While Pakistan Has Our Attention, Look What’s Brewing in Somalia…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

A few mornings ago I was listening to the BBC World Service as usual and heard a very brief mention about an Islamist leader returning to Somalia and how this might affect the Somali government. The story on the web, however, didn’t hit until yesterday.

Yes, Somalia DOES have a government.  Back in 2006, Ethiopian troops went into Somalia and shattered the Union of  Islamic Courts, a prime force in Somalia’s instablility, which hadn’t had a central goverment since 1991.  However, one of its leaders came back to become the new Somalian president in January– Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. (BBC profile here.)

Between 2007-2008 Mr Ahmed was an exiled leader of a faction within the Eritrea-based Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS).

(SNIP)

He says he wants to make peace with Ethiopia, recruit Islamist militia fighters into a national security force and rebuild the country’s social services.

But a new group of insurgents has formed out of what was left of the Islamic Courts.  Al-Shabab (The Lads) are text-messaging Islamic insurgents believed to have ties to Al-Qaeda and they are controlling large areas of the country and posing a threat to the capitol, Mogadishu.

In an earlier story from March 16, 2009 the BBC published this report:

The Somali transitional federal government implemented Sharia law in the country in March in an effort to drain support for the radical Islamist guerrillas.

But a senior police officer in Mogadishu – who also asked the BBC to withhold his name – said the government’s move would not stop the killing because al-Shabab had a “hidden agenda… to make the world unsafe”.

map of areas under al-shabaab control

The police officer said al-Shabab was led by foreigners, while some younger members of the organisation were Somalis who had spent time abroad.

They had often been dropouts or addicts and were the most vulnerable to be used as suicide bombers, he added.

So now, the other Islamic Courts leader has returned.  He’s on the U.S.’s most-wanted list of terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Islamist leader back in Somalia.

Mr [Sheikh Hassan Dahir] Aweys and Mr Ahmed both headed the UIC, which ruled most of the country for the second half of 2006.

They fled to the Eritrean capital Asmara, where they formed the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS).

The two men split after Mr Ahmed – considered the more moderate of the two – agreed to UN-led talks with the government that brought him to power in January 2009 and saw Ethiopia withdraw its troops.

Mr Aweys accused Mr Ahmed of siding with the enemy, and last July declared he had taken control of the ARS.

Mr Aweys is an influential leader of one of Mogadishu’s most powerful clans, so his arrival in the capital suggests that relations between the two men has improved and some kind of agreement is one the table, our correspondent says.

If that is the case, it could significantly improve security in the capital, and give the government a badly needed boost of authority, he adds.

Radical Islamist guerrillas such as al-Shabab, which control parts of Mogadishu and much of central and southern Somalia, have sworn to topple the fragile government.

And, guess what?  International donors are going to spend $250 million to build up a police force (10,000) and national security force (6,000).  This is supposed to help combat piracy and bolster the new government which, according to BBC world affairs correspondent Mike Woolridge, “enjoys little practical authority at present.”

On a parallel track, we’re now hearing how Pakistan’s deal to allow the Taliban to impose Islamic law in a part of the country has opened a Pandora’s box.  We’ve got Sharia Law in the UK, and U.S. Treasury Department meetings about Sharia investing.

What comes next?

The Financial Filter: How CNBC Handles Howard Dean vs. Susan Boyle

~~By  InsightAnalytical-GRL

Lately, I’ve been testing my mettle by actually tuning into CNBC occasionally. We don’t have FOX Business here, but you get enough of their angle on the regular FOX shows featuring Neil Cavuto and the weekend financial panels.

Yesterday, I caught Howard Dean just around the Noon hour ET (on Power Lunch), slugging it out with that panel they have which features Larry Kudlow among others.  I was wondering what Dean was doing on there following the latest Geithner comments, but perhaps he’s getting warmed up to defend the upcoming healthcare “reform” that will be vomited out of the Congress and Obamaville soon.

Anyway, Kudlow was yelling again about “why can’t the markets be allowed to correct themselves” to which Dean retorted in perfect Obot fashion “Look what the markets did to the American people!” (sic).

Well, I waited for the comeback…I waited to hear one of these panel people, including Kudlow, respond snappily with how Congress, particularly Democratic members, failed to provide oversight over the housing mortgage debacle, which seems to have precipitated much of the mess we’re in.

CRICKETS!

But, as I thought about it, I figured that’s exactly what I was expected to hear. The GE family of companies that “bring good things to life” don’t consider history and full debate healthy for the 5th-grade level critical skills level of the American viewer. Kudlow is probably under orders “not to go there,” so he doesn’t go there. He’s loud and passionate about “the markets” but he pulled up short with Dean.

But that’s the way it is now. The media is in a permanent state of coitus interruptus when in it comes to discussing financial matters…or most political news. Especially since the Obama folks are so cozy with GE…

Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth, still at it after all these years,  are stuck in the middle of all this.  They’ll get a couple of people on and ask some serious questions, but the upcoming segments which follow always involve some provocative pugilism.  After listening to the Dean segment, which included another guest plus Dean and the four CNBC panelists,  I felt whiplashed, not informed. Mission accomplished!

After 3 PM, we get a lot more sober discussion for a brief time as The Closing Bell airs and things settle down.   Gone is the screaming on the panels and the minute-by-minute, breathless spewing that sounds like the coverage of a sporting event while the market gyrates. Maria Bartiromo anchors and does interviews and the discussions are less hysterical. Today, I caught a young guy from the NY Times and a few experienced hands getting down to the real problems with the financial sector…including the one-time things done this quarter courtesy government largesse that won’t be around to play with over the next few quarters when the rubber meets the road.

Yeah, but then it’s over as we get Fast Money then Jim Cramer’s Mad Money to liven the pace for evening prime time with their gameshow approach to finance and to appeal to the young dreamers who want to get rich quick and don’t have a clue. And then Kudlow returns.

In a comment to yesterday’s post, Lee M. had a musing which captures the zeitgeist of CNBC these days, too…I’ve done some word substitutions where appropriate:

…the cretins over at MSNBC CNBC, having crossed the Rubicon, have no where else to go.

They know that those of us who value our Constitution [journalistic integrity] have written them off, so they keep pitching their wares to the far left and the Obots because without them they would have no audience at all.

Like Julius Caesar before them, the die is cast, and they can’t go back. So they will continue their vile jokes [obvious bias and omissions] that would have gotten anyone else censored [fired] before this. They are tolerated because that is the way TPTB want it for now.

So Howard Dean is treated with kid gloves, the facts be damned!

Oh, but the folks at CNBC certainly DO have somewhere to go, if I may quibble a bit with that first line of the above comment. Where? Well, let’s visit the CNBC website where yesterday afternoon I found somebody dragging Susan Boyle along in a “humor” piece that ties the global economy to her performance…with an odd mixture of  admiration (?) and the requisite mockery (of course).  How appropriate…the taunts begin the day after I write about “Smeargate” in the UK and the level of “discourse”  we have here in the U.S.:

Apr.21
1:49 PM ET

As she concluded the song and the crowd jumped to its feet cheering, Susan Boyle blew a kiss. A kiss that, like the butterfly that flapped its wings, set in motion a flutter of dollars, pounds, euros and yen that will get this global economy humming again.

Will YouTube Sensation Susan Boyle Save the Global Economy?
Posted By:Cindy Perman

As the world grapples with headlines about troubled loans at Bank of America [BAC 8.76 +  0.74 (+9.23%)
and pirates wreaking havoc on the high seas, a lone dove has emerged to save the global economy.

SNIP
Boyle rolls her unknown-to-man hips.

Teenage girls roll their eyes. (Yeah, we saw you, eye-rolling girl at 1:24)

SNIP
Susan Boyle has given people a reason to hope.

A reason to look up from their flaming 401(k) statements.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by

A reason to walk over to their computer and log on to YouTube.com.

When hope was high

A reason to buy Kleenex in bulk at Costco. [COST 46.48 + 2.14 (+4.83%) ]

And life worth living

A reason to go to Amazon.com [AMZN 78.75 + 1.18 (+1.52%) ]

I dreamed that love would never die—

SNIP

I dreamed that God would be forgiving

A reason to watch the made-for-TV movie about her on Lifetime and expose themselves to millions of dollars in advertising. [DIS 19.47 + 0.06 (+0.31%) ]

Do you get the feeling that someone RESENTS the fact that Susan Boyle wasn’t manufactured by the entertainment industry and the mass media, but simply appeared and touched people’s souls without a filter? If the “money machine” were cranking up for one of their fake creations, would you get the slights and mockery that we see directed at Susan Boyle in this piece? Or the cheapening of a great performance (and a pretty darned good song, too) ? The vultures find it so distasteful that the the plebes responded spontaneously even though the entertainment biz types will be trying to make money off  her until the well runs dry?  Personally, I hope she makes a bundle on her own terms and then walks away…before we start getting the “whispers” about her single life that will probably be started up to shove her aside for some plastic doll that can be marketed and controlled for public consumption… Like, what? She doesn’t deserve to make any money off her REAL talent??  Mark my words, Simon Cowell will look like a compassionate saint compared to what could come down further along this road…

Yes, just like the filtering of political and financial news, we have to get a filter in place for Susan Boyle so the public can be redirected to enable the opinion/money makers can move onto creating a fab NEW item for which they can take full credit and reward themselves with extra executive compensation bonuses.  Maybe TPTB can recycle the filters they used with Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and a “feeble” John McCain as they deal with Susan Boyle.

Heart seems to have a short shelf-life these days…

Labour (UK) Facing Poll Meltdown After “Smeargate” Allegations–Brown’s Fmr. “Spin Chief” (Now Political Director of a Union) Involved

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

About a week ago we posted a story in the Past Week summary about a “smear campaign” coming from a Downing Street official against Conservative leader David Cameron (See: The Past Week: April 5-April 11, 2009 (”President Panytwaist”; A Split Among Progressives over War Spending Plan?; Smear Campaign in Britain; “Sageism”).

According to the piece quoted at the time:

Damian McBride, the PM’s ex-political press officer, quit after the messages were picked up by a Westminster blog.

In them, Mr McBride made obscene and unfounded claims about the personal lives of party leader David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne.

Well, there are some new developments for Labour as a result of this episode.

Labour set to face polls backlash

4:59am Sunday 19th April 2009

© Press Association 2009

Labour is facing new allegations about the “Smeargate” affair as polls revealed how much the row has damaged Gordon Brown’s re-election hopes – with support for the party plummeting.

SNIP

At the same time, polls showed support for Labour slumping dramatically in the wake of the affair, allowing the Tories to extend their lead to up to 19 percentage points.

They showed that trust in the Government had been damaged by the smears disclosures, which have engulfed Labour since they appeared last weekend.

The latest claims were made in the News of the World, which said it had obtained an email proving that Mr Collins chaired a crucial meeting on December 1.

It was also attended by Charlie Whelan, Mr Brown’s former spin chief and the political director of the Unite trade union, whose Westminster offices were used for the meeting.

MORE

This saga going on in the UK brings a question to mind: with all the Chicago-machine hardball being played in Washington these days, not to mention during the primaries, the Presidential campaign and before that, during the Bush Administration…don’t you wonder why this sort of thing doesn’t get any rise out of the electorate here?

Nothing seems to offend people these days unless it’s taxes and bailouts…but in terms of the “politics of personal destruction,” apparently nobody bats an eye anymore here in the U.S.

I don’t know if all began during the Clinton era, but wouldn’t it be a real sea change if smear tactics used here could actually deflate politicians like Obama (who poked around sealed divorce records in Illinois, for example while running for Senate) with the same effectiveness that it seems to have in the UK?  And wouldn’t you like to see the “spin chiefs” like Karl Rove and David Axelrod get a good comeuppance?

The Past Week: April 12-18, 2009 (Newsweek Death Spiral?; Anti-Abortion Wars; Susan Boyle and Human Grace)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Last week we had a story up about the media censorship in Fiji, but this story courtesy Kenosha Marge about the decline of Newsweek is so much more satisfying.  OK, it’s by Brent Bozell, but facts are facts and some of them are pretty scary–for Newsweek.

The Decline and Fall of Newsweek

Brent Bozell

Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline “The Decline and Fall of Christian America,” spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: “The End of Christian America.” Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. OK, then let’s compare. How much has Newsweek’s circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state “The End of Newsweek.”

At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its “base rate” (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.

MORE

Where will the Obot writers at Newsweek go if it sinks?  They all can’t squeeze into the MSNBC studios, can they?

***

Well, it’s time to brace yourselves…the abortion wars are simmering nicely…Again, courtesy Kenosha Marge:

Obama boosts anti-abortion efforts

The first hint of a stir came just after Election Day, when the computer servers at Americans United for Life crashed. People were swamping the Web site to sign a petition urging President-elect Barack Obama to stand firm against abortion.

“I got a call from one of our guys, ‘We have a problem,’ ” said Charmaine Yoest, the group’s president and chief executive officer. “And I was like, ‘The problem would be what?’”

Obama’s first 84 days in office have been like an extended recruiting drive for the anti-abortion movement, reinvigorating a constituency he sought to neutralize during the campaign. Activists report a noticeable spike in activity as Obama moves to defend and expand a woman’s right to choose an abortion – causing anti-abortion voters to mobilize in ways never needed during the Bush administration.

MORE

Did  you know that there was an anti-abortion group called “The Susan B. Anthony List”?

Aren’t you getting tired of all this crap always being used as a wedge issue??

***

By now practically everyone has seen Susan Boyle, the “unlikely” talent that wowed the cynical judges and audience in the UK.

Well, it’s such a wonderful story and the BBC story on contains a few wonderful quotes:

How Susan Boyle won over the world

SNIP

Lisa Schwarzbaum, writer for US celebrity magazine Entertainment Weekly, said the performance was a powerful reality check.

She wrote: “In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging – the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts – the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace.

“She pierced my defences. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective.”

Her post has been followed by comments from scores of readers saying they watched the clip repeatedly, with the same emotional response.

“I cried SO hard,” read one. “There’s something so beautiful about reaching your dreams… and knowing that age means nothing.”

Another wrote: “I cry because she reminds us to hope, to never lose track of our dreams, to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter what others say or think. She gives us hope.”

Hope…of the real kind?

For me, I came away with a sense of the courage and sturdiness that so many “plain” people…especially women…have and which are qualities that are so overlooked.

Link to the You Tube video (full version, complete with  the sole woman judge on the panel addressing Simon Cowell’s attitude…catch his rather “deflated” look at the very end)

THE PAST WEEK

*By Grail Guardian

**By  American Lassie

***By Kenosha Marge

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 18, 2009) Glorious Organ Mountains; Apricots; Quail on the Wall; Sneaky Slick the Min Pin

Welcome to “Fiji on the Potomac”…

*Report From the Rochester, NY Tea Party (With Pics)–April 15, 2009

**Sharia Finance: Rapidly Increasing Inroads Via American Banks…With the Help of Our Treasury Department

***A Nation of Nincompoops

The Past Week: April 5-April 11, 2009 (”President Panytwaist”; A Split Among Progressives over War Spending Plan?; Smear Campaign in Britain; “Sageism”)

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 18, 2009) Glorious Organ Mountains; Apricots; Quail on the Wall; Sneaky Slick the Min Pin

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s been a frustrating week in the garden as the winds have continued and the temperatures have dipped the last day or so.  I’ve managed to put a couple of veggies and flowers into the patio pots, only to cover them up again to protect them from the weather.

Yesterday I bought a new Belle of Georgia peach to replace the one that is languishing.  I’ll get that in the ground over the weekend.

A big surprise is that I found a little apricot growing.  One seems to be finally showing on the flower I saw…but this one never seemed to have a flower that I ever saw, so imagine my surprise to see a an actual baby apricot!!  Let’s see if anything more shows up!

Last Tuesday I took advantage of the short trip over to my chess teacher’s house and took some wonderful pictures of the Organ Mountains. These views are literally a couple of minutes from my house…I’ll share one with you now:

Organ Mountains 4/16/09 Looking Like a Painting...

Organ Mountains 4/14/09 Looking Like a Painting...

New Mexico has wonderful light, which attracts a lot of artists.  The changes in the skies and the light that changes from second to second are things which never cease to amaze me.

Closer to home, the quail are beginning to show up on my wall.  I love these guys and their plaintive calls.

A Curious Quail...

A Curious Quail...

Finally, Slick the Sneak was into all sorts of trouble yesterday.  We left the house for an appointment and when we got back we found garbage all over the floor!  This hasn’t happened in quite awhile.  It really was close to the boys’ dinnertime, so I guess Slick was the leader of the pack in search of some grub.

This picture, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the little flash of the devil in his eyes:

Sneaky Slick

Sneaky Slick

Let’s hope the winds die down next week! I have to put up the new grape trellises, plant a chocolate flower and really have to decide if I should bag the peaches. So far the squirrels haven’t shown up, which is amazing. I see the papa or mama when I look over the wall and they gobble up the lettuce and other veg scraps I toss over right away.  I suppose they’re busy with babies and as they grow, I’m sure they’ll be hunting for a lot more food…including peaches!