|Ken Novak's Weblog
Purpose of this blog: to retain annotated bookmarks for my future reference, and to offer others my filter technology and other news. Note that this blog is categorized. Use the category links to find items that match your interests.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Al-Ahram: Shiite plans: "In an exclusive interview with Al-Ahram Weekly from Tehran, Sayed Mohamed Baqer Al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq spoke to Omayma Abdel-Latif about his views on the US-led war on Iraq and its consequences.: 'In its last meeting in the city of Salahuddin, there were more than 400 figures representing all factions of the Iraqi opposition. They reached a common view on the future of Iraq, elected their leaders and appointed committees to translate this vision on the ground. .. What I am talking about is the Iraqi opposition which is now operating inside Iraq. The central committee is located in Arbil and coordinates the work of 14 sub-committees. These committees are run by almost 100 personnel. .. I believe that they will be capable of filling the political and security vacuum 10 times better than is possible under Saddam Hussein. The example of the Kurds in northern Iraq can be cited as an example. The people who have been selected to run political, human rights, constitutional, media and international relations sub-committees are very experienced in those fields and are capable of assuming their responsibilities in a new political environment. "
: Wild site for alternative take on war news. Reports of Iraqi leadership (incl Hussein) escaped and living in a compound in Syria; and of an underground labyrinth constructed in Baghdad since the 1980s where the real battle to wipe out the hard core of the regime is taking place. Related bunker stories in SJ Merc
. 11:21:12 PM
Saddam's utter collapse shows this has not been a real war
: "Saddam's war plan, if he had one, must be reckoned one of the most inept ever designed. It made no use of the country's natural defences. All advantages the defence enjoyed were thrown away even before they could be utilised... Because the war has taken such a strange form, the media, particularly those at home, may be forgiven for their misinterpretation of how it has progressed. Checks have been described as defeats, minor firefights as major battles. In truth, there has been almost no check to the unimpeded onrush of the coalition, particularly the dramatic American advance to Baghdad; nor have there been any major battles. This has been a collapse, not a war." 11:06:55 PM
FAO GTOS :: TEMS database
: "TEMS, Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites, is an international directory of sites (named T.Sites) and networks that carry out long-term terrestrial monitoring and research activities. The database provides information on the "who, what and where" that can be useful to both the scientific community and policy-makers." 10:17:09 PM
Concern That Help May Come With Strings Attached
: Iraqis want the Americans to remove Saddam, and to leave quickly. They also want the Americans to create a state that distributes the oil wealth and makes them rich, and not to change their culture. Yet what they want may not be doable quickly. "As the tea was being passed around, another man, Salem Ali, walked up, telling a story nearly identical to Mr. Neama's. He, too, had been picked up today by Mr. Hussein's thugs, he said, and blindfolded, beaten and burned. He unbuttoned his shirt and showed what appeared to be a cigarette burn in the middle of his chest. Asked to express his views, though, Mr. Ali declined. Even with American troops inside Baghdad, he said he was still not safe. "Even if the Americans win, for two years, we will be fearing Saddam," he said. " 10:11:01 PM
FT.com / Iraq plans: Good review of current plans, including:
- 3 month military-led body - the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), rebuilding infrastructure, rooting out Baath officials, finding weapons
- an Interim Iraqi Administration (IIA) which will take over from ORHA after 3 months
- a constitutional assembly to agree a new Iraqi system of government 9 months later
- sovereign administration for the country within 2 years
- soon -- even this week -- a meeting of tribal and community leaders - a majlis - in Basra which could be the beginning of process to get representatives to move to the interim Iraqi authority
US and UK agree that
- a UN resolution must be secured within the next few weeks to legitimise the interim administration .
- IIA will be composed of about 22 figures. Most will be indigenous Iraqis with the remainder from the Iraqi diaspora.
- The IIA is expected to develop its own armed forces. British and US officials believe that if rioting develops in post-Saddam Iraq, it would be best if it were contained by the IIA
- Undecided is the identity and role of a UN "Special Commissioner" for Iraq. US advocates merely to recommend names for the IIA and coordinate UN agencies.
James Lindsay. Brookings:
Simple political wrapup, nice quotes: Noting that the discovery of Iraqi chemical weapons will do little to change attitudes overseas, "Is it entirely fair to the Bush administration? Perhaps not, but fairness is seldom the operative concept in the court of public opinion. For Bush to make a sizable dent in overseas resentment of U.S. policy, he needs to take actions that acknowledge what people resent. In Europe that means tempering his unilateralist instincts. In the Arab world, it means delivering on his outsize claim to bring democratic government to the Iraqi people. The big question is whether Bush is in the mood to do the first and capable of doing the second. " 5:00:09 PM
China nudges N Korea:
"Chinese officials, including Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, have been holding meetings with North Korean counterparts, trying to persuade Pyongyang in earnest to stop provoking the United States. The message emphasized is that if Pyongyang did not curtail its provocative behavior, China might be forced to drop its longstanding opposition to sanctions if North Korea's nuclear development program formally comes to the UN Security Council. While the threat of sanctions was only hinted at, Beijing made a point of its seriousness by cutting off oil supplies to North Korean for three days last month. Diplomats say the pipeline from the Daqing oilfields in northeastern China to North Korea was temporarily shut down in early March shortly after Pyongyang test-fired a missile into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. " 4:47:22 PM
China must wonder why N. Korea has become its problem:
"According to well-placed sources in Beijing, Chinese leaders do not know whether to laugh or cry at the outside world's belief that they have leverage over Pyongyang. Says a political insider: 'The fact is that we are as frustrated with them as anyone else. But there is not much we can do. 'The North Koreans are very proud and prickly people and won't take kindly to any arm-twisting by us, even though we give about 70 per cent of the aid they get.'
Another source, who is privy to foreign policy discussions at the top, says he is puzzled why there is not as much pressure on Russia to do more as Pyongyang looks more to Moscow than it does Beijing. 'The two leaders, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Il, appear to get on well with each other. They are of the same generation and the Dear Leader speaks fluent Russian,' he notes. In contrast, he adds, Chinese and North Koreans are correct but cool towards each other. The Chinese find the North Koreans tiresome and the latter know it.
Indeed, beneath the surface calm, relations have not been exactly cordial. Over the past two years, North Korea has removed from office anyone whom it suspects of being pro-Chinese. It has also arrested an entire network of Chinese spies of Korean descent, which suggests that Beijing is telling the truth when it says it does not really know what is going on in North Korea.
In turn, according to the political insider, the Chinese have arrested at least 20 people in the Yanbian autonomous region in Jilin province, which borders North Korea, for suspected espionage. Among those picked up is the son of a local public security chief who reportedly betrayed Chinese agents inside North Korea for US$200,000 (S$358,000). 'Once the arrests began, North Koreans who were operating a hotel and restaurant in Yanbian, whose residents are largely of Korean descent, closed it down overnight and bolted,' says the source. 'On investigation, our security people found that even the lowliest waiter there holds the rank of major in North Korea's army intelligence!' " 4:43:35 PM
Michael Moore as Rush Limbaugh?
: "It is times like these that have prompted John McCain to observe, "If Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people, Hollywood is a Washington for the simple-minded." .. "I don't think there's a backlash or a blacklist or anything like that going on," [Moore] said, "and I'd be the first to point it out if I thought it was." .. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that if you tell a free people they can't hear something, read something or see something, they are going to want to see, read and hear it all the more," said Mr. Moore. "So please, boycott the Dixie Chicks, try to start a boycott of Michael Moore, and watch what happens."
Like Mr. Limbaugh at his least grandiose best, Mr. Moore's persona is more funny than angry, more everyman than show-biz. He is not, as he puts it, "a didactic, wimpy kind of liberal" -- one of those whiners that makes audiences reach for the remote faster than you can say "Phil Donahue." .. Mr. Moore's boorish Oscar night yelling, far from relegating him to obscurity, seems to have enhanced not only his movie's box office but his own magnitude of stardom. ..
Liberals have been so lame in battling on the mass media's turf that Democratic fat cats in February ponied up $10 million to finance a talk-show radio network that will field hosts to counter Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Yet Mr. Moore, without a talk show, may be just the lethal heat-seeking show-business weapon they have been looking for. It's telling that conservatives who deride him as a big, fat idiot sound as worried about Mr. Moore as liberals were about Mr. Limbaugh when he began his rise to superstardom. " 12:07:55 PM