« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

November 29, 2007

An Accident and a Murder

At Brussels Journal; Whom Will France Mourn?

Yesterday evening, three young people died in the suburbs to the north of Paris. Mouhsin (15) and Lakamy (16), two immigrant youths, were killed in Villiers-le-Bel when their motorcycle, which is said to have been stolen, collided at high speed with a police vehicle. The two youths, who were not wearing compulsory crash helmets, died on the spot. A few hours later, Anne-Lorraine (23), a young journalist, was stabbed to death on a suburban train near Creil, whilst resisting a man who was trying to rape her. The man had already been convicted for violent sexual assault in 1996.

The news of the deaths of Mouhsin and Lakamy became world news, dominating today’s media in France and abroad. Anne-Lorraine’s death is a mere footnote, a “faits divers” in France, a non-event abroad.

For more European perspective on the problems of reconciling Islam with modern Western society, I stumbled upon three good examples at the enthralling site on European culture, Sign and Sight.

First, a brief review of a new German film called "Hamburg Lessons", which consists entirely of a narrator reading from the actual texts of recorded messages delivered in 2000 by Mohammed Fazazi, Imam of the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, where three of the 9/11 pilots were regulars.

Then a report on a senseless stabbing of one Muslim teenager by another in an Amsterdam school, and the deep denial exhibited by Muslim parents of the violence and alienation of their children. This is written by a researcher who interviewed all the parents in her study of the neighborhood of Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of Theo van Gogh.

Finally, a piece by Franz Haas on how Italy is coming to grips with the growing influence of Islam. So far, Italy has avoided the kinds of major terror attacks experienced in London and Madrid, but....

...the more obvious problems of living together with more or less radical Muslims in their own country are a constant theme in the Italian public sphere. The issues include building new mosques, the dispute over headscarves, veils and burqas, the restrictive dress codes for women and the "honour killings" of Muslim girls determined to adopt Western lifestyles. The case of Hina Saleem, a young Pakistani woman living in Brescia, who had her throat cut by her father assisted by other male members of her family because she wore the latest fashions and had an Italian fiance caused a major sensation in summer 2006. A representative of a Muslim women's organization investigating the murder recently received death threats from Islamic extremists. Female circumcision is also a horrifyingly widespread secret practice – according to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, there are some 25,000 women with mutilated genitals living in Italy.

In view of such practices as "honour killings" and genital mutilation you don't need to be a pessimist to ask whether these horrific manifestations of an archaic way of life imposed by the dictates of theology will ever be rejected by all Muslims in the Western world or whether the principles of radical Islam are not fundamentally incompatible with those of the West today.

November 28, 2007

Mostly Good News

"...a strange thing happened on the way to Gomorrah..."

The lead article in the December Commentary is up at the site and worth a close look. In "Crime, Drugs, Welfare—and Other Good News", Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin examine some positive cultural trends in the U.S. over the last fifteen years that seem to refute much of the persistent pessimism of commentators on the "leading cultural indicators" in our society.

While the news is generally good on issues like crime, drugs, welfare and abortion, the authors lament the lack of statistical improvement on issues relating to family...out of wedlock births and divorce among them, and then set about to make sense of the numbers. You'll want to read it all, but here's a sample:

In a number of key categories, the amount of ground gained or regained since the early 1990’s is truly stunning. Crime, especially, has plummeted. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the rates of both violent crime and property crime fell significantly between 1993 and 2005, reaching their lowest levels since 1973 (the first year for which such data are available). More recent figures from the FBI, which measures crime differently from the NCVS, show an unfortunate uptick in violent crime in the last two years—particularly in cities like Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Even so, however, the overall rate remains far below that of the mid-1990’s.

Teenage drug use, which moved relentlessly upward throughout the 1990’s, declined thereafter by an impressive 23 percent, and for a number of specific drugs it has fallen still lower. Thus, the use of ecstasy and LSD has dropped by over 50 percent, of methamphetamine by almost as much, and of steroids by over 20 percent.

Then there is welfare. Since the high-water mark of 1994, the national welfare caseload has declined by over 60 percent. Virtually every state in the union has reduced its caseload by at least a third, and some have achieved reductions of over 90 percent. Not only have the numbers of people on welfare plunged, but, in the wake of the 1996 welfare-reform bill, overall poverty, child poverty, black child poverty, and child hunger have all decreased, while employment figures for single mothers have risen.

Abortion, too, is down. After reaching a high of over 1.6 million in 1990, the number of abortions performed annually in the U.S. has dropped to fewer than 1.3 million, a level not seen since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized the practice. The divorce rate, meanwhile, is now at its lowest level since 1970.

Educational scores are up. Earlier this year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders continue to improve steadily in math, and that fourth-grade reading achievement is similarly on the rise. Other findings show both fourth- and twelfth-graders scoring significantly higher in the field of U.S. history. Black and Hispanic students are also making broad gains, though significant gaps with whites persist. The high-school dropout rate, under 10 percent, is at a 30-year low, and the mean SAT score was 8 points higher in 2005 than in 1993, the year Bennett published his Index.

(As an aside, a note in the new issue indicates that Commentary Editor-designate John Podhoretz, who is slated to take over that job in January 2009, has been tasked in the meantime with working to upgrade the magazine's web presence. Let's just say that it didn't take long. The improvements are noticeable already.)

UPDATE 11/28: Co-author Peter Wehner follows up with a piece today at NRO, this time as a rejoinder to Pat Buchanan's relentless pessimism about America.

November 27, 2007

Sink L.O.S.T.

I'm in touch with my senators to register my disapproval of the Law of the Sea Treaty. This is admittedly a position I have come to hold after reading only a dozen or so articles and analyses on the subject, but it seems counterintuitive to me to support a treaty that would grant unprecedented new legal and economic powers to a U.N. organization that has proven not only to be reflexively anti-American in practice, but also arrogantly unaccountable, systemically corrupt, and resistant to the slightest reform.

Plus it would create a whole new U.N. bureaucratic apparatus in the process. The presumption is that the enforcement arm of this bureaucracy (if any) would necessarily be the only organization that can effectively police the high seas, and protect shipping lanes and international commerce for all. The organization that is doing it now...The U.S. Navy.

It's enough that this treaty would put the United Nations in effective control of all underseas natural resources, with the power to tax and regulate their mining, and command a percentage of profits to 'redistribute' as they see fit. But there are more reasons to project negative consequences for the U.S., not least the problem of signing treaties with countries who don't adhere to the treaties they sign.

Excerpting NR's "The Week", on L.O.S.T.

The Senate is set to consider the Law of the Sea Treaty, which has the Bush administration’s blessing. Senators should say no. The treaty’s codification of existing maritime law, while modestly useful, grants the U.S. no rights it does not already possess under earlier and customary law. Those who argue, as U.S. Navy lawyers do, that the treaty will help the Navy assert American rights over North Pole oil (supposing such oil exists in large quantities) must explain (a) why the supra-national agencies that will rule on treaty disputes can be counted on to support the U.S. position; (b) who will enforce a favorable ruling over Russian or other objections apart from — the U.S. Navy; and (c) exactly why, if other powers will be required to help the U.S. enforce a favorable decision under (b), the U.S. Navy will not be required to enforce other decisions of no concern to the U.S. The short answer is that the U.S. gains nothing important under the treaty. But we do submit to supra-national authority on a range of maritime rights; to the international regulation of U.S. corporations’ access to seabed mineral resources; and to the first independent international taxing authority. Life is full of tradeoffs...or not.

L.O.S.T. resources at CEI (including the video below)


Details of the treaty provisions at Heritage.org

The Cato Institute says sink it

Iain Murray

LOST would be a big step toward United Nations global governance. The treaty’s reach extends far beyond international issues and disagreements into nations’ internal policies on a wide array of issues. The treaty’s structure is designed to replace national decision making with UN decision making on these issues.

For the first time, the United Nations would have international taxing authority through LOST. Enough said.

A "RejectLOST" blog

Eagle Forum LOST links

Joseph Klein

If the case for U.S. Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty is being persuasively made elsewhere, I'd appreciate a heads-up. The Cato article linked above does specify, rather tepidly, some of the perceived benefits to the U.S.

Why, given all this, was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee eager to sign on? The treaty is not without benefits. Provisions regarding the environment, resource management, and rights of transit generally are positive, though many reflect what is now customary international law, even in the absence of U.S. ratification. Lugar notes that "law and practice with respect to regulation of activities off our shores is already generally compatible with the Convention." This would seem to be an equally strong argument for not ratifying the treaty.

Most influential, though, may be support from the U.S. Navy, which is enamored of the treaty's guarantee of navigational freedom. Not that such freedom is threatened now: The Russian navy is rusting in port, China has yet to develop a blue water capability, and no country is impeding U.S. transit, commercial or military.

The Wikipedia site lists several 'pro' and 'anti' arguments.

November 26, 2007


Since the late 80's you haven't seen the words "Browns" and "swagger" used in the same sentence too often. But that's what ESPN's John Clayton does after today's satisfying 27-17 win over the Texans.

With five home wins in a row, this team is starting to crack the thick layer of cynicism in the fan base, built up by the eight previous seasons of inept, nearly unwatchable football. We were sitting there in the stands today with a 27-10 lead, with just over five minutes to go in the game, realizing that we have been in that position so seldom in this era that we don't know quite how to behave. (Nervously, it turns out, as the Texans easily marched down for a late score, setting up an onside kick.)

But this time, the Browns finished. It's too early to call it a trend, but it was promising. Seven wins was the upper limit of my expectation for the whole season, and the Browns hit that number today, with five games left.

The schedule down the stretch (Arizona, Jets, Bills, Bengals, and 49ers) doesn't include anyone who figures to have an easy game against Cleveland, and the prospect of nine to ten wins and a playoff spot is becoming thinkable. But let's hold off on that swagger just now.

November 25, 2007

Poller on Al Dura

Nidra Poller, writing at Contentions, reports that the 18-minute video shown in a Paris courtroom on 11/14 not only failed to show the obvious staging of casualties that media members who had seen the original 27-minute segment say they observed, but it also inexplicably left out the scenes that Charles Enderlin said would vindicate him. Like the scenes of the boy's death throes, which were said by Enderlin to have been edited out of the original because they were so shocking. Edited right out of existence, I guess.

The screening of the raw footage proved that the al-Dura news report was baseless. For seven years, Charles Enderlin has claimed that the raw footage would prove, on the contrary, that the report was accurate, authentic, verified, and verifiable. And yet he was able to stand before three judges and recite a monotonous tale of intifada as the images unfolded.

Is it possible that no one remembered what was supposed to be contained in that cassette? Eighteen minutes or 27, that’s not the issue. This was supposed to be the raw footage of the al-Dura ordeal that, according to the cameraman and the boy’s father—sole living witnesses—lasted 45 minutes.


In conclusion: nothing of what has been said about the incident can be seen in the 55-seconds of sole existing footage. No crossfire, no shots hitting the man or the boy, no duration of the ordeal. There is no footage to substantiate the report or the framing human interest narrative that accompanied it.

Can this be responsible journalism? Could it be so widely practiced that professionals, and particularly French media, do not consider it noteworthy? Is there no difference between a news report based on ample verifiable evidence and a news report based on an inconclusive snippet of what appears to be a clumsily staged one-minute scene? How is it possible to obtain total compliance with an unwritten law to the point that no one in French media will break ranks and give the facts about this controversial affair?


How is it possible that a Palestinian faction (or individual or authority…we don’t know who) could produce false news and inject it directly into international media without encountering the slightest resistance, while the exposé that shows that the news report does not respect any normal journalistic criteria knocks its head against a stone wall and cannot reach the general public?

It's the "fake but accurate" doctrine that makes it possible. Journalistic ethics are trumped by the importance of maintaining a narrative focused on Palestinian victimhood and Israeli oppression. Facts optional.

Related: Lots of Al Dura links at this post.

November 23, 2007

Business Socks

I don't even try to stay on top of the current music scene....or for that matter, much of anything recorded in the last twenty years. But my daughter turned me on to the parody act Flight of the Conchords (she watches HBO, I don't), and they made me laugh. That's all it takes to get immortalized here.


Ohio State basketball has another freshman prodigy this year, and here ESPN.com's Andy Katz profiles 7-footer Kosta Koufos from Canton. Koufos had a career high 24 points as the Bucks knocked off Syracuse with a surprisingly easy win in the NIT semifinals.

November 22, 2007

Recommended 11/22

Kenneth Anderson at Telos Press on the Madrid bombing verdicts

Rough treatment lately for Paul Krugman of the Times. Greg Mankiw, Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post, and Donald Luskin are looking for some intellectual consistency from him on Social Security. Mark Levin roasts the former Enron advisor on the Reagan-as-racist dustup, and well...Taranto doesn't really count, because he's on Krugman's case three times a week.

The Journal has two excellent pieces on the upcoming Annapolis meetings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: First, Jeff Robbins on missed opportunities and shared blame. And from Tuesday, Bret Stephens says Annapolis is an example of how not to do diplomacy.

Some gruesome details have come to light in the case of the suicide-bombing attempt on the life of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto. (scroll to end of article)

Are the stem-cell wars over?

November 20, 2007

Go Back, Jack, and Do It Again

What went around a few weeks ago, came around tonight for Mike Shanahan. And that gives me a chance to vent on a pet peeve of mine.

If you don't watch a lot of football, you may not know that it has become vogue for NFL coaches to try gaining an advantage of some sort by calling a timeout when the opponent is attempting a last-second field goal at the end of a game or the end of a half.

Since coaches were granted the option a couple years ago of calling timeouts themselves instead of reserving that right to players on the field, the new idea (if it can be granted that lofty status) has been to pick the exact moment to call the timeout, so that the referee's whistle cannot be blown in time to keep the actual play...the snap, the hold and the kick...from being run, but the play is nonetheless nullified.

This tactic is not to be confused with the time-honored football tradition of "icing the kicker", a timeout taken well before the intended snap with the message to the kicker being unambiguous.... "We're going to make you think about this kick before we let you try to make it."

Instead, the new message to the kicker, and the practical effect of the tactic is..."If you're going to beat us with this field goal, you're going to have to make it twice." That is, unless I have another timeout, and I want to pull this stunt again on your next try, in which case you'll have to make it three times.

This is not strategy. It's unsportsmanlike, and it's an insult to the athletes who are on the field trying to compete in a fair contest of skills. It is the equivalent of a high jumper's coach intentionally knocking the bar off the standard just as the opposing team's jumper is going into his takeoff. "Hey, no harm buddy...just do it again." It's Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown, without the cheap laugh.

Ahh...but it's within the rules, so we can't blame the coaches for using it to their teams' advantage.

Yes we can. It's idiotic. It wastes time. It's not football. It's tacky gamesmanship.

It was Denver's Shanahan who made big news with this ploy when the Broncos pulled off a win against Oakland in Week Two. The Raiders were celebrating a 52-yard, last-second game-winning field goal by Sebastian Janikowski, when the referee ruled that Shanahan had managed to call timeout before the snap. Genius. And I wouldn't be here writing about it if Janikowski's second attempt had been good. Denver wins in OT.

The following week the Raiders, having learned at the knee of the great Shanahan, pulled the same stunt against the Browns in a last-second situation, achieving the same result. Cleveland's Phil Dawson made a 40-yarder as time expired. But, owing to the leading edge coaching of the Raiders' Lane Kiffin, who somehow, by a feat of incredible timing, managed to trick the Browns into thinking that they only had to make one field goal to win the game, the Raiders were allowed a second chance to block Dawson's kick. And they did. Raiders win. The legend grows.

The following Saturday I watched that slave to fashion, the U. of Florida's genius coach Urban Meyer, pull the same deception at the NCAA level. If I recall correctly, the opponent made both field goals, but Meyer had joined the club. Great...now I can watch this lunacy on Saturdays too.

It was apparent right away that this silliness would only be mitigated in one of two ways. The most sensible would be to insist that the NFL Competition Committee do away with this invitation to deception. One reasonable solution would be to prohibit a timeout call with less than five (or ten?) seconds on the play clock, at least in those situations at the end of halves.

The other way to stop it is to let a few coaches get burned with the ploy by nullifying a first kick miss, and then watching an opposing kicker nail his second try at it. So it did my heart just a little good tonight to see that scenario play out in the MNF game....and to see it happen to Shanahan was a bonus. The 56-yarder that the Titans' Rob Bironas made at the end of the half was made on his second try, after Shanahan had nullified an attempt on which Bironas missed badly. Unfortunately, it didn't cost Shanahan the game. Baby steps.

One of the things that has amused me about this whole misguided, anti-competitive nonsense is the intensity and studied earnestness that Shanahan and his lodge brothers affect, as they tackle the challenge of this shrewd and complicated maneuver. Right up in the ear of the official on the sidelines, they watch the opponents line up over the ball, all the while making sure the official knows that they are about to commit coaching innovation....pretty soon now...I wanna call.....this is touchy.....just one more second...Time Out!

How do they do it? Move over, Paul Brown.

UPDATE 12/3: I was reminded by a David Freddoso post at the Corner that the second consecutive trick timeout I suggested above would be illegal in the NFL, and that just such a scenario occurred in yesterday's Bills-Redskins game. After making a 51-yarder in the final seconds, only to have it nullified by a Joe Gibbs timeout, Gibbs called another one on the re-kick, and the resulting 15-yard penalty made the Bills kicker's eventual game-winner much easier, from just 36 yards out. A Hall of Fame coach...reduced to this kind of silly gamesmanship. Say it ain't so, Joe. Glad you got burned.

November 19, 2007

al Dura Update

Here's Nidra Poller's account of the courtroom viewing of the France 2 TV video in the al Dura affair.

House Plants

It appears that at least six people selected by CNN to ask questions at the Democratic Party candidate debate the other night, and presented by CNN as merely "undecided voters.", were in fact Democratic Party operatives or activists. Jenny Bea was largely responsible for giving this story legs.

Undecided or not, CNN owes all voters an explanation for their failure to disclose the partisanship of the questioners. Not the fact that they're Democrats...who else would you expect to be there? But their close affiliations with the Party compromise the integrity of the debate, which purported to be picking ordinary democratic voters, while instead carefully pre-screening an elite group of participants, complete with prepared questions.

One of the undecided voters who happened to have a question and happened to get called upon, happened to be LaShannon Spencer, Political Director for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, in Little Rock. Not to worry, Hillary. Another was a staffer with Sen. Harry Reid's office. Just walked in off the street with a question.

On the outrage meter, this will reverberate somewhere well beneath accepting laundered $2000 donations from busboys in Chinatown, but it nicely demonstrates the insecurity Democrats feel about their "message", and their insistence on carefully scripting their every public utterance.

Party of the little guy. Speaking truth to power. Connecting with the ordinary voters.


November 17, 2007


Something to get the juices flowing before The Game. If you've been there, you get it.

I have been admitting to friends this week that I don't have a good feeling about the Michigan game. Seems like all the emotional jazz is on the side of the Wolves. UM Head Coach Lloyd Carr is expected to be forced out step down after the game, win or lose. At least three of Michigan's best players....Henne, Hart, and Long are playing at Michigan in 2007 instead of the in the NFL for one reason only. They have not yet beaten Ohio State, making this the biggest game of their college careers. Michigan is desperate to erase the taint of their opening game loss to Appalachian St., anxious to beat Jim Tressel, and charged up to send their coach out a winner.

Then there's the matter of 110,000 people.

On the other sideline, it would be understandable if the Buckeyes were on an emotional down. Their perfect season and national title shot crashed and burned last weekend, at home, on Senior Day, to an Illinois team that was inspired, but significantly less talented than Michigan.

On the up side, the fact that both teams lost last week puts the pressure back onto Michigan and those seniors who are winless in OSU-Michigan games. The Buckeyes should be the looser bunch. I'm just not sure that will be enough on this day. After last week, my faith in Tressel has taken some lumps. If talent wins out over emotion.... and if the Bucks can grab the lead early.... and if Todd Boeckman throws to all the right colored jerseys, the Buckeyes can and should win.

But for some reason, my head says it'll be the Wolverines' day.

OK, Bucks. Prove me wrong.

UPDATE 11/17: Wow! This reverse psychology thing works out great, doesn't it? Seriously, I love being wrong about the emotional edge residing with Michigan. The Buckeyes took the crowd out of the game with a smothering defense and a second quarter lead, and never let them or the Wolverines back in it.

The dominance of the OSU defensive line was the story. Who knew the Wolves would have no answer for Cameron Heyward or Dexter Larimore or Todd Denlinger, much less for Vernon Gholston on this day. Gholston, the only player from Michigan on the OSU roster, had three sacks of Henne on the day. Mike "The Mouth" Hart was able to get only 44 yards in the biggest game of his life, all the while managing to enhance his rep as a trash-talking sore loser.

All-American UM tackle Jake Long was bull-rushed into his QB and then pancaked by the freshman Heyward, and was frustrated as Gholston blew by him on the outside all afternoon.

Tressel was maddeningly conservative with the second-half play-calling, making for some ugly football. He played offense like he couldn't wait to get his defense back out on the field. And why not? This is from Mark Rea's game story at BuckeyeSports.com:

How stifling was the OSU defense? The Wolverines were held to just 91 yards of total offense, the first time totaling less than 100 yards since getting 97 against Purdue in October 1962. Michigan had only eight first downs, just two in the second half and both came on Ohio State pass interference penalties.

At SI.com, Stewart Mandel comments on the game, Carr's swan song, and Tressel's dominance.

Being wrong feels great.

Related: Jim Davidson's game photo gallery

O-Zone game story

November 16, 2007

Recommended 11/16

We are about to pass another grim milestone in the war on terror. Patrick Poole reports on the guy who's keeping track of the numbers.

Check out the video story of a U.S. soldier who was impaled by an RPG, and the brave medical team that risked their lives to save his, improvising a surgical removal of the live ordnance.

Norman Mailer remembrances by WFB and Fred Siegel, and a stinging treatment by Roger Kimball.

Can the new Euro-Constitution be stopped? Daniel Hannan at Brussels Journal isn't very optimistic.

And it's not new, but I just got around to Mark Steyn's look back at one particular chapter of Alan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind", now twenty years old.

Democrats Don't Have Cronies

The breaking story that the Hillary Clinton campaign has taken donations from three people who were pardoned by her husband on his way out the White House door is everywhere today.

But it's hard to greet these revelations with anything but a yawn. We're a year away from the election, and the Clinton camp has us nearly inured to outrage by the sheer number of shabby campaign money incidents already exposed. Relying on scandal fatigue was a signature strategy of the 90's too.

But this is my favorite part of the article:

One of the pardonees who has become a donor to Sen. Clinton is David Herdlinger, a former prosecutor in Springdale, Ark., who, according to press accounts at the time of his pardon pleaded guilty in 1986 to mail fraud after taking bribes to reduce or drop charges against defendants charged with drunken driving offenses.

Now a life and business coach in Georgia, Herdlinger was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001; he donated $1,000 to Sen. Clinton's presidential campaign in August.

A corrupt prosecutor convicted of fraud and bribery, the guy is now "a life and business coach." You just can't make this stuff up.

November 15, 2007


Peter Berkowitz on hating the President. I can't recommend this highly enough, for readers on both sides of the political chasm in this country.

November 14, 2007

Al Dura Video Shown in Court

Today was supposed to be a breakthrough day in the seven-year old story of the al Dura shooting. Richard Landes, writing yesterday at PJM, set it up.

When Talal abu Rahmah received an award for his footage of Muhammad al Dura in Morocco in 2001, he told a reporter, “I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people.”

These remarks serve as an important prelude to considering the France2 rushes that will be shown in court in Paris on November 14 in the Enderlin France2 vs. Philippe Karsenty defamation case. These tapes were filmed by Talal abu Rahmah on September 30, 2000, and for seven years, Enderlin has claimed that the tapes prove him right and show the boy in such unbearable death throes that he cut them out of his report. But several experts who have seen the tapes (this author included) claim that the only scene of al Dura that Enderlin cut was the final scene where he seems alive and well; and still more disturbingly the rest of the rushes are filled with staged scenes. Indeed there seems to be a kind of “public secret” at work on the Arab “street”: people fake injury, others evacuate them hurriedly (and without stretchers) past Palestinian cameramen like Talal, who use Western video equipment to record these improvised scenes. Pallywood: the Palestinian movie industry.

Late Wednesday evening, Haaretz.com posted the first story I have seen on what actually went on in court today. It turns out only 18 minutes of video was produced for the court by France 2 TV, as opposed to the 27 minutes that the photographer claimed he shot at Netzarim Junction on 9/30/00. Here's the text of the Haaretz report:

PARIS - A French appeals court screened footage Wednesday of the September 2000 television report on the death of Muhammad al-Dura, in a case of defamation brought against French television and its correspondent in the Middle East, Charles Enderlin.

The veteran journalist was accused in 2004 by Philippe Karsenty, the owner of an internet site, of broadcasting a staged report on the al-Dura killing, and of instigating hate against Israel and Jews throughout the world.

Karsenty was convicted in the original defamation trial, but a second trial ended with the judge demanding to examine the full footage of the al-Dura report before deciding whether Karsenty was guilty of defamation or not.

Enderlin explained in court each segment of the 18-minute footage filmed on September 30, 2000, by his cameraman Talal Abu Rahma at Netzarim junction while Enderlin was in Ramallah: the street battles with dozens of people throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at an IDF outpost, an interview with a Fatah official, and the incident involving Mohammed al-Dura and his father in the last minute of the video.

Karsenty challenged Enderlin's explanations. "The boy moved his head after we heard the cameraman say he was dead. How do you explain this?" asked Karsenty. "Why is there no blood on their shirts although they had bullet wounds?"

Enderlin said that Talal Abu Rahma did not say that the boy had died, but that he was dying. The journalist maintained that only the Israelis shot at the al-Duras, explaining that he could hear the difference between the shooting of the Israeli rubber bullets and Palestinian regular ones.

Karsenty repeated several troubling details. He pointed out that an article by senior journalists Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte in 2004 noted some staged scenes filmed by Abu Rahma in the first part of the footage, which they had examined at French TV studios with former le Monde journalist Luc Rosenzweig.

Jeambar and Leconte called on French TV to launch its own internal inquiry, citing a possible lack of journalistic standards, but did not not share the theory of a possible staging of al-Dura's death.

"The al-Dura report has had terrible consequences, causing hate against Israel and Jews," Karsenty told Haaretz. "We have to repair the damage now, before it's too late."

Tension was high in the courtroom yesterday, and some pro and anti-Enderlin militants were arguing loudly, causing some commotion. Dozens of Jewish bloggers were present at the courthouse.

Serge Kovacs, a friend and co-worker of Enderlin, said Enderlin was falsely accused and has become a "new Dreyfuss." Enderlin told journalists that there was no new "affair," and suggested they come to the next hearing on February 28.

Karsenty said that he intends to counter-attack French TV by pointing out that they only presented 18 minutes out of the 27 minutes Abu Rahma originally claimed to have shot.

In Israel, as the J-Post reports, some government officials are wishing the whole affair would go away, while others support Karsenty, and want to air it all out, believing that enough blood has already been shed for what they are convinced was a hoax. In the U.S., Jewish groups have asked visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy to pressure France 2 TV to be forthcoming with the evidence the judge has ordered them to produce.

al Dura links here

PJM's al Dura links and chronology

I await details of the courtroom scene from Nidra Poller and Richard Landes, who are no doubt all over it.

UPDATE 11/15: A report in the Spectator by Melanie Phillips, who was in the courtroom on Wednesday.

Nidra Poller suggests that the al Dura trial may have just had its "Rosemary Woods moment."

And Richard Landes thoughts are over at Augean Stables, complete with visual aids. One snippet:

I must admit, many people told me that Enderlin would doctor the tapes, and I didn’t believe them. “No,” I thought, “it’s one thing to lie to me and others in his office, but to the court, where he would surely get caught? He would not be that reckless…” Not.

Today Charles Enderlin presented in court the “rushes” of Talal abu Rahmah which the Judge had requested from him. And he presented an edited version in which he took out at least three minutes, and several scenes that I distinctly remember seeing. In the United States that’s called tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and perjury. In France, we’ll find out what it’s called.

November 13, 2007

Less and Less of AQ in Iraq

Bill Roggio's Long War Journal has more on tracking down the remaining operatives of al Qaeda in Iraq.

It is visuals like the graphic in Bill's post (as well as items like this and this, both via pw), that mock the contention of some of my leftist correspondents that "there is no movement" which might justifiably be called Islamofascism, because the radicalized Muslims are so diffuse and factioned - geographically, ethnically, racially, theologically - that their organization into any kind of coherent force to threaten the West is a paranoid delusion of the right, a couple of skyscrapers notwithstanding.

Were we more sensitive to these nuances, and less prone to the "lumping together" of all Muslims drawn to jihad, say the deniers, we could....either a) sleep better at night because there is no cause for concern...or b) set about to modify our domestic and foreign policies so as not to "create terrorists", who by the way, are no threat to us. Coherence is optional with these guys.

UPDATE 11/13: Goldstein, speaking of...

...Nonie Darwish’s extraordinary speech delivered at the YAF conference, in which Ms Darwish’s exasperation with the left elitist in this country was uncomfortably palpable. The real liberals — the moderate Muslims speaking out, at great personal risk, for the necessity of Islamic reform — are being demonized as inauthentic troublemakers by a left so enamored with multiculturalist dogma and a self-serving and self-aggrandizing consideration of their own capacity for “tolerance,” that the greatest enemy, in Darwish’s view, in the global war on terror, are those who, through their blindness (and as a tribute to their own egos), are allowing Islamism to further entrench itself inside the United States.

Islamofascism, as Darwish pointed out, was a phrase coined not by Andrew Sullivan, but rather by Muslim reformers, who in turn were simply describing, with a clear fidelity, the description of the movement introduced by its adherents, who considered the fascist component a feature.

PC Rot

Stuart Taylor of National Journal laments the pervasive rot of political correctness on our country's college campuses. Taylor establishes his liberal bona fides ("I have never been conservative enough to vote for a Republican presidential nominee") before filleting the loony leftist forces behind programs like the University of Delaware's "diversity facilitation training."

This and dozens of other cases suggest to me that the cancerous spread of ideologically eccentric, intellectually shoddy, phony-diversity-obsessed fanaticism among university faculties and administrators is far, far worse and more inexorable than most alumni, parents, and trustees suspect.

He moves from UD to Duke, and the Gang of 88, a group on which he is something of an expert.

If Taylor's column has permalinks, they are invisible to me, so this piece will only be there until his next column is posted.

November 11, 2007

Costs of Freedom

Here's a little VDH, which I guess stands for Veterans Day Hanson. Don't stop with this little slice of it...

A civilization is won or lost by those who fight to protect it — and judged as deserving by the gratitude offered to its soldiers by those who were saved. Afghanistan and Iraq remind us that there are now Americans in battle in the tradition of 1776, 1864, 1918, or 1944. But are we, the public, still cognizant of their sacrifice as our forefathers once were?

This Veterans Day we should worry that we have not passed to the next generation proper commemoration — or even knowledge — of Saratoga, Shiloh, St. Mihiel, Metz, Chosun, or Hue. In part, the culprit is our own madcap lives. We are so wired with blackberries or glued to play stations, that we don’t inquire much about the fields of white crosses — and their anonymous dead — that each year, for a blink, appear on our Veterans Day television screens.

November 10, 2007

You Go Joe

Thank you for this, Senator Lieberman.

Between 2002 and 2006, there was a battle within the Democratic Party. . . . We could rightly criticize the Bush administration when it failed to live up to its own rhetoric, or when it bungled the execution of its policies. But I felt that we should not minimize the seriousness of the threat from Islamist extremism, or the fundamental rightness of the muscular, internationalist, and morally self-confident response that President Bush had chosen in response to it.

But that was not the choice most Democrats made. . . . Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush.

Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America's moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus' new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving. . . .

I offered an amendment earlier this fall, together with Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, urging the Bush administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and impose economic sanctions on them.

The reason for our amendment was clear. In September, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress about the proxy war that Iran--and in particular, the IRGC and its Quds Force subsidiary--has been waging against our troops in Iraq. Specifically, General Petraeus told us that the IRGC Quds Force has been training, funding, equipping, arming, and in some cases directing Shiite extremists who are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers. . . .

Although the Senate passed our amendment, 76-22, several Democrats, including some of the Democratic presidential candidates, soon began attacking it--and Senator Clinton, who voted for the amendment. In fact, some of the very same Democrats who had cosponsored the legislation in the spring, urging the designation of the IRGC, began denouncing our amendment for doing the exact same thing.

. . [T]here is something profoundly wrong--something that should trouble all of us--when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran's murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.

There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base--even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.

For me, this episode reinforces how far the Democratic Party of 2007 has strayed. . . . That is why I call myself an Independent Democrat today. It is because my foreign policy convictions are the convictions that have traditionally animated the Democratic Party--but they exist in me today independent of the current Democratic Party, which has largely repudiated them.

I hope that Democrats will one day again rediscover and re-embrace these principles. . . . But regardless of when or if that happens, those convictions will continue to be mine. And I will continue to fight to advance them along with like-minded Democrats and like-minded Republicans.

Bill Kristol likes Lieberman on the Republican ticket. He urges the Republican front-runners to...

Take a break from kissing babies to pick up the phone and congratulate Joe. Seek his endorsement after you win the nomination. What the heck--offer him the vice presidency. (Rudy, you might try State or Defense, since you'll need a pro-life running mate.) But McCain-Lieberman, Thompson-Lieberman, Romney-Lieberman, Huckabee-Lieberman--those sound like winning tickets to us. It's true, given the behavior of the congressional Democrats, the GOP nominee might well win with a more conventional running mate. But why settle for a victory if you can have a realignment?

LeBron Book Excerpt

ESPN.com is previewing the new book The Franchise; LeBron James and the Remaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers, by Terry Pluto and Brian Windhorst, with an adaptation of Chapter 8 - The $hoe deal

November 7, 2007

The Real Thing?

Excerpts from Hugh Hewitt's interview with an optimistic Michael Yon

HH: Tell us what the Iraqis are telling you about this lull or peace or improvement. What do they think is going on here, and how long will it last?

MY: I don’t believe this is a lull. I believe this is the real thing. I believe that we’ve seen lulls before, and I’ve always been very circumspect on taking a chance and saying hey, this is the real thing. But I’ve seen a change in the mood of the people, and it’s remarkable. And I believe if we can just continue to help them progress, and we’ve got a little bit more serious fighting to do up in Ninewa Province, and then in Kirkuk and Salahaddin Province, and also out in Diayala Province, those four provinces. Other than that, I think really, it’s a matter of pouring on the juice and helping them to get this country going again. I mean, they’re just finished with the war, as long as we can help get the monkey off their back in the form of al Qaeda, which is pretty much crushed at this point.

The complete transcript is here. HH co-blogger Duane Patterson asks...

When do you suppose we're going to see the first report somewhere in the mainstream media about how they and the Democrats got it so wrong about Iraq destined to become a failure?

When do you suppose Tim Russert is going to use current events in Iraq.....to hold senior Democrats accountable to the outrageous statements and predictions they've made for the last couple of years that are proving to be false before our eyes? You won't. When it comes to declaring defeat and failure in Iraq, the Democrats and MSM have made their bed, and it's up to the Bush administration and new media over the next year to make them lie in it.

As Iraq continues to show signs of promise and prosperity, the Bush administration should spend much more time showcasing what the American media won't.

This is problematic because the track record of the Bush administration for making their case to the American people on the situation in Iraq has been somewhere between "miserable" and "abject failure". Admittedly, the job is made more difficult by the general unwillingness of old media to be budged from their running four-year narrative of debacle and defeat, but our soldiers and civilians in Iraq, as well as Americans at home who have supported the Iraq campaign from the start deserve a more effective communications effort than what we have been getting from the Bush team.

Thank goodness for examples like Michael Yon.

Recommended 11/7

Thomas Joscelyn says al Qaeda ties to the Madrid 3/11 bombings are now coming into focus. UPDATE 11/14: Joscelyn interviewed at FPM on al Qaeda ties to 3/11

Christopher Hitchens asserts that in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, our presence is not the reason the Islamist terrorists are there.

An excellent piece by Stephen at Horsefeathers on writers, leftists and the utopian impulse.

A couple of recent arguments that the Law of the Sea Treaty is a dangerously bad idea: Joseph Klein at FrontPage on the security and counter-terrorism issues, and Iain Murray focusing on sovereignty concerns and the precedent of giving the U.N. their first ever international taxing powers. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has lots of LOST resources.

In the NYT, Gregory Mankiw crunches some of the numbers in the healthcare debate.

November 6, 2007

Climate Change is Redundant - Part XXXIV

Part 1 of a four-part lecture by Australian Professor Bob Carter on the science of climate change, specifically challenging the hypothesis of dangerous warming caused by man-made CO2. Among other holes he shoots in the global warmists' orthodoxy is showing that there has been no measurable warming since 2000, while CO2 emissions are said to have risen sharply in that time period. Lots of graphs and data, but presented with a touch of humor as well. Worth a half hour to see the whole thing.

Click here for Parts 2-4 of the lecture.

November 5, 2007

Defining Declining Deaths Down

From the satire blog The Nose on Your Face:

Top 9 New York Times Headlines Regarding Declining Troop Deaths In Iraq

Biscet's Medal of Freedom

Jay Nordlinger, (via Power Line) thinking about Oscar Biscet:

He is one of the bravest and most inspired of the Cuban political prisoners. He is a physician, an “Afro-Cuban,” a follower of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. If he were a prisoner of anyone but Castro — a Communist dictator — he’d be world-famous. If he were a South African, under apartheid, he’d be on the stamps of virtually every country in the world.

Let me continue in this vein: If he were a prisoner under a right-wing dictatorship, he’d be featured on 60 Minutes every week. He’d be on the cover of Time magazine every week. College campuses would hold sit-ins. Biscet’s face would adorn posters and T-shirts. Etc., etc.

Biscet is also the subject of Jeff Jacoby's column.

November 3, 2007

Worst Ever

The campaign is on to portray Rudy Giuliani as the worst possible president imaginable. How do you think that makes George Bush feel? From Philip Klein at The American Spectator - Hating Rudy

November 2, 2007

ITS Bloc

The worst elements of the European far right formally join forces in a bloc in the European Parliament. I suppose it's best that they are out in the light of day. Many of them are pictured at the link from the ADL.

Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty: A Who's Who

"Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty" (ITS) is a group in the European Parliament formed on January 15, 2007 by members who share xenophobic, racist and anti-Semitic views. The grouping brings together 20 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from seven countries -- meeting the minimum number of members required to establish a bloc under the Parliament's rules.

The group includes members of notorious far-right extremist parties and well-known anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers from across Europe. One of its most prominent members, Bruno Gollnisch of France, was convicted of Holocaust denial by a French court in January 2007. Like all groupings in the European Parliament, ITS is entitled to about 1 million Euros for staff and administrative costs. The group may also claim greater speaking rights and committee representation.

The group was formed after the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union on January 1. As a result of the accession of these countries, there were enough far-right MEPs in the European Parliament to allow the creation of ITS. It is one of eight multinational political groups in the European Parliament. Christian Democrats, Socialists and Greens are among the other groups. ITS currently has the smallest number of affiliated MEPs, but there are concerns that its influence will spread and that the group will grow.

The group's formation was a sobering reminder that bigoted, racist and anti-Semitic political movements are not only still part of the landscape in Europe, but are willing to unify under one banner if given the chance.

(via LGF)