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Updated: 05/21/04



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Friday, 21 May, 2004

The Olympic Games begin August 13th in Athens. On Wednesday, Greek police destroyed another bomb, this one found near one of the Olympic sports complexes. The article notes:

The group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for the three blasts earlier this month in a declaration that denounced the stringent security measures for the Aug. 13-29 games.

Authorities have been on high alert since the bombings -- which caused minor damage and no injuries -- but say local extremists pose no serious security threat for the Olympics.

Guys, I have news for you. I'm not just worried about whether or not "local extremists" are posing a security threat. The mere fact that there have been incidents like this prior to the Games leads me to believe that this is just a warm-up. And not only from "local extremists".

I remember what happened on September 5, 1972 in Munich. Anyone else think that our athletes - and the thousands of spectators - look like a nice big target for animals that have already shown that innocent civilians are their preferred victims? Three months prior to our presidential election?

I agree with Glenn Reynolds - we should pull out. I'm sure that the athletes (who have trained so hard) and the news media (who have paid such large amounts of money to be able to cover and broadcast the events) would disagree with me. But I'm just thinking ahead to the Congressional hearings demanding to know why the U.S. Government, the IOC, the USOC and President Bush didn't do something to stop it.

[Whatever "it" is.]

Well that was a downer, so it's time for some more from the "Good News" files. The Los Angeles Times (of all people) has an encouraging story about a smart idea. (Via Priorities & Frivolities)

FALLOUJA, Iraq -- Marines and Navy Seabees are seeking Iraqi contractors to repair and refurbish mosques in an effort to dispel the notion that the United States has declared war on Islam.

The effort is proceeding more quickly in the surrounding nearby villages than in this Sunni Triangle city where Marines and insurgents waged bloody combat for three weeks.

The Marines have a growing list of mosques that villagers would like help in repairing, renovating or expanding. Few, if any, village mosques were damaged during the fight, but the Americans said that fixing the mosques could elicit more goodwill in return than almost any other construction project.

"The mosques are part of their communal life, and that's what we're here to improve," said Lt. Col. Colin McNease, officer in charge of the civil affairs unit of the 1st Marine Regiment. "This is a good way to demonstrate that this is not a war against Islam."

Plans are for the U.S. to pay Iraqi contractors, who will hire Iraqis as laborers. The Seabees are attempting to devise an apprenticeship program in which residents of Fallouja where unemployment is said to exceed 70% can learn basic carpentry, plumbing and other construction skills.

P&F also notes:

The benefits of this program seem obvious enough, but allow me to list a few major ones anyway:

- It strengthens the link between the War on Terror and Iraqi nation-building.
- It reassures Iraqis that democracy and Islam can go together.
- It rekindles the "First, Do No Harm" Marine strategy.
- It helps restore the spiritual character of mosques, which militias have misused to stockpile weapons.
- It responds to Iraqi needs: "When Marines asked villagers what they needed most, mosque repair was the overwhelming choice."
> - It engages community leaders: "In the tiny village of Secher, for example, engineers took pictures of the one-story mosque only after getting permission from a dozen village elders."
- It stimulates the local economy and involves young workers, who otherwise become potential insurgent recruits.

Like I said, it's a smart idea. For many of the rural areas of Iraq, the mosque is the center of daily life. What better way for the Iraqis to understand what the U.S. is about than to help them rebuild the actual and symbolic focal point of their village? I'm sure there will be problems, and logistical snafus, but the concept is spot on.

And on another note, we have a public service announcement:

EMMY!!

STOP BITING YOUR BROTHER

Trust us, we're saying it for your own good.

[I think a humane muzzle may be the option here.]


Quote du jour:

"Every dog is allowed one bite, but a different view is taken of a dog that goes on biting all the time. He may not get his licence returned when it falls due."

-- Harold Wilson (1916 - 1995) English statesman

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