Beaten- Brit journalist Robert Fisk

– Brit journalist Robert Fisk is beaten by Afghan refugees in Pakistan, his life saved when a Muslim cleric intervened. Even in pain, he finds the politically correct angle, saying that the refugees came from a village that had been bombed by Americans. “It doesn’t excuse them for beating me up, but there was a real reason why they should hate Westerners.”

Celebration in sermons in Kandahar
– The Washington Post reports today on a sermon by a Mullah in Kandahar who attacks the Taliban and Mullah Omar: “As the Taliban militia surrendered its last stronghold in Afghanistan today, few people here in the capital mourned the demise of the radical Islamic movement whose five-year rule brought them little but poverty, isolation and fear. Instead, a moderate Islamic cleric delivered a fiery, sarcastic eulogy to the Taliban era as several thousand worshipers overflowed his mosque. Mullah Abdul Rauf blasted Taliban rule as oppressive and narrow-minded, saying it had humiliated people and dwelt on the ritual of Islam rather than its spirit.” Said one worshiper: “The Taliban tried to re-spread Islam in a country that had been Muslim for hundreds of years. Nobody wanted to pray by force, but you can see there are several thousand people in this mosque today. Now we are free, and we come here to pray of our own will.”

The big bang
Debka speculates that bin Laden is stoking up for his big bang:

Osama bin Laden has packed his entire family out of Afghanistan – wives, sons and daughters – and their wives, husbands and offspring. Roughly 10 days ago, DEBKAfileís intelligence sources reveal, he transferred them to a prepared, well-guarded location in West Pakistan, leaving himself unencumbered in his Afghan hideout.

Those sources interpret this step as supporting the volume of credible evidence of a major terrorist strike in the offing, which has prompted heightened terror alerts in the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom in the last three days.

Target dates range variously from December 12 and the Christmas period (December 23-26) to the first half of January….

American intelligence sources postulate simultaneous strikes in New York and/or a second big US city, plus London and/or Tel Aviv and another Israeli town.

How the world affects Bianca Jagger
– A wholly obnoxious anti-American piece in the Guardian by Bianca Jagger — as if there is any reason to listen to a person whose sole claim to celebrity is her marriage. After telling us about her life — because we should care — she catalogues all our sins in South America — our sponsorship of terrorism there — and her brave resistance. All this so she can attack us for waging “all-out war on the people of Afghanistan.” Hey, you clueless has-been ex-relative of an aging star, wise up. Look at the scenes of people in Kandahar celebrating our ouster of the Taliban today. This was a nation under the thumb of religious despots, a nation suffering under constant war and starvation until bin Laden did them the favor of raising our ire and bringing us in to finally end this war and tyranny in three short months. Why does anyone listen to celebrities?

Counting blessings
– The official death toll from 9/11 is coming down to 3,000; of course, one is one too many. But it’s also good to look at the survivor count and not lose sight of the thousands of miracles that day, thanks in great measure to many of the heroes who died getting people out of those buildings:

Many officials say the loss of life would have been many times higher if not for three factors: the timing of the attack, before the buildings had filled to their usual workday peak; emergency-evacuation improvements prompted by the 1993 terrorist bombing of the trade center; and the urgent reaction of workers, many of whom had been through the earlier attack. On Sept. 11, perhaps 18,000 people by one estimate evacuated the two 110-story towers in less than two hours. “It looks like maybe 90 percent of the people in the buildings survived that day. It’s amazing,” said Alan Reiss, the trade center’s former director.

Add to that the people in the neighboring buildings and on the street in the trains underneath (I was among the latter two groups). Countless thousands were saved that day.

Attention quagmirists
– Enjoy this from the Guardian with backhanded compliments for the “easy victories” in Afghanistan.

The contrast with the military situation in early November could not be more striking. Then, the Afghan militia and its allies – the mainly foreign fighters of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida organisation – gave every appearance of being undaunted by a month of heavy bombing.

Critics in London and Washington, most pointedly inside the Pentagon itself, were sniping at the operational commander, General Tommy Franks. He was too stolid, his reliance on air power outdated, the mostly anonymous critics said.

Those voices have now fallen quiet. Caution and bombs seem to have worked. There could be bloody ambushes in the mountains in the coming weeks, but the four US casualties so far have come from accidents, a prison riot and friendly fire. As in Kosovo two years ago, the bodybag syndrome feared by US military planners and politicians since Vietnam has been avoided.

The ease of the battlefield successes so far will undoubtedly stoke enthusiasm for future military ventures…

An editorial in the Guardian also swallows hard on a compliment: “The US-led campaign in Afghanistan continues to be far more successful than the pessimists, and even most optimists, ever thought possible. It is always harder to act than not to act, but the action taken by the US has been largely vindicated, at least in the short term.”

Bring back wooden type
– You know you’re addicted to this damned technology thing when it doesn’t work. Layne and Welch were down but they’re back up now. Go to Layne for a plethora of posts that came out of him like a good, satisfying sneeze when his connection came back up. And now I can link to the post I mentioned yesterday on Welch — a reminder that Democrats bear some blame for the Ashcroft monster: “The only reason John Ashcroft is Attorney General is that the Democratic Party did not have the cojones to challenge his nomination.”