– Send in the Marines:

– Send in the Marines: hundreds land.

Time correspondent’s Thanksgiving dinner with the Taliban: “With a few colleagues, I spent my Thanksgiving meal squatting on the floor of an Afghan passport office, talking to Taliban fighters about miracles and Judgement Day…. I leave thinking that maybe this evening wasn’t very different from the original Thanksgiving: people from two warring cultures sharing a meal together and realizing, briefly, that we’re not so different after all.”

– The Ames anthrax strain — the one used in every attack — was not as widely distributed as first thought, says the Washington Post: “In following the trail, investigators have had to face the possibility that Ames may have slipped through an informal network of scientists to Iraq, which sought the strain from a British biodefense institute in 1988 but whose application was rejected because of concerns that it would be used to manufacture biological weapons.”

Leahy says the anthrax letter sent to his office could have killed 100,000 people.

– Calling John Wayne: The Telegraph says bin Laden is now on horseback. The touches of cinematic drama are getting too good. The camp where he last allegedly hid out is called Tora Bora (Tora! Bora!). In earlier stories, he was reported to walk surrounded by a score of tall bodyguards. We come across the results of white board brainstorming sessions (hey, let’s put anthrax in balloon!).

From Al-Ahram: “Don’t hold your collective breath, comrades. There’ll be no Vietnam in Afghanistan,” says columnist Hani Shukrallah, “Kandahar is no Stalingrad…. So this particular party is, for all practical purposes, over. And we might as well admit it; it’s been very neatly done.” But don’t get giddy hawks; this is no compliment. “So let’s not fool ourselves. This war was never about ‘eradicating terrorism,’ ” he says; it’s about trampling on rights and bolstering power and making money. “On both sides of the battle lines in this war of civilisations, however,,” he conclused, “democracy is being put to the slaughter.”

– In the ’90s, we called this validation: The Greens go to war: After an emotional appeal by Joschka Fischer, the German party votes to support troop deployment in our war. Thus the liberal/Green coalition and government avoid collapse — but that’s not why this is a big deal. It’s a millenial thing: If Fischer, a major ’60s radical, and if his Greens, the most politically correct liberal party there is, can support this war, then we all us American children of the ’60s should feel OK about turning into hawks lately.

– More on this from Thomas Nephew, who actually speaks German (I barely fake it) and knows what’s going on.

– The FAZ.net story in English.

– Via Relapsed Catholic, a Washington Post Charles Krauthammer column (relevant to the post on religion, below): “Imagine if 19 murderous Christian fundamentalists hijacked four airplanes over Saudi Arabia and, in the name of God, crashed them into the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, destroying the holy Kaaba and killing thousands of innocent Muslim pilgrims. Could anyone doubt that the entire Christian world — clergy and theologians, leaders and lay folk — would rise as one to denounce the act? Yankee Stadium could not hold the trainloads of priests and preachers, reverends and rectors — why, even rabbis would demand entry — that would descend upon a mass service of atonement, shame, ostracism and excommunication. The pope himself would rend his garments at this blasphemous betrayal of Christ. And yet after Sept. 11, where were the Muslim theologians and clergy, the imams and mullahs, rising around the world to declare that Sept. 11 was a crime against Islam? Where were the fatwas against Osama bin Laden? The voices of high religious authority have been scandalously still.”

– John Cornwell in the

John Cornwell in the Times of London on the dangers of fundamentalism — which, in my view, is the real enemy here. Quoting:

Since the end of the cold war, religious-inspired terrorism has replaced East-West antagonism to become a principal threat to the future of the planet. The barbarism of the attacks in America on September 11 raised further profound questions about the dark face of religion. When people commit barbarous acts in the name of God, it explodes the view that religion makes for a better world….

One international think tank ó RAND-St Andrews Chronology of International Terrorism ó claims that religious groups accounted for half of the worldís 60 terrorist groups listed in the late 1990s, more than double the proportion at the beginning of the decade. Mainstream religions have grown markedly antagonistic towards western secularism, which has been linked in the religious mind with globalisation and moral relativism. Pope John Paul II has repeatedly blamed secularism for the decline of faith, the breakdown of families and the mass apostasy of the young. His words have been echoed by monks, imams and gurus the world over. There is more than a grain of truth in the charge. But sociologists of religion insist that young people in the West have not so much abandoned religion as relocated their sense of the sacred in caring for the environment, the poor, the homeless. Young people have retained spiritual instincts but have ceased, according to many surveys, to receive religion and moral guidance from top down. Most religious leaders are neither impressed, nor assuaged, by these arguments. Rejected authority lies at the angry heart of fundamentalism, prompting calls for a return to ìbasicsî and tensions with the moderate mainstream.

For a long time — back to my days as a TV critic — I have had a running fit about mainstream religion conceding the pulpit of popular culture, media, and the masses to the nuts of fundamentalism. We do not see mainstream preachers on TV in this country; we see the edge of religion. Mainstream religion sees TV and the masses it represents as beneath them. Big mistake.

When you get to the core of it, this war isn’t just about America defending its way of life, it is about mainstream (read: sane) religion (both clergy and laity, Christian, Jewish, Muslim) defending no less than God against those who would murder in His name, those who would rob people of their rights in His name, those who would stifle religion in His name — those who would give God a bad name. Those in the mainstream who see religion as tolerant and open and forgiving and full of grace and humility have to speak up — or the meek shall lose the earth.

Observer: The cat-and-rat game of chasing bin Laden: “It was to this wrecked compound that the American cruise missile came for him, tipped off to his presence, missing bin Laden by a matter of hours…. ‘He arrived at night, it was after eight, he came in a big convoy of jeeps with 120 bodyguards. When he came into our camp he was completely surrounded by a wall of very tall men. They were so close together you could not see him at all – they were arranged so they could fire in three different directions.’ ”

Andrew Sullivan on turkey…. on Thanksgiving amidst war: “In this, you have a truly American combination: the deployment of extraordinary effort to achieve an ordinary existence. This is perhaps the singular achievement of this particular civilisation. And it is never better expressed than in the quiet possibility of a ritual family meal in a sleepy suburb, with Old Glory fluttering with promise and menace in the garden outside.”

– Next: Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, say the Times of London and the Guardian.

– Because of anthrax, I’m getting my mail late and thus I didn’t get my Economist and couldn’t read the story on anthrax that Little Green Footballs found there about abandoned apparent efforts to build an anthrax bomb, quoting:

What appeared to be a Russian rocket had been disassembled, and a canister labelled ìheliumî had been left on the worktop. On the floor were multiple copies of documents about anthrax downloaded from the Internet, and details about the American army’s vaccination plans for its troops. The number of copies suggests that seminars were also taking place there.

One of the downloaded documents featured a small picture of the former American defence secretary, William Cohen, holding a five-pound bag of sugar. It noted that he was doing this ìto show the amount of the biological weapon anthrax that could destroy half the population of Washington, DC.î

On the floor was a small bag of white powder, which this correspondent decided not to inspect. It may have contained nothing more deadly than icing sugar, but that could be useful for experiments in how to scatter powder containing anthrax spores from a great height over a city, or to show students how to do this. The living room contained two boxes of gas masks and filters.

On a desk was a cassette box labelled ìJihadî, with the name of Osama bin Laden hand-written along the spine. Most chilling of all, however, were the mass of calculations and drawings in felt pen that filled up a white board of the sort used in classrooms. There were several designs for a long thin balloon, something like a weather balloon, with lines and arrows indicating a suggested height of 10km (33,000 feet). There was also a sketch of a jet fighter flying towards the balloon alongside the words: ìYour days are limited! Bang.î This, like the documents, was written in English.

Since UTN was run by one of Pakistan’s top scientists, a man with close links to the Taliban and, it is said, close ideological affinities with Mr bin Laden, the circumstantial evidence points to only one conclusion. Whoever fled this house when the Taliban fell was working on a plan to build a helium-powered balloon bomb carrying anthrax. Whether it was detonated with a timer or shot down by a fighter, the result would have been the same: the showering of deadly airborne anthrax spores over an area as wide as half of New York city or Washington, DC.

– The strains of anthrax in New York, Washington, and now Connecticut are the same. Add that to the item above. Ever more diabolical.

– So Slobodan Milosevic is officially indicted for genocide. Now imagine the same scene with bin Laden in the defendant’s chair. Hard to picture, eh? He’d be spouting his faux ideology; he would attract dangerous nuts; the U.S. would insist on trying him solo; the U.S. would then have to figure out how to carry out his sure sentence. All quite inconvenient. No wonder Rumself just wants him dead.

– Buy Nothing Day seems downright unpatriotic now. It was merely stupid before. And the official site is borderline tasteless, tying together the monumental tragedy of Sept. 11 with their quasi crusade aimed at telling us how (not) to spend our own damned money: “A strange and wonderful thing has happened since September 11th – the anti-consumerism and peace movements have started to come together. Buy Nothing Day 2001 could be our first opportunity to go global and make some much-needed noise.” That’s what I call exploitation. But being (liberal?) blowhards, these people love an argument, even on their site, so I’m enjoying the negative comments there:

I don’t normally bother corresponding with terrorist sympathisers, but here we go. I have never seen such a pathetic, cowardly and witless bunch as you lot. Wave a flower at Osama, I’m sure he’ll stop (or perhaps it’s the people risking their lives overseas who’ll stop him, I’m not sure). Feel deeply ashamed.

Steve B, Norfolk UK

This has got to be the silliest idea of the new millenium. Capitalism is the ultimate freedom. Without the buying and selling of goods, there would be advances in civilization. Without economic activity, there would be no jobs. Without jobs, there would be no money for education – illiteracy would dominate. Without education, there would be no advances in medicine nad therefore disease would be rampant and life expectancy would continually drop. Gee, sounds like current conditions in Afghanistan, doesn’t it. Maybe after the US finishes liberating the Afghan people, the Afghans can receive the greatest freedom of them all – capitalism.

jnc, thornwood

The BND is a silly idea, particularly in light of the events of September 11. Within the past two months, thousands of Americans have lost their lives at the hands of terrorists. The American economy has stagnated. The president of the United States requests that America purchase more goods and services to boost the economy. To suggest that this is a bad idea is normative, value laden judgement that defies logic- no matter how cold that logic might be. Perhaps it would be helpful if some of the Liberal writers here had more knowledge of how a sustainable economy works. Yes, president Bush wants you to buy. No, this is not a bad thing. At best, in such a context, BND is in poor taste. A quarter pounder with cheese please.

Derek Meester, Ottawa

As for me, we’re spending less this year on fellow grownups not because of any idiot ideology but because we’re just depressed and don’t feel like malling. But we’re determined, as most Americans are, to give our kids a great Christmas. I feel a little guilty but what I buy is by choice, my freedom, after all. I will always remember the day I first came out of East Berlin — parched in the summer sun, having had nothing but warm, flat commie cola — and the happiest site I could imagine was a Coke sign. It’s not liberalism to tell me what I should not buy — or watch or say or read; it’s just fundamentalism of another flavor. This is what we are fighting against.

– Der Spiegel says (if

– Der Spiegel says (if I’m translating correctly — always doubtful) that actor and playwright Israel Horovitz is premiering a “supercurrent” piece of theater in Dresden on Dec. 8: Three Weeks after Paradise — a Voice from New York City. I can’t find a thing about this in English, oddly, except these notes from Horovitz regarding his September 11th: “Oliver, my youngest son, was in music class at Stuyvesant High School, just across the road from the WTC, throughout the attack and ensuing catastrophe. He watched the towers fall, all of it. Like many NYC kids, he saw too much. Hannah, Oliver’s twin sister, was in class in LaGuardia High School, uptown. A classmate of Hannah’s got a cell-phone call from her mother, who worked on the upper floors on the North Tower. ‘Thank God you’re alright!’ cried the young girl. ‘I’m not,’ wept the mother. ‘I’m calling to say goodbye.’ Our children are not in Kansas, anymore. They have been jerked from innocence to the worst kind of Experience.” Spiegel says Horovitz’ play about Sept. 11 — a monologue — begins: “It is gone. So long as I’ve been a New Yorker, It was there, but now it is gone.” He’s not referring to the World Trade Centers, but to the paradise New York was for him. As his children watched the catastrophe envelop their lives, he and his wife sat in a sunny kitchen, enjoying the last seconds of that paradise. The CD is already being produced and Spiegel says it it headed here in time for Christmas.

I’m of two minds about this speed (just as I am about the talk of observation platforms and memorials, below). On the one hand, I know it’s too soon for art to bring perspective to these wounds; they are still bleeding. So I am relieved that I have not heard of movies-of-the-week in production (though maybe that’s just because I’m too busy ready about war to read Variety); I’m similarly relieved not to see too many instant books in the bookstores. Too soon, I keep repeating. On the other hand, I crave other views and other experiences of the tragedy — thus this weblog; I cannot get away from the story, I fear leaving it. So the truth is, I would buy those books. I would be first in line to buy a ticket to Horovitz’ play, if it were here.

– The latest Rossi Rant: She writes about an old friend, Wolf, who moved from NY to LA and came back to visit… Ground Zero. “Wolf always had, well, a little too much edge. Let’s just say he was the one guy I knew who got PMS … a lot. But he wasn’t like that last night.

He was sweeter and softer. As we all are, I suppose. I’ve always been an angry woman, well except for the time in my life when I was an angry girl and then before that, an angry baby. Could be a past life thing, or I just inherited the angry-as-hell gene, but damn, I’ve had a fire brewing. I assumed after the towers went down that I’d be the poster child for rage. … and … yeah, some of that came, but really … I don’t feel so angry anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve now seen firsthand what anger can do.”

She is good, this Rossi. I don’t know a thing about her; what little there was on her site is gone. She’s a caterer by day but she should give up that day job and write.

– The online editor at Arab News discovers the wonders of web interactivity. He gets hatemail; he responds; dialogue ensues: “Once I had responded thoughtfully to some of the more emotional and critical e-mails, I was amazed at what followed. The writers toned down their rhetoric; they were no longer abusive and ideas began to circulate and be exchanged.”

– The Mirror visits Iraq, says they expect bombs from us.

– New York is planning

– New York is planning to build an observation platform over Ground Zero (NY Post story). Something isn’t right about this. I thought about going back to the site yesterday — an act of Thanksgiving reflection — but decided not to; there is really nothing to see but destruction and the one time I did go near there the parades of camera-toting tourists jangled me. I’m not belittling them; I know why they want to go. I know why Rudy wants to bring order to the scene with the observation platform. But still, there’s a sense of invasion of privacy about this. At the same time, the WTC leaseholder, Larry Silverstein, suggests building a river memorial near the WTC with the fill from the rubble and I think that’s an inspired idea. It will take time to decide what is right; we cannot rush this into memory.

Thanksgiving 2001:
– Another story from Britain says that “sorrow haunts gatherings for Thanksgiving.” Still, they miss the point. Yes, there is sorrow and fear and anger this year. Our newspapers are still filled with the stories of families robbed of loved ones. My nightmare last night: corralling my family to safety when a nuke hits New York. Yes, there’s sorrow, of course, there is. But that makes Thanksgiving all the more meaningful this year. As I’ve said since Sept. 11, I know precisely how lucky I am and how thankful I need to be. And we as a country know how thankful we are, how privileged and fortunate; that is why we have Thanksgiving every year and why we will celebrate it especially this year.

– Having said that, I’m going to spend the day with my family today and not blog; I’ll forego the addiction. I do this robbing a few minutes every morning and evening at the kitchen counter. Now it’s time to peel potatoes there instead.

– OK, just one more. A fine column from the Times of London on Blair’s optimism coming to pass. In an eloquent speech after Sept. 11, Blair said: ìThe memorial [to the victims of the terrorist attacks] can and should be greater than simply the punishment of the guilty. Out of the shadow of this evil, should emerge lasting good: destruction of the machinery of terrorism wherever it is found; hope amongst all nations of a new beginning where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way; greater understanding between nations and between faiths; and above all justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed, so that people everywhere can see the chance of a better future through the hard work and creative power of the free citizen, not the violence and savagery of the fanatic.î Anatole Kaletsky then catalogues the ways in which we can actually see the way to Blair’s vision coming true: New means of cooperation to fight poverty; new paths to peace in the Middle East; new alliances among the superpowers; and, finally, the chance that we all can defeat not only Osama bin Laden — to the relief of the Muslim world — but also terrorism. Perhaps next year, all the world should celebrate Thanksgiving.

– And if you still don’t get Thankskgiving, here’s the Guardian’s web guide to our quaint tradition.

Otherwise:
– A Brit exec sues his company for not letting him leave traumatizing New York and return to Britain.

– Just like the Nazis, bin Laden leaves a paper trail: quotations of chairman Osama, club notes for extremists, primers on nukes found in abandoned HQ.

– The bin Ladens try to hire a London PR heavyweight “in a bid to distance itself from the errant terrorist.”

– The Taliban destroyed art and antiquities, says the LA Times: “There was something sadistic about the way two Taliban government ministers and their shock troops destroyed many of Afghanistan’s precious works of art. They did it with smiles on their faces. They walked through the National Museum here in the capital last year, inspecting each object to determine which ones depicted living beings. And then they raised their axes and brought them down hard, smashing piece after piece of Afghan history into oblivion.”

– Typically American gloating (allowed on Thanksgiving): The Guardian got a record 50 million page views last month. Is that all?

– The latest anthrax attacks

– The latest anthrax attacks — far from Washington, the media, and the mail — are calculated to scare us more, going after randon loners.

– The German aid workers tell the story of their frightening and strange captivity: eating worms, being put on display for gawking clerics who wanted to see their underwear… Times version. Original Stern version (in German). Headline: “We want to return to Kabul.”

– We all saw the pictures of the mob — and I do mean mob — rushing an Afghan theater to see the first movie there in years. We’ve all seen the pictures of people playing music again and looking lustily at pictures of show biz stars. But note that this is not our pop culture they’re craving (despite the constant accusation that our culture infects the world like smallpox). It’s Indian movies they love and Bollywood’s ecstatic, says the Times of India. The first movie to be released there “is inspired by the 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines Boeing and the villain resembles Osama bin Laden.”

– Rush on satellite dishes.

– An amazing critical deconstruction of the bin Laden recruitment-cum-MTV video by Julia Magnet in the Telegraph [via Little Green Footballs}: “Osama bin Laden [beats] us at our own media game. With devilish cunning, he has plugged into the MTV generation – and it’s clear he knows how to reach us. I have spent all day humming militant Islamic songs. And I am a Jewish twenty-something from New York.”

– The Taliban says we should have forgotten Sept. 11 by now. Meanwhile, Patrick Ruffini takes Mickey Kaus justly to task for predicting, on Sept. 12, that the media would have forgotten it by Thanksgiving (how absurd): “Media coverage of the 9/11 attack often emphasizes that it will be a ‘long time before America gets back to normal,’ etc. The opposite is likely to be closer to the truth — we’ll get back to normal all too quickly, in keeping with the tendency (often discussed in this space) for the population to process information much faster than in former, less wired times. (Don’t you feel as if you’ve lived about a month in the past two days?) I suspect the story will be off the evening news by Thanksgiving — a denial, in a warped way, of the attackers’ disruptive goal.” HA to both.

– I’ll see your $25 mil and raise you… The Taliban puts a $50 million bounty on Bush’s head.

– At least Hitler has the guts to shoot himself. Bin Laden orders his son and aides to off him if he’s trapped.

CBS says the murdered journalists in Afghanistan had a big story: “Cutuli and Fuentes filed reports Monday about finding what they believed were capsules of deadly sarin nerve gas at an abandoned al-Qaida camp in the Jalalabad region. Fuentes’s story said he discovered a cardboard box with Russian labeling that said SARIN/V-Gas. His report said the box contained 300 vials of a yellowish liquid.”

WSJ on murdered journalists: “The public’s voracious appetite for news and a severe shortage of experienced war correspondents have proved, once again, a dangerous mixture.”

– Times of London editorial on the journalists’ deaths: “The readers of this newspaper, and all others which employ similar individuals, have benefited from the reportage that can only be delivered by those willing to place themselves in peril. It is a strange war indeed where more journalists seem to have been killed than, so far, either American or British soldiers. Seven reporters have been killed inside Afghanistan so far…”

– Reporters for Newsday and Cox had close call.

Maureen Dowd on the schizophrenia that is our president and our nation and our generation, when you get right down to it: “Many who came of age during the Vietnam War, wincing at America’s overweening military stance in the world, are now surprised to find themselves lustily rooting for the overwhelming display of force against the Taliban. Over the years the country’s ethos had gone from John Wayne to Jerry Springer, from gunfighter nation to anger-management nation, rugged frontier mentality to designer lifestyle mentality. Once we prided ourselves on being strong and silent. Then we got weak and chatty. And now we seem to be evolving to strong and chatty. We are pulverizing our enemies even as we try to show them a little compassion, crushing our foes even as we try to understand and address some of their grievances against us. We are functioning holding opposing ideas, new ones every day.”

Time.com offers three eyewitness reports from Afghan fronts: The self-proclaimed mayor of Mazar-e Sharif “and his men have the city, but as they consolidated control, they massacred 100 Pakistani Taliban fighters who were trying to surrender–and then watched as 12 of their own mullahs, on a peace mission to the Taliban resisters, were executed while clutching their holy texts. In retaliation, the Alliance soldiers then slaughtered the rest of the resisters.”

– Quakers face dilemma on pacifism in The American Prospect [via WoodsLot]: “Maurice Boyd, a longtime meeting member, stands to speak. His voice sounds a little unsteady. ‘I find my Quaker peace testimony stretched to its limit right now.’ Boyd’s hands grip the back of the pew in front of him. ‘Quakers were able to resist joining the cry for vengeance in the twentieth century,’ he says. ‘But now here is Osama bin Laden and people like him, people who want to destroy us and all that we hold dear.’ He pauses and takes a breath. ‘I’m in a crisis of the soul. I don’t know how much further I can go along the road–the road of peaceful resistance. I can only ask you to hold me in the Light.’ ” I went to Quaker school and respect them greatly. I called myself a pacifist for most of my life. Now I call myself a former pacifist (and I crassly sell Former Pacifist T-shirtshere).

Franklin Graham is sticking by his view of Islam as evil [via Relapsed Catholic]: “It wasn’t Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn’t Lutherans,” said Graham. “It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith.” But I don’t want to argue about that; too easy. I want to complain that Franklin Graham and his father are trotted out all the time as representatives of protestantism but the truth is that they are not mainstream. Just once, I want to see a Congregational minister from New York (my present brand) or a Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia (just so happens my sister is one) or a Methodist minister from Washington make it onto TV to represent us in the mainstream. More on Islam Online.

– Washington Post: Military wants homeland defense command: “Any extensive use of federal troops on U.S. soil would come despite a traditional aversion to — and legal limits on — the use of military forces for domestic law enforcement. But the Sept. 11 attacks and the Bush administration’s declared war on terrorism have blurred the distinction between foreign wars and domestic crimes and prompted a rethinking of the Pentagon’s command structure and force assignments.”

– Swiss group wants to reconstruct the Buddha statue blown up by the Taliban. The group, New7Wonders.org, says it will work with the Afghanistan Museum in Bubendorf, Switzerland, first build a 3-D computer model and then build a 1:10 study model.

– Italian company Space Cannon wants to turn the sky over the WTC into a light spectacle for Christmas (in German).