"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

"It's all for show. They're useless."

Palestinian Cops Can't Stop Militants
LARA SUKHTIAN, Associated Press Original Article

Palestinian policemen, who have been given the task of restraining militants, say they can't or won't do the job. Interviewed at their front-line positions, some say they feel sympathy for the gunmen, while others fear getting shot at by Israeli troops. The shortcomings of Palestinian police were evident last week when officers stood by as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets and mortar rounds at Jewish settlements in Gaza.

Russia, Iran, Syria. Is this becoming the new Axis of Evil?

Iran Threatens to Shoot Down U.S. Drones
ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Original Article

Iran's intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned surveillance crafts. Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi comments backed a report in The Washington Post on Sunday that quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying the drones have been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.

The plot thickens. USA pushes for isolation, Russia decides to sell missiles.

Russia to Sell Advanced Missiles to Syria
Maria Golovnina, Reuters Original Article

Russia said on Wednesday it wanted to supply Syria with advanced missile systems, a move certain to anger the United States which accuses Syria of having links to terrorism. Russia had long denied reports it wanted to sell missiles to Syria, its Cold War-era ally. The United States and Israel have urged Moscow to drop any such plans, saying Russian arms supplies would only strengthen militants in the Middle East.

Tehran and Damascus have been strategic allies for years.

Iran, Syria to Form 'United Front'
AP Original Article

Iran and Syria, who both are facing pressure from the United States, said Wednesday they will form a "united front" to confront possible threats against them, state-run television reported. "In view of the special conditions faced by Syria, Iran will transfer its experience, especially concerning sanctions, to Syria," Mohammad Reza Aref, Iran's first vice president, was quoted as saying after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otari.

Prediction: The complete withdrawal by Syria of all of its forces in Lebanon.

Hariri Funeral Turns Into Anti-Syria Rally
HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Original Article

In an unprecedented outpouring of grief and anger, mourners shouted "Syria Out!" as they crowded Beirut's streets Wednesday to bury their former prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Lebanon's pro-Syrian president stayed away, warned not to come by Hariri supporters who blame Damascus for his death.

The extremists continue to plot to attack again.

CIA, FBI Warn Panel of Top Threats to U.S.
KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Original Article

Al-Qaida and associated groups top the list of threats to the United States, leading government intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday in a grim assessment that also highlighted Iran's emergence as a major threat to American interests in the Middle East.

The extremists continue to plot to attack again.

CIA, FBI Warn Panel of Top Threats to U.S.
KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Original Article

Al-Qaida and associated groups top the list of threats to the United States, leading government intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday in a grim assessment that also highlighted Iran's emergence as a major threat to American interests in the Middle East.

The extremists continue to plot to attack again.

CIA, FBI Warn Panel of Top Threats to U.S.
KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Original Article

Al-Qaida and associated groups top the list of threats to the United States, leading government intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday in a grim assessment that also highlighted Iran's emergence as a major threat to American interests in the Middle East.

"Violence continued to boil." What violence, one car bomb yesterday? Heck we used to have 8 significant actions per day in Baghdad alone.

Shi'ite Jaafari Is Front-Runner to Become Iraqi PM
Mariam Karouny, Reuters Original Article

Shi'ite politician and former exile Ibrahim al-Jaafari emerged as the front-runner Tuesday to become Iraq's new prime minister as horse-trading to decide the line-up of the next government entered the final stages.

What a shocker. EU foreign policy chief sees no immediate need to change EU relations with Syria.

U.S. Withdraws Ambassador From Syria
BARRY SCHWEID, AP Original Article

The United States has recalled its ambassador to Syria amid rising tensions over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. Before departing, U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey delivered a stern note, called a demarche in diplomatic parlance, to the Syrian government, said an official who discussed the situation only on grounds of anonymity.

Iran plans to become a major nuclear fuel supplier in 15 years. Well ain't that nice.

Iran Rejects European Demand on Reactor
ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Original Article

Iran rejected a European demand to stop building a heavy water nuclear reactor in return for a light-water reactor Sunday, hardening Iran's position on a key part of its nuclear facilities that critics claim is part of a weapons program.

'With four parameters I can fit an elephant and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.

Kyoto's Walls Are Crumbling Down
Hans Labohm, TCS Original Article

The Kyoto Protocol goes into effect Wednesday, and yet its walls are crumbling down. A high-profile campaign by the British government -- focusing on the discussion of a new alarming report by the International Climate Change Taskforce: 'Meeting The Climate Challenge' -- has attempted to bolster the treaty. The main message of this report is that it is vital that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that would trigger this rise could possibly be reached in about 10 years or so.

American anti-Syrian gambit in Lebanon - dismantled

Syrian Military Intelligence Eliminates Hariri and Reform Hopes for Lebanon
DEBKAfile Original Article

Monday, February 14, Rafiq Hariri, five times Lebanese prime minister, multibillionaire, builder of a country devastated by 15 years of civil war, was assassinated by a huge car bomb that ravaged the Lebanese capital’s seafront. Two ministers in his party and 6 of his bodyguards, including its chief Yahya Al Arb, were among the dead. Efforts to save his life at the American Hospital to which he was carried in critical condition were unavailing. The attack is described as the most brutal since the civil conflict ended in 1991.

The final results show that the doomsters were wrong a second time.

Now Iraq has tasted democracy, the Arab tyrants are shaking in their shoes
Amir Taheri, Times (UK) Original Article

AN ELECTION that was not supposed to happen because the so-called resistance in Iraq — and its sympathisers in the West — did not want it has produced results that the doomsters did not expect. First, the massive boycott of the polls did not take place. Last month almost two thirds of Iraqi voters voted in the first free and fair election in their history.

The child sex racket is only the most extreme example of what's wrong with the UN approach to the world.

UN forces – just a bunch of thugs?
Mark Steyn, Telegraph (UK) Original Article

It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.

Israel soldiers to get thermal night vision goggles

All combat soldiers set to receive night-vision goggles
ARIEH O'SULLIVAN, Jerusalem Post Original Article

All combat soldiers are to be given thermal night-vision goggles, according to the IDF weekly Bamahane. They will replace the current night-vision scopes that rely on starlight or other light sources. The miniature thermal imaging goggles will use body heat to produce a picture even in the darkest of conditions.

NJ senators will back Bush nominee if Bush approves their nominee. Wait a minute. You NJ senators aren't president.

NJ senators say they'll oppose Bush judge nominee
Associated Press Original Article

New Jersey's two Democratic senators plan to oppose President Bush's latest nominee for a federal judgeship in New Jersey. Bush nominated 20 people on Monday for federal judgeships nationwide, including Peter Sheridan, a senior partner with the Trenton law firm of Graham, Curtin and Sheridan and a former executive director of the state Republican Party.

Syrian opposition leader dies in explosion. Things that make you go hmmm.

Bomb Kills Former Lebanese Prime Minister
BASSEM MROUE and JOSEPH PANOSSIAN, Associated Press Original Article

A massive bomb tore through the motorcade of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who resigned last fall following a sharp dispute with Syria, killing him and at least nine other people Monday.

Hold on, This looks like democracy in action

Dealmaking Begins Between Shiites, Kurds
ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Original Article

Talks on who would get what in Iraq's newly elected National Assembly were under way even before the final results came in, but the clergy-backed Shiites, whose winning margin was less than what they expected, may now have to compromise more than anticipated.

"We have to compromise," said Adnan Ali, a senior leader in the United Iraqi Alliance

Power Check: Verdict Is Split in Iraqi Election
DEXTER FILKINS, The New York Times Original Article

The razor-thin margin apparently captured by the Shiite alliance here in election results announced Sunday seems almost certain to enshrine a weak government that will be unable to push through sweeping changes, like granting Islam a central role in the new Iraqi state.

Ceasefire in Israel/Palestinian conflict would leave many groups without power

Hezbollah fighters may target Abbas
Inigo Gilmore, Sydney Morning Herald Original Article

Palestinian security officials have received threats that the President, Mahmoud Abbas, could be killed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists if he continues moves towards reconciliation with Israel. Mr Abbas agreed to a ceasefire with Israel and shook hands with its Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, at last week's summit at Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt.

Is the case against Iran based on a fear of Shia assertion?

Reading the future in Tehran
K. SUBRAHMANYAM, Indian Press Original Article

Even as the US and Western European countries (UK, Germany and France) are discussing with Iran the need for Tehran to completely abjure its uranium fuel cycle activities, it is ironic that neither side raises in public the question why Iran insists on the need to keep its nuclear fuel cycle option (nuclear weapon option) open. Iran was attacked with weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons) during the Iraq-Iran war in the ’80s and at that time the US and European powers and all Sunni-ruled Islamic nations not only kept quiet but shielded Saddam Hussein at the UN.

China is commited to a denuclearised Korean peninsula

China to push N Korea back to talks
Anna Fifield, Financial Times Original Article

China on Sunday vowed to try to persuade North Korea to return to six-party talks on dismantling its nuclear weapons programmes, as the US and South Korea emphasised Beijing's influence over the rogue communist state. High-level discussions continued over the weekend as the five allies in the talks tried to come up with an alternative course of action following Pyongyang's brazen declaration last week that it had manufactured nuclear weapons and was “indefinitely” withdrawing from the talks.

Abbas was stymied both by Arafat's jealousy and Sharon's mistrust when he tried to make peace before

Talking the talk
Larry Derfner and Khaled Abu Toameh, US News Original Article

There they were, the tough-minded Israeli prime minister and the newly elected Palestinian Authority president, smiling, shaking hands, and earnestly declaring a truce in the 4 1/2-year guerrilla war that has taken some 4,500 lives. Sure, Israelis and Palestinians have been down this road before, only to dead-end in disappointment or worse. Are there reasons to think this time might be different? To that question, the best answer is maybe.

Sharon to crack down of Jewish extremists.

Sharon Orders Crackdown on Extremists
Josef Federman/Associated Press Original Article

Responding to death threats against government ministers, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered law enforcement agencies Sunday to crack down on Jewish extremists opposed to the planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Old media reports the news, bloggers only offer their opinions. Conventional wisdom that will be turned on its head very soon.

A deafening silence
Jack Kelly/Toledo Blade Original Article

WHEN the web logger Laer (Cheat Seeking Missiles) called to cancel his 25-year subscription to the Los Angeles Times last Monday, he was made an extraordinary offer. The circulation service rep, detecting that he was fed up with the paper's liberal bias, offered to sell him the newspaper without the news sections. Laer was thunderstruck.

It's an open question whether the West will survive this twilight struggle?

On culture front, we're losing war
Mark Steyn/Chicago Sun-Times Original Article

Here are three small news items from around the world you might have missed:
1) An unemployed waitress in Berlin faces the loss of her welfare benefits after refusing a job as a prostitute in a legalized brothel.
2) A British court has ruled that a suspected terrorist from Algeria cannot be detained in custody because jail causes him to suffer a ''depressive illness.''
3) Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Eden of Charlestown, R.I., has been awarded an A by his teacher and the ''Silver Key'' in the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards for a diorama titled ''Bush/Hitler and How History Repeats Itself.''

No wonder Social Security is so unpopular. It provides no security for retirement, while impoverishing workers in the present.

An eighth of every paycheck
Jeff Jacoby/Boston Globe Original Article

YOU DON'T have to be a financial wizard to know that Social Security is a lousy investment. Unlike the money you deposit in a bank or salt away in an IRA, you don't own the money you pay into Social Security. You have no legal right to get those dollars back, and when you die you can't pass them on to your heirs. Nor can you use your Social Security account before you retire -- you can't borrow against it and you can't cash it in. You aren't allowed to put the money into a balanced portfolio. You can't even watch as the interest accumulates, since your Social Security nest egg doesn't earn any interest.

The nexus has given rise to incidents of terrorism, complications in integrating the European Union and a rethinking of foreign policy.

Encounter with Islam
Diane Wolff/Orlando Sentinel Original Article

The Europeans have discovered they, too, have a terrorism problem, which is exacerbated by demographics and geography.Europe is having a new encounter with Islam, in domestic politics and foreign affairs. However, it's not the first; the two have had 13 centuries of ups and downs.The new European-Islamic nexus has given rise to incidents of terrorism, a shift of some traditional European political parties to the right, complications in integrating the European Union and a re-thinking of foreign policy.Immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, Europe stood shoulder to shoulder with America.

Inside scoop on how to exercise power and influence people: Be an outsider

My Point: David M. Shribman / Outside straight
David M. Shribman/Post Gazette Original Article

Four of the last five presidents came to office as outsiders, campaigning fiercely against the way things were done in Washington, making the capital a symbol for the nation's ills, portraying themselves as crusaders against the status quo.

Good facts, interesting inference; however, a state that sponsors terrorism that in the future can sponsor nuclear terrorism is what is unacceptable.

Persians are known for cunning - so why would they go to war?
Ali M Ansari/Telegraph (UK) Original Article

Three years after George W Bush denounced Iran as a member of the "axis of evil", the threat of Iran appears to be looming over the horizon once again. In his State of the Union address, Mr Bush reminded the world that the Islamic Republic was the primary sponsor of state terrorism, and, while he acknowledged the Iranian people's desire for "freedom", he let it be known that Iran would not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons technology.

We should oppose nuclear proliferation even to a democratic Iran.

Diplomacy and Iran's nuclear weapons
Henry A. Kissinger/San Diego Union Tribune Original Article

If the first term of President Bush was dominated by the war against terrorism, the second will be preoccupied with the effort to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.This challenge is more ambiguous and complex than the first. Do we oppose proliferation of nuclear weapons because of the rogue quality of the two regimes furthest advanced on the road toward acquiring nuclear weapons – Iran and North Korea? Or is our opposition generic – does it extend even to fully democratic countries?

Israel plans to pull troops away from the West Bank city of Jericho this week.

Israel Approves Release of Palestinian Prisoners
Jeffrey Heller/Reuters Original Article

Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners in what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called a goodwill gesture to bolster new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and build mutual trust. In a further step to support peace moves after Sharon and Abbas agreed on a ceasefire at a groundbreaking summit in Egypt five days ago, Israel let more than 200 Palestinian laborers enter from the Gaza Strip for the first time in months.

Schroeder, "We will not allow cause and effect to be reversed."

Rally Casts Pall Over Dresden Remembrance
Frank Ellmers/Associated Press Original Article

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Sunday warned Germans against forgetting history, as far-right supporters rallied in Dresden to protest a devastating Allied bombing in World War II that killed an estimated 35,000 residents 60 years ago.

Iran: We intend to turn into an important and a major player in the nuclear fuel supply market in the next 15 years

Iran Rejects Demand on Nuclear Reactor
Ali Akbar Dareini/Associated Press Original Article

Iran rejected a European demand to stop building a heavy water nuclear reactor in return for a light-water reactor Sunday, hardening Iran's position on a key part of its nuclear facilities that critics claim is part of a weapons program.

Social Security will go broke when some of our younger workers get ready to retire

Bush Repeats Call for Private Accounts
Laura Meckler/AP Original Article

President Bush warned Saturday that if Congress does not act now to overhaul Social Security, the choices ahead will be harsh and painful. He repeated his call to add private accounts to the system. As he has in visits to eight states, Bush emphasized in his weekly radio address that the system will soon run short of money, with more going out to pay benefits than is collected in taxes.

58 percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the Jan. 30 poll, Iraq's first multi-party election for half a century

Shi'ite Bloc Wins Iraq Polls, Sunnis Marginalized
Mariam Karouny and Alister Bull/Reuters Original Article

A Shi'ite Islamist bloc won Iraq's first election since Saddam Hussein's overthrow, sealing the political resurgence of the long-oppressed majority but leaving the restive Sunni Arab minority in the cold. The Electoral Commission said on Sunday the Shi'ite list, known as the United Iraqi Alliance, took more than 47 percent of the vote. But this was less than the bloc had predicted and leaves it six or seven seats short of a majority in parliament.