Showing posts from July, 2007

Learning how to shake hands and drink coffee in Iraq

North County Times: Shake hands only with your right hand. Never set down your cup of coffee unless you want to insult your host. Shame and honor are very important to Iraqi Bedouin culture. Tribalism is the bedrock of Iraq, but jobs and security can transcend blood ties. View A Video Those were just a few of the messages that Marines from Camp Pendleton's 5th Marine Regiment started hearing Monday in a weeklong session of Iraqi cultural training. The training is aimed at making the regiment more effective in its mission to quell insurrection and help establish a new government when it heads off to Iraq. Col. Patrick Malay, the regiment's commanding officer, sat in his modest office at the base's Camp San Mateo Monday morning, quizzing Joe Harris, a Moroccan-born cultural trainer with the Marines' Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning.

Democrat retreats from the truth

Brian Bresnahan: When it comes to the war in Iraq, some on the left have invested themselves in our defeat. Politically speaking, there are those who simply can’t afford for us to be successful fighting against the turmoil created by terrorists. There are also those who simply have their heads in the sand with regard to the realities of what we face in the world. We fight Al Qaeda every day in Iraq. Yet these same politicians from the left feel the fight against them is either not taking place or is not necessary in Iraq. At a recent hearing of the Congressional Armed Services Committee, those two views from the left, which normally run parallel to each other, both headed in the direction of a U.S. defeat at the hands of the terrorists, crossed paths, and became too much for one Congresswoman to fathom or deal with. Democratic Representative Nancy Boyda of Kansas had to remove herself from the hearing, frustrated and angry with the positive news being delivered about the progress being

With $5 you can be a Zimbabwe millionaire

BBC: Zimbabwe is to start circulating a new 200,000 Zimbabwe dollar note, in a bid to tackle the country's inflation, the highest in the world. The new note, issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe from Wednesday, can buy 1kg (2.2lb) of sugar. Food and fuel shortages have become common as the government relies more heavily on imports, pushing prices to new heights. The official annual rate of inflation in Zimbabwe is nearing 5,000%. In practice, this means the price of a loaf of bread costs 50 times more in cash than it did a year ago. The new note is worth US$13 at the official exchange rate or $1 on the black market. ... I think Bob Mugabe and his printing press can drive inflation to new records. I think he is missing an opportunity to raise funds by not marketing them in the US. Of course there is the problem of paying for the transportation when the carriers will not accept the currency.

Losers don't want to hear about winning

Michael Barone talking about reports that the surge is working: ... Their argument is one many Democrats in Congress don't want to hear. Literally. This is the transcript of the response of freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last Friday to the optimistic testimony of Gen. Jack Keane, one of the original advocates of the surge: And I just will make some statements more for the re cord based on what I heard from—mainly from General Keane. As many of us—there was only so much that you could take until we in fact had to leave the room for a while. So I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things—after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to. But let me first just say that the description of Iraq as in some way or another that it's a place that I might take the family for a vacation—things are going so well—those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country

Dems delay hearing on critical shanges to FISA

CNS News: House Republican leaders Tuesday criticized what they called an "11th hour decision" by Democrats to put off a hearing on updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) until after Congress' August recess, warning that "national security can't be postponed." "Democrats have ignored, downplayed, and done everything possible to sidestep addressing the FISA problem," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a news release. "Now, they have canceled a hearing with the director of national intelligence (DNI) rather than have him address the issue directly on Capitol Hill." DNI Mike McConnell was scheduled to appear before the House Subcommittee on Community Management on Tuesday to report on the implementation of the 100-day plan he launched in April to address problems that have plagued intelligence efforts. As part of his presentation, McConnell was expected to discuss updating FISA along the lines given by Pre

Feeding the counterinsurgency effort

Michael Yon discusses the problem of getting food to the people in Baquba after al Qaeda was chased out of town. It was much more complicated than you would think and the Americans were the only ones that were trusted to help. He also tells how the Iraqis who lived in the area help not only identify where al Qaeda was hiding but also the locations that had been rigged with IEDs. After al Qaeda was defeated the logistic battle still needed to be resolved. ... Al Qaeda, like many serious terrorist organizations, uses food as clout and for pocket money. They had seized the food warehouse in Baqubah. The authorities in Baghdad responded by cutting off food shipments to Baqubah because they would fall into the hands of al Qaeda. This is where al Qaeda’s plan truly was working in the invisible ways—unlike but in addition to the very visible mosque bombings, for instance—because they had effectively cleaved Baqubah off from Baghdad. The mostly Shia government in Baghdad became the bad guy

Profiles in Dishonesty

Douglas MacKinnon: Earlier this year, movie mogul David Geffen said of Bill and Hillary Clinton, "Everyone in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling." As a former strong supporter of the Clintons, Mr. Geffen should know. In case any of the rest of us had doubts about the Clintons' ability to instantly spin an answer for no good reason other than to stay in practice, all doubt should have been removed during last week's CNN/YouTube Democratic debate. When the candidates were asked by a YouTube questioner if their kids went to public or private schools, Hillary actually managed to make a few people feel sorry for the media with her tale of woe as to why daughter Chelsea went to the ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Sidwell Friends School instead of a trouble-plagued District of Columbia public school. "I was advised, and it was, unfortunately, good advice, that if she were to go to a public school, the press would never leave her alone beca

The second most important man in Baghdad

Gen. Petraeus has made the most important difference in events in Iraq since he was named commander and started the surge. The man that is doing the most to give him a chance for success is not a partisan or in the military but is an honest reporter of events John Burns, the NY Times reporter. For those of us who support our efforts in Iraq that is a very surprising event, but Burns has always been an outstanding reporter and he has never let the politics of the paper inhibit his honest assessment. Hugh Hewitt has a lengthy interview with him that is worth reading in full. On Monday this week Rush Limbaugh talked about all the members of the mainstream media who are now coming to the conclusion that the surge is working. I think Burns and his fellow Times correspondent Michael Gordon have done more than anyone to change those attitudes and they did not do any of it as partisans. It is especially ironic that these two men of integrity work for the paper that has done its worse to in

Scandal games Democrats play

Rich Lowry: A MAJORITY is a terrible thing to waste. That's not stopping congressional Democrats. When not trying to force a pullout from Iraq, their main effort has been chasing Bush-administration scandals that loom large only in their fevered imaginations. Democrats consider this "change," but it is really a toxic repeat of the Republican investigative onslaught against Bill Clinton in the 1990s and of the Democratic one against Ronald Reagan in the 1980s - in other words, business as usual when Congress confronts a hated presidential adversary. The Democrats' latest tactic is to give an implicit choice to Bush officials: They can either come to Capitol Hill to testify so Democrats can try to build a perjury case against them, or they can refuse - in which case Democrats will cite them for criminal contempt of Congress. Either path leads inexorably to Democratic calls for a special counsel. Democrats love the prospect of another couple of Patrick Fitzgeralds, dru

What to do with al Qaeda in Pakistan

David Ignatius: ... ... What should the United States do about al-Qaeda's new haven in Pakistan, from which it may already be plotting attacks that could kill thousands of Americans? It is Sept. 10, metaphorically, with a little increment of time still remaining. We can see "the looming tower," to borrow the title of Lawrence Wright 's fine book. But how do we stop the airplanes? The Bush administration will attack "actionable targets anywhere in the world, putting aside whether it was Pakistan or anyplace else," warned Frances Fragos Townsend , the White House homeland security adviser. That drew the predictable indignant response from the Pakistani government, which doesn't want to go after the al-Qaeda cells in Waziristan but doesn't want anyone else to do it, either. ... The best answer I've heard comes from Henry Crumpton, a former CIA officer who was one of the heroes of the agency's campaign to destroy al-Qaeda's haven in Afghan

No lie and no perjury

Ruth Marcus: ... ... I don't think he actually lied about his March 2004 hospital encounter with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft . I certainly don't think he could be charged with -- much less convicted of -- perjury . Go back to December 2005, when the New York Times reported on a secret program of warrantless wiretapping. President Bush acknowledged an effort "to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al-Qaeda and related terrorist organizations." Soon, the first stories about the hospital visit appeared. In a Jan. 1, 2006, article, the Times reported then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey 's refusal to approve continuation of the surveillance program and described "an emergency visit" to Ashcroft's hospital room by Gonzales and Andrew Card , then White House counsel and chief of staff, respectively. Similarly, Newsweek reported how the White House aides "visited Ashcroft in the hospital to appeal

The al Qaeda metaphor search

Mark Drapeau: On a recent "Meet the Press," National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell discussed the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which described increased terror threats due to al Qaeda's reconstituted attack strength and leadership capabilities. Tim Russert pressed him for a comparison to the earlier April 2006 NIE statement: "We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized , lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse ." (emphasis added) Mr. Russert began from the premise that making al Qaeda less centralized would subsequently lead to a reduced terror threat from it and similar groups. The premise is demonstrably faulty, because of one critical and unmentioned assumption: They are just like us. Most large institutions are organized hierarchically with centralized leadership. Corporations have CEOs, armies have generals, countries have presidents. When competing against centralized organizations, promoting diff

Good news from Iraq will destroy Democrat cohesion

Washington Post: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war. Clyburn, in an interview with the video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy. Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal. "I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they h

Algerian wants to stay at Club Gitmo

Times: An inmate of Guantanamo Bay who spends 22 hours each day in an isolation cell is fighting for the right to stay in the notorious internment camp. Ahmed Belbacha fears that he will be tortured or killed if the United States goes ahead with plans to return him to his native Algeria. The Times has learnt that Mr Belbacha, who lived in Britain for three years, has filed an emergency motion at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC asking for his transfer out of Guantanamo to be halted. He was cleared for release from Camp Delta in February and his lawyers believe that his return to Algerian custody is imminent. Mr Belbacha says that if he returns to Algeria, he faces the threat of torture by security services and murder by Islamist terrorists. Zachary Katznelson, senior counsel with the human rights lawyers Reprieve and Mr Belbacha’s lawyer, has asked the US courts to block any transfer. “Ahmed is being held in camp six, the harshest part of Guantanamo,” he said. “His cell is

Taliban murder another hostage in extortion plot

BBC: A South Korean from a group of 22 held by the Taleban in south Afghanistan has been killed, a spokesman for the militants has said. The office of the governor of Ghazni province and local police also told the BBC the killing had taken place, but neither had seen the victim's body. ... The leader of the group was shot by the Taleban on Wednesday. The militants want government prisoners released. ... Far be it for the BBC to be judgmental about the Taliban's war crimes or even mention the fact that their conduct constitutes a war crime. Taking non combatants hostage and then murdering them in a plot to extort prisoner releases from the government is so blatant a war crime that even the BBC should be able to identify it as such. It should also be noted that this is a result of the governments agreeing to release prisoners to free a worthless Italian journalist. Perhaps the BBC has a higher regard for Italian journalist who get captured by Islamic terrorist, but his release

Data mining public data upsets liberals

The Strata-Sphere: Do you think it should be illegal for our government to use Yahoo or Google to search for information that may expose an attack here in the US? It is a basic fundamental question. These search engines use sophisticated and proprietary SW to rapidly run through the billions of pages of information now out on the world wide web to bring to you, and anyone, the supposed gems of the internet for you to analyze. It is how our national security agencies identify new threats and understand what they are thinking, since the web is one of the new tools in modern warfare. No sane person is going to reject the idea that authorities should monitor the information that is out there for public access to try and determine al Qaeda’s next move. We KNOW they used information we once had on the web to plan their attacks here. That is why you don’t see school layouts or government facility layouts or have access to names of people at a NASA center anymore - this information became les

Where are the nuke power plants in Iran?

TigerHawk takes a look at a tour of Iran's nuke facility by a reporter from the UK guardian and notices something interesting near the end of the article. ... Spinning the UF6 gas until it is up to 5% rich in U-235 produces nuclear fuel. Keep spinning until it is 90% enriched and you have the makings of a bomb. That - combined with the fact that Iran omitted to tell the IAEA about Natanz until its existence was revealed by an opposition group in 2002 - lie at the roots of the global scepticism over Iran's programme. But there is another huge question mark hanging over Isfahan and Natanz: why is the government in such a rush to enrich fuel, when it has no nuclear power plants in which to use it? It must be the fuel first program. Actually Iran has invested a good deal in a Russian nuclear power plant that sits idle because the Russians claim they have not been paid. As this report indicates that plant is not near where the fuel is being processed.

On night patrol in Baghdad

Michael Totten goes out with a unit from the 82nd Airborne and gives a first hand account of how the curfew and surge is working. It is a story about what it is like experiencing the patrol with the troops. The 82nd has had no KIA during this tour and Totten takes comfort in that when he senses fear during the operation.

Murtha and Democrats working hard for our defeat

Washington Times Editorial: With Congress's August recess less than one week away, it should hardly come as a surprise that Rep. John Murtha, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, is readying more legislative mischief. Mr. Murtha, a close political ally of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has made it clear that plans to use the $459.6 billion defense appropriations bill, which comes to the floor this week, to short-circuit the current military campaign against jihadists in Iraq and shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). Mr. Murtha plans to offer three amendments to the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill: One would set a 60-day timeline to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq (which will certainly help al Qaeda and the like in planning the Rwanda-ization of the country). A second Murtha amendment would implement the Pennsylvania Democrat's "slow-bleed" strategy for ensuring a U.S. military defeat by conditioning funds for t

Evidence of widespread Democrat voter fraud

John Fund: ... ... liberals are accusing the Bush Justice Department of cooking up spurious claims of voter fraud in the 2006 elections and creating what the New York Times calls a "fantasy" that voter fraud is a problem. Last week Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee chairman, claimed that the administration fired eight U.S. attorneys last year in order to pressure prosecutors "to bring cases of voter fraud to try to influence elections." He said one replacement U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo., was a "partisan operative" sent "to file charges on the eve of an election in violation of Justice Department guidelines." But the Kansas City prosecution was approved by career Justice lawyers, and the guidelines in question have since been rewritten by career lawyers in the Public Integrity section of Justice. But last week also brought fresh evidence that voter fraud is a real problem and could even branch out into cyberspace: • California

Terrorist rights Democrats undercut good program

David Rivkin and Lee Casey: Last Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing--at which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was insulted by senators and ridiculed by spectators--was Washington political theater at its lowest. But some significant information did manage to get through the senatorial venom directed at Mr. Gonzales. It now appears certain that the terrorist surveillance program (TSP) authorized by President Bush after 9/11 was even broader than the TSP that the New York Times first revealed in December 2005. It is also clear that Mr. Gonzales, along with former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, tried to preserve that original program with the knowledge and approval of both Republican and Democratic members of key congressional committees. Unfortunately, they failed and the program was narrowed. Today, the continuing viability of even the slimmed-down TSP--an indispensable weapon in the war on terror--remains in serious doubt. The administration's most immediat

A war that can be won in Iraq

Micheal O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack: VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place. Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with. After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they ha

Virginia wants help with deportations

Washington Times: Federal immigration officials say they lack the resources to fulfill a proposed mandate by Virginia lawmakers to train staff at every state jail to start deportation procedures for illegal aliens. "I cannot make that commitment to Virginia," said William F. Reid, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Washington field office. Mr. Reid told members of the State Crime Commission's illegal-immigration task force at a meeting Tuesday in Richmond that the state's request would be evaluated against nationwide requests. Twenty-two law-enforcement agencies nationwide have entered formal agreements with ICE to complete the training, authorized under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, agency spokesman Richard Rocha said. More than 65 other agencies have requested 287(g) training, he said. ICE requested $26.4 million for 287(g) training from Congress for its fiscal 2008 budget, which would fund the training

3rd urban pot farm found in Dallas area

Fox4 Dallas: Sources have confirmed to FOX 4 that officers aboard a Dallas Police Department helicopter have discovered a large field of marijuana plants in southwest Dallas. The field is so big that police have called in federal and state agencies to help, according to our sources. The crop is located at I-20 and Spur 408 and can only be seen from the air. Sources said the chopper was doing a routine flyover when someone noticed the field. Sunday's discovery marks the 3rd time in 3 weeks that authorities have found marijuana growing in places hidden from view, but close to busy areas. ... Earlier finds were reported here: Giant Marijuana Farm Found 200 Yards From DEA Office $5 Million Worth of Pot Plants Found Growing in Southwest Dallas High times in Dallas will be postponed.

Paper backs off of Maliki-Petraeus row

Telegraph: America's top general in Iraq yesterday quashed reports of a breakdown in his relationship with Iraq's prime minister over American support for Sunni Muslim fighters battling al-Qa'eda. General David Petraeus poured scorn on a claim by an Iraqi politician that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requested his dismissal after bitter rows. "I don't know where that is coming from," Gen Petraeus said. "He and I have truly had frank conversations but he has never yelled or stood up. This is really, really hard stuff, and occasionally people agree to disagree." ... Reports that the Shia Muslim Iraqi leadership opposes the strategy have circulated in Baghdad. The government is said to fear the policy is a backdoor route to arming Sunnis fighting Shia militias for territory. ... I think they are admitting that the earlier report was based on a rumor.

Rationed socalized medicine in UK for woman 108

Daily Mail: A woman aged 108 has been told she must wait 18 months before the Health Service will give her the hearing aid she needs. Former piano teacher Olive Beal, one of the oldest people in Britain, has poor eyesight and uses a wheelchair. The delay could mean she will be unable to communicate and listen to the music she loves. Now her family have said that realistically Mrs Beal is unlikely ever to receive the digital hearing aid that will save her from isolation. The one-time suffragette is one of hundreds of thousands of older people made to wait up to two years and sometimes more for modern digital hearing aids that make a dramatic difference to their ability to hear and communicate. The case of Mrs Beal comes just a few days after the Mail revealed how another centenarian, Esme Collins, has been threatened with eviction from the nursing home where she has lived for ten years in a dispute between home owners and the local council over her fees. ... Perhaps Michael Moore ca

Libya worse than Gitmo

Guardian: The Palestinian doctor who was held in Libyan custody along with five Bulgarian nurses on charges they infected hundreds of children with HIV, has described in detail how they were tortured during their eight-year ordeal. Ashraf Alhajouj, 38, said he was beaten, held in cages with police dogs and given electric shocks, including to his private parts. He said that he and the nurses were sometimes put together naked in the same room and tortured. ... "For the first days I was locked up with three dogs who were ordered to attack me. My leg is full of scars and marks from where they bit me [and] I had a big hole in my knee," he said. Later, he said, wire cable that had been stripped of its plastic coating, was wound round his penis and he was dragged "screaming and crying" across the floor. He was also given electric shocks with a generator-style machine. "They put the minus cable on my finger and the plus cable on my ear or my genitals. The most painful

Sudan blames Darfur genocide on Jews

Ynet: Sudan's defense minister, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, has accused "24 Jewish organizations" of "fueling the conflict in Darfur" last week in an interview with a Saudi newspaper. Hussein was interviewed during an official state-visit to the Saudi kingdom last week. A journalist from Saudi Arabia's Okaz newspaper asked Hussein: "Some people are talking about the penetration of Jewish organizations in Darfur and that there is no conflict there?" "The Darfur issue is being fuelled by 24 Jewish organizations, who are making the largest amount of noise over the issue, and using the Holocaust in their campaigning," the Sudanese defense minister replied. Hussein added that the Darfur conflict was driven by "friction between farmers and herders and shepherds. Among the biggest problems is that of water, which is used to exploit the differences and fuel the conflict." "Are these Jewish groups supporting (the rebels) financiall

Iraq soccer win a defeat for al Qaeda

BBC: Thousands of Iraqis have spilled onto the streets to celebrate their football squad's Asian Cup victory, firing guns into the air despite a government ban. Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0. Celebratory gunfire was heard in Baghdad, where authorities had banned vehicles and urged fans not to gather. It was feared crowds could be targets for bombers. Some 50 people died in attacks after Wednesday's semi-final. Correspondents say Iraq's progress has temporarily united the divided country. The team includes Sunni and Shia Muslims, as well as Kurds. Thousands of Iraqis, who had been following the match in Indonesia on television, rushed into the streets of the capital and other cities to celebrate. The crowds in Baghdad included members of the security forces. Guns were fired into the air despite an earlier warning by the authorities that any such displays would be punished. "It's a huge success for Iraq and it's a very, very good news for Iraq," Iraq's nati

Swat team in trouble

Mark Steyn: Do you know Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison? If you do, don't approach them. Call 911 and order up a SWAT team. They're believed to be in the vicinity of McMinnville, Ore., where they're a clear and present danger to the community. Mashburn and Cornelison were recently charged with five counts of felony sexual abuse, and District Attorney Bradley Berry has pledged to have them registered for life as sex offenders. Oh, by the way, the defendants are in the seventh grade. Messrs Mashburn and Cornelison are pupils at Patton Middle School. They were arrested in February after being observed in the vestibule, swatting girls on the butt. Butt-swatting had apparently become a form of greeting at the school – like "a handshake we do," as one female student put it. On "Slap Butt Fridays," boys and girls would hail each other with a cheery application of manual friction to the posterior, akin to a Masonic greeting. Don't ask me why. The rear end

Scott Thomas Beauchamp--"victim"

Dymphna at Gates of Vienna follows the latest reports on the poor private who now either wants more privacy or does not. Perhaps the most ridiculous reaction to the comments inspired by his writing is the charge by lefties that Milbloggers are " chickenhawks ." The word has now lost any meaning whatsoever.

The Marine Corps new recruits

LA Times: ALI and Yasmin Motamedi did not want their eldest son to join the Marine Corps. They paid close attention to the news, and they didn't like what they saw: Marines and soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan; young men and women with their limbs blown off; veterans coming home mentally scarred and emotionally broken. Daniel Motamedi, 17 years old and brimming with wisecracks and bravado, considered the Marine Corps the opportunity — and the adventure — of a lifetime. While his friends watched "American Idol," he scoured the History Channel for old war footage. He memorized Marine Corps history and traditions. He joined ROTC. He wore a Marine Corps lanyard and plastered the Corps logo on his parents' gold Mercedes. On Mother's Day, at the family home in Stevenson Ranch, Daniel confirmed what his parents had feared for months: He was joining the Marines. Boot camp would begin 10 days after his high school graduation. "We hoped he'd at least g

Hezballah explains why it should be destroyed

AP /Fox News: Hezbollah 's leader said Saturday that the militant Islamic group's war last summer with Israel has left the U.S. vision of a "new Middle East" in shambles and claimed the guerrilla group was ready to strike Israel again at any time. During the 34-day war in southern Lebanon , Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a new era of democracy and peace in the region, "a new Middle East." But Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, said the U.S. vision aimed at reinforcing Israel. "There is no new Middle East," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah told a mass rally in the southern town of Bint Jbeil, one of the towns hardest hit by the war. "It's gone with the wind." Nasrallah did not personally attend the rally to mark the first anniversary of the war which Hezbollah calls "a divine victory. His speech was relayed to the crowd on a giant screen set up in the main squar

Liberals not so keen on judicial independence anymore

Opinion Journal: Welcome to Arlen Specter, the B side. One week after standing up for the nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick, a Bush appeals court nominee being stonewalled by Democrats, the mercurial Republican from Philadelphia has come up with a strange new quest. On Tuesday, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican announced his plans to "review" the confirmation hearing testimony of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito to see how it matches their decisions on the bench. "There are things he has said, and I want to see how well he has complied with it," Senator Specter said of the Chief Justice, according to The Politico Web site. They must be falling over at the American Bar Association. It's widely agreed that it would be unseemly and improper for a nominee to seek confirmation to the nation's highest Court by promising Senators how he or she would rule on a given issue on the bench. Yet Mr. Specter's statement suggests

Giuliani, Romney lead in River Oaks primary

Houston Chronicle: In Houston's prosperous River Oaks, campaign donations have been flowing to the presidential contenders, particularly Republicans Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Over in eclectic Montrose, however, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama is tops in raking in the contributions. And on the city's working class east side, none of the national candidates is reaping big campaign checks. How do we know? Voters don't have to divulge what they do in the privacy of the ballot booth. But the candidates do have to publicly report the names of their donors and their ZIP codes, plus the amounts and dates of donations. Thanks to improved Internet technology, it's easier than ever to peek at those campaign contributions, which watchdog organizations have categorized by ZIP code. With a few keystrokes and clicks on a computer, you can see which of your neighbors gave how much money to which candidates so far in 2007. You can see, for instance, that some of the city's