– The Florida recount story:

– The Florida recount story: Bush would have won limited recount; Gore would have won larger recount; close by any count; moot today. The versions: Washington PostCNNNY TimesAPTribune.

– Thanks to the wonderfully named Relapsed Catholic ‘log, I found a link to an odd Jonestown reenactment as we approach the Nov. 18 anniversary of that 1978 mass murder and suicide. Just as I happened to find myself too close to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, I also happened to be too close to Jonestown as the Sunday editor of and then a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner at the time. Some great reporters there, led by Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs, investigated Jones and his purported church, causing a congressional investigation and the fateful trip to Jonestown that ended with the murder of a congressman and our photographer, among others, and then the mass suicide and murder of Jones’ followers: 913 dead in all. Soon after, in San Francisco, Supervisor Dan White went berserk and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, whom I counted as friends — leading to a widely held belief that San Francisco was not only nuts but also jinxed, even dangerous. I bring this up not just because we’re awash in anniversaries right now — two months after 9/11, on Veteran’s Day, and approaching Jonetown’s 23rd — but because it’s instructional to remember the extraordinary power of a cult. This devil Jones got people to kill themselves and even their children, for Christ’s sake, and with time we have seen that there was no foundation for this horrid act in religion or politics or humanity. He was insane and he made the people around him perform the ultimate insanity. Bin Laden is insane and he manages to get the people around him to perform equally evil insanities; he runs a well-armed cult but a cult nonetheless. It is a mistake to lend him any credibility in terms of religion or politics or humanity to think that there is anything more to him. It’s not a movement — now, finally, Arab leaders are starting to say that — it’s just a bunch of lunatics. So let’s not waste breath and bits arguing about whether there is anything worth arguing about behind bin Laden’s evil insanity. And let’s also not start looking on New York or Washington or America as jinxed or crazy even if the danger is making us act understandably nutty at times. We are the sane ones. He is, to quote our President, the evil one. He is a dangerous cultist who must be stopped before he kills again. It’s as simple as that.

– Two months after: A photo gallery from Der Spiegel.

– Getting too wacky: Debka says there’s an anthrax connection to old Nazis.

– Powell: Palestine is no longer a dirty word.

The smoking jet: Bin Laden admits the World Trade attack in a video, says the Sunday Telegraph.

– I hate to sound like the scrooge of charity after 9/11 and I kept my mouth shut at the time but as every good-hearted, red-blooded New Yorker ran to donate blood after the attacks, I whispered to myself, “If only there were any living victims who needed it.” Yet they kept lining up and the Red Cross kept taking — and even asking for — the blood. Now, the Red Cross is destroying who-knows-how-much blood because they don’t have the means to freeze it. This from the same charity that is being yelled at on Capitol Hill — quite rightly — because they held back money instead of giving every penny to the heroes of 9/11. We need our charity; we need it to be organized; we need it to be efficient; we need the people to have faith in the charities so they will give money and blood and time and valuables — all because there are people in need. But the big, bureacratic charities are squandering all this good will and it’s a crime.

– Scenes from the liberated

Scenes from the liberated Mazar-i-Sharif: “I just wanted to cry when I saw the troops come in,” a woman said. “I can’t tell you about the hell we’ve been living under.” And aide to a general said: “The people in Mazar-i-Sharif were very happy when we marched in. They sacrificed many sheep.” Music was also being played again in the city for the first time in years.

– On to Kabul!

– Today’s reason to feel nervous: U.S. intelligence agents employ psychics.

Observer: Predatory packs of ‘Sex and the City’ women regard a firefighter as a prize conquest. They hang round firehouses, offering gifts and attention. ‘I can’t go a day without having to hide from some woman coming round the firehouse,’ said a firefighter already spoken for. ‘I just put my hood up and cross the road.’

Christians in Pakistan caught in the crossfire: A good piece from Al-Ahram. There, Christians are a persecuted minority; most of them are poor; and after a murder at a church, they are symbols of Western civilization in this crusade against the West.

– The Dawn interview with bin Laden, in which he rattles nuclear sabres.

– Bin Laden to Dawn: “I am ready to die…. They think they will solve this problem by killing me. It’s not easy to solve this problem. This war has been spread all over the world.”

– And another Pakistani newspaper, the Frontier Post, says Osama may already have shipped two suitcase nuclear bombs to the U.S.

– Foreign Affairs magazine’s relevant

Foreign Affairs magazine’s relevant stories [via Die Zeit].

– God bless the king of Jordan for trying to break into peace: an offer to create a cross-Arab guarantee Israel’s security in return for a Palestinian state. Bravo on someone for realizing that we can’t untangle the Mideast knot; the Mideast must.

– Benjamin Barber — who wrote Jihad vs. McWorld sometime in the last millenium — is interviewed in Die Zeit (in German) regarding 9/11: “It became clear to the entire democratic world with one blow: We are no longer in control.” The interview gave me flashbacks to my days as a poli sci student with much quoting of Hobbes and Rousseau (vs. Samuel “Clash of Civilizations” Huntington). Barber argues that the conflicting pressures of ethnic, religious, and fundamental Jihad vs. economic and cultural expansion in McWorld endanger democracy. I disagree; democracy is too strong for would-be Hitlers or economic realities to defeat; democracy is on a winning streak. No, instead, this reminds us to reaffirm the civilization we are defending: What is the nature of this civilization, society, and humanity we are fighting for? Finally, poli sci students have something relevant to talk about.

– Chelsea Clinton as anti-anti-war demonstrator. More Chelsea. And Chelsea in Talk thinks she’s going to die during a bomb scare.

– Great idea from MoreThanZero: A Mapquest satellite view of Ground Zero. Here’s the huge and impressive version of the same photo [via World After WTC].

– Bill O’Reilly has done a brilliant job leading the charge against the bureaucratic charities that aren’t doing what they promised to do: get money to the families of heroes and victims. He’s even appearing on competing networks (NBC this morning) to keep the pressure on. Good cause.

Andrew Sullivan digs up a wonderful Orwell quote on warring against evil this morning. He also gives Bill Clinton a fair shake in the item below. I’m becoming a Sullivan admirer.

Times of London says Bush considering universal smallpox vaccinations.

Guardian on cracks in US-UK marriage.

Mixed agendas: The good news is that Ashcroft is reorganizing the FBI to focus on protection over prosecution — it’s about time. The bad news is that this is a convenient opportunity to drop agendas he and his boss don’t much care about, like civil rights and pollution.

Make love and war: Barnes

Make love and war: Barnes & Noble stock fell 36 percent when it announced lower earnings because of 9/11. People are quaking, not reading. I’m waiting for this to be added to the list of patriotic duties: Shop… eat out… travel… mail… buy stock… read… How can we extend this to sex and liquor?

– Moslems sell bin Laden video in Brit mosque.

‘Thraxed buildings can’t be guaranteed to be safe.

– The competing theories on anthrax. Makes me feel less save in Jersey.

– Now this is getting weird: A Vietnam connection to anthrax. First, a Vietnamese-American woman dies of the disease in New York with no clues as to how she got it. Now a British company in Vietnam gets anthrax.

Literary analysis of the anthrax letters: knows New Jersey; may speak Arabic languagues; may know Canada.

Der Spiegel (in German): Bin Laden has gum interests in Africa so “every time anyone buys a cola you could be enriching the treasure chest of Bin Laden.”

– Another wonderful Rossi Rant on our post traumatic stress syndrome: the memories of 9/11.

– Become a reporter, get a biohazard suit.

– Antiwar protester uses flower as weapon against Prince Charles. Find irony at will.

Winston Churchill played with anthrax on what is now called Anthrax Island: “He didn’t see why the devil should have all the best weapons.”

– We appoint an official war spin doctor.

BBC enters Kabul, breaking Al Jazeera’s monopoly.

– From the horse’s (ass’) mouth: Good on Nick Denton for finding WBUR’s daily translation of leading stories on Al Jazeera. See also Cursor’s site on the Arab TV network. See also a great Newsrack roundup of translations of scary stuff from Arab press (including the scary link to an anthrax love letter that has been working its way up blogdex).

– My favorite spam of the day: “Are YOU PREPARED for a TERRORIST ATTACK ? Then you need the BioChem Survival Manual”

– Complicating an already complicated war: Blair pushes to tie Middle East harmony with the war on terrorism. Both are good causes but tying them makes each job harder. The coverage of this angle on Blair’s visit was emphasized much more in the UK than here. Times. Independent.

[Sorry for light posting; had trouble getting to Blogger; technical difficulties, as they say on TV.]

– Former head of Saudi

– Former head of Saudi intelligence says bin Laden was a “nice guy” who changed: “I saw radical changes in his personality as he changed from a calm, peaceful and gentle man interested in helping Muslims into a person who believed that he would be able to amass and command an army to liberate Kuwait. It revealed his arrogance and his haughtiness.”

– If we try to run this war the way we run the country — by polls — we’re in trouble. Did Britain worry about that in World War II? Russia? Us?

Interview with Harvard’s Samuel (Clash of Civilizations) Huntington. [Via Bushwacker]

– Thanks to TV and Osama, Islam discovers the power of PR: a call for an Islamic media network from Iran.

– Bush says bin Laden is out to get nukes. And Netanyahu says on Fox that if terrorists get nukes, New York is the target.