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These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 2, 2007.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
British troops hunt the Taliban in Afghanistan
Defence Correspondent Sean Rayment and photographer Justin Sutcliffe join the men of The Royal Anglian Regiment as they scour the Upper Sangin Valley in Afghanistan.
From the moment we left the compound, the Taliban knew the British were coming.
In the dead of night, spies watched from darkened alleys as the infantry column abandoned the relative safety of Patrol Base Inkerman, one of the most isolated in northern Helmand.
"We know the infidels have left, we are ready for them," one Taliban commander was boasting, Army Intelligence reported.
The troops from the 1st battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, accompanied by The Sunday Telegraph, were heading into the notorious "Green Zone", a fertile 20-mile strip beside the Helmand River where the opium poppy is grown in abundance, and 350 hardened Taliban fighters regard it as their turf.
The mission, Operation Palk Ghar, was both simple and lethal. The Taliban would be squeezed from all sides into a tight box: those who chose not to fight would be taken prisoner - the rest would die.
Although battle in the Green Zone is at close quarters and often deadly, the troops believe they are winning.
About 250 troops from the C (Essex) and A (Norfolk) companies push forward into enemy territory. . . It does not take long for the fighting to start.
Deafening bursts of machine-gun fire add to the chaos. Stray bullets crack above our heads as we take cover in an abandoned high-walled compound. "Now that's close," says Terry Taylor, the C Company Sergeant Major. "The question is, do they know we are here?"
He tells me of a "bad period" three weeks ago when two soldiers died in two days.
After a few minutes of enemy fire A Company's soldiers rally and spray the Taliban position with machine guns. Thud after thud surround us as Taliban rocket-propelled grenades strike home. For several minutes the battle swings one way then the next.
Gradually the enemy fire creeps closer to our position. The banter stops and the soldiers steel themselves for a potential attack. The tension is broken when Steve Armon, the Sergeant of 10 platoon, turns to his men and, referring to the explosions, says: "Don't worry lads, they are not aimed at you, so if they hit you, it won't hurt." For a few seconds we laugh, until silenced by more bangs.
As the battle rages on our left flank, the order is given to advance to a more secure position. We dash across open ground to covered positions out of sight of the Taliban snipers.
the company's Forward Air Controller, the person responsible for calling in air strikes, informs Major Phil Messenger, the C Company commander, that Apache helicopters are preparing to attack.
Two Apaches arrive "on station" and begin circling the Taliban compound. Lt Fyjis-Walker ensures they are aware of our position, while his opposite number with A Company gives them a description of the target. A warning comes through that the Apaches are about to fire.
Seconds later and high above, 30mm canon growl into action as the Taliban attempt to escape. White smoke can be seen pouring from the gun barrel before the haunting "brrr, brrr, brrr" of its gun is heard.
"What a nice sound to hear on a warm summer's day," says Corporal Sean Doyle, 27, from Scotland, as we share a shaded corner of an abandoned compound. “There's no escape from the Apache - you can run but you can't hide."
Intelligence reveals that a Taliban Commander - later believed to be Mullah Berader, a "big shot" in the Taliban's inner circle - has been killed. "Excellent news," says Major Messenger. "That's what we're here for."
As the soldiers welcome the arrival of the cool evening air, it is clear that the Taliban's appetite for battle has gone. Many who fled have fallen victim to the Apaches' guns.
The Royal Anglian Regiment, who make up only a small fraction of the 7,000 troops based in Afghanistan, have been involved in five months of continuous fighting.
Nine of their number have been killed, while another 46 have been wounded in battle, and more than 100 men have been sent back to Britain for treatment.
Some units, C Company included, have been deployed in the field for months on end, with soldiers as young as 18 having survived more than 60 full-scale contacts with the enemy - all for just £1,300 a month after tax.
The total number of troops killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 is now 74. The "war" in Afghanistan is creating a new breed of soldier, where young men and women with just a couple of years of military service have more battle experience than the entire high command of the British Army.
But for all their efforts and sacrifices, they are convinced that the only members of the public who care are their families.
"The public doesn't care, they are not interested," said one frustrated soldier. "They think Afghanistan is like Iraq but it's not, it's different - this is a real war."
From Thursday morning, when the operation began, to Friday evening, the enemy is routed.
Brigadier John Lorimer, the commander of the British task force, describes these operations as "mowing the lawn", because they are constantly repeated. The British Army can take ground from the Taliban, but a shortage of troops in Afghanistan means it cannot be held.
But this particular operation has been a success. The Sangin Valley is more secure, allowing much-needed reconstruction to take place.
But most importantly, there were no British casualties.
Posted on 09/02/2007 2:55 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Cincinnatus Returning To The Plow?

The charge should be rather that he, Tony Snow, and many others, as they live, shut up about "how they took pay cuts for their "public service" (which only increases their market value -- see everyone from Cheney and Rumsfeld, and how they parlayed their "public service" into huge fortunes, or all the lesser figures who somehow, because they were in this or that administration, managed to make it big from Reagan's Budget Director (what was his name) to Clinton's George Stepanopoulos.

Particularly galling is the invocation of the need to pay "tuition for children" that puts them in the category of "now having to make real money." What is $168,000 but "real money"? This kind of talk -- and in happens all the time -- is indulged in by those who have no tact, who are oblivious to most of us, and who both insult and depress all of those for whom $168,000, or half that, or one-quarter of that, is indeed "real money" -- which is to say, a great many.

Tony Snow can leave office any time he wants for whatever reason.. But he should just shut up about his financial sacrifices and how terrible it was that he had to "take out a loan" after a year or two of what is called, with the false implication of Cincinnatus-leaving-the-plow sacrifice, "public service." Everyone who reaches the level of Tony Snow, no matter how idiotic such a person has demonstrated himself to be, subsequently makes out like gangbusters; at the very least, lifetime sinecure at one of those permanent floating crap-games of opinion, the Washington Think-Tanks, where the "thinking" part of the title on the door may be less important than the nubile secretary on the floor.  

Posted on 09/02/2007 6:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Campaign Issue: What About American Infrastructure?

WaPo: Iraq's crucial oil and electricity sectors still need roughly $50 billion to meet demand, analysts and officials say, even after the United States has poured more than $6 billion into them over more than four years.

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration has focused much of its $44.5 billion reconstruction plan on oil and electricity. Now, with the U.S.-led reconstruction phase nearing its close, Iraq will need to spend $27 billion more for its electrical system and $20 billion to $30 billion for oil infrastructure, according to estimates the Government Accountability Office collected from Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Even with the funding, the GAO notes that it could take until 2015 for Iraq to produce 6 million barrels of oil a day and have enough electricity to meet demand. A commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers says it could have enough electricity sooner -- 2010 to 2013...

Another huge problem: Armed groups regularly attack oil and electricity facilities...

Posted on 09/02/2007 7:22 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Sign Of The Times II
New Duranty: ...in an interview with a book author [Robert Draper] in the Oval Office one day last December, he [President Bush] daydreamed about the next phase of his life, when his time will be his own.

First, Mr. Bush said, “I’ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol’ coffers.” With assets that have been estimated as high as nearly $21 million, Mr. Bush added, “I don’t know what my dad gets — it’s more than 50-75” thousand dollars a speech, and “Clinton’s making a lot of money.”...

Posted on 09/02/2007 7:34 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
While The Reluctant Candidate Considers, A Musical Interlude
Posted on 09/02/2007 8:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
"I see this is mosque. I don't see temple"

More on this story in the VOA News stating the obvious: using a backhoe to dig a trench under the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is bound to destroy evidence of the 4,000 years of Jewish habitation. Archaeologists world-wide should be horrified. (hat tip: DW)

Israeli archaeologists accuse Islamic authorities of damaging artifacts from Biblical times at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.  The mosque sits on a plaza, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims. As the site of the two Biblical temples, the Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism. The area is a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trouble began when the Wakf, the Islamic Trust that administers the site, brought in a tractor to dig a trench. The Wakf said it was replacing a 40-year-old electrical cable, but Israeli archaeologists were furious.

"In the last week, the Islamic Wakf authorities on the Temple Mount have carried out a barbaric act of excavating illicitly," said archaeologist Gabi Barkai.

He told a news conference that the digging of the 400-meter long channel has harmed relics from the time of the Temples. 

"This channel destroyed several layers of ancient remains upon the Temple Mount," he added.  "The trench encountered also a built wall which could have belonged to the outer courtyards of the Temple itself."

Muslim authorities have denied the allegations, describing them as "sheer propaganda." They say they respect antiquities, and the infrastructure work did not cause any damage.

Palestinian worshipper Ismael Ramadan told VOA that Israel has no right to interfere in what happens at a Muslim holy place.

"I grew up and I see [with] my eyes and I see this is [a] mosque. I don't see [a] temple," he said...

Posted on 09/02/2007 9:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Nuclear Clock Ticks
BBC: Iran has met a key target for its nuclear programme and now has 3,000 centrifuges enriching uranium, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said....
Posted on 09/02/2007 9:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
On the 50th Anniversary of "On The Road"

Let us all take a moment to ponder and reflect upon Truman Capote's famous evaluation of Jack Kerouac's work:

"That's not writing, that's typing."

Posted on 09/02/2007 9:53 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Candidate Seems To Be Pulling Out But Is Implored To Change His Mind
Posted on 09/02/2007 10:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Candidate, Listening To The Pleas, Agrees To Run. His Supporters Are Ecstatic, If Momentarily Confused
Posted on 09/02/2007 10:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Nuclear Clock Ticks II
WND: The Pentagon has formulated a "three-day blitz" plan to annihilate Iran's military that targets 1,200 sites, including Tehran's nuclear facilities, in order to render its military incapable of conducting offensive, defensive or retaliatory missions.

According to the London Sunday Times, citing Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, the Pentagon has rejected a strategy of "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities.

"They're about taking out the entire Iranian military," Debat said.

Despite a report last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency of "significant" cooperation by Iran over its nuclear program, Washington sees only continued stalling by the Islamic regime, reports the Times.

President Bush increased his rhetoric against Iran's nuclear program last week, saying Tehran had put the Mideast "under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust" and indicated action would be taken against the program "before it is too late." ...

Posted on 09/02/2007 10:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Candidate Finds The Perfect Running Mate

 

http://www.redhotjazz.com/teao.html 

then click on "That's What I Like About You"

Posted on 09/02/2007 11:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Candidate, On The Stump, Re-Affirms His Confidence In His Running Mate
Posted on 09/02/2007 11:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Environmentally-Aware Whistlestop Campaign Begins

http://www.redhotjazz.com/weems.html

click on "I Love To Ride On A Choo-Choo Train"

Posted on 09/02/2007 11:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The Candidate's Speech In Miami Is Rapturously Received
Posted on 09/02/2007 11:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
The cartoonist behind a caricature of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad has said he has no intention of apologizing.
From today’s Local, news from Sweden in the English language.
Afghanistan is the latest country to condemn the publication of the caricatures of Muhammad with the body of a dog in newspaper Nerikes Allehanda. Meanwhile, a leading Swedish newspaper has said Sweden should not apologize.
A leading Swedish newspaper on Saturday said the country should not apologize for the recent publication of a cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad which has inflamed devout Muslims around the world.
Dagens Nyheter said in an editorial Sweden "has a duty from now on to defend its principles and present an open dialogue".
It said offended Muslims would not receive the apologies they are asking for.
Nerikes Allehanda published the cartoon on August 18th to illustrate an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of expression and religion.
Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist in question, said he had no intention to apologize.
"You must be allowed to criticise religion, but I am not opposed to Islam," he told Danish agency Ritzau. He had, in the past, also drawn a "Jewish sow", Vilks said.
He also said he had received death threats.
Svenska Dagbladet, another broadsheet, said Sweden was now in a situation "which could escalate and slip away from Swedish control".
On Friday, 200 Muslims protested in Örebro, a town west of Stockholm where Nerikes Allehanda is based.
Ulf Johanssen, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, spoke with the head of the demonstration, but refused to offer any excuses to the protesters.
Posted on 09/02/2007 1:08 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Then It Was On To Alabama, With A Stop In Birmingham
Posted on 09/02/2007 1:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
And The Crowds Got Bigger

The crowds were big:

 

 

 

 

 

 and then got bigger:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 and bigger:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and still bigger:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and all kinds of people showed up:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to meet the candidates and their spouses...

Posted on 09/02/2007 1:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Cox & Forkum: Opus Akbar

The latest strip the Washington Post refused to run is here.

Posted on 09/02/2007 4:57 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Four Questions In Search Of An Answer

From the JW Archives:

September 24, 2006

"We should also encourage the moderate leaders in the Muslim world -- and they're the majority -- to distance themselves from this extremism..." -- from Jose Manuel Barroso's comment

Four Questions and No Answer:

1. Define "moderate leaders."
2. Tell us how you know they are in "the majority."
3. Tell us why the attacks on the Pope can be described, without more, as "extremism."
4. Tell us why you think that "the moderate leaders in the Muslim world -- and they're the majority" -- have not once been capable of denouncing those who riot and agitate and utter death threats, not only now against the Pope, but in other incidents, such as those worldwide Muslim protests, presumably from those Muslims not in "the majority," over Danes daring to exercise in Denmark their right of free speech.

The very phrase "moderate Muslim" shows us what we all realize about Islam, even if we choose not to express it to others or even to recognize it ourselves. For a "moderate Muslim" is someone who is not too much of a believer, who may be largely unobservant, who may choose to ignore a large part of what the Qur'an, Hadith, and the example of Muhammad in the Sira all teach. In other words, a "moderate Muslim" is one who takes his Islam but only "in moderation." Ideally, from the viewpoint of Infidels, is that "moderate Muslim" who takes such a low dose of the belief-system that he becomes what one may call the "Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only" Muslim.

What does this tell us? It tells us that if the "moderate Muslim" is the good kind, the kind we wish to encourage, the kind we can work with, the kind we can trust to do battle against "immoderate" Muslims, then those who loudly claim to the contrary are in fact recognizing that there is something terribly wrong with Islam itself. We can only have hope, if we have any hope at all, in those who do not take the teachings of Islam too seriously, too much to heart. It is those who fully accept the teachings of Islam, and are not merely going through the motions out of filial piety or some vague sense of tradition, who are the greatest danger.

But the notion of "moderate" Muslims is too easily invoked and relied upon. In the archives at Jihad Watch (see the articles page) one can find my article "Ten Things to Think About When Thinking About Moderate Muslims." And among the points made in that piece is that those who fail to describe what Islam teaches, in their own attempts to deflect understanding and knowledge of Islam through the exercise of Taqiyya-and-Tu-Quoque, are not "moderates" in any helpful sense, for they are simply continuing to mislead unwary Infidels. And what is worse, they are more effective at it, smoother at it, than the wild-eyed attendees of the Finsbury Mosque. Omar Bakri Mohammed, when he was the talk of London, was not nearly the threat that the smooth Tariq Ramadan continues to be to Infidel understanding of Islam.

A true "moderate" must be defined as a Muslim who does not mislead in any way about Islam. He may be uncomfortable about telling the full truth, but he should not lie about what Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira teach, and about how those teachings are accepted by a great many, the overwhelming majority, of Muslims. He must not deny the reality of the example of Muhammad, and what that example of uswa hasana, the Model for All Time, means for Muslims -- and more importantly, for non-Muslims. He must not pretend that the many Jihad verses in the Qur'an do not exist, or that they can be interpreted away, or that the doctrine of abrogation is not accepted. He must not confuse Infidels by quoting Hadith that may be pleasing, but are also deemed inauthentic, and he must not ignore those Hadith deemed authentic. He must not selectively quote, with careful ellipses, certain verses in the Qur'an, or mislead as to the meaning of verses which, on first reading, might seem unexceptional.

Those true moderates are only those who admit that there is something naturally menacing about Islam. In order for Muslims to be accepted, or even tolerated, in the Lands of the Infidels, they should have to admit that there is something wrong both in the teachings of Islam, and in the treatment, in time and space, of non-Muslims by Muslims who conquered their lands, and proceeded to islamize, and in many cases as well to arabize, those lands -- and to force those who did not convert to endure the permanent status of degradation, humiliation, and physical insecurity that all dhimmis, from Spain to East Asia, found was their common and immutable lot.

How many Muslims will qualify as "moderates" according to the minimal criteria offered above?

Very few.

Posted on 09/02/2007 5:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Fethullah Gulen Headed Home?
MEMRI Blog:

According to rumors in Turkey, the Islamist leader Fethullah Gulen (aka Hocaefendi) was seen last night boarding a Turkish Airlines plane in New York, on his way back to Turkey. The news was not confirmed.

Gulen has been living in the U.S. for many years – since his 1999 indictment in Turkey for organizing unlawful Islamist activities against the republic. Recently, charges against him were dropped and his trial was cancelled due to the changes made to relevant laws.

It has been speculated many times in the Turkish media that Gulen had been waiting for the Islamist AKP, that he and his community strongly supported, to be re-elected before he returned. Now that Turkey has an Islamist president as well as an Islamist government the time may have come for Gulen to come back.

 

Hugh has some comments on Gulen here.

Posted on 09/02/2007 5:36 PM by Andrew Bostom

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