is a type of technology the US should be at the forefront of selling to the rest of the world.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 12/09/2007 12:08 Comments || Top||

#2  I'm still waiting to buy a Mr. Fusion at Walmart.
Posted by: SteveS || 12/09/2007 13:01 Comments || Top||

#3  In the meantime, you'll have to settle for Mr. Methane from Rantburg.
Posted by: Mike N. || 12/09/2007 15:32 Comments || Top||


U.S. fighter bids for India hit tech-transfer snag
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A split in the Pentagon over how much cutting-edge technology to share with India is complicating bids by Lockheed Martin Corp for a potential $10 billion fighter jet contract.

At issue, among other things, is advanced radar know-how India wants as part of any deal for the 126 new fighter jets it plans to buy from one of six global aerospace powerhouses, say current and former Pentagon officials. Detailed offers from all bidders are due to be submitted to the Indian defense ministry by March 3. The contenders come from Russia, Europe and the United States. If the deal goes to Americans, it would crown a post-Cold War trend toward tighter U.S.-Indian security ties, a potential counterweight to China's growing might.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing — the Pentagon's No. 1 and No. 2 suppliers by sales — were invited by India for the first time to bid to supply fighters. Lockheed Martin is proposing a version of its widely sold F-16 Fighting Falcon but has not made public any detail of which radar it will offer. Boeing has said it is pursuing U.S. government approval to sell its F/A-18 Super Hornet "Block 2" strike attack aircraft, used by the U.S. Navy and Australia. It is equipped with what Boeing has called "ground-breaking" Raytheon Co APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Also in the race: Russia's MiG 35, France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Saab AB JAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies.

"There's advocates and non-advocates" of meeting India's hopes for maximum radar technology-transfer and co-production, said a senior U.S. Air Force official, who declined to be named. Asked about deliberations on licensing the so-called AESA radars for export to India, U.S. Navy Secretary Donald Winter told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit: "I know that that's under consideration." "There's a very well detailed process that is followed by the department (of defense) that I'm not expert on, and I would defer to those who are," Winter said on Wednesday. The trade-offs involved in U.S. reviews are complex. They include business pressure to make Lockheed and Boeing as competitive as possible while protecting a key U.S. war fighting technology.

"The Indians want as much co-production and as much technology transfer as they can get," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Kohler, who stepped down in August as the Pentagon's top arms-sale official. "The U.S. government has to decide how far it will go toward meeting India's requests." "I think this a very critical decision that needs the attention of top government officials," said Kohler, now an unpaid advisor to the private U.S.-India Business Council.

Ron Somers, president of the council that represents 275 of the biggest U.S. companies investing in India, referred to India's fighter market as "a tremendous opportunity for U.S. companies that should not be missed." "We hope the U.S. government will get its act together," Somers said by telephone. "Time is of the essence if we hope to compete with foreign companies for this hugely important deal." Lockheed Martin and Boeing declined to comment on the U.S. government's delay in approving their India packages, as did the Indian embassy in Washington.

Bob Gower, vice president of Boeing's F/A-18 program, said Boeing was confident the U.S. government ultimately will clear release of the APG-79 radar. "The F/A-18 has an advantage in that we are the only airplane in the competition with a fielded production AESA radar," Gower said in a written response last month to questions from Reuters. "I like our competitive position on the AESA radar."

AESA presents many military advantages, boosting pilots awareness of any threats, according to William Ostrove, a radar market analyst at Forecast International, an aerospace consultancy in Newton, Connecticut. "The United States has the most advanced AESA technology in the world," he said. "No other country currently has an AESA radar in production." The United States already has sent AESA technology to Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, but they did not demand as much access to the underlying know-how as India has done, Ostrove said. Washington might resolve its AESA-related dilemma by clearing a "dumbed down" version, he said. Substituting a less powerful processor, for instance, would make it less capable than one now flown by U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots.

"This would allow the Indians to build the radar themselves while preventing the most advanced American technology from leaving the country," Ostrove said. As part of a strategic initiative designed to cement new security ties, President Bush in March 2005 gave Boeing and Lockheed the nod to sell advanced fighters to India.
Posted by: john frum || 12/09/2007 06:34 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [379 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Ron Somers, president of the council that represents 275 of the biggest U.S. companies investing in India, referred to India's fighter market as "a tremendous opportunity for U.S. companies that should not be missed." "We hope the U.S. government will get its act together," Somers said by telephone.

Been sleeping under that tree for quite some time have you Mr. Somers?
Posted by: Besoeker || 12/09/2007 7:51 Comments || Top||

#2  The United States already has sent AESA technology to Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, but they did not demand as much access to the underlying know-how as India has done, Ostrove said

The F-15 pilots whose planes were 'shot down' by Mig-21s during the recent wargames reported that, to their surprise, the Indian Migs did not have the normal Russian export version radars.
Posted by: john frum || 12/09/2007 8:37 Comments || Top||

#3  Let them have the AESA. We're still ahead, we can reasonably trust the Indians not to share it (except perhaps with Israel), and the Boeing guys/gals are already working on the next generation.
Posted by: Steve White || 12/09/2007 14:11 Comments || Top||

#4  we can reasonably trust the Indians not to share it (except perhaps with Israel)

And Israel sure is careful with our secrets.

And how do we know the Clintons haven't already sold it to China?
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 12/09/2007 14:24 Comments || Top||

#5  Call. me crazy, but I think India could be our most important ally in the next 20-50 years.

Give 'em access to what we have to, but no more.
Posted by: Mike N. || 12/09/2007 15:17 Comments || Top||

#6  MN: Call. me crazy, but I think India could be our most important ally in the next 20-50 years.

How many wars has India fought in support of its allies since independence? The idea of India as an ally of any kind is quite foreign to the Indian mind and to our historical experience.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 18:29 Comments || Top||

#7  Bottom line is that India nowhere near the ally that either Singapore or the UAE are, and it's pointless to make empty comparisons between them.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 18:31 Comments || Top||

#8  Nations go to war when it's in their own interest(generally), not just for their allies.

In the same time frame how many wars has America fought when it wasn't in her best interest?

Balkans? Maybe. The list is a damn short one.
Posted by: Mike N. || 12/09/2007 20:11 Comments || Top||

#9  MN: In the same time frame how many wars has America fought when it wasn't in her best interest?

The Indians are myopic and cynical - they don't fight wars when it is in their interests - they're content to wait until the enemy is at their doorstep. Was it in the Indian interest for China to conquer Tibet? No. Did they acquiesce to it? Yes. And the result was that the Chinese not only took Tibet - which served as a buffer state between India and China - they also took a big chunk of Indian territory not too many years later. The only time we can count on Indian cooperation is when China invades Indian territory. For a leech like this, no technology transfer is necessary. Let 'em bleed.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 20:41 Comments || Top||

#10  MN: Nations go to war when it's in their own interest(generally), not just for their allies.

In the same time frame how many wars has America fought when it wasn't in her best interest?

Balkans? Maybe. The list is a damn short one.


The US has gone through campaigns when it has lost 100,000 lives when its territorial integrity was not at stake. When has India done anything like this? What the heck has India done for us in Afghanistan? Iraq? And we're supposed to count on them as an ally? And I'm referring to a troop presence, not some civilian type stuff. Heck - even the Arab countries have sent their special forces people.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 20:46 Comments || Top||

#11  I think the Indians can be counted to jeer us on from the sidelines, nothing more. If they want to buy the planes, I don't have any problems with that. If they want the production technology, they can shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 20:48 Comments || Top||

#12  All I'm saying is that nations don't generally go to war unless it's in their best interest.

I can only think of a couple wars in the last century when america lost hundreds of thousands. Americas best interest, obviouslt to enter WWII. WWI might be a little different, but outside our time frame.

If we're going back that far than we need to give consideration to Indian contribution in the Boer War. Even Gandhi himself was a very vocal supporter of Indians going to fight.
Posted by: Mike N. || 12/09/2007 20:55 Comments || Top||

#13  If we're going back that far than we need to give consideration to Indian contribution in the Boer War. Even Gandhi himself was a very vocal supporter of Indians going to fight.

India had no choice. It was part of the Empire.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 21:10 Comments || Top||

#14  India had no choice. It was part of the Empire.

And it doesn't have any choice now. Anybody who'd sell advanced equipment to Soodies, and give it Pakis etc...
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 12/09/2007 21:14 Comments || Top||

#15  MN: All I'm saying is that nations don't generally go to war unless it's in their best interest.

I can only think of a couple wars in the last century when america lost hundreds of thousands. Americas best interest, obviouslt to enter WWII. WWI might be a little different, but outside our time frame.


We got involved in the Korean War. And the Vietnam War. In both of these wars, our interests were peripheral. Was it in the Indian interest that Korea and Vietnam end up under communist rule. I really can't see that. But we sure as heck did not see India do anything but jeer from the sidelines, did we? Was it in the Indian interest to see Iraq own Kuwait? I don't think so. Did you see India offer to jump in? Basically, all of these wars were in the Indian interest, but in no instance did India offer to participate. Basically, the Indians are myopic and cynical - why offer to help when somebody else will do it for you? These parasites don't deserve any special treatment from us. Let them buy Russian junk. We don't need another Israel competing with us in the arms market.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 21:16 Comments || Top||

#16  g: And it doesn't have any choice now. Anybody who'd sell advanced equipment to Soodies, and give it Pakis etc...

Goodness - the Israeli had to jump in. A citizen of the same Israel that has sat out every American war since Israel's founding? The stupidity of the critique of sales to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is stunning. We sell better versions of these weapons to Israel, don't we? Was 9/11 accomplished using advanced American weaponry? Did you happen to notice that among the hijackers were a bunch of Palestinians of various Arab nationalities who were angry at the US for supporting Israel? Do you realize that we could nipped that in the bud by letting Israel go under in 1973, instead of almost getting into a nuclear war with the Soviets? What is your major malfunction? Why do you persist attacking Uncle Sam instead of your real enemies - the Europeans, who have no compunction selling weaponry to the Arabs, but don't send $6b in grants annually to prop Israel up? Is it because you can't stand that we're not socialists, like the Europeans?
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 21:25 Comments || Top||

#17  India's undergoing rapid change - but is early on the 'ally' curve IMO. I'd be pretty leery about serious tech xfer.
Posted by: lotp || 12/09/2007 21:27 Comments || Top||

#18  lotp: India's undergoing rapid change - but is early on the 'ally' curve IMO. I'd be pretty leery about serious tech xfer.

Mongolia sent troops to Iraq. I'd rather transfer technology to the Mongols than to the Indians.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 21:29 Comments || Top||

#19  Did you happen to notice that among the hijackers were a bunch of Palestinians of various Arab nationalities who were angry at the US for supporting Israel?

Are you trying for a tenure track position, Mr Zhang?

No. I noticed 15 Saudis & 4 Egyptians.
And no again, Osama didn't mention Palestine once, until 2-3 years later. It was all about the American infidels in the holy land of the two mosques, and conquering the world for Islam.

Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 12/09/2007 21:33 Comments || Top||

#20  Are you trying for a tenure track position, Mr Zhang?

No. I noticed 15 Saudis & 4 Egyptians.
And no again, Osama didn't mention Palestine once, until 2-3 years later. It was all about the American infidels in the holy land of the two mosques, and conquering the world for Islam.


Tenure track people blame America, and suggest that Israelis are the bad guys. I think Israelis are the good guys, but ultimately, parasites who damage our relations with the Muslim world.

My mistake on the hijackers - I had read somewhere that some of these people were of Palestinian origin. But here is what I believe to be Muhammad Atta's 9/11 view:

In Germany, Atta was registered as a citizen of the United Arab Emirates. His German friends describe him as an intelligent man with religious beliefs who grew angry over the Western policy toward the Middle East, including the Oslo Accords and the Gulf War. MSNBC in its special "The Making of the Death Pilots" interviewed German friend Ralph Bodenstein who traveled, worked and talked a lot with Mohamed Atta. Bodenstein said, "He was most imbued [sic] actually about Israeli politics in the region and about U.S. protection of these Israeli politics in the region. And he was to a degree personally suffering from that."

But I don't have to go all the way to Muhammad Atta for that. I have Muslim friends. The one thing they constantly harp on Uncle Sam's support for Israel. As a justification for attacking us on 9/11, it's lousy - but the fact is that we took a licking because our support for Israel. It's like what happens when you help out a guy who's been marked for death by the Mafia - it's not a good reason for the Mafia to kill you, but the fact that you got involved does make you a target. In our case, 9/11 happened. It's not Israel's fault, but the fact is that we wouldn't have been targeted if we hadn't backed Israel. But then we get Israelis like you stepping all over us in spite of our support for Israel. We sure could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble in 1973.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 21:56 Comments || Top||

#21  Zhang Fei's never had anything good to say about India regardles of what the facts are. I bet he'd support us gtransferring technology to Pakistan or China instead. I bet he's Chinese or Pakistani.
Posted by: Sonny Graiper3958 || 12/09/2007 22:41 Comments || Top||

#22  India had no choice. It was part of the Empire.

The Indians in Traansval pushed the government to get them to fight.

You're way off base on Vietnam and Korea. Those were very clearly in our best interest. Fighting Communism was job one. Just because India didn't see Russia as threat that needed to be fought in Vietnam doesn't mean they're of no value.

g(r)om,

Nice try with the Saudi bit. It's mighty rich for the originators of selling our tech to our enemies to come to bash us for selling it to our allies.

What are you doing awake anyway? I though Uncle sugar tucked you in for the night?

Zhang, the support for Israel thing is a red herring.
Posted by: Mike N. || 12/09/2007 22:49 Comments || Top||

#23  Please don't be an ass, Zhang Fe. Of course your Muslim friends object to American support of Israel -- it's them thar Jews claiming sovereignty over Muslim soil... and the Muslim world has this odd idea that without America Israel would fall to the Lions of Islam. Before crying that we ought to act on your friends' likes and dislikes, you'll want as a baseline to see if they're any fonder of the European countriess, who also wish the U.S. hadn't stepped in in 1973. If they aren't, then perhaps their real problem with America is something else than Israel. If they are, then perhaps we shouldn't be consulting their wishes as the best guide to the actions that are in the best interest of our own nation.

So long as we don't kow tow to the Ummah, entirely too many Muslims will find reasons to think our actions unacceptable, Rage Boy being only an extreme example. *shrug* I'd prefer my country didn't adjust its behaviour to make Pakistan or Saudi Arabia dance the Hora, even if it does make your life -- and Mr. Wife's -- a bit more difficult when you're out there.
Posted by: trailing wife || 12/09/2007 22:52 Comments || Top||

#24  I noticed 15 Saudis & 4 Egyptians

The Saudis were ethnic Yemeni (like bin Ladin).



Posted by: Pappy || 12/09/2007 22:54 Comments || Top||


Israel-Palestine-Jordan
Hamas burns hundreds of pounds of marijuana in public
Plumes of marijuana-infused smoke rose above Gaza City as dozens of people looked on after Gaza's Hamas rulers announced a major drug bust Sunday, torching large sacks of confiscated drugs in a bonfire. Hamas displayed tables full of marijuana, neatly pressed blocks of hashish, small piles of cocaine and ecstasy pills at a news conference to show the results of a two-week-long drug raid, said Ihab Ghussain, spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

He said the raid netted 115 arrests of dealers and growers, and more than 200 kilograms of marijuana, 340 blocks of hashish and 2,340 marijuana plants were confiscated. Ghussain said some of the drugs, valued at $4 million, were smuggled through tunnels into Gaza from Egypt. "We have closed almost 90 percent of these tunnels," Ghussain said, but did not say how many tunnels the militant group found.

Ghussain blamed the rival Palestinian group Fatah for allowing drugs to flourish in Gaza, and said they collaborated with Israel to destroy the area's youth. "We will not show mercy to anybody involved in the death trade," Ghussain said.

The drugs were later burned in a square, with Hamas police emptying out large bags of marijuana onto a fire, and others tossing in hashish blocs. Police then ordered a crowd of onlookers to step away.

Although Gaza is a conservative Muslim society, drug use is common among young men. Already, alcohol, which is prohibited under Islam, is almost impossible to obtain in Gaza. Militants blew up Gaza's last bar in 2005.
Posted by: ryuge || 12/09/2007 08:25 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [270 views] Top|| File under: Hamas

#1  Are they Cheech's or Chong's parents?
Posted by: Raj || 12/09/2007 9:16 Comments || Top||

#2  in a related note, sales of Doritos, Ho-Ho's and pizza in the vicinity escalated, emptying most store shelves
Posted by: Frank G || 12/09/2007 9:41 Comments || Top||

#3  Duude, you, like, burned the stash. Bummer.
Posted by: Mike || 12/09/2007 10:05 Comments || Top||

#4  This should convince the left that Fatah is the good guy in this conflict.

Sure they encourage violence against women, gays, apostates, infidels, etc. but at least they let you get high.
Posted by: mhw || 12/09/2007 10:16 Comments || Top||

#5  I think better understood that escape from reality was a necessary part of the Islamic paradise that is Gaza.
Posted by: Super Hose || 12/09/2007 14:02 Comments || Top||

#6  Trip on Allah, not nafas!
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 12/09/2007 21:01 Comments || Top||


Home Front Economy
Economy to Follow Housing Prices?
I've been following this since the credit interbank crunch in August 2007, and now it appears the problem, with adjustable rate mortgage resets about to happen in March 2008 and April 2008, is about to get a whole lot worse.

Inasmuch as government bailouts seem to be the prevailing sentiment, it also appears the problems are so large, government intervention won't help.

Read the whole thing...

Hat tip: Mortgage Implode-o-Meter


... what happens when a government creates an expectation on Main Street that the government is there to make them whole after the markets, run by racketeers, make off with their savings. We aren't seeing any U.S. citizens taking to the streets. But as the economic problems intensify in 2008, the stresses will crop show up ever more obviously in the political process and perhaps the crime rate. The squeaky wheels on Wall Street got the first grease, but as the squeaking spreads, so shall the grease.
Posted by: badanov || 12/09/2007 06:08 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [240 views] Top|| File under:

#1  The mortgage mess is bad, but the real problem was all of the other crazy crap....things like people treating their homes like ATM's, getting HELOC's so they could buy plasma tv's/cars/vacations, even getting a second mortgage to make the down payment. It's frightening how many people have virtually no equity in their homes.

That's what's going to make this ugly as hell, especially in California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Florida.
Posted by: Swamp Blondie || 12/09/2007 13:29 Comments || Top||

#2  What I worry about is the impending wave of baby boomer retirements. I suspect that way too many in my generation have been planning to cash in what they considered to be reliable house equity value, forgetting that it isn't real until you've actually sold for that amount.

It really and truly is more than time for the US public to grow up, face limits and make responsible and prudent choices -- financially, politically and socially.
Posted by: lotp || 12/09/2007 13:43 Comments || Top||

#3  Ditto Lotp.... and I've got concerns about 401k's as well. All said however, our pensions and standard of living are far superior to that of the Europeans, even with their inflated currency.
Posted by: Besoeker || 12/09/2007 13:46 Comments || Top||

#4  lotp must hold one of two fears to justify her concern; in the long run either the population of the US will fall or the GDP per capita will fall. I believe neither is remotely possible for the nation as a whole, though some segments may sustain such secular declines, as has the Rust Belt for a good portion of the last 25 years and as may much sprawl development during the next 25.

But if you believe that prosperity will continue to grow and that the US will continue to drive away immigrants, it's hard to see a decline in the price of anything due to the disappearance of the execrable boomers.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 12/09/2007 13:55 Comments || Top||

#5  Take this article with some salt. It is written by someone pushing a book he had published sometime in 2006.

Of course the real estate market will get worse in places (as Swamp Blondie points out) and yes, this will take a point or two off economic growth nationwide.

However, people should keep in mind that there are always problem sectors even when the general economy is moving in the right direction.
Posted by: mhw || 12/09/2007 15:09 Comments || Top||

#6  after the markets, run by racketeers, make off with their savings.

Anyone who makes a comment like that should not be taken even remotely seriously.

I'm with NS and growth. With exeption of a the possible negative quarter here and there, growth will continue.

I'm also with lotp re irresponsible citizens.

If lotp is correct about boomers counting on their house prices providing in part for their retirement, the decline in house prices should keep them in the job market longer than they would have otherwise been. Reducing draws on Social Security and keeping productive people working. A win-win.
Posted by: Mike N. || 12/09/2007 15:42 Comments || Top||

#7  Here's a choice passage: The example above is what happens when a government creates an expectation on Main Street that the government is there to make them whole after the markets, run by racketeers, make off with their savings. We aren't seeing any U.S. citizens taking to the streets. But as the economic problems intensify in 2008, the stresses will crop show up ever more obviously in the political process and perhaps the crime rate.

This article is written by a crank, plain and simple. There are valid pro and con arguments as to whether the economy is tied to the housing market. But you're not gonna get much that is enlightening or useful from this guy's tirades. Note that property prices have gone down big before, without the economy following in tandem. Back in the early 90's, property prices fell in the NYC area by as much 30% without the economy falling suit (i.e. by 30%). You get bulls and bears on real estate who have one thing in common - they are convinced that any rise or drop in real estate prices has an outsized impact on the economy. The reality is quite reversed - outsized gains or losses in real estate have only a small effect on the economy. Real estate prices went up 20% a year during the boom years. Did annual GDP go up by an equivalent amount? Now real estate is falling and people are talking about another Great Depression. People need to get a sense of proportion - real estate is just a place to live. Continuous technological innovation, not real estate, is what provides for increased output and improved living standards.
Posted by: Zhang Fei || 12/09/2007 18:49 Comments || Top||

#8  If lotp is correct about boomers counting on their house prices providing in part for their retirement, the decline in house prices should keep them in the job market longer than they would have otherwise been.

Or - and in my cranky darker moments I expect this to happen - we get a federal administration that tries all out economy control on behalf of my coddled and cossetted generation, who know in their egotistical heart of hearts that they are OWED comfort, luxury and self-indulgence without consequences.

Forgive me, but I happened to page through a NYT sunday Magazine today. I washed my mouth out twice but there's still a bad taste .....
Posted by: lotp || 12/09/2007 19:01 Comments || Top||

#9  The price of houses spiraled upward in reaction to the low loan interest rates. This was a tad bogus, because if you had cash, you were stuck with buying at the inflated prices, therefore, the actual average house price is inflated. With a housing boom on a limited amout of ground, builders opted for large houses on small lots, McMansions. So, we have far too many loans that should have never been made for big houses on small lots, and the price of most property inflated as a result.
Prices will fall as sure as rain. Too many houses for sale, and too few buyers. Soon, there will be those who MUST sell. And those who can't keep pace with their loan will lose their shirts.
Posted by: wxjames || 12/09/2007 19:05 Comments || Top||



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Sun 2007-12-09
  Fierce battle rages for Taliban stronghold
Sat 2007-12-08
  Berri postpones Lebanon presidential election to Tuesday
Fri 2007-12-07
  Pak troops capture Mullah Fazlullah's base
Thu 2007-12-06
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Wed 2007-12-05
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Tue 2007-12-04
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Mon 2007-12-03
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Sun 2007-12-02
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Sat 2007-12-01
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Fri 2007-11-30
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Thu 2007-11-29
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Wed 2007-11-28
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Mon 2007-11-26
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