Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Power corrupts, absolute power is even more fun

This graphic from Fox News' web site was too good not to grab

The Venezuelan congress has passed an "enabling law" which effectively gives Venezuela's president and chief cartoon character Hugo Chavez the authority to rule by decree for the next 18 months.

Of course, given that the legislation places no apparent limits on his power, what's to stop him from continuing this power beyond 18 months?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Canadian town finds it necessary to say stonings not OK

From Fox News:
Attention immigrants, the town of Herouxville in Quebec has a message for you: no stoning women, and no pouring acid on them either.

According to the Canadian Press, the town's council recently passed rules targeting immigrants to make sure there are no misunderstandings about the culture they're joining.

According to reports, the rural town of about 1,300 recently adopted a declaration of "norms" that would-be immigrants need to know if they plan on settling there.

Among the "norms:" kids can't bring weapons to school — no ceremonial daggers used by Sikhs or others. It's also all right for boys and girls to swim together in the same pool. Also, female police officers are empowered to arrest people, and are also allowed to drive, dance and make their own decisions.

Andre Drouin, one of the members of the town council, reportedly said the rules aren't meant to be anti-immigrant. "We're telling people who we are," Drouin said.

According to the reports, B'nai Brith Quebec called the declaration "anti-ethnic backlash," and a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Montreal called the measure insulting and full of stereotypes.

Drouin reportedly insists that Herouxville welcomes immigrants, despite having just one immigrant family.

The declaration is posted on the town's website.

Since passing the "norms," the town council has reportedly received some 2,000 emails, mostly in support of the measure.

The Dreaded Israeli Balloons of Death

AP caption accompanying the photo:
In this photo released by the Hezbollah's media office, green balloons with Hebrew writings were found in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. Mysterious balloons drifting in from Israel to Lebanon are unnerving people, with some south Lebanon villagers reportedly feeling ill and authorities warning residents against touching them. Hebrew on the balloons reads 'Ha-Ir' which is the title of a Tel Aviv weekly magazine. (AP Photo/Hezbollah Media Office, HO)
Charles at LGF has a different take on this than I do:
Isn’t it nice of the Associated (with terrorists) Press to let us know that they’re disseminating Hizballah propaganda and conspiracy theories?
After reading the caption a second time, I think even the A(wt)P guys were having a pretty good laugh at Hizballah's expense when they wrote up the copy.

Edited to highlight the same portions bolded at LGF and to put Charles' observation in proper context. But I think in this case it's AP letting the world know this isn't their story.

Short-circuiting a multi-culturalist

Central to the beliefs of the committed multi-culturalist is the notion that no one culture can be superior to another. All are to be equally valued, cherished, celebrated, etc. At the same time, most multi-culturalists will agree with the rest of us that there are such things as universal rights and values, that is to say, rights to which everyone is entitled. Here is where it's possible to have a little bit of fun.

Over drinks with a friend and colleague who is, shall we say, a bit to my left in political thought, I posed this question to him: Do you believe it's possible for one culture to be superior to another? Not just to believe it's superior, but to actually and objectively be superior? His answer was a quick, emphatic and unequivocal "no".

I then asked him if he believed in universal values, rights to which all human beings were entitled. He quickly answered "yes", then saw the trap. He gave a sort of queasy smile and said, "See, now you've worked me into a corner."

Indeed I had. If one believes, for example, that all people have the right to worship or not worship as they see fit and that women have the same rights as men, how can one believe that Saudi culture is equal to Western cultures? The straight answer is that you can't, at least not without being a hypocrite. Kind of makes that "rich tapestry of interwoven cultures" nonsense look a little threadbare, doesn't it?

Of course, there was no way he was going to climb down from his "all cultures are equal" hobby horse, but at the same time he wasn't about to argue against the notion of certain rights being applicable to all people. So in the interests of continued friendship I let him off the hook by changing the subject. But we'll get back to it, I'm sure.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Some jet-lagged rambling

It took about 26 hours to get from my hotel in Singapore to my home in Virginia. That's a whole lot of flying and hanging around in airports.

The trip was Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia then Singapore again. I've already blogged a bit about the Philippines, but there are a couple of other points worth mentioning. When you arrive at the airport in Manila, there's a sign warning about SARS and H5N1 bird flu. Then you walk through an infrared scanner to see if you're running a temperature. That's a bit disconcerting.

The city of Manila is a mostly depressing scene of widespread poverty. But Makati City, the upscale business district, is different. When you pull up to a hotel or office building, your car is checked, to widely varying degrees of thoroughness, for bombs and/or weapons. Concern over crime is one reason. Abu Sayyaf in the south is another.

Kuala Lumpur was nothing like what I expected. It's easy to get around without knowing any language besides English. And as the capital city of an officially Muslim country, I expected a bit of, well, dourness. Contrary to my expectations, it's a pretty happenin' place. Even more surprising was the active sex trade.

And just like many of us, they're often slow in taking down their Christmas decorations:

Our corporate travel folks have some pretty good hotel options when traveling in Asia, and all the places we stayed at were quite nice. I'm generally not one for taking pictures of hotels, but of course I had to get this one of an actual pool bar at the Sheraton Imperial in Kuala Lumpur:

But Singapore was my favorite of the stops, and I was glad to get back there for a few more days before heading home. Singapore, even more so than Malaysia, is Asia for Dummies. Or as a colleague put it, Asia with training wheels.

English is not just widely spoken in Singapore, it's the official language of the city-state. Signs are not just bilingual, they're English only. So you get the cultural experience without the culture shock.

But some of the food can be kind of shocking. The next time the subject of "what's the strangest thing you've ever eaten" comes up, my response will be "frog saliva". Or maybe it was frog ovaries. Whatever.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fountain of Wealth

Still struggling with my N-less keyboard, but I figured I'd get one more post up before heading home tomorrow (finally!).

We headed back to Singapore last Wednesday after several days in Malaysia. More on Kuala Lumpur later, but after all is said and done, I think I like Singapore best.

I ran out to do a bit of shopping today and took some shots of the "Fountain of Wealth" at the Suntec City Center. Suntec is a complex of offices and shopping, and in the center of it all is the Fountain of Wealth, which locals claim to be the largest fountain in the world. Here's a shot of it from the street:

And here's a shot of it from below, sort of inside the fountain:

According to time-honored tradition which dates back at least, oh, 10 years or so, when the upper portion isn't running, you're supposed to walk to the center and touch the water there to bring wealth.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Overdue post from Manila

It's been a pretty busy week, so I've had almost no time for reading blogs, never mind posting anything of my own. I just got to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last night but I figured I should get this post up first.

My colleagues and I traveled from Singapore to Manila on Wednesday, and it's hard to come up with a pair of cities more at opposite ends of the spectrum. While Singapore is modern, clean and orderly to the point of being almost bland, Manila is anything but. Manila is a cacophony of sound and motion. It's also a study of have and have-not.

I snapped off this shot of the fountain in front of our hotel while waiting for our driver. In the background left, there's a Hard Rock Cafe and a California Pizza Kitchen. This area caters to the tourists and business travelers, as well as the "haves" of Manila.

On Friday, we had to go to a meeting well outside of Manila. It turned out that the location was a resort at the former Clark Air Base, a former US Air Force facility. I snapped off this shot out the window of our car on the way out. This particular traffic scene doesn't give the full story of the absolute chaos that is the traffic in the Philippines. Most of the vehicles you see here are "Jeepneys", which became popular here as a result of the American presence following World War II. The locals would take cast-off American Jeeps and modify them for public transport. They're typically decorated in garish colors and chrome, but the ones shown here from Angeles City aren't quite up to the standards of Manila.

I suppose I should mention the Abu Sayyaf leader who was taken out last week in the Philippines. It was in heavy rotation in the news here, and the coverage suggests, to me at least, that the Philippine government is deadly serious about wiping out Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah in the southern parts of the country.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Danish Imams won't face charges

The Danish Imams of the Fake Cartoon Traveling Road Show have been cleared of all charges in Denmark for inciting riots around the world.
The State Prosecutor's office has been unable to find evidence that imams from Denmark broke any laws in their efforts to convince Muslims to protest against the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.

Despite over 100 allegations of violations of Denmark's terror laws, the Ministry of Justice's Office of Special International Crimes indicated the imams and others who travelled with them broke no laws when they visited Syria, Lebanon and Egypt in December 2005.

The decision to drop the charges clears the group of any responsibility for the burning of Danish embassies in those countries at the start of 2006.

State prosecutor Birgitte Vestberg said that the investigation concentrated particularly on anti-terror legislation's provisions regarding travel activity that threatens national security. She said that her office had gone through numerous documents, and found many statements contrary to fact, but nothing illegal and nothing that promoted violence toward Denmark.

The imams told national public broadcaster DR that they would do the same again under similar circumstances.

Kasem Said Ahmad, spokesperson for the Islamiske Trossamfund, the national organisation representing Denmark's Muslim population, said: 'Of course we would do it again, but we would be more careful with our information so that it is precise and clear.' [Does that mean they won't tote around fake pictures next time? --ed.]
I guess they're scouring the Danish newspapers for new Mohammed cartoons every day.

Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads

Eat them up, yum!

Being a typical oafish, ignorant American, I made the joke to my wife before leaving that I needed to have one last good meal before leaving for my two week trip through Asia because I'd probably be on a diet of chicken lips and fish heads while I was gone. OK, so I was wrong about the chicken lips.

The dish pictured above was what two of my colleagues had for lunch today. Not something like what they had, but a picture taken from the restaurant's web site. I declined, opting instead for the tandoori chicken, which was spectacular.

For some reason, this song and video from around 1980 has been running through my head since. Fast forward to about the 2:15 mark to get to the actual song. It's an unnecessarily long intro.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Red...Crystal?

Is that a semaphore flag or are you just
coming to dig me out of the rubble?

To avoid offending the religious sensibilities of earthquake and tsunami victims worldwide, the International Committee of the Red Cross together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies unveiled the Red Crystal.
The Red Crystal has joined the Red Cross and Crescent as an official symbol of the world's best-known humanitarian organisation.

The symbols are recognised under the Geneva Conventions as protective signs for relief workers.

The crystal - a red diamond on a white background - is meant to be a neutral emblem for states objecting to the cross or crescent on religious grounds.

It was adopted as a compromise to allow Israel to join last year.

"The red crystal reaffirms the determination of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to... enhance its strength and credibility," the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a joint statement.

Israel's own relief society, Magen David Adom, had been seeking membership since the 1930s but its red Star of David emblem was not accepted under the Geneva conventions.
Now for the punch line: The symbol for the Red Cross has nothing to do with religion. It was adopted as an inversion of the colors of the Swiss flag to honor its Swiss founders.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

First stop: Singapore

One thing I'm sure glad I did in preparing for this trip was to quit smoking. I had my last smoke last Monday evening knowing I'd be seriously deprived on this trip. Thirteen hours from Washington, DC to Tokyo, then another seven from Tokyo to Singapore, and no opportunity for a smoke in between.

It's always a bit weird seeing a flight route between two distant points on the globe. The adage that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line doesn't hold true when those points are on a sphere. The image above shows two routes, the lower arc showing the shortest "great circle distance" between Washington and Tokyo, and the upper arc showing (roughly) the route my flight actually took. There's actually less than 200 miles difference between the two.

One thing I like about flying on United is audio channel 9, "From the cockpit". This channel allows you to listen in on the conversations between the aircrew and air traffic control. This may not be much to normal people, but aviation geeks like me think it's pretty cool. On push back from the gate, you hear the conversations between the pilot and a ground controller, who hands the flight off to a departure controller, who in turn hands the flight off to a center controller, who's responsible for flights transiting a section of airspace.

On long-haul, trans-oceanic flights the last controller assigns each flight a corridor within which the aircraft stays until reaching the next country's controller, who'll assume control of the flight. Flying over the northern most reaches of Canada is pretty much like crossing the Atlantic; one long stretch of silence without contact with any controllers.

Since English is the international language of aviation, it doesn't matter which country is controlling your flight because it's all in English. On top of that, altitudes and airspeeds are always expressed in feet and miles per hour (or mach at cruise speed), so you don't have to do any mental conversions. Except in Russia, where they use metric.

Listening to Russian controllers one would think the old Soviet Union is still alive and well. In the US and other countries the controllers are cheerful and friendly, and if a pilot asks for a different altitude to avoid turbulence or for better fuel economy, the controllers are pretty accommodating, traffic permitting. Not so with the Russian controllers. I heard numerous pilots ask for different altitudes, and not once was it granted. The response was always "maintain 10,600 (or whatever) meters". Further, pilots have to constantly check in and report their arrival at navigational fixes along the way and provide an estimated time to their next fix. Very weird.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Light posting for the next two weeks

I'm leaving for a two-week trip to Asia tomorrow, so posting will be lighter than usual. With any luck, though, I'll get some time to post some cool pictures.

Now to mentally prepare myself for 20+ hours on an airplane.

This is gonna be good

After playing catch and release with Iranians stirring up trouble in Iraq a couple of weeks ago, US troops raided an Iranian consular office in Irbil, arresting five Iranians there and seizing computer equipment and paper records.
US forces have raided an Iranian consular office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil [You say Arbil, I say Irbil. --ed.] and arrested five people, according to local officials. There has been no confirmation from the US military. Two senior Kurdish officials said that the forces stormed the building at around 3am local time, detaining five people and confiscating computers and documents.

Iran's official news agency confirmed the raid had taken place and said the US troops "broke into the office, without giving any explanation [Tit for tat...remember 1979? --ed.] and arrested five employees."
So, in the first episode, Iran's government insisted we release some guys who were obviously up to no good on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. I can't wait to hear their howling this time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Is Socialism really that evil?

In fairness, EU parliament president Josep Borrell at least recognizes the problem of suicidally low fertility rates in Europe, particularly in his home country of Spain.
Speaking at a conference in Barcelona, Borrell claimed in 15 years the populations of Spain and Italy will be the oldest in the world, making large-scale immigration a must.
Spain and Italy both have fertility rates of 1.28 children per woman. Only 13 nations in the world, according to CIA World Factbook, have worse rates. Actually, only 12, since Russia ties Italy and Spain at 1.28. A fertility rate of 2.00 is regarded as the rate necessary for replacement, hence the dire outlook for the age of Spain and Italy's populations.

But back to why Socialism is evil. Note Mr. Borrell's idea of a solution to the problem; large-scale immigration. What's wrong with shagging like cats? It's more fun for Spaniards to do that than to fill out reams of paperwork for incoming immigrants. It has the added bonus of ensuring that Spain remains Spain.

But to a good Socialist like Borrell, Spain's cultural survival is less important than the survival of Socialism. And if Spain were to rely on the 20- and 30-somethings to shag like cats, it'll take too long to ensure Socialism's survival. There simply won't be enough people in the workforce to keep paying the taxes to fund the older generation. The situation has become so desperate, they need more people paying taxes now.

So rather than taking the long view and ensuring the survival of his nation's culture, Socialists like Borrell want the quick fix of massive immigration. Mr. Borrell worries that by 2022 Spain will have the world's oldest population. He should be at least as worried that by 2052, Spain will be al-Andalus.

War on terrorism spreads to China

This map gives an idea of the proximity
of the Xinjiang region to Pakistan's and
Afghanistan's borders

Chinese police killed 18 suspected terrorists and captured another 17 in a raid in the northwest Xinjiang region.
China revealed the depth of its fear of Islamic-linked violence yesterday when police disclosed that they had killed 18 terrorists and captured another 17 after a fierce battle at a secret training camp in a remote northwestern region.

It was the first time that China had announced the discovery of such a camp in its territory. Officials said that they had uncovered links between the activists and international terrorist groups, hinting at connections to al-Qaeda.
Some, of course, doubt the terror group is motivated by Islamism:
Dru Gladney, a US-based expert on Xinjiang, said: “Most groups in Xinjiang are not motivated by Islam but by sovereignty. It behoves the Chinese Government to provide much more evidence to remove the cloud of doubt that surrounds this incident.”
Apparently Mr. Gladney thinks Islamist goals and goals of sovereignty are mutually exclusive. In fact, they're one and the same.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Another cat out of the bag

The Telegraph of London reports that the CIA has received presidential approval for covert operations against Hizballah.
The Central Intelligence Agency has been authorised to take covert action against Hizbollah as part of a secret plan [Not secret any more! --ed.] by President George W. Bush to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified "non-lethal presidential finding" that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support to the prime minister, Fouad Siniora.

The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials. Details of its existence, known only to a small circle of White House officials, intelligence officials and members of Congress, have been passed to The Daily Telegraph.
With the Dems in the majority in Congress now, the likelihood of leaks such as this increases dramatically.

Shocker: UN allowing Hizballah to re-arm

Israeli military intelligence reports that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is not only doing nothing to disarm Hizballah, they're doing nothing to prevent them from re-arming after last summer's war between Israel and the Islamic terrorist group.

The UN is an impotent, limp-dicked organization that couldn't keep a wienie roast from breaking out at a Cub Scout campfire. This comes as no surprise given that a large portion of UNIFIL is composed of French troops.

I've posted previously how well the French did under the UN flag during the Rwanda genocide here and here.

Fawaz Damra: Out of the frying pan, into the fire

On ice

Last Friday, Charles at LGF posted an update on Fawaz Damra, the Cleveland Imam convicted of having ties to terrorist group Islamic Jihad and lying about it on his citizenship application. Damra had agreed to deportation, and it was announced that he would be deported to the West Bank.

Well, today's Jerusalem Post reports that Israel's Shin Bet (roughly equivalent to our FBI) arrested him on his entry to the West Bank...for his connections to Islamic Jihad.
Israel is holding the former imam of Ohio's largest mosque, deported last week by the US, the Shin Bet said for the first time Tuesday.

Fawaz Damra, 46, was arrested by the Shin Bet because of his ties to Islamic Jihad, which is classified by Israel and the US as a terror organization, the Shin Bet said Tuesday. No further details were provided.

Damra was deported by American authorities last week because he concealed his ties to Islamic Jihad when he applied for American citizenship in 1994.

Originally from the West Bank city of Nablus, Damra was deported to Jordan last week after being incarcerated in Monroe County, Michigan, for a year while awaiting deportation.

He crossed into the West Bank last Thursday, and his whereabouts had not been disclosed, though his family alleged that he had been arrested by Israel.

The Shin Bet's announcement Tuesday was the first official admission that Israel was holding the cleric.

Islamic Jihad, a small radical group with links to Iran and Syria, has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israel.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Killer robots from Earth wipe out Martians!

The horror...the horror

New studies suggest that the Viking Mars lander missions of the 1970's may have killed the very microbial life they were looking for.
Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have stumbled upon alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist theorizes in a paper released Sunday.
Awfully clumsy of us.

Somali Islamists sue for peace

Defeated in detail and forced out of the country, Somalia's Islamist leadership is in hiding in Yemen, suing for peace.
Leaders of Somalia's defeated Islamic movement said yesterday that they were committed to peace talks which could cut the threat of an Iraq-style insurgency across the Horn of Africa.

Several senior figures from the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) slipped past both Ethiopian troops and US warships, and found refuge across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen.

And during talks yesterday in Aden, the Islamic delegation, which included the movement's influential foreign affairs chief Ibrahim Adow, said they were ready to talk peace.

"They have been evaluating their position since recent events in Somalia, and it is fair to say they are being pragmatic," said a senior Yemeni official. "They said they are committed to peace talks, which could be held by mid-January in either Khartoum or Nairobi."

Aside from Mr Adow, there are two other major players from the ICU in Yemen, but authorities in the capital, Sana'a, would not name them.

Yemen was accused of arming Somalia's transitional government, which with its Ethiopian allies has won back control of the country from the ICU. Now Yemen wants to act as a peace-broker between all the parties to the conflict.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

NY Times despairs over plight of our enemies (again)

I rarely comment on the many thousands of column inches (yards? miles?) wasted by all the liberal media outlets fretting over the ghastly manner in which the enemy is treated by the current administration. The reason for my near-silence is simple: I'm not a lawyer. I have no clue if the various surveillance programs are legal or what the legal status of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay might be. But Roger Fraley at XDA is a lawyer and presumably has some knowledge of these topics.

Today's New York Times has a typical hand-wringing, bed-wetting editorial on the topic which Roger thoroughly eviscerates.

On the topic of our "unconstitutional" treatment of jihadis captured on the battlefield:
Illegal foreign combatants (like spies and saboteurs) do not have constitutional rights; they do not have Geneva like rights (our Supreme Court's idiocy there in Hamden v. Rumsfeld notwithstanding); they are like pirates--you can execute them upon establishing they are indeed pirates. They don't get to go to court--a military tribunal or commission is just fine. Has no one at the NYT read Ex Parte Quirin ?
On steaming open Osama's love letters:
Has no one at the NYT read the thousands of cases which establish again and again exceptions to the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches (sometimes defined as searches without warrants) for exigent circumstances particularly in cases involving foreign intelligence collection? It seems the NYT is deliberately ignorant here--I mean you have to be a real legal moron not to know that exigent circumstances have nearly always negated the need for a warrant.
On electronic eavesdropping "on calls and e-mail between the United States and other countries.":
This is really old news and a perseverance in ignorance [I love that phrase! --ed.] that continues to stun me. Has no one at the NYT read In re: Sealed Case No. 02-001? The quote is also poorly stated--the calls apparently originate from or go to known or suspected foreign terrorists and involve a person who is located in the United States but whose citizenship status is almost entirely unknown. The calls could well be between a foreign illegal combatant here in the United States and one in Pakistan. Again, however, the NYT supports giving 4th Amendment rights to foreign illegal combatants.
On the "shameful" practice of holding unlawful combatants at Gitmo and other military prisons:
This is a daily double call for American civil rights for foreign illegal combatants--civil rights for captured illegal combatants and court trials for each of them. But the Supreme Court said the military run hearings to establish the status of the illegal combatants were fine in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. Shouldn't the NYT be criticizing the Imperial Supreme Court?
Roger closes by saying:
I know it's a a harsh statement, but the NYT has here crossed the line between ordinary pig ignorance and gone into actively helping our enemies.
Actually, they crossed that line a long time ago when they first chose to publish details of classified counter-terrorism programs. But I'm not going to argue with a lawyer.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A half-ton of haram

William Coursey of Fayetteville, GA bagged himself a whole lotta bacon when he shot and killed this 1,100 pound hog that had been tearing up the neighborhood.

Fire up the smoker...we're gonna have us some barbecue!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Muslim hatemonger facing jail time for role in hate fest

One of the ringleaders of the London Islamic hatefest during the Great Cartoon Jihad, is facing jail time.
A British Muslim was facing jail last night after being found guilty of soliciting murder when he called for the death of Americans and Danes during a demonstration in London last year against cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

Umran Javed, 27, was described to the jury at the Old Bailey as one of the leaders of the demonstration outside the Danish embassy against the publication of the cartoons, first in Denmark and then across Europe. He urged the crowd to bomb Denmark and the United States.
In other news, historians have discovered that Saladin was known to cry "Death to America!" during the Crusades.

Terror plot down under

An Australian man is facing charges of plotting to target a nuclear power plant and buildings housing US companies, according to the Saturday Daily Telegraph.
NUMEROUS Sydney buildings, including the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and others housing US companies, were terrorist targets for illegally-bought Australian rocket launchers.

The Saturday Daily Telegraph can reveal alleged terrorists who obtained five of the launchers – believed to have been stolen from the Australian army – discussed using them on the US targets.

One of the targets was a high-rise building near Hyde Park which is the base for American Express.

Another was the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas said today.

Yesterday, a 28-year-old unemployed Leumeah man was in Central Local Court, charged with illegally obtaining and selling seven of the stolen rocket launchers.

Taha Abdul-Rahman was arrested in his Eliza Way home early yesterday following a joint investigation by NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and ASIO.
A radical atheist, no doubt.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Show her you care

I don't normally do relationship advice, but I'll make this one exception. So listen up.

If your wife dies, there are two things you should make sure you do as pallbearer:
  1. Dress appropriately
  2. In the name of all that is holy, put your fucking drink down!
The gentleman pictured above obviously didn't get the memo. He's also accused of killing his wife. Which is something you should not do for a healthy relationship.

Sordid details here.

Jamil Hussein surfaces in hot water

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has located Captain Jamil Hussein, the subject of many questions here and elsewhere in the blogosphere. It appears their first attempt to locate his name on a list of employees met with failure:
Khalaf offered no explanation Thursday for why the ministry had initially denied Hussein's existence, other than to state that its first search of records failed to turn up his full name. He also declined to say how long the ministry had known of its error and why it had made no attempt in the past six weeks to correct the public record.
But the good captain may be in a bit of trouble:
Khalaf told the AP that an arrest warrant had been issued for the captain for having contacts with the media in violation of the ministry's regulations.
Hussein was the sole source for 61 AP stories highlighting Shi'a-on-Sunni violence. The veracity of his reports remains in question.

Update: 4 Jan. 2007 @ 20:15
Allahpundit over at Hot Air still has some very good questions:
How is it that Hussein was able to comment on attacks all over Baghdad, including some far away from his precinct? How come the AP dropped the detail about four mosques being burned when it was challenged after their first report? Why couldn’t Bob Owens find corroborating stories from other media outlets on so many incidents sourced to Hussein? And why weren’t Armed Liberal’s sources, Eason Jordan’s sources, and Michelle [Malkin]’s sources collectively able to find this guy?

Saudi Arabia: May as well be Mars

I check out every once in a while just to see what life might be like on another planet. Or in the 7th century.

This article on women's issues is a case in point. The article crows about the advancements women have made in Saudi society, but even the author acknowledges there's a long way to go.

Here's one example of "advancement":
Also in January 2006, women finally celebrated being able to apply for and receive their personal ID without the consent of their male guardian as previously enforced for four years since women’s ID were first issued.
So, not only have women only been able to get their own ID card for four years, but only now can they get them without the consent of their "male guardian".

And here's a really weird one:
However, sometimes even when laws benefiting women are introduced at the official level and are then rejected or stalled at the social and administrative level. An example is the case of officials trying to open more doors of employment for women in accordance to ministry level decisions but facing resistance and objections from society. This was exemplified in the decision to allow women to work in lingerie shops.

The Ministry of Labor announced that it would enforce the decision starting June 18, 2006. Young unemployed women by the hundreds signed up for training in sales, store management and marketing at the JCCI and applied for jobs, but few shop owners offered them jobs or showed interest in accommodating them. They complained about the impracticality and extra expenses they had to endure to segregate the women employees from the men and to shield them from public view. Those who did accommodate women, faced angry objections from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice for not implementing the segregation measures strictly enough even though the Labor Office had already permitted the measures taken by the stores.

Eventually the ministry withdrew its proposals and made the decision to employ women in the lingerie stores optional.
I've blogged about this bit of Arab weirdness before. If women aren't allowed to be around men who aren't their "legal guardian", just how do they shop for lingerie if there are no female lingerie sales staff? I guess they have to bring their husband, but then that sort of spoils the surprise of that naughty French niqab now, doesn't it?

Real-life heroism worthy of Hollywood

What kind of example have you set for YOUR kids today?

It must have been an incredible sight: One man waiting for a New York subway train falling off the platform onto the tracks after a seizure. Another man, his two young daughters watching, jumping onto the tracks to help him as a train rapidly approaches.

On Tuesday afternoon Autrey leaped down from a subway station platform after Cameron Hollopeter, 20, apparently suffered a seizure and fell between the tracks.

Autrey had to leave his two daughters, ages 4 and 6, on the platform. It was that, he said, or have the girls see a man run over by a subway train.

Down on the tracks, Autrey saw a train's headlights in the tunnel. He shoved the disoriented student into the only space where they had a chance to survive — the shallow, grimy drainage trough between the tracks.

The train passed over them, with about 2 inches' clearance. Autrey later showed reporters grease stains on his wool hat that he said came from the train's undercarriage.

Bruce Willis, eat your heart out.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Red Ken Livingstone wants to mark anniversary of Castro's bloodbath

London's commie-loving mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone plans to hold a festival in 2009 to celebrate Fidel Castro's bloody takeover of Cuba.
Mr Livingstone today defended his decision to hold the festival, saying there was much to celebrate about Cuba - despite its criticism by human rights groups.

In his statement, Mr Livingstone said: "Despite the illegal and almost universally condemned blockade Cuba has achievements which are recognised by virtually the entire world.

"Life expectancy and infant mortality are at levels comparable to far more economically advanced countries. Cuban bio-science is among the most advanced in the world."

But have no fear. If all goes well, Red Ken will be replaced by an aging disc jockey.

Tapped out

In the day or two leading up to Saddam Hussein's execution and immediately following it, there were dire predictions that there would be a backlash of violence from the Sunni and Baathist insurgents in Iraq. While things certainly haven't improved, they don't seem to have gotten any worse. And I think I can guess why.

A significant eruption of violence would have indicated that these particular categories of thugs were holding back in the first place; that they all had little stashes of car bombs and IEDs and a reserve battalion of snipers set aside just for special occasions. That there hasn't been a big uptick in the violence quotient I think speaks volumes. Clearly, they're already maxed out and can't pump up the jam any more than they already are.

Unlike that amplifier in This Is Spinal Tap, this one doesn't go to 11.

Americans think Iraq death toll too high; AP wonders why

An AP article by Jeff Donn says Americans consider the death toll in Iraq too high and seems mystified by this sentiment:
The country largely kept the faith during World War II, even as about 400,000 U.S. forces died — 20,000 just in the monthlong Battle of the Bulge. Before turning against the wars in Korea and Vietnam, Americans tolerated thousands more deaths than in Iraq.

Has something changed? Do Americans somehow place higher value on the lives of their soldiers now? Do they expect success at lower cost? Or do most simply dismiss this particular war as the wrong one — hard to understand and harder to win — and so not worth the losses?
Is he serious? This is like the parent who whips a kid throughout childhood then says "Where did I go wrong?" when the kid grows up to be a violent criminal. The media has been alternating between whipping us with the casualty count belt and whacking us with the wrong war paddle for nearly four years now. It's a wonder we're not all out torturing our neighbor's cat.

The article cites confusion over our goals as one reason for the lack of support:
"When is it going to stop? We're losing a lot of youngsters," says former tanker Ed Collins, 82, of Hicksville, N.Y., who survived the assault on Normandy's beaches in World War II. "I went in when I was 18; that was young, too. But we fought for something. Now we have no idea who we're fighting for and what we're fighting for."

That's partly because the mission's focus has shifted repeatedly, the experts argue: from finding weapons of mass destruction, to deposing Saddam Hussein, to fighting terrorists.
Mr. Collins has no idea who and what we're fighting for because he's been paying too much attention to antique media outlets like the AP, and AP says silly things like "the mission's focus has shifted repeatedly". It hasn't. The focus, from the start, has been to depose Saddam Hussein. Weapons of Mass Destruction was just one of the many reasons for doing so.

But the mainstream media, never a fan of George Bush in the first place, has done everything they could to convince us that Bush was wrong to invade Iraq. Having failed to prevent his re-election in 2004, they're going for the consolation prize of ensuring the journalistic record, if not reality, shows that he was the Worst President Ever™.

As part of the media's "Worst President Ever" campaign, we're periodically hit with the "grim milestone" bomb. A "grim milestone" is whenever the casualty count crosses some multiple of 1,000 as it just did the other day. But over the past week, the media ghouls got a bonus when the casualty ticker crossed another "grim milestone" matching the number of Americans killed on 9/11. How much you wanna bet the legacy media has already drafted up the stories for the next "grim milestone" of 4,000?

Searching Yahoo News just now for "grim milestone" turns up 670 hits. If I'd secured the rights to that term before the war, I'd be able to retire off the royalties.