Saturday, August 11, 2007

And Don't Take A Bible Into Saudi Arabia Either...

The Washington Post and Newsweek have been publishing a series of articles by Islamic advocates (in one case, a Hizballah terrorist) denying, among other things, that the penalty for leaving Islam is death.

But Egyptian Mohammed Hegazy, who converted to Christianity, isn’t much interested in the academic arguments; he’s too busy hiding from Muslims who want to kill him.

Hegazy said he received telephoned death threats before he went into hiding in an apartment with his wife, a Muslim who took the name Katarina when she converted to Christianity several years ago. She is four months pregnant.

No More Handouts!

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I thought Wall Streeters were paid big money because they took big risks. Capitalism, etc. But when those risks actually materialize, and the Wall Streeters are actually threatened with large losses that might change their lifestyles, Jim Cramer shows up to demand that the government bail out his friends.

The Republicrat complex in operation...

Incompetence Vivisected

Now we know why the Democrats caved on the FISA adjustment earlier this month that allowed the warrantless surveillance to proceed at the NSA on international communications. The same reporters that blew the program's cover in December 2005 now report that a FISA decision earlier this year forced the NSA to get warrants on purely international calls that happened to pass through American telephony switches. That reduced surveilled traffic by 75%, which forced Congress to act:

The security agency was newly required to seek warrants to monitor at least some of those phone calls and e-mail messages. As a result, the ability to intercept foreign-based communications “kept getting ratcheted down,” said a senior intelligence official who insisted on anonymity because the account involved classified material. “ We were to a point where we were not effectively operating.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

China: Mickey Mouse To Intel

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A report issued by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney breaks the growth of China's cloners into five distinct periods. The first, in the 1980s, was primitive, consisting mostly of cheap textile knockoffs like Mickey Mouse shirts. The second, starting around 1990, still involved clothing and accessories, but with enough authenticity—high-quality Nike and Reebok fakes led the way—to be accepted as handy substitutes by thrift-conscious Westerners. By the middle of that decade, Chinese copiers had moved from basic trademark infringement into low-end technology products: Duracell batteries and DVDs. From there, the study says, an era of "advanced technology piracy" began. Functionally close-to-the-mark products like Callaway golf clubs and counterfeit automotive safety glass appeared in 1998. By the millennium, piracy had reached levels of refinement that saw China offering functional duplicates of Intel processors, Viagra tablets and Bosch power tools.

Almighty TV

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  • "One man with courage makes a majority."--attributed to Andrew

  • "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."--Franklin
    D. Roosevelt

  • "The buck stops here."--Harry
    S. Truman

  • "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for
    your country."--John
    F. Kennedy

  • "This scares me politically. There is no anger that comes close to the anger
    of an American that cannot get television."--Sen. Claire

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lone Survivor

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Bring Out Your Dead Hockey Sticks

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Climate scientist Michael Mann (famous for the hockey stick chart) once made the statement that  the 1990's were the
warmest decade in a millennia and that "there is a 95 to 99% certainty
that 1998 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years." (By
the way, Mann now denies he ever made this claim, though you can watch him say
these exact words in the CBC documentary Global
Warming:  Doomsday Called Off

Well, it turns out, according to the NASA GISS database, that 1998 was not even the hottest year of the last century.  This is because many temperatures from recent decades that appeared to show substantial warming have been revised downwards.  Here is how that happened (if you want to skip the story, make sure to look at the numbers at the bottom).

Jungle Interlude

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Evolution Evolves

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WASHINGTON - Surprising research based on two African fossils suggests our family tree is more like a wayward bush with stubby branches, challenging what had been common thinking on how early humans evolved.

The discovery by Meave Leakey, a member of a famous family of paleontologists, shows that two species of early human ancestors lived at the same time in Kenya. That pokes holes in the chief theory of man's early evolution — that one of those species evolved from the other.
And it further discredits that iconic illustration of human evolution that begins with a knuckle-dragging ape and ends with a briefcase-carrying man.

Memory Hole In One For Hillary

"I have said publicly no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table," Clinton said. "This administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven't seen since the dawn of a nuclear age. I think that's a terrible mistake."

Her excuse? Obama was talking about a "broad hypothetical". Hillary was asked about a specific situation involving Iran.

Oh, I get it. If we're not talking about a specific and real enemy for which we need a nuclear deterrent, then we should never give that deterrent away. If, on the other hand, we're talking about a country that has conducting a low-level war against us, sponsored terrorism around the world, and is currently trying to produce nuclear weapons -- then it's OK to eliminate our nuclear deterrent.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


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Greenwald wrote to Petraeus' public affairs officer, requesting to have the general on the Alan Colmes Show, where Greenwald is a contributor. The complete back-and-forth between the two is available on Greenwald's blog. If you'd rather not be bored by the details, Petraeus' guy basically told Greenwald he'd put him on the list and get back to him.

Yesterday, just two weeks after Greenwald's post, Petraeus was a guest on the Alan Colmes Show. (The audio is available here.) Of course, you wouldn't know anything about Petraeus' appearance from reading Greenwald's blog today. There's no mention of the fact that Petraeus spent 30 minutes talking to a liberal -- the same liberal, in fact, whose show Greenwald requested him to appear on as a guest. Go figure.

About A Hundred Dollars

Charlie: Raymond, how much does a candy bar cost?

Raymond: About a hundred dollars.

Charlie: Raymond, how much does an automobile cost?

Raymond: About a hundred dollars.

The questions are designed to reveal a systematic flaw in the way Raymond looks at the world. For all his skill at counting the minutia in life (like toothpicks), he just doesn’t understand the issue of scale. He doesn’t have an inherent sense of how big things are.

I’ve thought a lot about Rain Man over the past few months as I’ve been following the press coverage of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The story’s been on the front page of the Wall Street Journal nearly every day. Pretty much every show on CNBC — except Kudlow & Co. and one or two others — has been obsessed with the topic. Yet no one seems to be asking the Rain Man question: “How big is the sub-prime mortgage market?”

And the answer, as Ben Stein makes clear, is not very big at all.

Well That's Certainly Reassuring...

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Peter Brown, terrorism and security consultant, stated that the "biggest element" to the DEA report is the ease with which terrorist cells have taken on new identities.

"The ability for people to completely transform their nationalities absent of their own identities is a dangerous step in the evolution of this cross-border operation," he said. "This is a true threat."

Lending credence to Mr. Brown's concern, an El Paso, Texas, law-enforcement report documents the influx of "approximately 20 Arab persons a week utilizing the Travis County Court in Austin to change their names and driver's licenses from Arabic to Hispanic surnames."

Under the current drug-intelligence collection, analysis and reporting posture, the DEA runs the risk of failing to detect or report the entry of terrorists, weapons of mass destruction or portable conventional weapons into the United States, according to the DEA document.

Many times, smugglers don't know what they are transporting.

W.S.S. -- If Only We Had The Internet In '71...

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The tale of Army Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the discredited “Baghdad Diarist” for the discredited New Republic magazine, is an old tale:

Self-aggrandizing soldier recounts war atrocities. Media outlets disseminate soldier’s tales uncritically. Military folks smell a rat and poke holes in tales too good (or rather, bad) to be true. Soldier’s ideological sponsors blame the messengers for exposing anti-war fraud.

Beauchamp belongs in the same ward as John F. Kerry, the original infectious agent of the toxic American disease known as Winter Soldier Syndrome. The ward is filling up.

U.S. military investigators concluded this week that Beauchamp concocted allegations of troop misconduct in a series of essays for The New Republic. “The investigation is complete and the allegations from PVT Beauchamp are false,” Major Steven Lamb, a spokesman for Multi National Division-Baghdad, told USA Today.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

More Willing To Believe Smut Than Holiness

Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia.
We were tasked to take advantage of the reawakened patriotic feelings stirring in the European countries that had been subjugated by the Nazis, in order to shift their hatred for Hitler over into hatred for Truman--the leader of the new "occupation power." Western Europe was still grateful to the U.S. for having restored its freedom, but it had strong leftist movements that we secretly financed. They were like putty in our hands.
In no time they began beating their drums decrying President Truman as the "butcher of Hiroshima."

Going, Going...

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The country’s biggest foreign visa consultancy firm has revealed that applications have soared in the last seven months by 80 per cent to almost 4,000 a week. Ten years ago the figure was just 300 a week.

Most people are relocating within the Commonwealth – in Australia, Canada and South Africa. They are almost all young professionals and skilled workers aged 20-40.

And many cite their reason for wanting to quit as immigration to these shores – and the burden it is placing on their communities and local authorities. The dearth of good schools, spiralling house prices, rising crime and tax increases are also driving people away.

Spitting Into The Wind

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In February 8, 2007 Bryson dismissed what he terms "sky is falling" man-made global warming fears. Bryson, was on the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor and was identified by the British Institute of Geographers as the most frequently cited climatologist in the world. “Before there were enough people to make any difference at all, two million years ago, nobody was changing the climate, yet the climate was changing, okay?” Bryson told the May 2007 issue of Energy Cooperative News. “All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it’s absurd. Of course it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air,” Bryson said. “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide,” he added.

That Ol' Time Corruption

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No area of Iraq is quite like another, but the prevalence of "criminal gangs" and "systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations [and] tribal vendettas" are pretty universal in all but Iraqi Kurdistan. I've previously highlighted this gangsterism and scarcity of civic spirit as Iraq's most pressing problems. And problematically, the best solution is a long-term American dedication and oversight that mirrors British colonialism without the absolute control, tribute and exploitation. We all know how unrealistic any such level of commitment is ...

Two officials were engaged in a conversation about how al Qaeda was able to infiltrate trouble spots in Iraq so effectively. The illuminating exchange revealed how much of the strife in Iraq is rooted not in religious fervor, but in greed. Greed for power, greed for money.

Bottoms Up -- The Long Road

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The new U.S. military strategy in Iraq, unveiled six months ago to little acclaim, is working.

In two weeks of observing the U.S. military on the ground and interviewing commanders, strategists and intelligence officers, it's apparent that the war has entered a new phase in its fifth year.

It is a phase with fresh promise yet the same old worry: Iraq may be too fractured to make whole.

No matter how well or how long the U.S. military carries out its counterinsurgency mission, it cannot guarantee victory.

Only the Iraqis can. And to do so they probably need many more months of heavy U.S. military involvement. Even then, it is far from certain that they are capable of putting this shattered country together again.

Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.

The Real Abu Graib

MJT: What do you think about the possibility of Americans leaving?

Hammer: It is like bad dream. Very bad dream. A nightmare. Worse than that. Like sending me back to jail. Like they set me free for four years then sent me back to jail or gave me a death sentence.

MJT: Tell us about living under Saddam Hussein.

Hammer: It was crazy life, like feeling safe inside a jail. If they sent you to an actual jail nothing changed. They arrested everyone, literally everyone, for no reason and sent them to jail for two weeks just so they could see the jail.

The guards who ran Abu Ghraib sold hallucinagenic drugs to prisoners for money. They forced me to take them.

They learn everything from the TV. Right now they only have one hour of electricity every day. Do you know what they watch? Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera pushes them to fight. If they got TV the whole day they would watch many things. Their minds would be influenced by something other than terrorist propaganda.

Monday, August 06, 2007

And After The Puke ... A Good Float

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Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.

Beijing saleswoman demonstrates toy which levitates by magnetic force; Physicists have 'solved' mystery of levitation
In theory the discovery could be used to levitate a person

In earlier work the same team of theoretical physicists showed that invisibility cloaks are feasible.

Now, in another report that sounds like it comes out of the pages of a Harry Potter book, the University of St Andrews team has created an 'incredible levitation effects’ by engineering the force of nature which normally causes objects to stick together.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.

Excuse Me While I Puke...

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The LED Incapacitator uses a range-finder to measure the distance to a
target's eyes, Threat Level notes.  Then it unleashes continually changing, multi-color
light pulses that make the target feel bad -- really bad.  The "effects, whose effectiveness depends on the person, range from
disorientation to vertigo to nausea," according to Technology Review

Harder to beat would be a radio-frequency puke ray.  Lucky for us, the Navy is backing one of those, too.

Of Course Not, Silly

Bill Bennett asked this at the top of his show this morning: If Jeri Thompson's old boyfriend is front-page news, will we get prominent treatment of Hillary Clinton's husband's extracurricular activities? Investigative work on some of the more disturbing allegations?

I'd prefer none of it. But if the Washington Post wants to be Us Weekly, they ought to be fair and balanced about it.
It wouldn't be to Hillary's advantage. So the press won't do it. End of story.


JJA: Yeah. If it wasn’t for him, I might not have received Khrushchev’s secret speech to the Politburo, which was the great turning point in the Cold War. He gave it to a courier who flew from Tel Aviv to Washington, and came directly to my house. I gave it to Dulles, who personally delivered it to Eisenhower.
JJA: The Soviets permitted a lot of Jews to emigrate to Israel — remember they hoped that Israel, since it was a socialist state in their view, would help them — and every one of those emigrants was forced to sign an agreement to work for Soviet intelligence, to spy against both Israel and us. A few did, but most of them cooperated with Shin Bet, and Amos provided us with the raw debriefs. It was a treasure trove, spectacular, unique I dare say.

Fake And Not Accurate Either

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.

The New Republic didn't bother to verify Beauchamp's stories, apparently because it found them to be self-authenticating: a depiction of America's soldiers that just had to be true. It appears that Beauchamp's yarns will be another chapter in the sad history of "fake, and not accurate, either" news stories. Whether the New Republic can survive this debacle, in view of its history of falling for hoaxes, remains to be seen.

In Summary

Democrats are fond of arguing that we should withdraw from Iraq so we can fight more effectively on the "real" battlefields in the war on terror in Afghanistan and perhaps Pakistan. But at the Contentions blog, Max Boot maintains that defeat in Iraq will make it more difficult to fight in Afghanistan and to counter terrorists in Pakistan. Boot points to a report in the Washington Post that Pakistan's dictator Musharraf has complained that his leverage over tribal militants has slipped because their leaders are less fearful of the U.S. given our difficulties in Iraq. Boot suggets that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would accentuate this trend.

If the Democrats push for defeat in Iraq under these circumstances, it would be difficult not to conclude that either (a) they would like to see the U.S. unable to exert influence in the world or (b) they have no understanding of how the world works. Option (a) provides a good working definition of an American leftist; option (b) of an American liberal.

About That Good War...

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For dark, personal reasons, many people could not resist this chance at cruelty. There were the intellectuals who demanded aggressively if we believed in war and asked across our dinner tables did we relish the idea of being the widows of dead heroes? There were men of peace who fulminated against destruction and argued that no idea was worth fighting for that leveled Casino or Dresden….There were the newscasters who, after the fourth Martini, swore with something akin to professional pride that the war would last another eight years….

Al Qaeda Update From Yon

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Anyone who says Al Qaeda is not one of the primary problems in Iraq is simply ignorant of the facts.

I, like everyone else, will have to wait for September's report from Gen. Petraeus before making more definitive judgments. But I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I've seen it.

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.
3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

Bananacrat Update

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi made matters worse when she told reporters, "There was no mistake made last night." Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to rescue her by acknowledging that, while he thought no wrongdoing had occurred, the minority party was "understandably angry." Under pressure, the House unanimously agreed to create a select committee, with subpoena powers, to investigate Republican charges the vote had been "stolen."

Congress appears to be gripped by a partisanship that borders on tribal warfare. In a forthcoming book, Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein compares it to a "second Civil War" that has led to "the virtual collapse of meaningful collaboration" between the two parties.

Read the whole thing. Yes, I thought things couldn't get worse, but I was wrong.

UPDATE: Reader Rick Lang emails: "And the US Congress has the audacity to say the war is lost because the IRAQI Parliament is non-functional. . . ."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Gun-Free Wilderness "Experience"

Chatting recently with a minor impresario of “eco-tourism,” I was told that “the trend in the future will be towards the gun-free wilderness experience.”
Aha, I realized. His customers are naïve urban people.
my worry now centres on the simultaneous spread of “democracy,” in the limited sense of people voting on things. Our own experience, in Canada and throughout the West, has been, that as a democratic polity urbanizes, the people and therefore the politics become increasingly batty, owing chiefly, I think, to the insulation of urban people from the basic facts of life.

In the small example above -- irrational fear of guns, leading to politically-correct efforts to ban them everywhere -- and in the many other examples I tend to offer, passim, in these columns, we have the spectacle of naïve urban people who believe themselves competent to vote even on the laws of nature, and when this happens, I don’t know to what other planet the rest of us may repair.

On Understanding Why They Don't Understand Us

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Actually, regardless of what you think of Obama's comments on substance, I think they're beneficial. They make other countries worry that maybe waiting to get a better deal from the Democrats isn't a sure thing, and that in fact they might have to deal with a Democratic President who's . . . a bit scary. That can only help negotiations progress now.

UPDATE: Pakistanis are burning American flags in response to Obama's remarks. Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

One-Way Multiculti, Saudi Style

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How will we lose the war against "radical Islam"?

Well, it won't be in a tank battle.
The war will be lost incrementally because we are unable to reverse the ongoing radicalization of Muslim populations in South Asia, Indonesia, the Balkans, Western Europe and, yes, North America.
For the answer, let us turn to a fascinating book called "Alms for Jihad: Charity And Terrorism in the Islamic World," by J. Millard Burr, a former USAID relief coordinator, and the scholar Robert O Collins.
Unfortunately, if you then try to buy "Alms for Jihad," you discover that the book is "Currently unavailable.
Well, let us cross the ocean, thousands of miles from the Amazon warehouse, to the High Court in London. Last week, the Cambridge University Press agreed to recall all unsold copies of "Alms for Jihad" and pulp them.
We've gotten used to one-way multiculturalism: The world accepts that you can't open an Episcopal or Congregational church in Jeddah or Riyadh,