Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Future of the IRA 

...Has already begun:
Last Sunday it held its annual parade to Wolfe Tone's grave in Bodenstown, Co Kildare. The event has been traditionally led by a colour party wearing black berets and black or khaki jumpers.

But this year was different. Gone were the paramilitary trappings and in their place a colour party wore green blazers. It could have been a parade led by tennis umpires at Wimbledon.

Whether they were republicans or guests, the image they gave the commemoration was similar to that of US war veterans on parade – or members of the Royal British Legion marching down Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday.

This marks the emergence of the new IRA – the paramilitary group which likes to say 'yes'. It will be an organisation where old soldiers will never die – they will just undergo a rebranding of their market image.

So not only is the war over and won, the Provisional IRA is over too. For its successful transformation from paramilitary to para-political it must pursue three inter-linked strands of spin – claim continuity of structure; reinforce its assertion of victory and, to justify its victory claim, it must then rewrite Irish history.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Taliban shot down Helicopter 

Up to 17 crew members feared dead. In addition:
US forces will be wary of using more helicopters in the rescue effort for fear they too could be attacked, says the BBC's Andrew North, who is at the US base where the search is being co-ordinated.
What's the point of having helicopters then? Obviously, you don't want to get shot down and lose the chopper/soldiers, but that's a risk that has to be taken, to save lives on the battlefield. Does that mean the Taliban have successfully ended all helicopter rescue operations in Afghanistan? According to Flightsuit Boy, we won that war long ago...


Steve Jobs 

Words to live by, from a commencement address by Steve Jobs:
"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." -

(From Andrew Sullivan)


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kerry on Iraq 

John Kerry has an editorial in today's New York Times. Like his Presidential campaign, it's rather lackluster. StaleyNC over at TPM Cafe breaks it down perfectly:
Now, here is where Kerry once again went wrong.

1.- There is absolutely NO mention of the Downing Street Memos, nor the fact that the war was based on lies.

2- There is NO mention of the word "withdrawal."

3- While Kerry uses the word "deadline" once, there is no mention of the word "timeline," nor is the "deadline" word expounded upon in any meaningful way.

4- Kerry wrongly asserts that the insurgency will die if basic utiltities are restored. WHAT?

5- Kerry said that if things do not change, we may be looking at a quagmire in the months ahead. WAKE UP, DUDE, WE ARE ALREADY IN A QUAGMIRE!!!

6- And the icing on the cake comes with the quote that "the administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan." This is the same arguments the GOP is using against US!! Not to mention the fact that a detailed plan should have been immediately drawn up BEFORE THE WAR.

Regardless of my harsh comments, I still respect John Kerry. But I can now see what all of the "swing voters" I have spoken with are talking about. Kerry is not resolute. Kerry is a politician above all. Kerry crafts his words carefully and moves in whatever direction he is led. John Kerry, as bad as I hate to say it, is a flip-flopper. And shame on him for writing this article.

It just confirms that Kerry hasn't learned anything since November 2004.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Clinging to Power 

Bush...I mean Putin, looking into a third term as President:
MOSCOW -- Lawmakers are considering an electoral amendment next week that could open the way for President Vladimir Putin to run for a third term, prompting the opposition to accuse his supporters of trying to cling to power.

Putin has repeatedly said he will not change the constitution, which bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms.

A senior member of his United Russia party, however, submitted a legislative amendment Thursday that would allow Putin to stand for re-election if he stepped down before the end of his second term ends in March 2008, and if the next presidential poll held without his participation is declared invalid -- for example, because of low turnout.

Suurrre his Party is behind the attempt, not Putin himself...right. Is that the Soviet Union that I see sneaking up on us? I have a hunch Tom DeLay is working on an amendment to keep Bush in power.



Our God is better than their's...
Deep in the heart of the reddest county in a red state, a new grass-roots movement is taking shape that means to break the religious right’s hold on the rhetoric of Christianity by developing a network of activists on the “Christian left” that can be mobilized to support progressive causes.

Founded by Jacksonville, Florida, businessman Patrick Mrotek, the Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) says its purpose is the “reclaim” the Christian faith from the extreme religious right.

The Reverend Timothy F. Simpson, a Presbyterian minister and the group’s director of religious affairs, said in an interview Wednesday that the Christian left has for too long allowed the Christian right to be the public face of his religion in America. “The language of our faith has been placed in the service of policy ends that don’t reflect the Gospel, and we have become deeply troubled over that,” he said.

The Christian right, he says, in the persons of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson, has come to stand for bigotry, intolerance, and division. Simpson says that his organization will try to repair the damage done by the right’s insistence that the United States is a “Christian nation” that ought to be governed according to their narrow interpretation of Scripture.

“I understand that the truth can be


Missing Children 

Looks like there are non-white children who are missing after all!

Today's missing child alert brought to you by CNN.

(Hopefully they're found)


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Class of '05 II 

“The U.S. is winning the war on al-Qaida but losing the war on terrorism — and the reason is Iraq.” (British Diplomat)

What we're up against now:

'Declaration of war’ on the United States
The 1998 fatwa was in the words of the 9/11 commission “a declaration of war” on the United States. But more important, in the context of Setmariam Nasar’s argument, it set down the parameters of what the new al-Qaida needed. It was signed by bin Laden and Zawahiri, as well as the leader of another Egyptian terrorist group and Bangladeshi and Pakistani terrorists. In the document, bin Laden called for a worldwide jihad on Americans, whether man, woman or child, military or civilian. Killing Americans became an individual duty of all Muslims everywhere, he wrote.

We — with Allah's help — call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it,” bin Laden declared. “We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.”

The fatwa, with its call for individual, not organizational, responsibility, should be the driving force behind the new al-Qaida, it was decided. Al-Qaida had provided $80,000 to Indonesian terrorists to carry out the Bali nightclub bombings in Indonesia the month before. Now, a similar amount would be sent to Turkish terrorists who went after British and Jewish targets in two Istanbul attacks a year later.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Durbin & Obama 

Well, of course, like all spineless Democrats in the past, Senator Durbin apologized for saying the truth on the Senate Floor. Why the hell where the other Dem leaders not getting his back? Reid? Pelosi? Clinton(both)? And of course, everyone's favorite new Senator (and fellow Illinois Senator) Brack Obama? NOWHERE. Democrats NEVER LEARN!!!


Honey, I Shrunk the People 

The tribute to the loneliness of writing is meant to inspire visitors to the heath, which has associations with writers Keats and Coleridge.

Leslie Mare, from the Corporation of London which runs the heath, said: "People seem to love it or hate it".

Giancarlo Neri, who used to play soccer for New York Apollos in the seventies, chose the heath, one of London's most popular parks, after hearing of its artistic heritage.


The Forgotton War 

"I thought the Taliban had fallen,"


Monday, June 20, 2005

Class of '05 

F'n great:
No one in U.S. intelligence seems ready to say the fight is hopeless. But no one is sounding very optimistic, either. The CIA produced a study this May on a topic so sensitive that even the title is classified. The paper discussed the environment in which jihadists trained at Al Qaeda's camps in Taliban-run Afghanistan, contrasting that against the environment in which Iraq's insurgents are mastering the techniques of urban warfare. For starters, not all new recruits in Afghanistan necessarily hated America before undergoing Al Qaeda indoctrination. In Iraq, on the other hand, hostility toward America is practically the only thing that all insurgents agree on—foreign infiltrators and native recruits alike. And jihadists in Iraq are getting direct, on-the-job training in a real-life insurgency, with hands-on experience in bombing, sniping and all the skills of urban warfare, unlike the essentially artificial training that was given at Al Qaeda's rural Afghan camps. One of the paper's main points is that America's Iraqi troubles will not end with the insurgency. In effect, Iraq is producing a new corps of master terrorists with an incandescent hatred for the United States—the "class of '05 problem," as it's called in the shorthand of CIA analysts. This war is proving to be longer and nastier than almost anyone expected. One day, its results may be felt closer to home.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

9,000 U.S. Soliders Dead? 

This is something to keep an eye on (quite an understatement):
A Bush-watcher website identified as TBRNews.org is reporting under the byline of "domestic intelligence reporter" Brian Harring that the Department of Defense is using a cynical tactic to mislead the public regarding the true death toll for American military personnel in Iraq. Harring claims he has an internal pdf. file from the D.O.D. which establishes that nearly 9000 Americans have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but that the official number has been held to 1713 by designating as Iraq deaths only those who perish on Iraqi soil. The remainder, he says, are military personnel who have died en route to Germany or in German hospitals-- casualties of the war, but not listed in the official death toll.

If this is true it would explain the apparent statistical discrepancy between dead and wounded. A combat action which produces nearly eight times as many officially wounded-- 13000 plus-- as officially dead...well, it's not the norm. It goes without saying it would also further jolt a public majority already disturbed by the war's "progress" and eager to see the troops come home.

How to validate or invalidate Harring's incendiary claims? In his report Harring asserts he will begin publishing, in sections, the Defense Department's official list of war dead from Iraq. Relatives and other loved ones of those whose lives are gone will be asked to examine the lists to see if the names of those they've lost appear there. The Defense Department has, according to Harring, properly notified the loved ones of those who have died in Germany or en route to hospital, but has neglected to inform them that the casualty is not a part of the official death toll.

Lampley is exactly right:
This is the way to find out, and gradually we in the blogosphere may get a picture of whether this most cruel of deceptions has really taken place. You have to hope not. But in light of everything we've learned, do you think this is beyond them? An Administration which forbids photographs of returning coffins? An Administration whose President has yet to attend a single Iraq-related funeral or memorial? It appears almost nothing is beyond them.

Update 6/20:
Punk'd by an anti-semitic website? (Thanks to reader sgr for pointing that out.)


Friday, June 17, 2005


In 1957, if you were black, and an Astronaut, you were out of work...


Danforth Gets It 

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.


Bloc Party 

Had the opportunity to see Bloc Party last night at the 9:30 Club. It was my first time at the 9:30, and it was quite a good show to see as my first there. The band seemed to be having as good of a time as the crowd was, which usually means it'll be a great concert, and it was. They're playing in Philly tomorrow, and returning to the U.S. to play the Austin City Limits Festival. Go check 'em out.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins 

I saw the "new" Batman movie last night, and it was unbelievably good. I won't spoil it for anyone, but this is the Batman movie I've been waiting to see. I loved the original Batman , with Jack Nicholson, but Batman Begins is a completely different style. In this film, you see how Gotham fits in the World scene, how Batman could exist in reality, and how his goal is to project his fears and terror into the evil doers of Gotham. Great acting and script. One problem I have is that it's hard to see Katie Holmes portraying an Assistant DA, since she looks more like High School Prom Queen, but I'll get over it. Go see it.



Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Schiavo Autopsy 

Sorry Dr. Frist, but you were wrong:
An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.

But what caused her collapse 15 years remained a mystery. The autopsy and post-mortem investigation found no proof that she had an eating disorder, as was suspected at the time, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said.

Autopsy results on the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman were made public Wednesday, more than two months after Schiavo's death March 31 ended an internationally watched right-to-die battle between her husband and parents that engulfed the courts, Congress and the White House and divided the country.

Thogmartin also said she did not appear to have suffered a heart attack and there was no evidence that she was given harmful drugs or other substances prior to her death.

To add insult to injury (pardon the pun), but Michael Schiavo didn't beat Terri either.


Lucas vs. Spielberg 

Great piece on two Hollywood giants, and how blockbuster movies changed their friendship.
When Spielberg joined Lucas in Hawaii the weekend Star Wars opened, it was clear whose hour it was. Spielberg found Lucas in a "state of euphoria," bursting with news of Star Wars' first-weekend grosses. On the beach outside their hotel, Lucas built a sandcastle—to wish his film luck—while Spielberg and he fell to talking about their dream movie projects. "I said I wanted to do a James Bond film," said Spielberg. "Then George said he had a film that was even better than a James Bond. It was called Raiders of the Lost Ark and it was about this archaeologist adventurer who goes searching for the Ark of the Covenant. When he mentioned that it would be like the old serials, and that the guy would wear a soft fedora and carry a bullwhip, I was completely hooked. George said, 'Are you interested?' and I said, 'I want to direct it,' and he said, 'It's yours.' "

It's a beguiling image: two young men, carving out movie empires for themselves as they build sandcastles on the beach. The important thing to remember, though, is how sad and unbalanced their relationship was at the time: Lucas was very much the top dog, with Spielberg the humble amanuensis, gratefully accepting scraps from the master's table. When Star Wars did as Lucas predicted and stole the top spot from Jaws, Spielberg responded with a show of magnanimity, taking out an ad in Variety featuring the inscription: "Wear it well. Your pal, Steven."


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hard Work 

This mother of a dead solider knows a thing or two about hard work:
Sheehan ridiculed Bush for saying that it's "hard work" comforting the widow of a soldier who's been killed in Iraq.

"Hard work is seeing your son's murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you're enjoying the last supper you'll ever truly enjoy again. Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son, your first-born, your kind and gentle sweet baby. Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big (brother) into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both," she said.

Since her son's death, Sheehan has made opposition to the Bush administration a full-time job.

"We're watching you very carefully and we're going to do everything in our power to have you impeached for misleading the American people," she said, quoting a letter she sent to the White House. "Beating a political stake in your black heart will be the fulfillment of my life ... ," she said, as the audience of 200 people cheered.

I can already hear O'Reilly calling her a "pinhead"...



This is good news:
BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro, June 14 (UPI) -- Former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic has been negotiating his surrender to answer to war crimes and genocide charges, The Washington Post said Tuesday.

A Serbian official who requested anonymity told the newspaper Mladic has been negotiating with the Serbian government in Belgrade over terms of surrendering to prosecutors at the international court at The Hague.

Mladic commanded the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, and is charged with overseeing the deaths of thousands of Bosnian Muslim prisoners taken from the town of Srebrenica almost 10 years ago.

I may be naive to think so, but PERHAPS, this becoms at least a minor PR victory-showing Muslims that the West is concerned about punishing those who committed crimes against Muslims.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Freedom Fries 

GOP Congressman Walter Jones apparently hates America:
A pro-Iraq war US congressman who campaigned for French fries to be renamed "freedom fries" is now calling for US troops to return home from Iraq.

Republican Representative Walter Jones is to introduce legislation demanding a timetable for the withdrawal.

The renaming of fries in Capitol Hill's cafeterias in March 2003 expressed disapproval among some US lawmakers with France's opposition to the war.

French toast was also re-branded "freedom toast".

"I voted for the resolution to commit the troops, and I feel that we've done about as much as we can do," Mr Jones said on US network ABC.

"I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there."

He said his change of heart about the war came after he attended the funeral of a US sergeant killed in Nasiriya, Iraq, in April 2003. Mr Jones said he was moved by the soldier's widow who read out her husband's last letter.

"And that really has been on my mind and my heart ever since," he said.

Mr Jones, who represents North Carolina, has written condolences letters to the families of more than 1,300 servicemen killed in Iraq, and photographs of those killed in action are posted outside his congressional office.

I'm glad to see the man behind one of the most embrassing events in the lead up to the Iraq War, has made an about-face. Apparently, after writing 1300 letters to the families of dead soliders, Jones realized they died for a lie. It's a shame he didn't realize that after the first letter, and spent more time debating war plans, and not trying to remove the word "French" from foot titles.


Pink Floyd to Reunite 

LONDON - Four members of seminal British rock band Pink Floyd will play together for the first time in 24 years at London's Live 8 charity concert for Africa on July 2, publicists for the event said today.

Guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and keyboard player Richard Wright will be on stage with bassist Roger Waters for their first public performance since they played at London's Earls Court in 1981.

Hopefully a tour of the U.S. will follow...


Friday, June 10, 2005

Magic Pee 

Sully breaks down the most recent attempt of the Pentagon to us:
THE ANSWER, MY FRIEND: Thanks for all your theories about the military pee blowing in the wind. Just to recap, here's the official description of what happened:

The guard had left his observation area post and went outside to urinate. He urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into the block. The Sergeant of the Guard (SOG) responded and immediately relieved the guard. The SOG ensured the detainee received a fresh uniform and a new Koran. The Joint Detention Operations Group (JDOG) 2 commander reprimanded the guard and assigned him to gate guard duty where he had no contact with detainees for the remainder of his assignment at JTF-GTMO.

Here's a useful picture of what we might be dealing with. A little pee splatter is not uncommon. But there are many places to take leaks. I've taken advantage of trees, bushes, dark urban corners, alleys, and all sorts of places in my time. But I tend not to pee near an air-vent that leads directly into a someone's living quarters. I don't scout around for a basement apartment, look for an airvent and pee just nearby. Even if I did, and some pee drifted in the wind into an open air-vent, what are the chances that even a small amount would make it on to an individual inside? If I were a soldier and this was an absurd mistake, I can see being disciplined. But I don't see why I'd be forbidden access to any detainees for the rest of my time in Gitmo. The obvious truth is that a guard decided to humiliate a Muslim prisoner by pissing on him through an airvent. The military cannot say that because the story would then read: Koran not flushed, but pissed on. So they came up with the magic pee, whose ability to swerve left then right into the designated wind vent rivals the smartest of smart bombs. Our military sure is high-tech these days. And no, this isn't a huge deal. It's just a petty lie that makes us suspect bigger ones.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Another Controversial Judge Approved 

Tell me again why did the Democrats make a deal?


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Jihadi's Story 

From Syria to Iraq.
Four weeks ago, US troops in Iraq launched an operation just inside the border with Syria, aimed at disrupting the route of foreign fighters; the US army claimed that 100 fighters were killed. Abu Ibrahim is unmoved to learn of the assault. "They think jihad will stop if they kill hundreds of us in Iraq. They don't know what they are facing. Every day, more and more young men from around the Muslim world are awaking and coming to the jihad. Now the Americans are facing thousands, but one day soon they will have to face whole nations."


Canadians are Nice 

If this guy was brown-skinned, would he have been allowed in?
A man carrying a home-made sword and what looked like a blood-stained chainsaw was allowed into the US from Canada, the Associated Press reports.

The news agency says Gregory Despres' weapons were confiscated, before US custom officials in Calais, Maine, let him cross the border on 25 April

<----Doesn't look like a "Terrorist".

By the way:
The next day he became a murder suspect after bodies of his two neighbours were found in his hometown in Canada.

Mr Despres, 22, was arrested on 27 April and is now awaiting extradition.

The decapitated body of Frederick Fulton was found on the kitchen floor in his house. The man's head was under a kitchen table


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Flying Wirelessly 

Good for United, now people can look up por...i mean... current events while flying:
NEW YORK -- United Airlines, the world's second-largest carrier, received regulatory approval Monday to install wireless internet access to its fleet in a partnership with Verizon Communications.

The Federal Aviation Administration will let United's parent, Illinois company UAL, install the cabin equipment necessary to provide wireless internet connection to passengers and crew members on U.S. domestic flights.

United becomes the first domestic airline to get FAA approval that allows passengers to surf the internet while riding through the sky.

United Airlines and Verizon, which already provides airfone capabilities for the carrier, said it must still get approval from the Federal Communications Commission before the new service can officially launch. Both companies expect to have a date within the coming months, following an FCC spectrum auction where service rights and ranges of frequencies will be awarded to one or more onboard internet access providers.

Ball's in the FCC's court. Hope they don't screw this one up.



Shhh... don't tell anyone, but they're planning on taking more of your Constitutional rights away from you, and you're not supposed to know they're debating it:
In a move that could expand the police powers in the Patriot Act, the Senate Intelligence Committee will meet behind close doors to discuss, among other things, "a little-discussed provision to enlarge the FBI's ability to wiretap people who it suspects are national security threats." The bill they will discuss is called the Patriot Reauthorization Act (PAREA)

The Boston Globe reported Sunday that the provision in the bill, sponsored by committee chair Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, "would lift one of the last restrictions on special warrants the FBI can obtain through a secret court originally set up to monitor foreign spies: that the information the bureau wants must be related to international terrorism or foreign intelligence."

Instead, the FBI could use the warrants, which bypass normal constitutional safeguards, to look for evidence of unrelated crimes that it could use to get suspects off the street. The wiretap provision is one of three major additions in the draft bill, which would reauthorize the Patriot Act, the package of enhanced law enforcement powers enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

If the bill became law, it also would give FBI agents the power to write their own subpoenas without permission from a judge, allowing them to seize records from hotels, banks, and Internet service providers. This provision would require the FBI to make periodic reports to Congress about how often it uses that power to obtain library records, bookstore and firearms sales receipts, and medical or tax records.


Monday, June 06, 2005

What's Happening in Syria? Part 2 

Is Bashar trying to be the new Spokesman of the Middle East?
DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad has said the media and technological revolution sweeping the region and the world is helping his country's foes to undermine and crush the Arab identity.

Assad told the congress of Syria's ruling Baath Party on Monday that a media influx had left Arabs "swamped by disinformation" about themselves.

"These many inputs, especially with the evolution of communication and information technology, made the society open, and this opened the door for some confusion and suspicion in the minds of Arab youth.

"The ultimate objective of all this is the destruction of Arab identity; for the enemies of the Arab nation are opposed to our possessing any identity or upholding any creed that could protect our existence and cohesion, guide our vision and direction, or on which we can rely in our steadfastness," Assad said Monday.
Rumors of a Syrian Baath party purge, could mean a slight turn towards the Islamists in Syria. Is that Assad's way of asking for their help, in a fight against the U.S.? The "fight" may not be a military one, but a struggle to keep himself in power. After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein tried to play the Islam card. We know how things worked out for him.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

What's Happening in Syria? 

Things could get interesting. From Debka:
1. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources confirm that Syrian army intelligence agents hired contact killers to assassinate the prominent anti-Syria Lebanese journalist Samir Qaseer last Thursday, June 2, by booby-trapping his car. (Washington is pressing for the UN Hariri murder inquiry to include also this latest assassination.). Moreover, three senior Syrian military intelligence officers reappeared in northern Lebanon last week to put their oar into the general election. They ordered candidates to go to Damascus for heart-to-heart talks with their former Syrian boss General Rustum Ghazel.

2. The Baath convention looks like becoming a battleground for delegates’ accusations and counter-accusations over the responsibility for Syria’s debacle in Lebanon. Assad is expected to use this dispute and the political reform slogan as an opening for sacking two- thirds of the top level of the Baath party’s ruling institutions, including, according to rumors in Damascus, vice president Khalim Haddam. He is also believed to be planning to replace prime minister Naji al Oteri with a non-party technocrat, finance minister Mohammed Hussein.

3. Syria’s entire leadership is on edge over the looming return home aboard his private plane of the president’s black sheep uncle Rif’at Assad from 16 years in exile. As vice president, Rifat was caught plotting a coup against his brother, Bashar’s father, president Hafez Assad, while he was recovering from a heart attack.

4. The certainty has gained ground in Middle East capitals that US president George W. Bush has decided to wash his hands of Assad once and for all. Washington will not act directly to remove him; but neither will it refrain from indirect moves that contribute to his downfall. This conviction is reportedly the spur for Rif’at’s decision to be on hand to retain the Assad clan’s hand on the reins of power should they slip from his nephew’s grasp.

Last month, aware of the ground shaking under his feet, Assad performed an epic about-face – or at least gave the appearance of turning over a new leaf.

He ordered his army to pitch in with support for “Operation Matador”, the important U.S. assault against insurgents along the Iraqi-Syrian border, thereby tipping the scales in favor of the American forces. This was revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources in an exclusive report from Iraq on May 20. Thanks to Syrian cooperation, American troops were for the first time able to come up from behind Iraqi and Arab insurgents and al Qaeda gunmen, including followers of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. From launching pads on Syrian soil, units of the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary drove into Iraq and executed a west-to-east sweep of terrorist bases


FPN is Back 

Thanks for your patience, it was nice to have a week or so to relax, and not do any blogging. That being said, it's time to let the posts rip...


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