Monday, December 31, 2007

The RIAA must be stopped

This should raise the hackles on the back of anyone who owns an iPod or any other MP3 player. A recording industry attorney is taking the position that one can be sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the simple act of ripping an MP3 file from a CD one has purchased and copying it to a player or computer.
The RIAA's own Web site is more conciliatory, but implies that the organization reserves the right to go after music "rippers" should it change its mind.

"If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings ... you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages," it plainly states before adding that "transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player won't usually raise concerns so long as the copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own [or] the copy is just for your personal use."

[ ... ]

Copying a song you've paid for in CD form is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,'" Sony BMG top lawyer Jennifer Pariser testified during cross-examination in the Jammie Thomas case in early October.
The avarice of the RIAA knows no bounds, and its attorneys will be responsible for the death of the industry they claim to represent.

Martians have one month to evacuate Mars

The odds of a football field-sized asteroid of hitting Mars on January 30th has just been raised to 1 in 25.
The space rock, known as the nondescript 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.

Based on the latest information available, scientists said last week there was a 1-in-75 chance the asteroid could hit Mars on Jan. 30.

The odds were increased to 1-in-25 this week after a Ph.D. student pored through the archives and plotted the asteroid's motions before its official discovery.
I expect Dennis Kucinich to announce plans any day now for how we're going to deal with all those Martian refugees.

Fred's video message

This video from Fred Thompson to Iowa voters is Fred at his best. He lays out a convincing case for his candidacy, and if enough Iowa voters see it, I think he has a chance to at least make a good showing at the caucuses. At 17 minutes, it's long-ish, but worth the time.

Watch:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Who's afraid of the big, bad Fox News Channel?


A persistent belief of the loony left is that News Corp. and their subsidiary Fox News is a shill for the Republican party. Just a couple of weeks ago, after a chemical explosion in the New York building housing News Corp. and Fox News Channel, the left spewed their hatred in comments on lefty blogs like Huffington Post and Democratic Underground wishing horrible death and destruction on Fox News and its broadcasters:
  • Who among us would have wept if Fox News HQ had been blown up? I can honestly say I wouldn't've.
  • oh yea good idea.... ****DIRTY BOMB, ...Let us Pray
  • what a nice christmas present, i guess the whole sleazy enterprise going up in smoke would have been too much of a gift. well, it's a start
  • False flag! They probably did it themselves to generate news to them in a sympathetic light. I wonder who Michelle Malkin will want to round up into internment camps for this...
  • Reichstag fire, anyone?
  • Too bad the entire building wasn't taken out.
  • US *always* needs to be on the lookout for false flag operations. First thing to consider is who would benefit from such an attack. What agenda would be facilitatd [sic] by such actions?
  • Rupert. Free advertising.
  • The nicest things happen to the nicest people!
  • I hope Hannity and BillO were severely harmed
  • Burnt to a crisp would be ideal!
  • I think this may be something trumped up, and they WILL blame Democrats on it.
Right, then. So, this morning, while looking up some information on campaign contributions, it occurred to me to take a look at which candidates are getting money from News Corp. employees. The results surprised me, and I'm sure the nice, progressive folks whose comments are sampled above would be shocked.

Of the 18 donations recorded through October of this year, 16 went to Democratic candidates, with 14 of them going to Hillary Clinton, and one each to Barack Obama and Chris Dodd. John McCain and Fred Thompson were the sole GOP beneficiaries of News Corp. donors' largess, each with a single donation.

And the donations didn't come from low-level peons at News Corp, either. Peter Chernin is News Corp President and Chief Operating Officer, and the "K. R. Murdoch" you see in the graphic above (click image for full-size if you're having trouble reading it) is Keith Rupert Murdoch, long the target of know-nothing lefties.

Another liberal myth blown all to hell.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bizarre news item of the day


A Maryland girl who thought she was getting an iPod for Christmas found instead a moonbat, anti-capitalism rant in the box.
A little girl thought she was getting an iPod for Christmas but ended up getting a rude surprise. She got the box but when she opened it up, she found a surprising switch: the iPod had been replaced with a bizarre note.

The note reads in part "Reclaim your mind from the media shackles."

Jay Ellis, the girls father, returned the ipod to the Germantown, Md. Wal-Mart store where he purchased it. The store manger told him that another customer returned an iPod with a similar issue.
The note, according to the picture, goes on to say "To claim your capitalistic garbage go to your nearest Apple store".

Give 'til it hurts


It's really easy...just click that picture of Fred to get to the web site, and give 'til it hurts. Fred's campaign needs to raise nearly $250,000 by 6PM today to air a campaign ad state-wide in Iowa for the January 3 caucuses. Do it...I just gave $100 so that my money's where my mouth is.

Baby doesn't really need that new pair of shoes, anyway. If you don't do it, it means you hate kids. And puppies.

Gadget review: Zoom H2 digital recorder

Just before Christmas, I picked up the Zoom H2 "Handy Recorder", a nifty little digital recording device that's so useful and versatile, you'll wonder how you ever did without it. My intent was for this to be a household Christmas gift, but I allowed my wife to talk me into just opening it up and putting it right to work. It didn't take much.

The H2 contains four directional microphones; two front and two rear. The front mics are at 90 degree angles to each other while the rear ones are at 120 degrees. This allows the user to select the best microphone arrangement for the situation; front pair for recording a solo performer or back pair to record a band. Alternatively, all mics can be selected to record, say, a band practice with parts of the band on either side of the device, or a conference with speakers seated around a table.

The H2 comes equipped with everything you might need to start using it right away:
  • A screw-on stand for setting it on a flat surface
  • A screw-on mic stand adapter for fixing it to a microphone stand
  • A decent pair of bud-style earphones
  • AC adapter
  • Line-in cord
  • USB cable
  • Foam wind screen
  • Carrying pouch
Sound is recorded directly to either .wav or .mp3 format on an SD card, making transfer to your computer a snap. The sound resolution is also selectable for both formats. In addition to the integrated mics, there's a jack for an external mic and a line-in jack for recording from another audio device.

The day after I got it, my wife and I caught a band at one of the local bars. I sat the H2 on the table and set it to record from the rear mics. I recorded each set as a separate hour-long MP3 file. Recording at 192kbs, I found I had enough space on a 2GB SD card for right around 24 hours of recording. Pretty impressive. Listening to the recording later on, I was very impressed with the sound quality.

One of the things that's vexed me for a while has been how to record MP3 files from my collection of LP records. It was my wife that came up with the brilliant idea of plugging a turntable directly into the line-in jack of the H2 and seeing how that worked out. I wasn't completely sure how it would go with the unamplified signal from the turntable, but no worries...the sound was perfect and faithfully captured by the H2.

There are, of course, other things the H2 can do, such as recording 4.1 channel "surrond sound", capturing audio directly to your computer over the USB interface, and so on, but you'll have to follow the link above to get more info. I haven't gotten a chance yet to try all the cool features. The picture below gives a bit more detail on the bells and whistles (click for full-size view):
Bottom line: If you're a music fan, a musician, a journalist, or just a gadget freak, get one of these. At $200, it's a bargain.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto assassination: Whodunnit?

The talk in the media and on the blogs now about Benazir Bhutto's assassination is centering around who the responsible parties are. While rational people are pointing the finger at al Qaeda (or possibly al Qaeda with the help of Pakistan's ISI), idiots like Ron Paul and the barking moonbats on the left point to Pervez Musharraf and, by extension, the Bush administration.

Earlier this month, I posted this item about Bhutto's willingness to invite US and other NATO forces into the tribal areas to clean house if Pakistan couldn't exert control. That alone is enough for AQ and Taliban elements to want her dead.

Musharraf: Little to gain and everything to lose with Bhutto's death.
AQ: Everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Benazir Bhutto injured in bombing

Fox News is reporting that Benazir Bhutto has been "seriously" injured in a bombing attack at a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and is presently in surgery.

Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, has been accused of corruption during her administration, but my guess is this is most likely the work of Islamist extremists who don't like her idea of moderate Islam and a secular government.

In any event, this kind of instability in a nuclear-armed country with more than its share of Islamist freakazoids chomping at the bit to take control of the country is more than a little disquieting.

Update: Holy crap...she's dead.

Update: Reports now that she was shot as her vehicle was racing away from the scene of the bombing.

Update: The word now is she was shot as she was entering her vehicle after the rally, then the gunman blew himself up.

Update: One possible result of this atrocity I see is Musharraf doubling down and inviting US and other forces in to clean out the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Russia trying to get back into America's good graces

In what some are considering an attempt to curry favor with the US, Russia is supplying Iran with air defense systems to ward off a possible aerial attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Russia has scored big points in the past with Israel and the US by providing air defense systems to Syria.

30 minutes with CNN Headline News


My brother sent me a link to this graphic today (click image for full size), and I thought it worth a brief post. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the time/content distribution, but it sounds about right.

No wonder people call it the "drive-by media".

iPhone? We don't need no stinkin' iPhone!

Since one notable blogger received his long-awaited iPhone for Christmas, and I'm sure many other people did as well, I thought I'd post something about an alternative to Apple's overpriced, under performing (but highly attractive) piece of crap.

I've had a Samsung Blackjack "Smartphone" for about nine or ten months, and aside from a few minor annoyances, it's an awesome phone. In the interests of objectivity, let's get the minor annoyances out of the way first.

First among them is the SMS/MMS client...it's truly a piece of crap. The client that comes on the Palm Treo running the Palm OS is one to be emulated by all. Before the Blackjack, I had a Palm Treo 650, from which I could easily and painlessly post to this blog by sending an SMS message (or MMS with pictures) to go-at-blogger dot com. Not so with the Blackjack. It simply won't let me send MMS messages to an e-mail address, although I can send SMS to one. Further, the Treo's client stored text message conversations by sender/recipient making it easy to carry on text conversations with multiple people.

Next is the keyboard. I had hopes that the Blackjack's keyboard would be a great leap forward from that of the Treo, but that wasn't the case.

The last minor nuisance is the lack of a standard audio jack. Samsung makes headsets that fit into the proprietary USB/power port, but that's just annoying. Of course, being a Bluetooth-capable device, one generally would use a Bluetooth headset for the phone anyway, but what about listening to music? Since the Blackjack runs Windows Mobile, it includes Windows Media Player. Fortunately, Jabra makes a stereo Bluetooth headset which can also be used for phone conversations. In fact, the Jabra BT620s (which I got for Christmas) will automatically pause music playback when a call comes in, then resume once you hang up.

The shortcomings of the iPhone are much more serious:
  1. It's not a "3G" cell phone. This limits data throughput speed for applications like e-mail and web browsing. The built-in Wi-Fi does little to make up for this, unless you're in a free Wi-Fi "hotspot" or on your own wireless network at home.
  2. Outrageous price. At four or five hundred bucks, it's simply not worth the cost.
  3. Non-removable battery. When the battery starts getting tired and will no longer hold a charge, you've got to send the entire unit in for service. What's up with that?
  4. No memory card slot. Who's the genius at Apple who made that design decision?
  5. No real keyboard. You get a virtual "floating keyboard" on the touch-screen.
What gets people all fired up about the iPhone is the admittedly nice user interface. But everybody knows that nice UIs are for sissies, so who cares?

While the screen on the Blackjack is nowhere near the enviable size of the iPhone's, it's large enough. There's nothing one can do on the iPhone that can't be done with the Blackjack, and the Blackjack can do more. For example, if I find myself in an area with no wired or wireless Interent access, my Blackjack can double as a broadband cellular modem. When I'm in an area with 3G coverage, which is most urban areas these days, the performance is great. But even with EDGE-only coverage, the performance is more than adequate.

And being a Windows Mobile device, I can get third party software for it just about anywhere...I'm not beholden to Apple to provide me what I need.

iPhone? Feh.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dense Pak

I caught the link at Hot Air headlines to this NYT article about the totally un-shocking news that billions of dollars in US counter-terrorism aid to Pakistan is being wasted. What brought me up short was this picture and the accompanying caption:

Pakistani troops taking up positions this month at a vantage point over the Swat Valley, where militants have fought the army.

If this is how Pakistani troops take up positions, it's no wonder the Taliban and al Qaeda are running amok in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Breaking: Was Ebenezer Scrooge a Dutchman?

In a shocking exposé, The Telegraph reports that Ebenezer Scrooge, the villain-turned-hero of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, may have actually been a Dutch gravedigger by the name of Gabriel de Graaf.
According to Sjef de Jong, a Dutch academic, the Charles Dickens character may have been inspired by the real life of Gabriel de Graaf, a 19th century gravedigger who lived in Holland.

De Graaf, a drunken curmudgeon obsessed with money, was said to have disappeared one Christmas Eve, only to emerge years later as a reformed character.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fredericksburg music scene - lazy post 2 of 2

As much as a I rant about national politics and world affairs, it occurs to me that I never post anything about local stuff.

Fredericksburg, Virginia is a great little town steeped in American history. It's the childhood home of George Washington, and the site of numerous US Civil War battles. The historic downtown area is loaded with shops, restaurants and cafes and rivals old towns like it in Europe. But what I like most about Fredericksburg is the music.

For a town of its size (population around 20,000), Fredericksburg is just loaded with musical talent. By that I don't mean a bunch of kids abusing musical instruments, but real musical talent. The locus for that talent seems to be a music shop in town called Picker's Supply, where my own son takes bass guitar and piano lessons. They've got a stable of music instructors there that would be the envy of any major city.

A favorite venue for local musicians is the Colonial Tavern, where there's live music just about every Friday and Saturday night, as well as an open mic night on Monday nights. We've seen countless bands and solo performers there, and our own boys have played there on Monday nights. Just last night, my wife and I caught a great blues/rock band at the Tavern called "Mojo Hand". Awesome stuff, and I'm not even a big blues fan.

If you live in the area, don't miss the music at Colonial Tavern...you won't be sorry.

Spamalot - lazy post 1 of 2

I've disengaged my brain for Christmas, and I just don't feel much like wading through the usual muck to post anything of substance.

I went to Spamalot at the National Theatre in DC the other night with some friends and colleagues. It's "lovingly ripped off" from the film Monthy Python And The Holy Grail. Basically, a musical stage version of Holy Grail.

I'm not a real theater goer, but a friend had gotten his hands on a block of tickets, so we all went to dinner then headed over to catch the show. I've always liked Monty Python, but was never a fanatic like a few people I know. Still, the show was great fun, and had me chuckling throughout.

I wasn't sure how I'd like Holy Grail made into a musical, but if anything, the musical numbers somehow made it even funnier.

If you ever get a chance to catch it, don't miss out.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Are media old and new out to get Fred Thompson?

Fred Thompson can't seem to catch a break in the media coverage of his campaign. When they're not ignoring him completely, the coverage is usually derisive, dismissive or both. A case in point was an article entitled Fred Thompson: Lazy as charged that appeared on politico.com a few days ago. Even if every word in the article by Roger Simon were accurate, the entire tone of it reveals a bias against Fred that can't be denied. To make matters worse, though, it seems the events described by Simon don't quite line up with the facts.

Simon's article depicts an awkward exchange between Fred and Waverly, IA fire chief Dan McKenzie which, according to Simon, went something like this:
...Thompson rode four blocks to the local fire station. Local fire stations always have captive audiences (unless there is a fire).

Inside, Thompson shook a few hands — there were only about 15 people there — and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.

“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.
At Pajamas Media, Bob Owens goes to an eye witness -- Chief McKenzie himself -- to find out what actually transpired.
Unlike Simon’s characterization of a “sour” Thompson, McKenzie recalled that the firefighters were joking with the Thompsons during the visit, which corroborates the CBS News video that captured part of the event. He stated further than any attempt to portray the event as Simon described was the work of “someone who had their own agenda.”

Unprompted, McKenzie stated that he was well aware of the dangers of politicians wearing hats, and he and his fellow firefighters understood why Thompson declined to wear the helmet. He also stated that he understood that someone might want to make an issue of Thompson wearing his helmet, and that it seemed that when Thompson declined, “someone decided to make an issue out of it anyway.”
There's more in the Owens piece at PJ Media, including the odd behavior of Anelia Dimitrova, the Waverly newspaper editor who had plenty to say in Simon's hit piece, but clammed up on Owens.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top 10 good things about a Democrat winning in 2008

I resigned myself many months ago to the belief that a Democrat will win the presidential election next year. Yes, we can look forward to at least four years of Democrats controlling both the legislative and executive branches. That's one of the reasons I support Fred Thompson...besides his common sense position on the issues, I firmly believe he's the one guy who can beat a Democrat in the general election. But his hopes for winning the GOP nomination look dim.

So I think it's time to try and look on the bright side and see what good might come out of this. It wasn't easy, but here's what I came up with:
  1. Abrupt withdrawal from Iraq results in chaos in the Persian Gulf region, which leads to $300/barrel oil. Global warming grinds to a halt, and Al Gore finally shuts the hell up.
  2. Unemployment skyrockets to 15%, resulting in increased affordable entertainment by street corner musicians.
  3. With mortgage interest rates at 18%, home and commercial construction industry collapses, halting urban sprawl.
  4. Stock markets collapse, giving day traders more time to spend with their families.
  5. Universal health care turns medical doctors into every day, 9-5 blue-collar workers. Take that, you uppity thoracic surgeon bitch!
  6. Universal pre-K provides employment for tens of thousands of crack-dependent victims of society.
  7. Repeal of second amendment disarms the populace, ensuring only criminals serious about their craft are armed.
  8. Rise of nuclear-armed global Islamic caliphate allows us to stop worrying about Russia. And China.
  9. Illegal immigration problem is reversed by US citizens sneaking into Mexico for work.
  10. Righty bloggers finally get to be the ones "speaking truth to power".
There, now. Don't you feel better?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The not-so-secret secret about Ron Paul

There's a curious strategy in election primaries in that if you have dirt on a candidate from the opposition party, it's best to hold it. It does you no good to let the cat out of the bag during the primary season and wind up prematurely eliminating a potentially vulnerable candidate from the running. Instead, you continue to hold the information closely until after the guy is nominated. Only then do you release it -- noisily -- in the hopes that it'll be enough to torpedo the guy in the general election, thus ensuring sweet victory for your party.

This is just what's in play right now with Ron Paul. Ron Paul has accepted money from StormFront, a known racist white supremacist group, has posed for a picture with the leader of said group, and yet there's been next to nothing in the news about it. Sure...if you search on Yahoo or Google, you'll turn up an article or two about it. But one would think that when a man with aspirations to become President of the United States has friends like this it would be splashed all over the front pages of the various news outlets. But no, the Democrats and their media fan club don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. Better to see if he gets the Republican nod and only then unleash the hounds.

What mystifies me is why the other Republican candidates haven't been bringing this up. Ron Paul may not be polling all that well (except in meaningless Internet polls which his brain-dead supporters can swarm), but he's taking in an awful lot of money which might go to more worthy candidates.

Danish museum gives Islamist freakazoids two years to build up outrage

The Danish media museum in Odense, Denmark is preparing an exhibit in the fall of 2009 which will put on display the now-infamous Mohammed cartoons that triggered an uproar in early 2006. Along with the cartoons, reproductions of news items about the cartoons will be on display. The display is part of an exhibit on the subject of free speech.

This gives the Muslim world nearly two years to prepare for heart-felt, spontaneous outrage.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Teach your children well

So, I was driving with my 18-year-old son today, and we pulled up at a traffic light behind a car with its rear-end so plastered with bumper stickers, I couldn't tell what kind of car it was. After a few seconds, my son asked "What is it with liberals and bumper stickers?".

I explained to him that true liberals have to embrace not just three or four liberal ideals and myths, but every stinkin', fetid one of them. That requires a lot of bumper stickers.

Driving a stake through the heart of global warming hysteria

Via Hot Air headlines, a new peer-reviewed study shows that "warming is naturally caused and shows no human influence".
Climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia report that observed patterns of temperature changes (‘fingerprints’) over the last thirty years are not in accord with what greenhouse models predict and can better be explained by natural factors, such as solar variability. Therefore, climate change is ‘unstoppable’ and cannot be affected or modified by controlling the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, as is proposed in current legislation.

These results are in conflict with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also with some recent research publications based on essentially the same data. However, they are supported by the results of the US-sponsored Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).
Of course, the UN's IPCC work is science by consensus, which isn't really science, it's just politics. There are many scientists whose names were on the IPCC report who demanded their names be removed because they disagreed with the panel's findings.

The closing paragraph in the CFP article:
Co-author S. Fred Singer said: “The current warming trend is simply part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling that has been seen in ice cores, deep-sea sediments, stalagmites, etc., and published in hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals. The mechanism for producing such cyclical climate changes is still under discussion; but they are most likely caused by variations in the solar wind and associated magnetic fields that affect the flux of cosmic rays incident on the earth’s atmosphere. In turn, such cosmic rays are believed to influence cloudiness and thereby control the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface and thus the climate.” Our research demonstrates that the ongoing rise of atmospheric CO2 has only a minor influence on climate change. We must conclude, therefore, that attempts to control CO2 emissions are ineffective and pointless. – but very costly.

Time's Person of the Year: Vladimir Putin


Time Magazine has named Russian president Vladimir Putin Person of the Year. Not for being the evil, neo-Soviet commie bastard that he is, but for this:
The 2007 honor went to the Russian leader because of Putin's "extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability," said Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor.
I guess by "stability" they mean "tightening his iron grip of tyranny and crushing dissent".

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

BBC Radio 1 declares 20 year old Christmas song offensive

My favorite contemporary Christmas song is the Pogues' Fairytale of New York. Originally released in 1987, it's about an Irish immigrant couple in New York City who, not quite reaching their aspirations, fall to alcoholism and drug addiction. I know...it doesn't sound very "Christmas-y", but the song ends on a hopeful note, and Christmas is all about hope, right?

The song includes the following lines:
You're a bum, you're a punk / You're an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed.
You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last.
So, after 20 years, BBC Radio One has decided that some would find the words faggot and slut offensive, and have decided to bleep the words out.

At no point does BBC cite any specific complaints, but that's irrelevant to the PC Police. It's their job to tell you what's offensive.

Stupid.

Ron Paul: Unfrozen comedic candidate?


The more I see of Ron Paul the more I'm struck by how familiar he looks, but I could never put my finger on it. This morning it finally hit me.

Comedian Pat Paulsen "ran" for President in nearly every Presidential election between 1968 and 1996. He died in 1997. Well, supposedly died.

Pat "died" in April of 1997. Is it just a coincidence that's the same year that Ron Paul returned to Congress after a 12-year break?

Pat "died" in Tijuana, Mexico...how convenient. How much does a back-alley death certificate cost in Tijuana?

Then, of course, there's the name tie-in.

But, hey...I'm not saying anything, I'm just asking questions.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kyoto accord nothing but window dressing

Aftenposten of Norway reports that, despite signing the Kyoto accord, Norway's carbon emissions have increased a staggering 80% between 1990 and 2004.

And American Thinker has an article proving that other Kyoto signatories aren't faring much better.
One would think that countries that committed to the Kyoto treaty are doing a better job of curtailing carbon emissions. One would also think that the United States, the only country that does not even intend to ratify, keeps on emitting carbon dioxide at growth levels much higher than those who signed.

And one would be wrong.
Here's just how wrong:
  • Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
  • Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
  • Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
  • Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.
Remember these figures the next time you're stuck arguing with a Goron about our "failure" to sign onto Kyoto.

Hat tip: Roger Fraley at XDA for the American Thinker piece.

Savor it: Lieberman endorses McCain


The Dembots will publicly dismiss the news that Joe Lieberman is endorsing John McCain for President, saying he's really not "one of them" anyway. But it's still got to rankle them that he couldn't find it in his conscience to endorse one of their own. Even though Mr. Lieberman is an independent, he still caucuses with the Democrats.

I'd have preferred it if Mr. Lieberman backed Fred, but I'll take my Schadenfreude where I can get it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fox News Channel shilling for Huckabee

I was just watching Fox News Channel, and they had Mike Huckabee on in a "news" segment that was more like a three minute stump speech by the Huckster. Now admittedly, I don't watch FNC 24 hours a day, but I don't recall any other candidate from either party getting such free campaign air time there.

What is it about Huckabee that FNC loves so?

Britain's handover of Basra a tad premature

As British PM Gordon Brown declares victory and hands over control of the port city of Basra to the Iraqis, Shiite militias there are murdering women deemed "un-Islamic" and importing arms from Iran.
There have been 48 women killed in six months for “un-Islamic behaviour”. The murders in the teeming southern port of Basra have highlighted the weakness of the security forces and the strength of Islamic militias as Britain prepares to hand over control to Iraqi officials today.
And when the thugs aren't killing women, they're receiving a flood of arms from Iran.
However, Major-General Jalil Khalaf, the police chief, said the city’s 28 militias were better armed than his men. “They control the ports which earns them huge sums of money” he said.

As well as skimming profits from oil exports, they were importing weapons from Iran.

“You could smuggle a tank across that border if you wanted to,” he added.
But in the meantime, Brown says all is well in Basra.
Gordon Brown told the Commons last week that Iraq was now a democracy, that violence in Basra had fallen by 90% and that the Iraqis were “taking control over their own security”.
I guess if by "taking control over their own security" he means "running an organized crime syndicate", you can't say he's wrong.

Update: I missed a companion article in the Times that provides a good analysis of how and why Britain got it wrong in southern Iraq. The opening paragraph hits it on the head:
The British difficulties in southern Iraq resulted largely from the classic error of allowing political pressure at home to shape operations.
The rest of the article is full of good analysis, but that one sentence says it all. The British army is immensely capable, but no military operation can succeed without political will at home.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mullah Krekar issues veiled threat to Norway

Mullah Krekar, the Ansar al-Islam leader facing possible deportation from Norway, issued a veiled threat to his hosts in a letter published in Aftenposten. After the usual lunatic raving about the US stealing Iraq's oil, he suggests that his continued presence in Norway may be to Norway's benefit:
Krekar argued that he may be insurance against a possible terrorist attack on Norway, rather than a threat. He claimed an "inner feeling" about the way Islamist groups think today despite "no longer having physical links" to them, and said that many immigrants expected an attack in Oslo after Madrid and London. "My presence and my case were possibly the reasons the terrorist action did not take place," Krekar wrote.
In other words, "I'd hate to see you deport me and have something bad happen to this nice country of yours."

Choosing a horse: Fred Thompson

It's been a pretty hectic week work-wise, as evidenced by the lack of recent posts. But just because I haven't been writing that doesn't mean I haven't been reading.

After much deliberation, I've decided to throw my support to Fred Thompson for President. His ineffective campaigning aside, his stance on the issues line up closer to my own than any other candidate. There's much I like about Giuliani, Romney, and McCain, but Thompson's 'the one'. His positions on national security and the "long war", immigration, tax reform, energy policy, and health care are sensible and realistic.

Fred's trailing well behind in the polls right now, and I don't much like his chances of turning things around before the early primaries starting in January, but I'm not going to support Mike Huckabee just because he's on a roll.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nobel laureate: Y-chromosome biggest threat to humanity

While Al Gore receives his Nobel prize today for little more than gracing the human race with his divine existence, another Nobel laureate will be honored in spite of his actual contribution to science. But Oliver Smithies has other credentials that appeal to the Nobel prize committee: he believes men (not Mankind) are the biggest threat to humanity.
You made it pretty clear in a press conference what you think is posing the biggest threat to human kind. What is that?

The y-chromosome. Some boys are more aggressive. We associate war and violence with that. I believe we need to teach our boys not to solve their problems by fighting.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

When is moderate Islam not?

I posted the other day an entry about the British-born daughter of an imam in the UK whose life is being threatened by her family over her decision to leave Islam for Christianity. This wasn't an isolated incident, and it seems the problem is more widespread in Britain than one might like to think.
Sofia Allam simply could not believe it. Her kind, loving father was sitting in front of her threatening to kill her. He said she had brought shame and humiliation on him, that she was now "worse than the muck on their shoes" and she deserved to die.

And what had brought on his transformation? He had discovered that she had left the Muslim faith in which he had raised her and become a Christian.

[ ... ]

"My mother's transformation was even worse. She constantly beat me about the head. She screamed at me all the time. I remember saying to them, as they were shouting death threats, 'Mum, Dad - you're saying you should kill me… but I'm your daughter! Don't you realise that?'?"

They did not: they insisted they wanted her out of their house.
The lengthy article probes the trend a bit deeper than others like it, and points out the British authorities' shameful treatment of the problem as well as the fact that the problem isn't limited to extremists. But it shies away from any theories as to its causes.
Religious persecution of the kind Sofia suffers, however, is increasingly common in Britain today. It is hard to get an accurate notion of the scale of the problem, not least because very few of the people who leave Islam are willing to complain to the police about the way they are treated.

"Intimidation is very widespread and pretty effective," says Maryam Namazie, a spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She believes that many of the deaths classified as "honour killings" are actually murders of people who have renounced Islam.

"I get threatened all the time: emails, letters, phone calls," she says. "When I returned home this afternoon, for example, there was a death threat waiting for me on my answering machine…" She laughs nervously.

"A lot of them aren't serious, but occasionally they are. I went to the police about one set of threats. They took a statement from me but that was it - they never contacted me again."

That treatment is in sharp contrast to the seriousness with which the Dutch and German police responded when members of the Council of Ex-Muslims in those countries made complaints to the police about death threats.

[ ... ]

But it is not only extreme Muslim families that believe it is their religious duty to threaten, and even kill, members who renounce the religion.

"My father could not be described as an extremist," insists Sofia, who is now 31. "We read the Koran and prayed regularly together, but he never insisted on my wearing Islamic dress and he was quite happy that I went to the local comprehensive, which was all girls, but not by any means dominated by Muslims."
Finally, hidden among the quotations gathered from "moderate" Muslim leaders in Britain, is the fact that while those spokespersons denounce the practice in Britain, they refuse to denounce the practice itself:
Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), says that it is "absolutely disgraceful behaviour… In Britain, no Muslim has the right to harm one hair of someone who decides to leave Islam."

Inayat Bunglawala, also a spokesman for the MCB, insists that such behaviour in Britain is "awful and quite wrong. The police should crack down on it."

[ ... ]

The reluctance to condemn sharia law is widespread. I asked Mr Bunglawala, for instance, to condemn the Islamic states that imposed the death penalty for apostasy. He did not do so, merely commenting that "it was a matter for those states".
My own theory on how and why the trend has seen such an increase in recent years comes partly from Sofia's own statement of how "...attitudes have hardened over the past decade." The "past decade" has seen not only a swelling of the Muslim population in Britain, but a concomitant trend among the British government--and, indeed, large segments of British society--to bow and scrape to the more extreme Muslims while at the same time prosecuting for "hate speech" those who speak out against Muslim extremism. Another concurrent trend has been one of repressing British national identity, culture and traditions out of fear of "offending" those of other cultures and faiths.

The combination of these three makes for a "perfect storm" in which a minority feels emboldened and entitled to do as they see fit, while the majority frets over what to do about it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Boxing: Nothing but a Vegas show

Over here in the UK (I head back home in the morning), tomorrow night's welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather and Brit Ricky Hatton is 24x7 news.

I just caught live the weigh-in for the fight, and, as is de rigeur for these events, the two faced each other with noses touching trying to look like the biggest bad-asses they can be. It's all show, and it's no coincidence that all the big fights take place in Las Vegas, home of Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Celine Dion and all the other glitzy shows.

Just once, I'd like to see two boxers in a pre-bout hype event high five each other and say, "Hey, how the hell ya doin'?".

Hump de hump


I always enjoy visiting the UK, and I'd forgotten how amusing some of the road signs can be. It's always nice to know where the humps are, but can anyone tell me what the hell a humped pelican is and what it's doing wandering around London?

Seven swans a-swimming


OK, so maybe it was only five. I'm not sure where the other two went off to. I shot this on my way to the tube station today in Canary Wharf. The swans had been clustered around the boat staring intently at the workers in it before scooting off.

'They are following Islam to the word'

The British-born daughter of a Pakistani imam is living in fear for her life after she converted to Christianity. She's moved 45 times in an effort to dodge death threats from her own family.
The daughter of a British imam is living under police protection after receiving death threats from her father for converting to Christianity.

The 31-year-old, whose father is the leader of a mosque in Lancashire, has moved house an astonishing 45 times after relatives pledged to hunt her down and kill her.

The British-born university graduate, who uses the pseudonym Hannah for her own safety, said she renounced the Muslim faith to escape being forced into an arranged marriage when she was 16.

[ ... ]

Last night the woman said: "I'm determined to live my life the way I want to because I should have that freedom in this country.

"If you make the choice to come to this country, as my parents did from Pakistan, you have to abide by the laws of this country and that means respecting the freedoms of other people.

"I know the Koran says anyone who goes away from Islam should be killed as an apostate, so in some ways my family are following the Koran. They are following Islam to the word."
Indeed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

International media: Iran nuclear program all rainbows and cuddly puppies

I really need to stop watching CNN International when I'm traveling in Europe. Since the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) regarding Iran's allegedly non-weaponized nuclear program was released, CNN-I has been trumpeting it in a manner to suggest that anyone who was concerned about Iran's programs is a Chicken Little. That Iran has been enriching uranium at an alarming rate is completely immaterial in their eyes.

Absent from any of these reports is any reference to Iran's Hizballah connections. Of course, to say that Iran is merely "connected" to Hizballah (or Hezbollah, depending on one's preferred spelling) is trivializing the fact that Hizballah is a creation of Iran and is beholden to Iran in the same way that organized labor is beholden to the Democratic party.

I'd almost feel more comfortable if Iran stated they were enriching uranium to build nuclear warheads. As it is, one might assume they're doing it so they can pass it to Hizballah for use in dirty bombs.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bizarre news item of the day

Am I the only one who finds it odd that Victoria's Secret has a plant in a country where women would be killed for wearing their goods?
A workers-rights group says a Jordanian subcontractor that makes clothing for Victoria's Secret is abusing workers, cheating them of wages and imprisoning them.
Victoria's Secret skankwear (not that there's anything wrong with that), made in Jordan. Who knew?

Czar Putin

Christiane Amanpour takes a justifiable beating in the 'sphere for her energetic apologies for radical Islam, but I'm sort of half-watching a special she's got on CNN International right now entitled Czar Putin. It's surprisingly critical and expository of Vladimir Putin's thuggery in running neo-Soviet Russia. If you missed it and it's repeated, it's worth watching.

With Putin's party's victory in Sunday's election, we can surely look forward to an emboldened Putin throwing his weight around even more, within Russia and without.

You can take the boy out of the KGB, but you can't take the KGB out of the boy.

In your face, Hugo!

Slim though the margin may have been, Venezuelan democracy got a stay of execution in the defeat of commie thug Hugo Chavez's constitutional reforms.

Since we can assume the Chavistas engaged in voting shenanigans at all levels, the actual margin was probably much wider.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bhutto: Foreign intervention in tribal areas OK?

If the Islamist freakazoids running Pakistan's tribal areas didn't like Pervez Musharraf, they might really hate Benazir Bhutto:
"If Pakistan has no control in the tribal areas, then tomorrow foreign forces can come there," Bhutto said in the northwestern city of Peshawar, a stronghold of religious parties. She was apparently referring to U.S. and NATO forces operating on the Afghan side of the border.
Win-win.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A teddy bear named Mohammed

I won't swear that this will be my last post on the Great Teddy Bear Jihad, and it's probably not.

A blog post over at the Telegraph elicited the following comment from a reader:
There is more behind this
Marker 01 Dec 2007 12:04

The plight of Gillian Gibbons (Teddy Bear named Mohammad) has provoked condemnation from all and sundry but the pundits have yet to mention the real nature of her problem. She is white, educated, female, immodestly dressed, and an infidel. She educates children instead of having them learn the Quran by rote. In a sharia state this is an insufferable provocation.
It is not just the teddy bear. In that country her very existence is an insult to the faithful. The bear is probably the last straw or the excuse needed for action.
'Marker' brings up a good point. Even in Sudan's eyes, this whole situation must seem silly. At least I hope so. While it's endlessly pointed out to us that the freakazoids like those who make up al Qaeda and the Taliban represent a "tiny minority" of Muslims, there exists a sizable majority of Muslims who wholeheartedly embrace the worst of Islam's more repellent "values".

I've heard it said that the difference between a radical Muslim and a moderate one is that while the radical is eager to lop off your head, the moderate is content to sit back and watch. I'm beginning to wonder if that's not indeed the case.

I'm leaving today for a week in the UK, and I'll be interested to see what the attitude is like "on the ground" over there.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chavez supporters get their turn

Supporters of Hugo Chavez's power grab got their turn at demonstrating today, two days after some 100,000 students and others protested in Caracas against the constitutional reforms.

Missing this time, of course, were the government troops thugs freely distributing tear gas and wood shampoo.

Lurching towards dhimmitude

Gillian Gibbons doesn't want you to feel any resentment toward these nice people.

Maybe it's in poor taste to point this out while the poor woman's still in prison, but statements by Gillian Gibbons carried in the Times of London just reek with the groveling submission of a dhimmi.
From her cell, the 54-year-old teacher from Liverpool said that she was devastated by the offence she had caused. “I would never insult anybody intentionally. People who know me know it’s not in my nature,” she told Kamal Djizoulli, her lawyer.

She has also appealed for tolerance, telling her son John Gibbons in a telephone conversation that she does not want “any resentment towards Muslim people”.
I know, I know...it's easy to find fault with such statements while sitting in the comfort of one's home. Were I in her shoes, I sure as hell wouldn't exactly be railing against the filth holding me captive. I just wouldn't say a damned thing until I was safely out of that ass-backwards, God-forsaken, medieval hellhole of a country.

The stone-age animals who turned out from Friday "prayers" are screaming for her execution for naming a fucking teddy bear "Mohammed", for crying out loud. And the reason they do it is to elicit statements just like these. In other words, their lunatic, blood-thirsty fanaticism works.

Sudanese mosques whipping up an angry mob in teddy bear jihad

Friday prayers at Sudan's mosques are done, and predictably, the imams have stirred up a bloodlust in the faithful, calling for her execution.
Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."

The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation.

They massed in central Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed, although they did not attempt to stop the rally.

"Shame, shame on the U.K.," protesters chanted.

They called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."

The women's prison where Gibbons is being held is far from the site, as is the Unity High School where she taught, which is under heavy security protection.
Sounds like a target-rich environment to me.

Putin hard at work rigging this Sunday's election

Russian president Vladimir Putin is hard at work intimidating the opposition, rounding up dissidents and stuffing the ballot box with votes from public sector workers ordered to vote...or else.
The Kremlin is planning to rig the results of Russia's parliamentary elections on Sunday by forcing millions of public sector workers across the country to vote, the Guardian has learned.

Local administration officials have called in thousands of staff on their day off in an attempt to engineer a massive and inflated victory for President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Voters are being pressured to vote for United Russia or risk losing their jobs, their accommodation or bonuses, the Guardian has been told in numerous interviews with byudzhetniki (public sector workers), students and ordinary citizens.

[ ... ]

The Kremlin insists Sunday's elections will be free and fair, despite inviting only 400 international observers to monitor the poll, which is taking place in 95,784 polling stations across the world's biggest country. This month the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) cancelled its mission to Russia after Moscow refused to give its experts visas.

[ ... ]

Bloggers on Russia's most popular social networking site, Livejournal, have posted numerous accounts of intimidation. One in Murmansk wrote that he was told that if he didn't vote for United Russia "the management would get it in the neck".

Another in Yekaterinburg wrote: "Today my wife came home in shock. As the boss of a state company she has been told that all her workers living in different parts of town must take absentee ballots and go to vote in Kirovsky district. She has to go and sit all day on December 2 and call round everyone in her collective. Then she has to provide a list of who has voted." She then received a directive warning her to add anybody who didn't vote for United Russia to a list, and later those people would be "called to the office" of the local administration.
I'm sure Jimmy Carter will be quick to certify the election as fair and legitimate.

Lousy timing

While Gillian Gibbons languishes in a filthy prison in Khartoum for the "offense" of allowing a student to name a teddy bear Mohammed, the Vatican has responded warmly to the vaguely threatening letter sent by 138 Muslim leaders in October.

Pope Benedict XVI should have just sent them each a teddy bear named Mohammed.

New Aussie regime appoints one-hit wonder to environmental post

The new, left-wing government of Australia has chosen Peter Garrett, former Midnight Oil frontman, for Environment Minister.

Just in case you've repressed the horrible memories of this 1980s MTV favorite, here's a reminder. Garrett's the bald guy who does all the, uh, "singing".

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another questionable taser incident

The situation:
Woman goes to police station in Trotwood, Ohio with one-year-old child. Says she wants to give up custody of the kid.

Cop requests more information from woman. Woman becomes agitated, changes her mind, and attempts to leave.

Cop decides he doesn't want woman to leave and attempts to physically detain her. Cop tases woman in the neck.

According to the report, the cop was unaware the woman was pregnant...she didn't tell the cop, and she was wearing an overcoat. But that's completely beside the point. Why did the cop decide the woman warranted detention? Is it illegal to approach a police station with an issue, change your mind, and want to leave?

The video in the link paints a far less clear picture than the Utah taser incident. It's entirely possible that, based on the woman's state, the cop judged her to be a danger to the child that was with her.

But, still...

Will Kosovo be first proxy military confrontation with neo-Soviet Russia?

British conservative leader David Cameron will sound the alarm of instability in the Balkans, possibly precipitated by Russian opposition to an anticipated declaration of independence from Serbia by Kosovo.
Speaking in Washington, the Conservative leader will issue a stark warning that Russia's increasingly assertive foreign policy is jeopardising Britain's national security.

Mr Cameron fears a diplomatic and military crisis could arise over Kosovo, the province of Serbia which has effectively been a United Nations protectorate since Nato invaded to stop ethnic cleansing by Serb forces in 1999.

The ethnic Albanian government of Kosovo is threatening to declare independence from Serbia on Dec 10. Moscow is backing Serbian attempts to block the declaration, while the United States and the European Union are in favour.

"Let me make it clear: there could be a new crisis in the Balkans by Christmas," Mr Cameron will say in a speech to the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.
If Kosovo does declare its independence on 12/10, the reaction from Vladimir Putin will have to be watched closely, as it could be a bellwether for future Russian activity in eastern and central Europe.

Amnesty International: From guardians of human rights to enforcers of socialism

Amnesty International accelerates its slide into irrelevance with a stinging rebuke of Denmark's welfare system. It seems, according to AI, that the Danish system of benefits for immigrants is discriminatory and therefore an abuse of human rights.
Amnesty International published a report today labelling the government's controversial Start Help benefit, discriminative and causing poverty and blaming it for marginalizing immigrants.

The benefit, paid instead of the regular state income support, is for unemployed people who have not resided in Denmark for seven out of the previous eight years.

[ ... ]

Stinne Lyager Bech, author of the report, emphasised: 'Even if the Start Help benefit was intended for all, in practice, it affects foreigners, and that is illegal.' [Illegal? According to whom? --ed.]

She also stated that the legislation was not in accordance with international human rights standards.

'Start Help is an example of discrimination that the Danish state is directly responsible for,' she continued. 'It must therefore be abolished.'
Fine, abolish it and let immigrants fend for themselves. What a bunch of left-wing idiots.

It's clear that Amnesty International, once a respectable human rights group, has become so infested with leftists that anything short of a socialist welfare utopia is a violation of "international human rights standards". In the meantime, true systemic violators of human rights get a free pass.

Simple problem befuddles Norwegian authorities

It's fashionable in Europe to depict the US as a fascist police state in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, but without context, it's hard to understand why they think that way. Well, here's your context.
Just three days after Norway's highest court upheld a state expulsion order against Mullah Krekar, the man who's considered a threat to the nation's security has made new threats against the country that's harboured him for years.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Thursday that Krekar, the former head of Islamic guerrilla group Ansar al Islam, told a Kurdish web site that he's sure the Norwegian authorities will never deport him, because that would spark "reaction" against Norway from his Islamic supporters.

Krekar told web site Awane that the "reaction" would come from his relatives, from an armed group, and also from those who follow his religious teachings and sympathize with him.

[ ... ]

The official [explanation of why Krekar remains in Norway] is that Krekar faces a death sentence if sent back to his native Iraq. Norway won't deport anyone if their lives would officially be in danger, and no other country has volunteered to take over responsibility for Krekar.

The mullah originally came to Norway as a refugee, later won permission to have his family join him, and since has lived largely off Norwegian welfare. He first got in trouble with Norwegian authorities when it became known that he had repeatedly violated the terms of his asylum by traveling voluntarily back to northern Iraq, to lead the guerrilla group. US authorities have long considered Krekar a terrorist suspect.
To a society that won't lock up or deport a terrorist over fears of what his fate might be, I guess one such as ours that deals harshly them might appear, well, harsh.

Incidentally, an appeals court in Norway ruled over a year ago that Krekar can be deported back to Iraq.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Only in Berkeley

The Berkeley, California city council loves the homeless so much, they're taking away the only places they can have sex, urinate and smoke.
It'll be tougher to have sex or smoke on sidewalks or in parks in Berkeley, Calif., after the City Council passed a controversial new measure Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The Public Commons for Everyone Initiative cracks down on yelling, littering, camping, drunkenness, smoking, urinating and sex on sidewalks and in parks; the ordinance also provides housing benefits, counseling and public toilets to the university town's homeless population, the paper reports.

"There are people on the streets that we as a society are collectively responsible for," City Councilman Laurie Capitelli told the paper. "I think sometimes people need help fixing their lives, and we collectively have to help people do that."

Seniors and social workers will be responsible for monitoring street behavior, the Chronicle reports.
Seniors, huh? I wonder if Inflated Scrotum Man will be among them?

Venezuela students oppose constitutional reforms; Hugo's ex, too

Venezuela's aspiring commie dictator and president Hugo Chavez unleashed the hounds on students in Caracas opposed to proposed constitutional reforms that would greatly expand Chavez's powers and effectively make him Absolute Supreme Dictator For Life. Sort of like Oprah Winfrey, but with guns.
Soldiers outside the Metropolitan University in Caracas fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators and students were seen carrying peers as smoke wafted through the air.

Meanwhile, Chavez took fire from one of his two ex-wives who urged Venezuelans to reject the slate of proposed constitutional changes that would greatly expand executive power.

Urging Venezuelans to vote "no" in Sunday's referendum on the changes to the nation's charter, Maria Isabel Rodriguez compared approving the referendum to a "leap into the dark."

Rodriguez, a journalist, also urged opponents to go to the polls to prevent possible vote-rigging.

"It will be more difficult for fraud to take place if we all vote," Rodriguez said at a news conference Tuesday. She divorced Chavez in 2004.
As Bryan at Hot Air said today, "One way or another, Chavez’s rule is becoming less and less likely to end well."

CAIR: Quick on the 'Islamophobia' panic button; silent on Sudan teddy bear crisis

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is hyper-fast in wailing about Islamophobia when it suits them, but when Muslims engage in outrageous behavior they're awfully silent.

While the American Islamic Congress issued a smack-down press release to Sudan, and even the Muslim Council of Britain was "appalled" at Sudan's detention and possible punishment by lashing of Gillian Gibbons, who committed the horrendous offense of naming a teddy bear "Mohammed", CAIR's silence on the Sudan teddy bear crisis is astonishing. OK, maybe just mildly surprising.

As a front for the hard-core Muslim Brotherhood, everybody knows where CAIR stands on these issues, and they sure as hell aren't going to jeopardize the funding they get from Saudi Arabia.

Driver in Utah taser incident wants viewers to stop threatening cop

Jared Massey, the Utah driver who was tased by Utah trooper Jon Gardner in a controversial incident, wants YouTube viewers to stop posting threats against the officer's life.
A man who posted a video of a Utah trooper shocking him with a Taser is asking people to "have some common decency" and stop making online threats against the officer.

"I wish people would realize and think about this: Trooper Gardner is a real person, he's got a real family. Real lives are being affected," Jared Massey said.
I suppose public statements such as this will go in his favor both in his criminal trial for resisting arrest and in his civil trial against Gardner and the Utah Highway Patrol.

I've actually modified my position on this slightly. My first reaction was an almost purely emotional one, and I thought Gardner shouldn't have tased Massey at all. Massey was ignoring Gardner's instructions and walking back to his vehicle, which all too often leads to an officer down. But I still fault Gardner for unnecessarily escalating the conflict by so quickly whipping out his taser and for not explaining to Massey the alternative to signing the citation, which in Utah is a ride downtown in handcuffs to appear before a magistrate.

Previous posts on this topic:
Sign zee papers
Follow up thoughts

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Syria joins the mid-east peace process

Our local paper, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, had this great cartoon by editorial cartoonist Clay Jones in today's edition.

How unfortunately apt.

Weather report for France


Time to dust off the French weather report graphic again. For the second night, "youths" of no particular ethnic or religious background have rioted in Paris suburbs, once again over the deaths of two teens associated with police. This time, though, there's no question that the "victims" were at fault.
Rampaging youths threw Molotov cocktails and fired buckshot at police in troubled neighborhoods outside Paris on Monday, the second night of violence after two teens were killed in a crash with a police patrol car. Officials said 38 officers were wounded.

[ ... ]

Police officials said the teenagers ignored traffic rules and crashed into the police vehicle, and that the motorbike they were riding was unregistered and thus not authorized for use on French roads. Neither of the boys — ages 15 and 16 — were wearing a helmet as required by law, and the prosecutor's office said the bike was going at maximum speed.
Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Woman names teddy bear 'Mohamed'; gets sentenced to 40 lashes


A British school teacher in Sudan was turned into the authorities by parents of her students for naming her teddy bear 'Mohamed'. She'll receive 40 lashes for her, uh, cultural faux pas.
A British teacher is facing 40 lashes from police in Sudan where she has been accused of insulting Islam after naming a Teddy bear Mohamed.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, was being questioned at a police station in the capital Khartoum.

She had been working at one of the city's exclusive British schools for the past three months since giving up her job in Liverpool.

Police arrived at the old-fashioned brick and stone buildings of the Unity High School on Sunday to arrest Miss Gibbons after a complaint from parents that she had named the bear after Islam's most holy prophet Mohamed.

An angry mob shouted death threats as she was taken away.
Ain't Sharia grand?

Russia escalates probes; Norwegians unconcerned


Russian's military has expanded their probe of Europe's defenses with submarine patrols off the Norwegian coast, but Norwegian defense officials say it's nothing to worry about. And it's all America's fault, anyway.
The Russians have been sending fighter jets near Norwegian air space for months. Now some of their submarines have been tracked near territorial waters.

Norwegian officials have attributed the flights to an apparent need by the Russians to show renewed strength. They're not particularly alarmed over the emergence of the submarines as well.

"They showing off both a will and an ability to be a super power to be reckoned with," State Secretary Espen Barth Eide in the Defense Ministry told newspaper Aftenposten. "The u-boats are a Russian comment to the day's international themes."

Among those "themes" are the US' controversial plans to place a rocket shield system on the European continent. The Russians vigorously oppose the plans, and Barth Eide believes the dispatch of fighter jets and submarines is part of the official response.

[ ... ]

"I don't view the heightened Russian activity as alarming," he said.
I guess it's not particularly "alarming" until the sea- and air-launched cruise missiles start to fly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Expose Ron Paul (or at least his supporters)

There's been little to nothing said in the press about the support GOP candidate Ron Paul gets from 9/11 "Truthers", and outside of the blogs, I've seen absolutely nothing at all about the support he's got from the white supremacist movement. Check out this forum on stormfront.org, an unapologetically white supremacist and anti-Semitic group.

The only members there who don't enthusiastically support Paul are those who complain that he hasn't actually released a statement saying that he's an active member of the KKK.

The media needs to make more of this so that the general public knows exactly what segments of the population are attracted to Ron Paul.

Update: Pimps support Ron Paul, too.

2007 a banner year for Saudi executioners

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has lopped off 136 heads so far this year, more than the past two full years combined.
Sunday's execution brought to 136 the number of people beheaded in the kingdom this year, according to an Associated Press count. Saudi Arabia beheaded 38 people last year and 83 people in 2005.
Rollin', rollin', rollin'.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chavez power grab to fail?

Via Hot Air headlines...

From the too good to be true department, there's news of a recent poll indicating that Venezuela's Commie in Chief Hugo Chavez may lose out in his power grab referendum.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lost his lead eight days before a referendum on ending his term limit, an independent pollster said on Saturday, in a swing in voter sentiment against the Cuba ally.

Forty-nine percent of likely voters oppose Chavez's proposed raft of constitutional changes to expand his powers, compared with 39 percent in favor, a survey by respected pollster Datanalisis showed.

[ ... ]

Chavez has trounced the opposition at the polls on average once a year and can deploy a huge state-backed machinery to get out the vote, Leon said.

Still, the survey was the latest blow to Chavez. He has suffered a series of defections over his plan, including an ex-defense minister who had restored him to power after a brief 2002 putsch but who called Chavez's reforms a new "coup."
If Chavez fails in effectively replacing the constitution with one-man rule, he'll have to leave office by 2013. But, polls notwithstanding, I don't expect the referendum to fail. Chavez will find a way to get this through, especially if Jimmy Carter returns to monitor it.

Survey: Truther morons now a majority

Holy crap...I knew there were an awful lot of stupid people in this country, but I never dreamed it would come to this.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.

[ ... ]

Only 30 percent said the 9/11 theory was "not likely," according to the Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.

The findings followed a 2006 poll by the same researchers, who found that 36 percent of Americans believe federal government officials "either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action" because they wanted "to go to war in the Middle East."
So what happened a year ago to cause the average intelligence of Americans to decline so dramatically in just one year? Oh, that's right:


Update: Welcome Hot Air readers!

Thanking the troops, British style

OK, so maybe the title of this post isn't entirely fair, since I know the same thing could happen here in cities such as San Francisco. But this is just unconscionable.
Soldiers who suffered appalling injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan were verbally abused as they swam in a public swimming pool.

During a weekly rehabilitation class at a council leisure centre, 15 servicemen – including several who have lost limbs or suffered severe burns – were heckled and jeered by members of the public.

One woman was so incensed that the troops were using the pool at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in Surrey that she told them they did not deserve to be there.

She became increasingly abusive, screaming that it was wrong for staff to rope off a lane exclusively for the injured personnel from the nearby Headley Court rehabilitation centre.

The swimmer, thought to be in her 30s, is understood to have said: "I pay to come here and swim – you lot don't."
There were several witnesses to the incident who didn't like the manner in which the vets were being treated.
Linda Sinclair, of Leatherhead, also witnessed the abuse.

She said:"It was a few people that were complaining and it made me cross. I really felt for those soldiers."
But did any one of them tell the abusive ingrates to sod off?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Some follow-up thoughts on the Utah taser incident

I usually don't obsess (much) over seemingly trivial incidents like the one I posted about on Wednesday evening in which a Utah driver was tased by a Utah Highway Patrol officer. Ordinarily, I'd have made my original post and let it go. But after reading electronic reams of blog posts and subsequent comments, I need to vent just a bit more. Let's get a few things out of the way first, though.

I'm not against tasers. They're an excellent, usually non-lethal tool for cops to use to get a dangerous situation under control. And I'm not against cops. I firmly believe that the vast majority of cops are good cops with the public's best interests at heart.

The incident in question, though, lays bare some troubling attitudes prevalent among some in the law enforcement community, as well as among some regular citizens. That attitude is that we should fear the men and women we pay to protect us, and that simply doesn't make for a healthy and free society.

Among the comments on the incident at Hot Air, which this morning number well in excess of 600, are many from people identifying themselves as cops. Nearly every one of them sided with the Utah patrolman. Their rationale is consistently one of "talk back to a cop, get tased". A few say the driver was acting in a threatening manner by waving his arm (he was pointing at a speed limit sign) or that he kept "fiddling" with his pocket (when he wasn't pointing at the sign, he had his right thumb hooked in his right pocket).

Beyond the specifics of this incident lie a culture prevalent in the law enforcement community that there are "us" (cops) and "them" (non-cops). This mindset assumes that every non-cop encountered in the line of duty is a potential criminal. The non-cop just may need a little coaxing to get the latent criminal to come out. And that's exactly what happened in the Utah incident -- the cop succeeded in manufacturing a criminal out of an uppity citizen stopped for a minor traffic violation.

The mistaken response to this cultural mindset is that we (the citizens) should give cops a wide berth, avoid any incidental contact with them, and grovel before them when we do come in contact.

And out of that response comes fear, and that's just not healthy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sign zee papers



Now, I'm as much a law-and-order guy as most people, but this one really chapped my ass. A guy gets tased for not signing a speeding ticket. (Update: Well, strictly speaking, he got tased for not immediately complying with this Barney Fife's instructions.)

Frankly, I'm getting a bit worried about how quick cops are to use tasers, which should be one measure shy of lethal force. There seems to have been a growing number of tasing incidents lately that just don't quite seem justified.

This guy was in the car with his wife and child. What if he'd been one of the growing number of tasing deaths?

Update: Hot Air posted this video a couple hours after I did. As of right now (19:00 on 22 November), there are 549 comments. I don't recall ever seeing that many comments on a single post there. The majority seem to think that while the driver was wrong and quite the jerk (and I agree), the cop was over the line in hitting him with the taser. More than a few commenters defending the cop exhibit a disturbing totalitarian tendency.

As an example of the attitude of some law enforcement officers, here's the jack-ass response from one of them to one of my comments there:
One too many arrests? …or just one, period.

LoL … and later on down the road, when you’re not enveloped by anonymity on the interweb while playing Johnny Badass, and you get pulled over or contacted by an officer in your real life, you’ll comply and be all “yes sir” and “no sir”.

By the way, the Taser is not “one step short of deadly force” any more or less than pepper spray, or a beaver-tail sap, or a straight stick is. It’s simply less-than-lethal force. As is every other physical option when effecting an arrest of a non-compliant subject. The only purely non-lethal use of force is verbal commands. But then, you’d probably counter that the driver could have been talked to death.

Ain’t that right tough guy?
A perfect example of the "us v. them" mentality that too many cops have (a minority, I believe), which causes them to treat every "civilian" they meet as a dirtbag.

Cats 'n dogs

We've got a dog and a cat, and have just become host to a couple of two-month-old kittens. Over the years of observing the various dogs and cats we've had, I've added another item to the list of differences between them.

When a dog carries something in its mouth, no matter what it is, it's a toy.

When a cat carries something in its mouth, no matter what it is, it's prey.

Giving thanks to liberals

Via Hot Air headlines, National Review Online has a list of 15 liberals we should be thankful for. My personal favorite:
Dennis Kucinich
Because if he didn’t exist we’d have to make him up. — Jonah Goldberg
Heh.

Blackfive: PTSD not an illness

There's an interesting post over at Blackfive discussing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which gives a slant I hadn't considered, namely that PTSD isn't an illness, but rather a normal human reaction by soldiers who've seen the worst a war zone has to offer.
What you need to know, first and last, is that so-called PTSD is not an illness. It is a normal condition for people who have been through what you have been through.
In other words, if you come back from combat after watching your buddies get blown up and seeing the results of atrocities committed against women and children, and you're feeling just fine, then there might be something seriously wrong with you.

The article goes on to say that this doesn't mean sufferers don't need help, but just knowing that what they're experiencing is a normal reaction by normal, well-balanced human beings might be a measure of help in itself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blogger to Jewish Democrats: Are you fucking retarded?

This blog entry was linked over at Hot Air today, and the bitch-slap delivered to Jewish Democrats is sublime. The big takeaways:
The Republican party is beholden to a base that supports Israel's right to exist. The Democratic party is beholden to a base that treats Israel as a pariah committing a modern-day Holocaust against poor and defenseless Palestinians. No amount of inside baseball sophistication can alter this basic fact. Democratic politicians must represent and placate anti-Israel lunatics.

You don't have to vote. But seriously - gleefully supporting today's Democratic party? What happened to your self-respect? Or, for that matter - what happened to your sense of basic decency? The Democratic base is anti-Jewish and the Democratic party has a platform antagonistic to the Jewish State. Honestly, this is not that complicated.
Priceless.

Robert Spencer vindicated...by Saudi cleric

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch is often accused of misrepresenting Islam, more often than not by people who know little or nothing about the religion. One of the points of Muslim doctrine I've seen him challenged on is the "no compulsion in religion" statement in the Koran. Mr. Spencer has explained in his books and in many columns the practice Islamic armies had of offering their opponents the options of converting to Islam, accepting second-class status by paying the Jizya tax, or death in battle. Sounds pretty compulsory to me.

In a Muslim theology column in Arab News, Mr. Spencer's arguments are vindicated, by a Saudi Muslim cleric, although the cleric insists there is "no compulsion in religion".
They gave the people three choices: to accept Islam freely, which would mean that they join the Muslim community and become part of it; or to pay the jizyah, or tribute, to indicate that they will live in peace with the Muslims continuing to follow their own religions. If they accepted neither course then the only way left was to fight. This was the case throughout Muslim history. How else can people explain the uninterrupted existence of religious minorities everywhere in the Muslim world throughout 14 centuries of Islamic rule?
No compulsion...riiiight.