Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Lily Revolution

Following a corrupted election in which Mugabe will be "reelected" President, the people of Zimbabwe face an window of opportunity to bring the country to a halt and force Mugabe to seek refuge elsewhere.

People of Zimbabwe, look at Georgia's Rose Revolution, Ukraine's Orange Revolution, Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution & Lebanon's Cedar Revolution and be inspired.

Zimbabwe's National Flower


GLORIOSA ROTHSCHILDIANA is a native to tropical Africa. It is known as the "flame lily" in Zimbabwe. The large, claw like flowers open yellow and red and then change to a rich claret edged with gold. Their fascination lies in the way the pendulous buds turn up in a 180 degree curve and then down again. It is a very successful cut-flower that will last two weeks. A mature tuber can give up to 25 blooms. It can grow up to 1.8 meters tall and climbs using tendrils at the ends of the leaves to hold on.

Let's add a Lily to this beautiful mosaic!

Freedom's Beauty

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Media Coverage during the 2004 Election Campaign

The State of the Media Report by run by and a stroy reported on by Yahoo News came up with the following startling conclusion: media coverage of the 2004 election was slanted against Bush. After you finish gasping, you might note that this comes from a Journalist body (Strike 1) with ties to academia (Strike 2), namely Columbia Univesity - and yet even they, in a fleeting moment of self reflection, came up with the following facts:

Please note that when unspecified all TV/Media statistics of election coverage INCLUDE Fox News. Imagine what the statistics would be otherwise.

Brainwave: perhaps Fox's slogan "Fair and Balanced" does not mean that they present fair and balanced news but that it is only FAIR they tilt the scales the other way to create BALANCE.

Presidential Campaign TV Ad Spending, 2004

Cable News Believability, by Political Leaning

Bias in Campaign Coverage

Believability of Network News Outlets

Presidential Campaign News for Television Viewers - by Party

Media Outlets Ranked by Believability, 2004

Believability of News Outlets Over Time

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

From the people who awarded Fahrenheit 911

Last Friday a suicide bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv killing four Israelis. This was the first suicide attack in Israel since November. Five days before, on February 20, the Berlin Film Festival or “Berlinale” came to a close with the awarding of its coveted prizes. The “Blue Angel” Award for Best European Film went to what was undoubtedly the most talked about film in the competition: Hany Abu-Assad’s “Paradise Now”, a by all accounts – including the director’s – sympathetic portrayal of two young Palestinian men recruited to carry out a suicide attack in Tel Aviv. The description of the film in the Berlinale program notes that on the day of the “operation”, things do not go according to plan. “Separated from each other and left to their own devices,” the program comments, “it’s up to them to face their destiny and stand up for their convictions.”

In addition to the “Blue Angel” Award, “Paradise Now” won the “Audience Prize” sponsored by the Berlin newspaper the Morgenpost and intended to capture the sentiments of the public as opposed to the supposedly expert opinions of the jury.

Al Qaida vs The Gladiator

IN one of the more bizarre terror plots hatched by al-Qaeda, Australian actor Russell Crowe was the target of a kidnapping scheme as part of a "cultural destabilisation plan".

Crowe has revealed he was approached by the FBI in the months leading up to his Academy Award win for Gladiator in 2001 and warned, vaguely, of the threat: "That was the first (time) I'd ever heard the phrase al-Qaeda.

It was about - and here's another little touch of irony - taking iconographic Americans [Neo: !!!] out of the picture as a sort of cultural destabilisation plan."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Italian Hostage Botch Up

Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle.

Let's examine this statement:
  1. We're supposed to believe that the car she was in took three to four hundred rounds from an armored vehicle, and only one person was killed? An armored vehicle usually has a 50 caliber machine gun mounted on it, or an MK-19 grenade launcher, it would have made Swiss cheese out of that car and all of its occupants. (Hat tip: Marty)
  2. Sgrenger now claims that there were no lights or signals. (Fox News)
  3. If the US intended to assasinate her, as she claims, why on earth did they evacuate her and the occupants of the car to a hospital for treatment?! (Hat Tip: Amos)
It almost looks like she's sniffing for a cause after being bought out of captivity by one of Bush's staunchest allies - the government of Berlusconi. She thanked her captors (!), shunned the Italian government and claimed to be a US assasination target.

Before conspiracy theorists start theorising, is it not possible that there was a beakdown in communication, the car sped and failed to stop, a soldier pacicked and pressed the trigger and his comrades joined the shootout?! That seems far more reasonable than any alternative I have read so far.

UPDATE 8 March 2005

  • Who does this "B" grade journalist think she is that she is worthy of an assassination plot?
  • In her latest version, she had tanks firing at her (and yet she walks out in one piece)
  • She admits that the car had lost control shortly before - which could concur with the US account.
  • The italian press is reporting that Italian intelligence authorities seem to have paid the ransom for Sgrena without informing their American counterparts. Effective communication would have probably prevented the tragedy.
  • So the terrorist's got their "cause" promoted on the Italian media in the first instance; cashed in a hefty cheque; and ended up walking away with an even greater media coup than they had in the begining.
  • Is Italy suffering from Spanish Mini-Cohones Syndrome?
See also: InstaPundit and ModerateVoice

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Black and White Vision

What we are seeing in the Middle East now is a very promising sign that in a number of places democracy and hope are both starting to emerge...

You've had the democratic election of Mahmoud Abbas by the Palestinians and, for the first time in years, there's a real prospect of some settlement. You've seen these very helpful developments in Syria (and) municipal elections in Saudi Arabia and even a multi-candidate slate for the presidential elections in Egypt.

These things wouldn't have been thought remotely possible a year ago, and I have no doubt that ... one of the reasons ... was the overthrow of Saddam Hussein...

Those who were so ready to condemn the coalition, particularly the Americans, for what they did in Iraq should bear that in mind.

John Howard, Australian Prime Minister -

Isn't it ironic that it is the "Arab Street", the nuances of which only Europe and the political left supposedly understood, that has bought in to Bush's "cowboy vision" of good and evil, freedom and oppression, tyranny and democracy?!

The Iraqi elections proved the hitherto commonly held notion that Arabs are A) incapable and/or B) undeserving of democracy - a fallacy. It took a man of black and white to rid the world of a grey notion.

In fact, the premise of basic human rights is set on black and white principals that apply to all people and all times at all places - a very ablolutist notion. The left's dependency on relativism has pushed Human Rights championship away from them to the political right.

Let no one fool you, all the changes that are taking place in the middle east would have not occurred but not for Bush's brazen vision. There were no wheels in motion prior to Iraq. On all fronts, the wheels were well and truly bogged down.

Much of the world owes an apology to President Bush, a man whom history-in-the-making is proving right.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Arab's Berlin Wall has Crumbled

Three years ago - April 6 2002, if you want to rummage through the old Spectators in the attic - I wrote: "The stability junkies in the EU, UN and elsewhere have, as usual, missed the point. The Middle East is too stable. So, if you had to pick only one regime to topple, why not Iraq? Once you've got rid of the ruling gang, it's the West's best shot at incubating a reasonably non-insane polity. That's why the unravelling of the Middle East has to start not in the West Bank but in Baghdad."

I don't like to say I told you so. But, actually, I do like to say I told you so...

Consider just the past couple of days' news: not the ever more desperate depravity of the floundering "insurgency", but the real popular Arab resistance the car-bombers and the head-hackers are flailing against: the Saudi foreign minister, who by remarkable coincidence goes by the name of Prince Saud, told Newsweek that women would be voting in the next Saudi election. "That is going to be good for the election," he said, "because I think women are more sensible voters than men."

Four-time Egyptian election winner - and with 90 per cent of the vote! - President Mubarak announced that next polling day he wouldn't mind an opponent. Ordering his stenographer to change the constitution to permit the first multi-choice presidential elections in Egyptian history, His Excellency said the country would benefit from "more freedom and democracy". The state-run TV network hailed the president's speech as a "historical decision in the nation's 7,000-year-old march toward democracy". After 7,000 years on the march, they're barely out of the parking lot, so Mubarak's move is, as they say, a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile in Damascus, Boy Assad, having badly overplayed his hand in Lebanon and after months of denying that he was harbouring any refugee Saddamites, suddenly discovered that - wouldja believe it? - Saddam's brother and 29 other bigshot Baghdad Baathists were holed up in north-eastern Syria, and promptly handed them over to the Iraqi government.

And, for perhaps the most remarkable development, consider this report from Mohammed Ballas of Associated Press: "Palestinians expressed anger on Saturday at an overnight suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and threatened a fragile truce, a departure from former times when they welcomed attacks on their Israeli foes."

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."
The Telegraph

The Colour of Change


This process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq

Walid Jumblatt (Lebanese Opposition Leader)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Cedar Revolution has arrived!

Lebanon's pro-Syrian PM resigns
Monday, February 28, 2005

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- The Lebanese government abruptly resigned Monday during a stormy parliamentary debate, prompting a tremendous roar from tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in central Beirut.

The demonstrators, awash in a sea of red, white and green Lebanese flags, had demanded the pro-Syrian government's resignation -- and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon -- since this month's assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Demonstrators in Beirut's Martyrs Square chanted, "Syria out! Syria out!" after Prime Minister Omar Karami announced his resignation in a speech aired by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.

..."The battle is long, and this is the first step, this is the battle for freedom, sovereignty and independence," Ghattas Khouri told a cheering protest in central Beirut, according to Reuters.

For coverage of the current revolution, see Publius Pundit, LebanonWire, & AccrossTheBay. For an historical overview of Syria's occupation of Lebanon, see LGIC. The page comparing Assad's regime to Saddam Hussain's is particularly interesting.

There are some very positive signd that Syria is buckling under pressure and there have even been some indications from Syrian quarters that a withdrawal will take place in the latter part of this year (this is probably too late for the Lebanese on the street). Other than that, Syria has been accused by Israel of harbouring the terrorist organisation who carried out the Tel Aviv homocide attack over the weekend in an effort to destablise the fledgling PA-Israel ties, and Israeli foreign minister had strong words to say about their unfriendly neighbour.

Syria has also made two drastic steps today which seem to indicate that the regime is struggling to stay afloat. Firstly, "Syria has handed over Saddam Hussein’s half-brother. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti who is one of the most wanted leaders in Iraq’s Sunni-based Iraqi insurgency" (CBS) [neo: It seems that Syrian Kurds handed him over to their Iraqi brethren - the suggestion is that Syria turned a blind eye or even facilitated it to reduce the pressure it is under]. Secondly, "Syria agreed today to hand back to Jordan a huge tract of land along their border, heralding a new era in ties with Amman after disagreements over the Middle East peace process and US policy in Iraq" ( Pretty desperate moves for a hetherto intransigent regime.

We don't think Syria should remain in Lebanon. Their occupation should come to an end...
We should isolate the extremists and empower the moderates... We should isolate the extremists -- that means Syria, Iran, the Hizbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and at the same try to work together with Egypt, Jordan, Abu Mazen (Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas) the north African countries and the Gulf states.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom - LebanonWire

The United States and France also reiterate our call for the full and immediate implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. That means that full and immediate withdrawal of all Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon. And it means the consolidation of security responsibilities under the authority of a Lebanese government free from foreign domination.

We strongly believe that the people of Lebanon must have the opportunity to make their own political choices, without threats of violence and intimidation. They must have the opportunity to chart their own course through free and fair parliamentary elections this spring, bolstered by an international observer presence prior to and during the elections.

Joint Statement by The United States and France on Lebanon, Department of State - Office of the Spokesman, March 01 2005 - AccrossTheBay

The Cedar Revolution

The Cedar Revolution

The Cedar Revolution