Saturday, August 26, 2006


A
Grim
Milestone


You may not remember it, but I do. As the total number of troops killed in Iraq approached 2,000, our mainstream media here in the United States went into full-court press, intoning the phrase "a grim milestone" over and over and over ad nauseum ad absurdum.

Well, check out these numbers, and light a candle, or whatever it is you like to light:


Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces.

Troops spent a total of 592,002 "person-years" in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

How does this rate compare with that in other groups? One meaningful comparison is to the civilian population of the United States. That rate was 8.42 per 1,000 in 2003, more than twice that for military personnel in Iraq.

The comparison is imperfect, of course, because a much higher fraction of the American population is elderly and subject to higher death rates from degenerative diseases. The death rate for U.S. men ages 18 to 39 in 2003 was 1.53 per 1,000 -- 39 percent of that of troops in Iraq.

But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides.


Terrye, one of my favorite bloggers, comments:


Read it all and remember the faked photos, the forgotten Iraqi voters and the polls that show Iraqis really do have faith in the future of their country, the overblown AbuGhraib scandal and all the rest and ask yourself, Why would any decent person really want this to fail?


I say:

It seems to me that rather than viewing the sacrifices our troops have made as representing a grim milestone, we ought to begin viewing the "Peace and Justice" crowd as a grim millstone around our necks.

Pacifists kill. The age of the Death Hippie must come to an end.


Pakistani
Reforms
Of
Medieval
Rape Laws
Meet With
Backlash


President Musharraf attempts to drag his country kicking and screaming into the modern world, but they will have none of it:


President Pervez Musharraf has opened a new and especially bitter confrontation with radical Islam by trying to rewrite Pakistan's controversial rape laws.

These place an almost impossible burden of proof on women by compelling them to produce four "pious" male witnesses to prove rape or risk being convicted of adultery and face 100 lashes or death by stoning.

This law, known as the Hudood Ordinance, has been regarded as untouchable since its passage 27 years ago.


This news story was originally from the London Telegraph. For some reason they did not point out that this "Hudood Ordinance" is stipulated by the Koran. It is part of Sharia Law.

Robert Spencer comments:


After Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, is accused of adultery, he exonerates her with a revelation from Allah requiring four witnesses to establish a sexual offense: "Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they produce not witnesses, they verily are liars in the sight of Allah" (Qur’an 24:11). The adoption of this law was part of the long, slow abandonment of secular law by Pakistan.

It also sets no minimum age for sex with girls, saying only that they should have reached puberty.

This too is based on Muhammad's example. According to a hadith attributed to Aisha herself as the source, "the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years" (Bukhari, 7.62.64).

A powerful militant Muslim lobby regards this code as sacred and based on Koranic texts and sharia law. No previous Pakistani leader, not even the country's first female leader, Benazir Bhutto, dared reform it.

But Gen Musharraf's allies in parliament sparked the fury of the militant opposition by introducing a Women Protection Bill. This would remove the requirement for four male witnesses to prove rape and set 16 as the age of consent for sex with girls.

When this measure came before parliament, Islamic radicals responded by tearing up copies of the bill and storming out. "This bill is against the Holy Koran," said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the militant opposition. "We reject it and will try to block it in any possible manner." Other MPs chanted "death to Musharraf" and "Allah is great."

Liaqat Baluch, the deputy leader of an alliance of six Islamic parties, pledged to mount a public campaign to show that "under the garb of this bill and women's rights, the government is deviating from the Koran".


United Nations
Interim
Force
In Lebanon
Broadcasts
Israeli Troop
Movements


Yes, that's right, the United Nations was caught broadcasting Israeli troop movements so that Hizbollah could have up-to-date realtime intelligence during the course of the war. You know, they are supposed to be neutral:


DURING THE RECENT month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N. “peacekeeping” forces made a startling contribution: They openly published daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.

UNIFIL—the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978—is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah “fired rockets in large numbers from various locations” and Hezbollah’s rockets “were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations” are as precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.

See for yourself; here are the documents to which this article refers: UNIFIL: United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon - Press releases. As reported several times on LGF, these daily press releases also contain numerous examples of Hizballah’s use of UN facilities as firing stations—none of which ever made it to the mainstream media.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bush:
Fiddling
With Himself
While
Ahmadinejad Burns


The Bush Administration-brokered "peace treaty" which supposedly settled the Israel/Hisbollah war will loom huge in GWB's legacy. Bush may go on to be considered among the worst Presidents in American history.

Here's why. From Atlas Shrugs:


Critics tick off a list of missteps they claim the administration made after fighting broke out July 12 between Israel and the heavily armed Islamic militia group. Most damaging, they assert, may be how the Bush administration portrayed the war early on as a means to bring long-lasting improvements to Lebanon by dismantling Hezbollah, and then brokered a deal that may end up neither weakening the group nor greatly bolstering either Israel's security or Lebanon's wobbly government.

"It's pretty clear that things are going to pan out badly," says Danielle Pletka, a Middle East expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and increasingly vocal administration critic. "Whenever you try to solve something that needs major surgery with a Band-Aid you run a real risk of disaster."

Conservative critics fret a similar scenario will play out with Iran: that after repeatedly warning Tehran to stop uranium enrichment, the U.S. will manage in coming weeks to win only meager sanctions within the U.N. Security Council. As evidence they point to the administration's muted response after Iran this week said formally it wasn't going to suspend uranium enrichment -- a key requirement of a recent U.N. resolution.

"This is an administration that frequently says things are unacceptable and then goes on to accept them," says Richard Perle, a prominent neoconservative and Pentagon adviser.


The Bush Administrations handling of the Israel/Hizbollah war has left observers with the impression that the Bush Administration is conducting the War agains the Islamic Jihad with no discernible strategy. This certainly gives cause for legitimate worry as to how they will handle Iran.

A nuclear Iran. That's a legacy far worse than what Clinton's critics can pin on him. He didn't assassinate Bin Laden? Well, you know, Ronald Reagan is the President who signed into law the United States "Ban on Assassinations."

Clinton was only following orders. (Yes, that is written with intended irony.)

Meanwhile, Bush is sitting back and watching, as an apocalypse-obsessed madman ejaculates his first nuclear weapon.


Chavez:
Israel
"Worse
Than
Hitler"


Gee, do you think, perhaps, Huge Chavez is just a bit irrational:


BEIJING (AFP) - Visiting Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has denounced Israel's recent attacks on Lebanon as "genocide," likening its action to war crimes committed by Germany's Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

"Israel often criticizes Hitler ... but they have done the same thing, perhaps even worse," Chavez told reporters Friday in a briefing during his six-day visit to China.

Ahmadinejad
"Would Sacrifice
Half Of Iran"
To
Eliminate Israel


From the Jerusalem Post:


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, if he ever became the supreme decision maker in his country, would "sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel," Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.


At present, Eiland stressed, the ultimate decision maker in Iran was Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 67, whom he said was "more reasonable." But, Eiland went on, "if Ahmadinejad were to succeed him - and he has a reasonable chance of doing so - then we'd be in a highly dangerous situation."

The 49-year-old Iranian president, he said, "has a religious conviction that Israel's demise is essential to the restoration of Muslim glory, that the Zionist thorn in the heart of the Islamic nations must be removed. And he will pay almost any price to right the perceived historic wrong. If he becomes the supreme leader and has a nuclear capability, that's a real threat."

In facing up to Iran's nuclear ambitions, Eiland said the United States had three possible courses of action, "all of them bad," and that a decision could not be postponed for too long, "since delay, too, is a decision of sorts."

The first option was "to give up" - to accept that Iran was going nuclear and try to make the best of it. By "making the best of it," Eiland said, he meant "isolating Iran economically, politically and internationally in the hope that this will eventually prompt an internal push for regime change."

This might also give other nations the sense that the political price of going nuclear was too high for them to contemplate, and might thus deter nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria and others from seeking to emulate Iran and spelling the full collapse of the nuclear nonproliferation era.

Washington's second option was to launch a last-ditch effort at diplomatic action, he said. At this stage, a mixture of sanctions and bonuses would not be sufficient to deter Iran altogether, but it might seek to persuade Teheran to suspend progress for two or three years.

"In return, the US would have to open direct engagement with Teheran, with full recognition of the regime. This would boost the regime's credibility and standing at home and allow it to say it was voluntarily suspending the program for a while," he said.

The advantage for the Bush administration was that "Bush could then say, 'They didn't go nuclear on my watch, and it's up to my successors to keep things that way.'"

The third option, said Eiland, was a military operation - born of the sense that the diplomatic process would not work and that there could be no compromise with an axis-of-evil power. However, internal political realities and public opinion in the US were not conducive to this, he said, nor was international support readily available. Furthermore, said Eiland, "this would be action that would have to be taken within months.

If not, and if Iran continues enrichment, it will complete the research and development stage and have a proven ability which it can then duplicate at numerous sites. And at that point it could not be stopped by military action. Six months or 12 months from now would be too late, he said.

Tellingly, Eiland noted, it seemed to him that the difficulties facing the administration over that third course were growing.

Thursday, August 24, 2006



That Hitler
He Sure
Is Popular
In The
Islamic World


From Little Green Footballs, Here’s an update on that Hitler-themed Indian restaurant, as the manager of the place complains that nobody’s objecting to all those other Hitler-themed businesses.


Those who run the 1,000 sq ft restaurant have removed a poster of Hitler and the swastika pasted in the restaurant following the outrage from the Jews. But they are refusing to bend further and change its name.

“I have no sympathy for Adolf Hitler. The name was just chosen because it seemed so radically different from any other restaurant name. I don’t understand why no one has raised objections to at least a dozen such brand names,” 26-year-old managing director Punit Sabhlok said.

Furiously rattling off the names of kid’s fashion labels, liquor brands and tobacco products bearing Hitler’s name, Sabhlok said similar standards would have to be applied to everybody.

“I don’t wish to change the name of my restaurant, but if they insist, I would want them to change the names of all these other brands as well. Why only me?”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The
Religion
Of Peace


Nigerian victim of Sharia Law




Hat tip: Eyes All Around

"So you think the Ku Klux Klan and the Spanish Inquisition are bad?

So do we, but...

Put the Numbers in Perspective:

More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined.

Islamic terrorists murder more people every day than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last 50 years.

More civilians were killed by Muslim extremists in two hours on September 11th than in the 36 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

19 Muslim hijackers killed more innocents in two hours on September 11th than the number of American criminals put to death in the last 65 years."

Children
Telling
Ghost Stories
Around
The Campfire


Remember when you were a kid and you'd sit around a campfire with a group of people and tell stories, and someone would inevitably relate a story about the time a friend of a friend saw a light turn off and on by itself, or maybe a room suddenly became freezing cold. Yes, then another kid would chime in and tell of how after his grandma died, everyone could hear her walking through the house at night and bumping into things.

Before you knew it, it seemed everyone had a ghost story to tell, and before you knew it, you absolutely believed them all. There was something about sitting around a campfire with the outer darness ringing you, and the repetition of the stories. You just knew that any second a ghost was going to leap into your midst.

Watch now and see the same dynamic at play in the Islamic community of Germany. Substitute anger at Western Civilization for the campfire, and subsitute Islam for the ring of darness:


This just in: The Lebanese men suspected of having deposited bombs on German trains last month were hired hands — in the employ of the German government itself.

That, at least, is what one 27-year-old from Saudi Arabia believes. “It’s all a Protestant crusade,” the man explains. “All of northern Germany is Protestant, isn’t it? And so is President Bush.” Then the man launches into a melange of confusing arguments and historical facts. The bubonic plague, Martin Luther and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl all make a cameo. It’s all connected somehow, the man is sure of it.

The young Saudi Arabian’s views may make little sense from a Western point of view, but you can meet him and talk to him at a street corner in the middle of Hamburg, right by the central station. Foreigners from all over the world live in this neighborhood, called St. Georg, and a large number of them are Muslim. Several mosques have been built in the neighborhood. Many nearby stores carry no alcohol — but they do have electronic memory aides for Koran students on offer.

And then there are the conspiracy theories. They are everywhere — dozens of them — including some to explain away Germany’s recent terror scare. The others — some mutually contradictory — have pat explanations for what’s really going on in the world.

The Saudi Arabian’s crusade theory is being hotly debated on Steindamm, one of the main streets in the neighborhood. “It’s not about religion, it’s about money,” says an Algerian wearing a Lacoste shirt. A man from Tunisia immediately agrees and asks, “Why else have German soldiers been sent to Congo?”

In their struggle for money and oil, Western states will use whatever means they can, according to the theory. That the USA knew about the September 11, 2001 attacks before they happened but chose not to prevent them is a widespread view. “We think the United States needed those attacks so they could start the Iraq war,” explains Mahran Abdulwahab, a Lebanese graphic designer with a Hamburg accent.

Asked what they think of the suspects arrested for the foiled train attacks, many respond with remarks like: “They’re crazy.” Few have more to say. Abdulwahab also thinks such attacks are sheer madness. “It only harms people like us who live here,” he says.

But even he — whose views are quite moderate and who even had a Jewish girlfriend once — can’t help claiming you’ll never get the whole truth from the Western media because “their reporting is just too pro-Jewish.” Many such anti-Semitic remarks — and worse — can be heard around Hamburg’s central station.

Or on television. Just a few days ago, a 17-year-old Kurd from Bonn espoused the following theory on SPIEGEL TV: “What happened first,” he said, talking about the recent conflict in Lebanon, “was that the Jews raped a child, or something like that.” Later he claimed to have learned from a credible source that Jews once systematically shot six-year-olds in a kindergarten. “They let the teacher live so she would become mentally ill,” the young man said.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Garden Of Gethsemane


From Jesus Christ Superstar



This Woman
Is A
Metaphor
For Europe
As A Whole


I don't even know how to introduce this:


Jenni Murray, the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, has made plans to end her life if she becomes a burden to her family.

She said: "When my time comes I want to be able to decide about my destiny."

The last thing she wanted, she said, was for her children to suffer from her being desperately ill.

She is sealing a pact with two friends that they will assist each other to die if any of them is diagnosed with a debilitating and incurable illness. Methods they might use include injections or smothering with a pillow.

This is despite a law outlawing assisted suicide, which Murray says is sustained by a religious minority.

She speaks of the pact tomorrow night on a Channel 5 documentary, Don't Get Me Started!, that produces statistics to back the theory that many people in the country share her views on euthanasia.

Her appearance is part of a "personal rant" series in which noted people are given the chance to sound off about a subject they feel strongly about.

Publicity material for the show says that Murray "does not want to look after her sick and aging mother, and plans to end her own life when she becomes a burden to those around her".

The network said: "Jenni is angry that, having fought so hard to become liberated and independent, women are now being trapped into caring for dependent parents."


That is painful to read. I guess this woman expects that the natural course of life is that government should take over the care and feeding of her "dependent parent."

I am so disheartened after reading this that all I can think to say is life is not about what we want, instead it is about what we give. It is not about figuring out how to shuffle our burdens off on someone else, it is about how we gracefully bear those burdens.

But, this woman has no feeling for such a life. Her "dependent parents" seem to be commodities with a shelf life. When their expiration date is up, it's time to send them off to the recycling center, I guess.

Jeez, forgive me. I don't know what to say.

Islam Is A Religion Of Peace


Monday, August 21, 2006

Chicken Grease


D'Angelo


The Muslim World Is Reasonable -
It's The West That's Nuts


Get it straight, we're the insane ones. The Guardian says so:


Israel’s persistent attempts to secure its place in this region by military force have always generated a greater Arab will to fight it, now also supported by Iran. Local attempts to secure its borders - occupations, surrogate armies, cross-border attacks, separation walls, massive punishment and humiliation of civilian populations - have not worked for Israel, and only generate more determined and capable resistance, as with Hizbullah.

Israel will also fail in its desire to subcontract its security to foreign or regional states, as it is attempting to do through the international force in south Lebanon, or by having Turkey prevent arms shipments to Hizbullah from Iran.

Every tough issue in this region - Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, terrorism, radicalism, armed resistance groups - is somehow linked to the consequences of the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The politicians and government leaders who dominate this region, or engage it from western capitals, all look like rank amateurs or intemperate brutes as they flail at symptoms instead of grappling with the core issue that has seen this region spin off into ever greater circles of violence since the 1970s. A comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement is achievable from the Arab side, to judge by the repeated offering of the 2002 Arab summit peace proposal.

Israel and the US must quickly decide if they too can become sensible and work for a comprehensive peace as the most effective way to reduce and then reverse the cycles of resentment, radicalism and resistance that now define much of the Arab-Islamic Middle East.


And, just to show you how reasonable, not to mention, how cultured, the Muslim world is let's celebrate the opening of a new restaurant in Mumbai. It's called Adolph's:


MUMBAI (Reuters) - A new restaurant in India’s financial hub, named after Adolf Hitler and promoted with posters showing the German leader and Nazi swastikas, has infuriated the country’s small Jewish community. ‘Hitler’s Cross’, which opened last week, serves up a wide range of continental fare and a big helping of controversy, thanks to a name the owners say they chose to stand out among hundreds of Mumbai eateries.

“We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” owner Punit Shablok told Reuters.

“We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.” But India’s remaining Jews — most migrated to Israel and the West over the years — say they are outraged by the gimmick.

“This signifies a severe lack of awareness of the agony of millions of Jews caused by one man,” said Jonathan Solomon, chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, the community’s umbrella organization. “We are going to stop this deification of Hitler,” he said without elaborating.

The small restaurant, its interior done out in the Nazi colors of red, white and black, also has a lounge for smoking the exotic Indian water pipe or “hookah.” Posters line the road leading up to it, featuring a red swastika carved in the name of the eatery.

One slogan reads: “From Small Bites to Mega Joys.” A huge portrait of a stern-looking Fuehrer greets visitors at the door. The cross in the restaurant’s name refers to the swastika that symbolized the Nazi regime.

“This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal,” said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani, adding that they were planning to turn the eatery’s name into a brand with more branches in Mumbai.

Fine,
Don't Watch
The Wire
But That
Would Be
A Big
Mistake


A reader wrote in and informed me of a TV show called The Wire, which she says deals with issues relavent to the war. As I don't watch TV, I had been completely unaware of this show.

Here is a review from the San Francisco Chronicle:


HBO. During its first two seasons, "The Wire" has been HBO's best series. That's saying something because HBO is the home of a good chunk of any credible critic's top 10 list and is, in case you need to be reminded, home of "The Sopranos."

You might have heard a positive word or two about that show.

Given that "The Sopranos" just completed its best season -- equal to or slightly better than its fabulous freshman run -- it will take a Herculean, perhaps even impossible, string of episodes for "The Wire" to remain the best show on television.

The truly difficult part, however, will be getting any new viewers to watch. "The Wire" has loyalists for the same reason important books have readers. But almost everyone else -- Emmy dunces included -- hasn't tuned in. This is a series that goes beyond critical darling. "The Wire" is better than its own hype. If you don't watch the show, it's your fault, your loss.

And yet, two things are frustratingly confounding about Sunday's third season premiere. First, the producers give new viewers no easy entry. This is a dense, intricately nuanced series you can't just bum-rush into at random and expect to get it, or better yet, get hooked. The season opener makes viewers work harder than they are accustomed to or probably have a desire to.

It's one thing to be principled and believe the work stands on its own, is worthy of effort on behalf of viewers and pays off immeasurably by season's end. It's entirely different to be audaciously -- and perhaps ill-advisedly -- disdainful of the most basic rule of television: Give people a reason to watch. Here's hoping HBO slaps a 17-minute "previously on" montage to the beginning of Sunday's episode, however unlikely.

Secondly, and this one is truly hard to figure, HBO has scheduled the series opener opposite the Emmys.

Welcome, all ye faithful. All others, see you in TV hell.

So the onus is on you. Either you wait until the DVD box comes out (the first season just hit stores) or you suck it up and make the effort. The HBO Web site for "The Wire" is loaded with information. There's a cast list that separates "The Law" from "The Street" and an episode guide that will bring you up to speed in no time. There's also a new hardcover book out -- a thorough companion guide.

Is all that work worth it? Depends. It's only the best show on TV so far. If you're content with "ER," then so be it. But if you like superior acting, writing and directing and want feature film quality every week, you know where to be on Sunday.

"The Wire" is television's most novelistic experience. It spins a tale slowly, it understands (like "The Sopranos") understatement. The writing is and has always been stunning, not just because it finely separates the shades of even the most minor character, but because it takes on the burden of multidimensional storytelling with almost no shortcuts. There are big stories in "The Wire," and they are told complexly, but thoroughly, with the understanding that you are a thinking person who will stand in there and absorb the dialogue, the motivation, the deeper meanings.

In short, it's the most demanding show on television. That's not what broadcast networks dabble in, so thank you, HBO, for making the effort. Whether holding steadfast to that artistic vision will get "The Wire" a fourth season is a matter of profound speculation, but look no further than putting it on against the Emmys for your first bad sign.

That said, having seen the first four episodes and survived the somewhat murky jumble of the opening hour, this much is obvious: "The Wire" is doing it again.

The dramatic performances are off the charts, the humor is lethal and that bleak view of humanity -- that downward spiral of life being ground down one day at a time -- yep, still intact.
Look, this series thinks big. According to HBO, Season 3 will "examine the concept and nature of reform and the role of the political leadership in addressing a city's problems."


Translation: It will attempt, over 13 episodes, to show how politics and bureaucracy kill hope and redemption every day. You're not likely to get that on "Crossing Jordan."

"Earlier themes include the death of the American working class, depicted in Season 2, and the inherent conflict between individuals and the modern institutions to which they are beholden, as seen in the protracted drug investigation that began in Season 1 and continues into the coming season."

You are not in Kansas, nor "CSI: Miami," anymore.

"The Wire" just added novelists Richard Price ("Clockers") and Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River") to the writing staff. That's an are-you-kidding-me? moment if there ever was one.

They say "good po-lice" on this series a lot because it means fighting the good fight against drugs and murder every day. Baltimore: It's a tough town. But the dealers and users and the desperately poor get their story told on "The Wire" better than anywhere else. This season, though it will probably eat your stomach lining like some kind of uber-aspirin. Soul-killing politics and the art of red tape are also back. Those Big Ideas that started in the mind of series creator David Simon -- television's finest writer -- continue to fester.

This is a guy who took the artistic achievement that was the first season and turned it on its head in the second season by reducing the street cops versus street criminals element of the war on drugs to "B" story status. By relocating the series to the faltering Baltimore docks to make a statement about the lost dreams of the working class, Simon essentially created an entirely different series based in the same city. You don't see Dick Wolf ("Law & Order") endangering the formula like that.

In Season 3, the focus returns to drugs, cops and killings. But even with a broad swipe at provincial politics and the failure of reform, it's the little ideas that come back like favorites: failed relationships and alcoholism, greed and cronyism, corruption and the absence of heroism, boredom and bluntness, sex, guns and insatiable trouble.

There's not a lot of sunshine in "The Wire." But sunshine is for the networks and the Nielsens.
Years from now, when collecting the complete seasons and studying the dark, TV-as-literature motivations of "The Wire" is all the rage, you can say you sat through the original episodes. You believed that great television was worth the effort.



It does sound good, doesn't it? Too bad I'm gonna miss the whole friggin' thing. Guess I'll go down to Blockbuster and see if I can previous seasons episodes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Pot


Video by Tool


Peaceful
Europe
Backs Out Of
Peace
Treaty


Every nation that worked on the Peace Treaty is now backing out. Doesn't that sound Biblical? If not, you'd better start reading your Bible a little more critically. It isn't just a book of feel-good messages, you know. There's some stuff in there about Israel, and the Jews, and the people who try to kill them.

This all sounds so familiar:


None of the European countries who were so loudly calling for a cease-fire in Lebanon are willing to commit troops. They’re afraid of being sitting ducks, human shields for Hizballah. And they should be: Europeans Delay Decision on Role Inside Lebanon. (Hat tip: Ron.)

PARIS, Aug. 20 — The shaky, United Nations-brokered cease-fire in Lebanon suffered another blow on Sunday when the European countries that had been called upon to provide the backbone of a peacekeeping force delayed a decision on committing troops until the mission is more clearly defined.

Their reservations postponed any action on the force at least until Wednesday, when the European Union will take up the issue.

Haunted by their experiences in Bosnia in the 1990’s, when their forces were unable to stop widespread ethnic killing, European governments are insisting upon clarifying the chain of command and rules of engagement before plunging into the even greater complexities of the Middle East.

“In the past, when peacekeeping missions were not properly defined, we’ve seen major failures,’’ a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry, Agnès Romatet-Espagne, said Sunday. “There are the bad memories of Bosnia. This time we want the answers beforehand, so we don’t come to the problems when they have happened.’’

In addition, a senior French official said, “Italy, Spain and Finland have raised the same questions as France has.” Following the usual diplomatic practice, the official asked not to be identified. A spokesman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry said Spain was willing to send troops, “but the rules have to be clarified and agreed on.”

Some countries, like Australia, which has placed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, have flatly refused to commit troops. “We have no intention of making any significant contribution,” said a senior Australian government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We don’t have any confidence in it. It is not going to have the mandate to disarm Hezbollah.”


1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

--- I Thessalonians 5:1-6