U.S. says most Iraq bombers via Syria: ‘It has to stop’

U.S. says most Iraq bombers via Syria: ‘It has to stop’

Absolutely, but where is the political will to hold Syria to account? The deterrent posed by having the world’s strongest and most advanced military is attenuated by the fact that U.S. military assets are stretched thin under the burden of holding together Iraq, a country with no inherent unity. Absent that, the U.S. would not only regain the deterrent power of being more ready, willing, and able, to address global threats, but Syria’s Alawite regime (categorized as a Shi’ite group, but well removed from the mainstream) would find itself occupied with a Sunni-Shi’ite jihad next door that would embolden its own Sunni majority population against its enemies both across and within the border, leaving Damascus much less able to threaten Israel and do the bidding of Iran.

From the World Tribune:

WASHINGTON — A U.S. State Dept. official said about 90 percent of the suicide attackers in Iraq came from Syria.

“It has to stop,” said David Satterfield, the chief State Department adviser on Iraq. Officials said that despite numerous appeals, Syria has failed to stop the flow of Sunni suicide bombers to Iraq. They said the lion’s share of suicide bombers were foreign Arab nationals who entered Syria and made their way to Iraq.

“They [suicide bombers] see Syria as a more accommodating country through which to transit across the border to come into Iraq to perpetrate their terror,” Satterfield.

Satterfield said the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that between 85 and 90 percent of suicide bombers in Iraq entered from Syria. In an address to the Washington Institute on March 27, Satterfield said 90 percent of suicide bombers in Iraq were foreigners.

Tiny Minority of Extremists Alert:

Officials said North Africans and Yemenis comprised the largest element among the foreign suicide bombers. But they said Saudi nationals have become an increasing factor in the Sunni insurgency war in Iraq.

In his address, Satterfield again warned Syria to stop the flow of would-be suicide bombers and other insurgents to Iraq. He said Iraq and the United States have sought to stem the flow of insurgents from Syria to Iraq’s Al Anbar province.

“It has to stop,” Satterfield said. “It is not in Syria’s long term interests to let this violence continue. We and the Iraqi security forces have done our best. It is a long, long border.”

Over the last month, the Bush administration has resumed high-level contacts with the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad. Officials said that during the March 10 meeting in Baghdad, the U.S. delegation accused Iran and Syria of interfering in Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to attend the next meeting that included Syria in April.

“We would hope that the Syrian government understands as well that its rhetoric for a peaceful and stable Iraq has to be matched by actions,” Satterfield said.

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Pakistani Islamic Schools Are Rife With Extremism, Group Says

Stop the presses. By Ed Johnson for Bloomberg:

March 30 (Bloomberg) — President Pervez Musharraf has failed to tackle Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s religious schools, which continue to promote a holy war against the West and foment terrorism, the International Crisis Group said.

Five years after the government pledged a crackdown on the schools, known as madrassas, many still preach a violent ideology and train and dispatch fighters to Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir, the Brussels-based advocacy group, which aims to resolve conflicts, said in a report yesterday.

“The Pakistani government has yet to take any of the overdue and necessary steps to control religious extremism,” the group said. “Musharraf’s periodic declarations of tough action, given in response to international events and pressure, are invariably followed by retreat.”

[...]

The ICG said the government’s “reform program is in shambles” and that banned extremist groups continue to operate openly in Pakistan, particularly in the port city of Karachi.

The group called on the government to introduce a law that “bars jihadi and violent sectarian teachings” in madrassas and close schools that fail to comply. Many madrassas remain unregistered and government attempts to introduce non-religious classes have been futile, according to the report.

A law that “bars jihadi and violent sectarian teachings” is highly unlikely, as Islamic teachings on jihad are part of the standard Pakistani curriculum, and are not at all limited to the notion of an “inner spiritual struggle.”

The group recommended the government establish financial controls on the schools, to establish where they receive funding. Students should also be registered, the group said. Certificates issued by the schools shouldn’t be treated as the equivalent of university degrees to encourage participation in mainstream education, it added.

Indeed.

Minnesota Sharia and the Silence of the Left

Minnesota Sharia and the Silence of the Left
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 30, 2007

Here’s a Prairie Home Companion episode you’ll never hear: 

It’s been a quiet week here at Lake Wobegon. Aunt Tillie had to cut short her big vacation in
Paris – she got caught in a riot at the train station and you’ll never believe it, she got tear-gassed. She’s all right, but you can imagine the mood she was in when she arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Poor thing, she went straight to a duty-free shop and bought a big bottle of Merlot.

 

After that, believe it or not, it got even worse. The airport cab driver told her, “You can’t bring that wine into my taxi!” He said it was against his religion. Cab after cab, and they all refused to carry Tillie and her Merlot. Poor Tillie was so distraught, she didn’t know what to do. She paced around on the sidewalk for awhile, and then decided to call Uncle Pete on his cell phone. Pete was with Uncle Fred at Target, but they were held up – Pete was buying a frozen pepperoni pizza for dinner, but the checkout girl refused to ring it up! You’ll never believe this, but she said it was against her religion too! Well, when Pete got Tillie’s call, he just left the pizza, told Fred and his seeing-eye dog to come along, and caught the first bus for the airport.

 

By the time they got there, Tillie was in a state, let me tell you. Pete took her aside and explained to her, very quietly, that all she had to do was put the Merlot in her suitcase. Then the cab driver would be none the wiser. Tillie did as he directed, and she and Pete got into the cab line with Fred and his seeing-eye dog. Well, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have liked to have seen the look on Pete’s face when the cab drivers told him, one after the other, that they wouldn’t carry Fred’s dog either. They explained to them that he was blind and that Checkers was a seeing-eye dog, but they didn’t care.

 

Now they were in a real fix. But luckily, Mrs. Hanson’s son came along – remember Ted Hanson, the traveling salesman? He was just heading out of the airport with his girlfriend – you know, old Farmer Johnson’s daughter — and he ran into Tillie and Pete pacing around on the sidewalk. He got them all, the dog too, into his SUV and drove them home. And boy, did he have a story to tell! It seems that he was flying out of
Minneapolis a few months ago, and there were some men on the plane acting, well, you know, suspicious. They asked for seatbelt extensions, and then they didn’t hook them on. Instead, they put them under their seats. They also changed their seats so that a couple of them were sitting by all the entry and exit points of the plane. And they were praying, very loudly – as if they wanted people to notice them, you know? Well, they got their wish. Several passengers – Ted included – notified the flight attendants, and pretty soon these imams were off the plane. It’s a long story, but it turns out that the men who were taken off the plane were Islamic imams, and they’re suing. They say they were victims of discrimination, that they were taken off the plane because they’re Muslims. And Ted says they’re not just suing the airline – they’re suing him, and the other people who complained. I don’t mind telling you, there ought to be a law against that.

 

And come to think of it, there ought to be a law against all the rest of it too. Now, I am not as funny as that graying Leftist Garrison Keillor, but then again, none of this is really a laughing matter anyway. For some reason, Minnesota, the most consistently liberal of all the heartland states, has lately become a hotbed of Sharia agitation in the United States. The first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, is from
Minnesota. It should not be forgotten that he addressed a banquet held by the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is deeply involved with the suit against the airline and passengers, two days before the Flying Imams were bounced from their flight, and met with Omar Shahin, the leader of the Flying Imams, the day before. Now in Minnesota we see Muslim cabdrivers discriminating against passengers and Muslim store employees discriminating against customers, and none of the state’s Leftist establishment says a thing. Where they fought and bled with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement to end racial discrimination, apparently religious discrimination is just fine with them.

 

Apparently the Left in
Minnesota, as elsewhere, can’t see beyond their all-consuming hatred of George Bush to realize how they themselves will be victimized by their new friends if those friends get the upper hand they are now so openly seeking in
Minnesota.

Where have you gone, Garrison Keillor? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, and asks you and other Minnesota liberals to stop trying to tolerate the intolerable. You might do better to remember the words of another famous native son: “don’t hate nothing at all except hatred.”

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Minnesota Sharia and the Silence of the Left

Minnesota Sharia and the Silence of the Left
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 30, 2007

Here’s a Prairie Home Companion episode you’ll never hear: 

It’s been a quiet week here at Lake Wobegon. Aunt Tillie had to cut short her big vacation in
Paris – she got caught in a riot at the train station and you’ll never believe it, she got tear-gassed. She’s all right, but you can imagine the mood she was in when she arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Poor thing, she went straight to a duty-free shop and bought a big bottle of Merlot.

 

After that, believe it or not, it got even worse. The airport cab driver told her, “You can’t bring that wine into my taxi!” He said it was against his religion. Cab after cab, and they all refused to carry Tillie and her Merlot. Poor Tillie was so distraught, she didn’t know what to do. She paced around on the sidewalk for awhile, and then decided to call Uncle Pete on his cell phone. Pete was with Uncle Fred at Target, but they were held up – Pete was buying a frozen pepperoni pizza for dinner, but the checkout girl refused to ring it up! You’ll never believe this, but she said it was against her religion too! Well, when Pete got Tillie’s call, he just left the pizza, told Fred and his seeing-eye dog to come along, and caught the first bus for the airport.

 

By the time they got there, Tillie was in a state, let me tell you. Pete took her aside and explained to her, very quietly, that all she had to do was put the Merlot in her suitcase. Then the cab driver would be none the wiser. Tillie did as he directed, and she and Pete got into the cab line with Fred and his seeing-eye dog. Well, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have liked to have seen the look on Pete’s face when the cab drivers told him, one after the other, that they wouldn’t carry Fred’s dog either. They explained to them that he was blind and that Checkers was a seeing-eye dog, but they didn’t care.

 

Now they were in a real fix. But luckily, Mrs. Hanson’s son came along – remember Ted Hanson, the traveling salesman? He was just heading out of the airport with his girlfriend – you know, old Farmer Johnson’s daughter — and he ran into Tillie and Pete pacing around on the sidewalk. He got them all, the dog too, into his SUV and drove them home. And boy, did he have a story to tell! It seems that he was flying out of
Minneapolis a few months ago, and there were some men on the plane acting, well, you know, suspicious. They asked for seatbelt extensions, and then they didn’t hook them on. Instead, they put them under their seats. They also changed their seats so that a couple of them were sitting by all the entry and exit points of the plane. And they were praying, very loudly – as if they wanted people to notice them, you know? Well, they got their wish. Several passengers – Ted included – notified the flight attendants, and pretty soon these imams were off the plane. It’s a long story, but it turns out that the men who were taken off the plane were Islamic imams, and they’re suing. They say they were victims of discrimination, that they were taken off the plane because they’re Muslims. And Ted says they’re not just suing the airline – they’re suing him, and the other people who complained. I don’t mind telling you, there ought to be a law against that.

 

And come to think of it, there ought to be a law against all the rest of it too. Now, I am not as funny as that graying Leftist Garrison Keillor, but then again, none of this is really a laughing matter anyway. For some reason, Minnesota, the most consistently liberal of all the heartland states, has lately become a hotbed of Sharia agitation in the United States. The first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, is from
Minnesota. It should not be forgotten that he addressed a banquet held by the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is deeply involved with the suit against the airline and passengers, two days before the Flying Imams were bounced from their flight, and met with Omar Shahin, the leader of the Flying Imams, the day before. Now in Minnesota we see Muslim cabdrivers discriminating against passengers and Muslim store employees discriminating against customers, and none of the state’s Leftist establishment says a thing. Where they fought and bled with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement to end racial discrimination, apparently religious discrimination is just fine with them.

 

Apparently the Left in
Minnesota, as elsewhere, can’t see beyond their all-consuming hatred of George Bush to realize how they themselves will be victimized by their new friends if those friends get the upper hand they are now so openly seeking in
Minnesota.

Where have you gone, Garrison Keillor? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, and asks you and other Minnesota liberals to stop trying to tolerate the intolerable. You might do better to remember the words of another famous native son: “don’t hate nothing at all except hatred.”

Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.

The Next War?

The Next War?
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 30, 2007

The capture by
Iran of fifteen British sailors and marines while they were inspecting a trading dhow in international waters for smuggled goods could be the spark that ignites the next war.
Whether that happens or not will not depend on us, or on the Brits. It will depend on President Ahmadinejad, his backers in
Tehran, and
Iran’s Supreme Leader. 

Clearly, Ahmadinejad and his supporters have been planning this sort of thing for some time.  

One week before the kidnapping of the British hostages, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards weekly newspaper, Sobh-e Sadeq, published these incendiary remarks from Reza Fakr, a writer said to have close links to Ahmadinejad:

 

“We’ve got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks.
Iran has enough people who can reach the heart of
Europe and kidnap Americans and Israelis.” 

At the time, the Revolutionary Guards were seeking to ”retaliate” for moves by multinational forces in Iraq to crackdown on Iranian intelligence networks in Iraq, including the capture of five Iranian intelligence operatives in Irbil on the night of Jan. 10-11, 2007. 

But they had already exacted tit-for-tat retribution in the attack on
Karbala on January 20, when what now appears to have been an Iranian snatch team posing as American security guards kidnapped five
U.S. soldiers inside an Iraqi army base.  

That attack went awry, and the Iranians slaughtered all five Americans instead of taking them hostage.  

My sources in Iran tell me that the IRGC leadership realized it was going to be too hard to go after U.S. forces, given stepped up protection measures the Americans instituted after the Karbala incident. So they sought British targets as a substitute.  

This hostage-taking was no accident. It didn’t just “happen.” It was part of a centrally-planned and organized strategy to step up tension with the West.” 

As we learned on Wednesday, the Iranians most likely sent their snatch teams into international waters where the Brits were conducting maritime inspections to catch smugglers. In fact, the initial GPS coordinates the Iranians themselves released showed that they captured the Brits 1.7 miles beyond their territorial waters. Then conveniently “altered” those GPS coordinates in subsequent communications with the British government.

 So what can the Iranians possibly hope to gain? Are they miscalculating? Do they simply believe that Tony Blair is a “wimp” and won’t respond? That they can tweak the noses of the Brits, perhaps even compel them to withdraw their forces from
Iraq?  

This is what I heard earlier this week from an eminent, former CIA analyst of
Iraq at a forum on Iranian policy sponsored by the Center for Naval Analysis.  

Judith Yaphe believes the Iranians are “rational” and calculating, but may have “over-reached.” (She also believes that
Iran is seeking a stable, unified, but weak
Iraq, something that simply defies the facts).  

Yaphe “advised” the Baker-Hamilton commission – no surprise there. She has been consistently wrong on everything involving her area of expertise for over twenty years. Her views tend to parrot those of the Saudis and the Jordanians, who have shown little insight into the psychology or eschatology of
Iran’s current leaders. 

A far better interpretation was offered by the CNA’s own Alireza Nader. He believes the Iranian hostage-taking was “
Iran’s way of saying, don’t mess with us, because we can mess with you.” He also noted that it was timed just the day before the March 24 vote at the UN Security Council on the latest sanctions resolution on
Iran.  

But instead of convincing the Brits to walk away from the UN Security Council resolution, the Iranian regime’s actions only hardened
Britain’s resolve. 

So what’s happening here? How could the Iranians be so stupid as to miscalculate so totally the Western response? 

The answer, of course, is that Ahmadinejad and his supporters don’t think as Westerners think. They aren’t making cost-benefit analyses. They aren’t looking at their “bottom line.” 

The only bottom line that counts for them is the perpetuation of their regime. They believe that by attacking
Britain and
America they can rally their supporters, rally the faithful beyond
Iran, and launch their worldwide jihad to “destroy
America” and “wipe
Israel of the face of the earth” – the two goals Ahmadinejad set for his presidency. 

In the April issue of Newsmax magazine, which will be on newsstands next week, I run through a detailed, blow-by-blow scenario of what a six-day military confrontation with
Iran could look like. 

One thing is very clear: the spark that could ignite such a confrontation could come from any number of different sources. 

It could be a kidnapping such as this one. It could be an attack on a
U.S. warship by
Iran, using its Russian and Chinese-supplied bottom-tethered sea mines. Or it could be something completely different.

But what’s clear is this: Ahmadinejad and his faction want war. They believe that war with the West is their ticket to victory.  

Even if they lose large portions of their country, or if their nuclear sites are destroyed, they believe that they will emerge victorious. Because in their eyes, this type of war with the West will hasten the return of the Imam Mahdi, the savior figure of the radical hojjatieh sect of Shia Islam in which Ahmadinejad and his faction believe. 

But don’t make the mistake some have made in placing all your bets on Ahmadinejad. If somehow the U.S were able to wave a magic wand and get rid of him overnight, we would still be facing a security and political establishment in
Iran that is devoted to confrontation with the West, and to the destruction of
Israel. 

Don’t forget that it was Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the “moderate” former president of the Islamic Republic, who first evoked publicly the possibility of a nuclear weapons exchange with
Israel. I quote him in my book, Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran.  

“The use of an atomic bomb against
Israel would destroy
Israel completely, while [the same][against [
Iran] would only cause damages. Such a scenario is not inconceivable,” Rafsanjani said in a sermon at

Tehran
University on Dec. 14, 2001. 

Decoded, the message is chilling.
Iran has no fear of an Israeli nuclear attack, because
Iran is a vast country, with deep underground bunkers for its leadership, and clandestine nuclear sites that most likely are not on anyone’s target list. If the Israelis were to attack, or to respond to an Iranian nuclear attack,
Iran will suffer great losses. But
Israel will cease to exist. 

Such is the calculus of a “moderate” leader of
Iran’s Islamic “Republic.” 

But the Iranian regime does not believe it will fight for its survival in
Iran alone. Over the past nine months, since Hezbollah’s infrastructure in
Lebanon was devastated by Israeli air strikes last summer (after Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on
Israel), the Iranians have been shipping massive quantities of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in preparation for the coming war. 


Iran’s clerical leaders and Ahmadinejad believe that they actually defeated
Israel last summer during
Iran’s first proxy war with Israel. And that they can do even greater damage in the next war, which could come next month, this summer, or next year. 

Arieh Eldad, a leader of the opposition National Union Party in Israel’s Knesset, or Parliament, told me this week while on a trip to the United States that he is convinced there is “no way to avoid the next war” in Lebanon. 

He sees the massive rearmament of Hezbollah by
Iran, with Syrian assistance, as clear evidence of
Iran’s strategy to launch another war against
Israel. “Hezbollah is becoming stronger every day,” he said. 

Eldad believes
Israel must “neutralize Hamas, Hezbollah, and
Syria as a preliminary step, or we will not be able to engage
Iran.” 

By “engaging”
Iran he does not mean economic or diplomatic “engagement,” as the State Department might use the term. He is talking about having
Israel’s military take out Iranian nuclear and missile sites. 

Now that’s engagement. 

Dr. Eldad is a plastic surgeon who headed the burns unit at Hadassah hospital for twenty years. He has personally treated Palestinian suicide bombers, only to see them come back after their treatment with bombs strapped to their chests to blow themselves up in the very hospital that saved their lives. 

The foes that oppose
Israel and
America do not reason as we do, he says. “When states have missions that are bigger than life, they are not obeying the basic rules of logic that Western civilization obeys.” 

He believes the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a state,  is following the same logic as a suicide bomber. “If the goal is to kill the Big Satan [
America] or the Small Satan [
Israel], then your own life is not to be considered under their logic,” he told me. “The Iranian regime is willing to sacrifice millions and millions of their own people to defeat the  Big Satan and the Small Satan.” 

Because of this, we need to understand that
Tehran regime will not comply with sanctions, and does not care about sanctions. “It’s just not the same logic,” he said. 

Dr. Eldad’s fear is that
Israel will be “left alone” and have to confront a nuclear
Iran. And if that day arrives, he warns, “the world should know that we will be ready to destroy the nuclear infrastructure of
Iran at whatever the cost it takes.” 

“That means we will be ready to use unconventional weapons, because conventional weapons will not be enough,” he added. 

These are stakes.  

A seemingly simple hostage-taking could be how this begins. A series of mushroom clouds could be how it ends. 

In the meantime, the
U.S. is conducting naval and air exercises in the
Persian Gulf with two carrier battle groups. The message to
Iran, one administration official told me yesterday, was clear: Don’t make any false moves.

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Pat Dollard web site Pat Dollard traded a life of luxury as a Hollywood agent for that of a war journalist dodging bullets and shrapnel alongside the Marines in Iraq. He did it so you could see the truth…his version of the truth.

Projection –I wish the projection I’m writing about was Astral. I wish the people I’m writing about were permenantly floating out of their bodies, or at least until they came to their senses.

Projection

Murtha, Pelosi, Reed

I wish the projection I’m writing about was Astral. I wish the people I’m writing about were permenantly floating out of their bodies, or at least until they came to their senses.

Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel, Harry Reid, and, well, the rest of the Democratic Party, have decided to project their policy and political ambitions with regard to the war on Iraq, onto you and me – - people who were not offered the opportunity to vote on any proposed national law or referendum regarding Iraq, but who instead were only offered the opportunity to vote in local elections for representatives to the Federal Government.

During the campaign, very few of those who were elected looked the American People in the eye and told them they intended to vote for an arbitrary cut-off date for the war, or a call to bring the troops home within weeks. Yet the Dems now claim they were elected to do exactly that. Perhaps they need to be reminded that they were elected in the United States of America, not Fantasy Island.

Pelosi et. al. are overplaying their hand, overinterpreting the fact that local elections allowed the Democrats a slim Congressional and Senate Majority. Somehow they have interpreted this to mean, clearly and unequivocally, that the American people want a complete pullout from Iraq, regardless of the consequences. . They have interpreted it to mean that the American people do not support the surge. A surge the reckless and ridiculous Democrats themselves supported when they unanimously approved General Petraeus to lead it. They keep stating that the American People somehow voted the Democratic Party in as part of a national referendum to immediately begin a withdrawal from Iraq. There is no evidence to support such self-serving wishful thinking. The only thing that supports that contention is their desire for it to be true.

Would anyone who voted on such a referendum please scan and email me their ballot? ‘Cos if it was out there and I didn’t get to vote on it due to some voter fraud conspiracy, I’m gonna be pissed.

And if anyone is dying and would like to leave their brain to Chuck Hagel, please go to his website for contact info.

China, Russia Reaffirm Support for NK and Iran

China, Russia Reaffirm Support for NK and Iran

It seems that the next Cold War is going to have cleaner lines than the last one, with resurgent Russia and rising China presenting a united front against the dying Hegemon, also known as the United States.

For the US, the next time around, there will be no Sino-Soviet rift over world Communist leadership to exploit, no bitter Maoist memory of Stalin’s betrayal of the failed Chinese Communist uprising of 1927, no Maoist claim to Marxist truth, or Russian fear of Chinese hordes.

All of that belongs to the past. Masses of Chinese have traded their bicycles for gas-guzzlers, and their leaders have discarded their Mao books and Mao suits–and Communist ideology–to the dustbin of history. Red is gold, the color of money. To be a good Communist, or socialist, nowadays, means becoming a good capitalist, albeit with Chinese characteristics.

Energy-starved China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, wants secure supplies of oil and gas from Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter. Politically, both countries have an interest in isolating and weakening the US. Hence, their adherence to a “multipolar world,” a term that refers to their opposition to US hegemony, and Russia’s participation in the Chinese-sponsored Shanghai Cooperation Organization that seeks to counter US power and influence in Central Asia.

Hence, too, the importance of the Year of China in Russia–and the significance of remarks by visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian leader Vladimir Putin at Monday’s ceremony at the Kremlin that formally opened the year-long celebration.

The two leaders called for peaceful solutions to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues, and pledged to stop an arms race in space. Translation: China and Russia will continue to block truly tough and meaningful sanctions on the nuclear armed and arming rogues, will never go along with use of force against the outlaw states, and will cooperate in a range of efforts aimed at ending US dominance of space, which is essential for US defense.

“I would like to emphasize with satisfaction that the positions of Russia and China on all the issues discussed either coincide or are similar,” Putin said.

Hu referred to Putin as “my good friend” and spoke of the “warm atmosphere of trust” at their meeting, underlining the growing friendliness between the two ex-rivals.

“We have agreed that strategic cooperation between China and Russia, permanent members of the UN Security Council, has major importance for international affairs in creating a favorable atmosphere, in making international relations more democratic and ensuring global peace,” Hu added.

Riots Enter French Politics

Riots Enter French Politics
By ANGELA DOLAND Associated Press Writer
Wednesday March 28, 2007 4:31 PM

PARIS (AP) – It began with a routine ticket check at a Paris train station. What happened next – rioting, looting, tear gas – showed the anger that erupted into violence in France’s troubled neighborhoods in 2005 still smolders beneath the surface.

The rampage by youths, many apparently of African or North African descent, at a major rail hub Tuesday became an instant campaign issue in the French presidential race. It was a jarring reminder of the social tensions France’s new leader will contend with when he or she takes power in May.

Front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy of the governing right called the violence at the Gare du Nord unacceptable. His main rival, Socialist Segolene Royal, blamed Sarkozy’s camp, saying the right’s policing policies were an utter failure.

Anger erupted after a 32-year-old man without a Metro ticket punched two inspectors during a routine check, police said. The man, an illegal alien from Congo who has challenged France’s efforts to expel him, had been convicted in 2004 for insulting a magistrate, police unions said.

Dozens of youths gathered to defend the man from ticket agents, and the group swelled to 300 people and grew more and more aggressive, police said.

The youths wielded metal bars, smashed windows, looted stores and injured eight train agents and a police officer, police authorities said.

Rail lines connect Gare du Nord to the same troubled suburbs north of Paris that were gripped by rioting in October and November 2005. That violence was born of pent-up anger – especially among youths of Arab and African origin – over years of high unemployment, racial discrimination and economic inequality.

Since then, sporadic incidents have broken out in suburbs that many middle-class French people avoid. The violence at Gare du Nord was unusual because it is in the heart of Paris, the terminal for Eurostar trains linking France to Britain.

Far-right presidential candidate Philippe de Villiers, who wants to stop immigration to France, said the violence shows “there are ethnic gangs installed on our territory and who now feel that even the Gare du Nord is theirs.”

The check “got out of hand and transformed into urban guerrilla warfare, into unacceptable, intolerable violence,” new Interior Minister Francois Baroin told Europe 1 radio. “Nothing can justify what happened.”

Thirteen people were taken into custody, including five minors, police said. They were in custody on suspicion of violence against state agents, vandalism and theft.

The incident gave added urgency to addressing the problems of France’s disenfranchised minority youths – already a central issue of the campaign leading up to the April 22-May 6 two-round presidential vote.

Some of the youths rampaging at Gare du Nord shouted slogans against Sarkozy, who is seen by many youths in poor neighborhoods as the symbol of French police repression. He has alienated many with his tough policing and talk – as minister he once called delinquents “scum.”

Sarkozy said the violence showed that French children need lessons in civic responsibility in school.

“When individuals come to the rescue of someone who is committing fraud, that is particularly unacceptable, and I hope that the justice system will firmly sanction people who behave like that,” he told reporters.

Sarkozy has won praise from some observers for handling the 2005 riots with no major bloodshed. But his leftist opponents say he has exacerbated the suburbs’ problems, and that his government deepened divisions in French society.

“Police are afraid to go in certain neighborhoods, or to carry out certain security checks,” Royal told Canal Plus television. “Sometimes people are afraid simply when they see police.”

Associated Press writers Jean-Pierre Verges and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.

Handcuffing the troops

The “Dobson Committed Christian” Test

The “Dobson Committed Christian” Test

by Bull Dog Pundit @ 2:37 pm. Filed under Politics, 2008, Religion, Culture
Over in the sidebar area there’s a link to this story from US News and World Report in which Dr. James Dobson, the very influential Christian conservative commentator said the following about a possible Fred Thompson candidacy.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,” Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson’s characterization of the former Tennessee senator. “Thompson is indeed a Christian,” he said. “He was baptized into the Church of Christ.”

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson’s claim. He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith.”

“We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,” Schneeberger added. “Dr. Dobson wasn’t expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to ‘read the tea leaves’ about such a possibility.”

For the record, I don’t think that Thompson is running. But that’s beside the point.

My issue here is how Dobson is throwing around the term “Christian”.  Now I don’t mean to sound like some left-winger who insists that those who favor no-limits on abortion and the like be referred to as “Christian” in the political sense.

Look, Dobson is flat out wrong.  Thompson is indeed a Christian by the religious definition. Now, if Dobson had clarified his “Thompson isn’t a Christian” comment when he initially said it as meaning someone who doesn’t speak as publicly about his faith as Dobson would like then I wouldn’t have a problem with what he said.

But what I do have a problem with is Dobson claiming that Thompson isn’t a “committed Christian”, and thus would not excite Christians to vote for him. Can someone please tell me what ”committed Christian” means? I assume it doesn’t mean a Baptist who has been ordered to a mental institution.

Does it mean you have to mention “Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior” in every interview or conversation? 

Does that mean you have to go to a “born again” Church and sing along with the choir?

Does that mean you have to volunteer on so many church committees?

Have to volunteer at a soup kitchen?

Just how much do you have to do to pass Dobson’s “committed Christian” test and get his blessing for his followers to vote for you? 

For example, many of my older relatives attend mass (Catholics) on a daily basis, pray every day, and are nice people who do good deeds – but you never hear them talking about their faith, because it’s a private matter to them. What would Dobson consider them?

And what of the person who does all of things I mentioned above, but has secret life no one knows about (ala Ted Haggard) that runs counter to all those tenets they profess to live? 

Just because that person talks about their faith, does that make them more of a “committed Christian” than someone like my elderly relative who never utters a peep to others?

If so, then Dobson’s definition is to me, meaningless.  Hell, Bill Clinton used to talk all the time about his religious beliefs, which really didn’t seem to fit his behavior did it?

And in order to get Dobson’s blessing do you have to talk openly about your Christian faith?  What if you don’t feel comfortable doing that? Or what if you talk openly about your faith, but are pro-abortion in your political views?

Call me crazy, but I’m just more than a little uncomfortable with someone being the arbiter of what constitutes a “committed Christian”.

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