Wolf Pangloss's Fish Taco Stand

"But, reverend father," said Candide, "there is horrible evil in this world."

"What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?"

"What, then, must we do?" said Pangloss.

"Hold your tongue," answered the Dervish.

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Location: Edge City, Titan

27 December 2007

The Assassins Got Benazir Bhutto

The modern-day Assassins led by their vanguard in al-Qaeda managed to murder Benazir Bhutto and roughly 20 bystanders in Rawalpindi. The Canadian Press reports:
The attacker struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, about 18 kilometres south of Islamabad, the capital. She was shot in the neck and chest by the attacker, who then blew himself up, said Rehman Malik, Bhutto's security adviser.

Bob Krumm states this is the biggest news story of 2007, and claims that this could be as big a deal as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. That would imply it would start a war as big as World War I. I don't think it will cause that big a reaction because it will not offend Muslims the same way that any offense committed by Americans would, but would put it second, after Petraeus' success in Iraq with the surge.

From the first day she came back to Pakistan, the Jihadists were out to kill her and she seemed to be seeking martyrdom. In that first day back she held an enormous, well publicized, rally down the middle of a main road. A Jihadist carried an infant to her, wrapped in explosives, for her to kiss. But luckily for Bhutto, she had retired beneath the top of her transport and was uninjured by the explosion that killed 140 people, including the infant bomb. Yesterday the police stopped a 15-year old suicide bomber with a bomb full of nails. She has been going out into crowds too frequently. She went to Rawalpindi, where her father was hanged to death by General Zia ul Haq, who overthrew him in a military coup.

Mark Steyn writes:
Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today's events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I'm asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while - which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries. She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be - though in practice, as Pakistan's Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world's most corrupt political classes.

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation. [...]

As I said, she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions. Rest in peace, Benazir.
The best thing that might come out of this martyrdom is that al-Qaeda's allies in Pakistani military and intelligence services finally awaken to the reality that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have overstepped, that they are not allies by any stretch of the imagination, and that Pakistan finally acts decisively to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban branch and root.

The second best thing that might come out of it is that NATO, the UN, the EU, and the US will finally stop fooling themselves about whether the Taliban is a reliable partner in negotiations. It is not. It never will be. Hopefully, this tragedy will open some eyes.

Who has roundups? Jules Crittendon. Pajamas. Instapundit.

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26 December 2007

Afghanistan expels footloose UN and EU staffer for visiting with the Taliban

It is time for some news from the Far End of the World, the region that touches the sky where the Pashtun tribes live between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has asked a staffer from the UN and one from the EU to leave the country. If they hadn't had diplomatic immunity they would have been arrested. One of the pair is a Briton from Northern Ireland, and the other is from Ireland. Which one is from which NGO is not yet known. Apparently the two were wondering around in Helmand province talking to Taliban elements and otherwise threatening the national security of Afghanistan. UN spokesman Aleem Siddique claims this is a "storm in a teacup." Judging by an article Siddique wrote for Australian ABC last week, the UN was "reaching out to groups hitherto involved in the insurgency," presumably without Afghan government approval. The beeb ties these talks to drug eradication efforts in Helmand. The Telegraph confirms the report and adds that British Intelligence (MI6) has been holding secret talks with the Taliban, contrary to explicit denials from new Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Note that Siddique has a semi-famous, 5-star quality quote at ThinkExist.com.

We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms and hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice swiftly.
So he's the guy who said that! I would have thought that was a line from Casablanca.

Across the line in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto has been busy identifying the elephant in the room.

Speaking to about 25,000 supporters near her ancestral home in the southern town of Larkana, she also renewed accusations the government had done nothing to stop militant violence.

"They always try to stop democratic forces but don't make any effort to check extremists, terrorists and fanatics," she told a rally at a cricket stadium, two days after a suicide bomber killed nearly 50 worshippers in a mosque.

Bhutto said President Pervez Musharraf had spoken of the need to reform religious schools, or madrasas, but had done nothing. She said she respected genuine religious schools. [...]

"Then there are the political madrasas, the political madrasas that teach their pupils how to make bombs, how to use rifles and how to kill women, children and the elderly."

God bless her and keep her alive long enough to make a difference. Also, God please help guide her towards true morality so she does not once again rob her country blind if she gains office.

A dozen Jihadists belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen surrendered in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the sort of thing that the political attempts to speak to the Taliban in Afghanistan are trying to create: Cracks in the alliances between the Taliban, various Jihad organizations, and al Qaeda. The problem is that al-Qaeda is a revolutionary vanguard that spins off cells and subsidiary organizations like a semi-truck tire throws off pebbles. A different name is no guarantee of any meaningful difference in goals, methods, or morals.

But it is, like the 40% drop in cross-border attackers from Pakistan into Afghanistan, an indication of progress.

On the other hand, Afghan intelligence agents near the Pakistani border arrested a 50 year old foreign woman who was transporting a bomb-vest in her burka to be detonated by someone else. In this case foreign means Pakistani.

Recently some bomb-makers in Afghanistan have begun to defile corpses by placing bombs in them.

The British Army Field Hospital at Camp Bastion is doing impressive work, though the treatment of the Taliban is a step too far.

2500 tons of Afghan opiates (mostly heroin) are getting into Iran every year, 25% of which stay in Iran. The rest is going through Iran in the direction of Europe.

The India Times reports that al-Qaeda poses a threat to Musharraf's life. Duh!

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24 December 2007

Pakistan accepts counter-terror aid from USA, spends on Jihad against India

Animesh Roul refers to a NYT report on the Counterterrorism Blog:
Today’s New York Times has a story which paints alarming picture about Pakistan’s intention and puts question marks against it’s role in the US led War on Terror campaign. According to the report, US aid worth billions of dollars, given to Islamabad administration towards counter terror efforts have been ‘wasted and much of it was diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India rather than fight al-Qaeda/Taliban

The heart of the problem (and I am being charitable this Christmas season by not mentioning mendacity as part of the problem) is the different understanding of what terror means. Americans think that terrorism is any act of illegal warfare directed primarily at civilians that is committed by non-uniformed irregular fighters. There are other accepted meanings of terror, such as the state-sanctioned terror committed by totalitarian governments from Jacobin France to the Soviet Union to Cambodia, the terror caused by strategic bombing, and the balance of nuclear terror that was part of the Cold War. The Muslims of Pakistan do not agree with these meanings. They think that warfare directed at civilians by non-uniformed irregular fighters is just fine, as long as it is part of a Jihad for Allah.

So the USA gives money to Pakistan for anti-terror purposes and it is used to commit terrorist acts.

OK Mushy, time to give that money back. You can't keep it if you are going to use it to kill your neighbors instead of chasing after your terrorist population up in the mountains of Bajaur and Waziristan.

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23 December 2007

Abortion is killing one out of three black children in the womb

People believe some pretty strange things based on their prejudices. A commenter claimed that most abortions are done by white teenagers whose parents pay for it (spoiled white anglos was his term). This prompted me to analyze the numbers myself.

I found useful sources for some of this data at Kaiser Family's statehealthfacts.org. Note their statistics are weird because they are based on statistics reported by the states. California does not report on the number of abortions performed, though it had been responsible for 23% of the abortions performed in the USA before 1998, when it stopped reporting. Yet if it were to be added back in, California alone would increase the number of abortions performed by 23%, or almost 200,000. One wonders what caused famously Democrat-dominated California to stop reporting the number of abortions performed there.

Agewise, 17% of all abortions involve a mother up to the age of 19. 56% involve a mother between the ages of 20 and 29, and 23% are between 30 and 39. Racewise, 53% of abortive mothers are white, 35% are black, and 13% are other or unknown. Taking 53% of 17% shows that roughly 9% of abortive mothers are white teens. 9% is not a majority.

Let’s look at this further. According to the US census data, 13% of Americans are black. If 35% of abortions are on behalf of 13% of the populace then abortions are disproprionately affecting that 13%. Let’s see how it works by analyzing abortions as a percentage of live births by race. In 2004, 4.112 Million children were born. 2.296 Million were white. .578 Million were black. Also in 2004, .839 Million children were aborted, 53% by white mothers, 35% by black mothers.

Working out the numbers, the proportion of abortions compared to live births overall is 20.4%. Of white mothers, it is 19.37%. Of black mothers, it is 50.8%. Half as many viable black children are killed before they can be born as get the chance to live. This calculation does not include miscarriages, which are fairly common. But the result falling out of Kaiser’s data, reported from the states, is that one out of three viable pregnancies among black women ends in abortion and one out of six viable pregnancies among white women ends the same way.

In the US, 69% of all abortions are performed at 441 abortion clinics. 89 out of 320 metropolitan areas and 86% of all counties (the rural ones) in the USA have no abortion providers, leaving about 230 metropolitan areas with at least one abortion clinic each. Who lives there? The women who live nearby, those are the women who are being encouraged, far out of proportion, to abort their children instead of giving birth to them. Reminder, only 17% of these women are teens. The vast majority of these women are grown women.

Note that the CDC's calculations are similar to mine, though its analysis was done for 2000.

In the 41 areas for which race was adequately reported, approximately 55% of women who obtained legal induced abortions were known to be white, 35% were black, and 7% were of other races; for 3% of the women, race was unknown. (Table 9). The abortion ratio for black women (503 per 1,000 live births) was 3.0 times the ratio for white women (167 per 1,000 live births). Additionally, the abortion ratio for women of other races (329 per 1,000 live births) was 2.0 times the ratio for white women. The abortion rate for black women (30 per 1,000 women) was 3.1 times the rate for white women (10 per 1,000 women), whereas the abortion rate for women of other races (22 per 1,000 women) was 2.2 times the rate for white women.
The question that comes to my mind is how is this not a massive, publicly financed program of defacto extermination aimed at black and minority children?

Who is responsible for killing black children like this? They are NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the Democratic party, who have supported the progressive principle of eugenics by encouraging the abortion of black babies ever since the time of Margaret Sanger.

Even leftist-feminist Julianne Malveaux admits that Margaret Sanger, founder of the organization that became Planned Parenthood, was at best a eugenicist and at worst a racist who favored a reduction in the black birth rate.

In a 1921 article in the Birth Control Review, Sanger wrote, "The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective." Reviewers of one of her 1919 articles interpreted her objectives as "More children from the fit, less from the unfit." Again, the question of who decides fitness is important, and it was an issue that Sanger only partly addressed. "The undeniably feebleminded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind," she wrote.

Sanger advocated the mandatory sterilization of the "insane and feebleminded." Although this does not diminish her legacy as the key force in the birth control movement, it raises questions much like those now being raised about our nation's slaveholding founders. How do we judge historical figures? How are their contributions placed in context?

It is easy to see why there is some antipathy toward Sanger among people of color, considering that, given our nation's history, we are the people most frequently described as "unfit" and "feebleminded."
A pretty good student paper here covers much of the same ground.

Summing up, 1 out of 3 black babies are aborted before being born. This has been going on since 1972, for a total death toll of 14 Million black babies. If only the same proportion of black babies had been aborted as all babies, there would be 8.4 Million more black people in the US, for an increase of 23% in the number of black people in the US. If a racist who hated black people wanted to kill as many off as
possible, then he or she could do no better than voting Democrat. For legal abortion has killed just about one out of five black Americans before they even got the chance to live their lives. Not even the KKK ever approached numbers of that magnitude.

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21 December 2007

Farah: The Taliban and the Drug Trade

Douglas Farah writes:
Well, for those who have argued there is no smoking gun linking the Taliban to opium production, the jig is now up. NATO forces discovered 11 tons of processed opium in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan, meaning the opium was at the stage where it can be converted to heroin on about a one-to-one ratio. In other words, it was almost 11 tons of heroin.

Farah disposes of the objection that the Taliban punish drug use severely, so they could never stoop to the profitable trade in illegal drugs.
There has been a long-held predisposition in the intelligence community to believe that because Islam severely frowns on the use of drugs (particularly the kind of Islam espoused by the Taliban), the group did not really participate in the drug trade. If they execute people for drug possession, then how could they justify trafficking in the product?

Well, the answer lies in creative theology. There have been several fatwas issued by Taliban theologians since 2001 allowing a Muslim to engage in activities that are harmful to the enemy (that would be us), even if they are actions that a Muslim normally could not take.
1. Problems with Afghan heroin
2. Helmand Means Heroin: Al Qaeda’s Heroin Smuggling Operation from Afghanistan

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20 December 2007

Hillary, Bonhoeffer, and Lies

In his seminal work on Ethics the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that "it is worse for a liar to tell the truth than for a lover of truth to tell a lie."

Read it all.

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Problems with Afghan heroin

Way back in May, I wrote about the bumper crop of Heroin that was going to be coming out of Helmand province in Afghanistan, and what to do about it.
It’s better to pay the farmers for 610 metric tons of opium than to have it all flooding the EU and US streets in the form of cheap heroin, with the revenues paying for weapons and salaries for Al Qaeda. There are contractual and social solutions for the problems noted in Transform, and it would help to decouple the ordinary people in Helmand from Al Qaeda and associated criminal gangs.

Today the CFR interviews Romesh Bhattacharji who provides valuable data in support of this idea.
India is one of only a dozen countries allowed to grow opium poppies to export for the manufacture of legal drugs such as morphine. Romesh Bhattacharji, former narcotics commissioner for India, says he thinks India’s system of legalized opium growing can work in Afghanistan. Bhattacharji says India’s success with poppy growing (PDF) though an international licensing program for medicine production is largely due to a village control system, where if one farmer sells their crop illegally the entire area loses its license. He urges the adoption of this method in Afghanistan, where he says eradication efforts are ineffective and swaying support for the Taliban.

It took long enough for the lefties in the CFR to wise up to this idea!

Musa Qala, recently retaken from the Taliban in a battle that killed hundreds of Taliban fighters, was home to dozens of heroin processing labs that paid protection money to the Taliban and most likely sold the heroin to Taliban approved smugglers for transport over the mountains to someplace where it could be shipped to Europe and the US. The resurgence of Afghan Heroin has provided funds that enable the Taliban and Al Qaeda to return to action in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But the fighters did collect "taxes" from businesses, farmers and others, money used to help fund the insurgency that raged across the northern part of Helmand province in 2007, a year of record violence in Afghanistan.

Fariq Khan, a Musa Qala resident in his early 30s who owns a telephone shop, said the Taliban would take about $8 from each family every month during a collection at the mosque. Though small, the amount is significant; teachers in Afghanistan are paid only $50 a month.

Trucks passing through paid $50 and poppy farmers had to turn over 10 percent of their profits, Khan said, speaking to The Associated Press in Kandahar.

Musa Qala was the site of 50 to 70 heroin labs used to process the opium poppies.

Musa Qala is iconic for the battle in Helmand province. But every little village and town around it is in the same situation. It is smack in the middle of the Afghan poppy belt, and those opium poppies grow everywhere. Every village has more than its share of heroin labs. Every lab and farmer pays protection money to the Taliban and the Taliban smuggles the heroin out of Helmand using the same smuggling lines they use to smuggle themselves and their weapons across the border with the ungoverned parts of Pakistan.

How bad is it exactly?
Afghanistan this year produced 93 percent of the world's opium, the main ingredient in heroin. Helmand produced more than 50 percent of the country's opium. More than 80 percent of the province's farmers are involved in the opium trade.

Afghan Heroin is not just a problem for the US and Europe, but also for Afghanistan.
"I have been addicted to heroin for five years now," said Faqirullah, sleepy and half-stoned in a bombed-out building in Kabul just a short walk from the national parliament.

Today Online has more to report from a story that appears to be written by Sardar Ahmad for AFP. Snippets follow.
Nearly a million Afghans, about four percent of the population, use drugs, according to the last UN survey in 2005.
The figure is no doubt higher now, says counternarcotics ministry spokesman Sayed Amanullah Abdali, flicked upwards by the return every year of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Iran and Pakistan, where many first take drugs.

Another snippet.
Afghanistan is estimated this year to have produced 93 percent of the world's illegal opium -- about 8,200 tons, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Until a few years ago, most of it was exported in its raw form. Today the lion's share, perhaps 90 percent, is turned into heroin inside the country, a UN official said in June.
This means more profits for the drug traffickers, who are said to be linked to Taliban insurgents, and more heroin for the local addicts.

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19 December 2007

Karzai prays for the Taliban on Eid al-Adha

It is time for some news from the Far End of the World, the region that touches the sky where the Pashtun tribes live between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Karzai prayed for the Taliban today.
'Today ... is a day we should remember those families who have lost loved ones in different terrorist acts like bombs and suicide attacks,' Karzai said after prayers to mark the Eid al-Adha Muslim festival.

'Today I also ask forgiveness from God for those Afghans who have been killed in the fight against the homeland if they are Taliban or otherwise,' he said.

Karzai also chided the USA for fighting terrorists in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan is not a hideout for terrorism, but a victim of it.

During an address Wednesday marking the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, Mr. Karzai urged the U.S. and its allies to target terrorists outside of Afghanistan.

That means in Pakistan. How, exactly, the US could operate freely in the Talibanistan regions of the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan is not clear.

The US military provides humanitarian aid, especially for the kids, in Afghanistan.
Each patrol was a foray into villages regarded as Taliban sanctuaries. Each began with tension and the possibility of violence. But the Taliban did not confront the heavily armed paratroopers, and within minutes the mood of the patrols shifted.

Once the villagers realized that the platoons were accompanied by medics, they pushed forward sick children and pleaded for help.

A catalog of pediatric suffering quickly formed into queues: children with grotesque burns and skin infections, distended scrapes and scorpion and spider bites, bleeding ears, dimmed eyes or heavy, rolling coughs. Some were bandaged in dirty rags. Others were in wheelbarrows because they lacked the strength to walk.

The US can help people and their kids, while all the Taliban can promise is an ugly, painful death.

In even sadder news, Ismail Gulgee was discovered murdered in his home in Karachi, Pakistan.
Ismail Gulgee, Pakistan’s most prominent artist, was found murdered today with his wife and a maid in their Karachi home, police said. He was 81.

They said the three were found gagged in different rooms of the house, which is in the city’s most upmarket district.

The hands of his wife, Zarina, were tied.

See some pictures here. Follow the links to the Painting Gallery.

And finally, convicted felons have charged Pakistan with secretly detaining terror suspects. This is hard to confirm or deny, as false accusations of illegal imprisonment and abuse in prison are standard operating procedure for Al Qaeda operatives who spend time in jail.

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Not just no, but hell no

Paul Elias reports:
The lawyer and parents of John Walker Lindh, the American-born Taliban soldier serving 20 years in prison after his capture in Afghanistan, renewed their call to President Bush on Tuesday to commute his sentence and set him free.

See the headline.

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Would the Media sell its soul to interview the Devil himself?

We shall find out shortly.
Al-Qaida has invited journalists to send questions to its No. 2 figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, in the first such offer by the increasingly media-savvy terror network to "interview" one of its leaders since the 9-11 attacks.

The invitation is a new twist in al-Qaida's campaign to reach a broader audience, and represents an attempt by al-Zawahri to present himself as a sophisticated leader rather than a mass murderer.

According to the Beeb, the devilish Zawahiri is "opening himself up to questioning in a similar fashion to televised political debates." Is that a Fox debate or one on CNN?

Maybe if we're lucky at least one snowman will ask him a silly question about taxpayer-supported, socialist-style health care, to which Adam Gadahn can give him some kind of Chomskian, anti-American answer to spout off and impress the leftards at DU.

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Karachi Express Disaster

At least 900 passengers headed from Karachi to Lahore were crowded into the 16-car Karachi Express at 2:25 A.M. local time Wednesday (2125 GMT). The train was traveling at full speed when 12 of 16 cars derailed in Sindh province near Mehrabpur, about 250 miles north of Karachi. The trains slid into soft ground and water. At least 58 were killed and 150 injured. Pictures here.

Ashraf Khan reports
It was unclear what caused the accident, which left hundreds of terrified passengers trying to claw their way out of the wreckage in total darkness.

Mohammed Khalid, a railway official who was traveling in one of the rear cars that stayed on the rails, said he suspected a problem with the track.

"My guess is that there was some piece of rail missing and the engine jumped the missing track and the following wagon got stuck," he said.

After the crash, a section of one rail had been torn loose. The engine came to a halt about a mile farther up the line.

Brig. Nazhar Jamil, the army officer in charge of the relief operation, said an initial inspection of the track found no sign of sabotage. He said excessive speed coupled with poor maintenance might have been to blame. The train had been full, but not overcrowded.

Asad Saeed, the general manager of Pakistan's rail network said:
A welded track joint broke. There are many forces on the track and sometimes this joint breaks.

Relatives are unhappy with the rail company's information center.

Musharraf has ordered an investigation of the crash and plans to prevent it from happening again.

The usual suspects will be right on it, inshallah.

And that's the problem, isn't it? Inshallah has all the procrastination of mañana, without the urgency. We'll do preventive maintenance, inshallah. We will get trained on that system, inshallah. We'll fix that section of rail properly instead of welding it again, inshallah.

And if it does happen, it will be a miracle.

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Time's man of the year?

Why not Ahmadinajad or Bin Laden while you're going all out to honor thieves, terror-masters, and tyrants?

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No Oil Shale for You!

Seems that the Opposite of Progress (a.k.a. Congress) has prohibited the government from finishing regulations for the leasing and use of the 3 trillion barrels of oil shale deposits in the US. This is the largest deposit of oil shale in the world, and if utilized would dwarf the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim Middle East.

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18 December 2007

Elfin Che

An instant classic from the People's Cube.

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Bush better on greenhouse gases than Kyoto

Mark Steyn doth opine:
For anywhere other than Antarctica and a few sparsely inhabited islands, the first condition for a healthy environment is a strong economy. In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Had America and Australia ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion - and those are the US Energy Information Administration's somewhat optimistic models.

That Toxic Texan quip is a perfect use of irony to expose the bankruptcy of ideas suffered by the Global Warming internationale. The point to the economic argument is somewhat more pointed even than this quote indicates. If the US economy had not expanded in the last 30 years, then the money and scientific research needed to reduce pollution of all sorts in America (even while expanding the population and economy) would not have been there. The US would have had to do with intensifying the use of heavily polluting resources. And if it had foolishly signed Kyoto like Europe and Japan, it would have failed its Kyoto goals and had to pay lots of steep fines to the United Nations.

The United Nations, by the way, yesterday announced a 25% increase in its non-Peacekeeping budget for next year and 40% in the Peacekeeping budget.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposed "initial" budget for 2008-09 is $4.2 billion, a mere 15% increase over the Secretariat's current budget. Oops, make that $4.8 billion, which includes the "add ons" the Secretary General has already identified. But even that's not the final final figure. The U.N. budget is released piece by piece -- how convenient -- and the U.S. estimates that the full budget will end up being in excess of $5.2 billion, a 25% increase over the last two-year budget cycle of 2006-07.

Yes, the U.N. has a lot on its plate and the world is full of challenges. But Mr. Ban's proposed increases aren't going for humanitarian assistance in Darfur or development aid to Africa. Roughly 75% is for salaries and other staff costs -- in other words, toward boosting the size of the U.N. bureaucracy. Peacekeeping goes on a separate budget, which is anticipated to grow 40%, to $7 billion from $5 billion.


What is really at stake here? The climate, or monetary transfers to pampered, corrupt bureaucrats in New York City and Geneva?

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Antifa's Fascist Aunty

Who are the Antifas and Antiras? Wikipedia describes them as militant anti-fascists.
Militant anti-fascism is a form of anti-fascism that advocates the use of violence against fascism. Within the anti-fascist movement, the term militant anti-fascism is often used in contrast to liberal anti-fascism.

Fascists often use violence and depend on a physical presence in the streets, and militant anti-fascists believe that an equal counterweight is essential to stop fascism. [...]

Militant anti-fascists are usually supporters of class struggle, and view fascism as an anti-working class political system. Militant anti-fascists tend to promote radical anti-capitalist transformation of society, rather than defending the status quo of liberal democracy. This often translates into support for some form of socialism or anarchism.

As John Jay Ray points out, Fascism was not a right wing perversion that sprang from untrammeled capitalism, but a progressive movement with the intention of forcing or tricking people into giving up their liberty to a perfected society, all for their own good.
If the term "Fascism" means anything of itself it means "Groupism" -- as the fasci of Italy at the time were simply groups of political activists. The fasces of ancient Roman times were of course the bundles of rods carried by the lictors to symbolize the great strength of the organized Roman people. The idea again was that people were stronger in groups than as individuals.

Mussolini got his ideas for fascism from the most prominent groupthinkers of his day: Woodrow Wilson and the American Progressives.
"Upon taking power in Washington, Wilson and the many other Southerners he brought into his cabinet were disturbed at the way the federal government went about its own business. One legacy of post-Civil War Republican ascendancy was that Washington's large black populace had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances. Wilson's cabinet put an end to that, bringing Jim Crow to Washington. Wilson allowed various officials to segregate the toilets, cafeterias, and work areas of their departments".

There is more.
the more one reads about the American "Progressives" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the more parallels one finds between them and the Fascists. For instance, particularly prominent on the American Left were the Bellamys. Edward and Francis Bellamy actively promoted what they called "military socialism" and, largely under their influence, loyalty oaths, flag ceremonies, racist preaching and even the straight-armed salute were all common in America long before they were adopted by Mussolini and the Nazis.

This speech from the era of WW2 is pure fascism.
"If we are to go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because, without such discipline, no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good".

The speech was given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, progressive icon.

Why have I done this? To smear Democrats and liberals? On the contrary, I have done it to awaken the reader to the fact that fascism is not only of the right, but that fascism can be of the left, and has been leftist for most of the 20th century.

So what we have in antifa is a militant group movement that seeks to bully and physically attack those who it perceives as being of the right, precisely because they are of the right and hold with capitalist or counterjihad principles. The Nazi party was the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Antifa is a violent socialist group intent on suppressing others by violence. In other words, the antifa movement is by no means anti-fascist, but actually is exactly as fascist as the Nazi SS Brownshirts.

When the leather-jacketed, jackbooted antifa horde charges at jews and counterjihadists, iron bars swinging, it is accurate to compare the attack to Kristallnacht and the attackers to the Nazi Party, which was after all a party of Socialist Fascists just like the Antifa. Anti-fascist? How about Aunty Fascist instead?

Or just leave Aunty at home and call them Fascists, since that's what they are.

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17 December 2007

Is This the New Normal?

Charles Johnson shares a death threat from an Omani adherent of the Religion of Peace. (h/t: Robert Spencer)
Allah Willing, thetime will come when flashes of fire will burn your belly to ash, your wife(your yahoodi whore) shall be a slave for the pleasure of the Al-Muslimoon. Inshallah, I will find yuo and killed you SOMEDAY YOU KUFFAR PIG, YOU SON OF THE APES AND THE SWINE ALLAH TA’ALLA SHALL ROAST YOUR ORGANS FOR THE PLEASURE OF THE MUSLIMS YOU SCUM FILTHEIR THNA THE COCKROACH, YOU K A F I R

Just a few days ago, Larry O'Donnell revealed to Hugh Hewitt that he would rather slander a presidential candidate's religion than say anything bad about Islam, because he is scared of Muslims.
HH: Would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith?

LO’D: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.

HH: Well, that’s candid.

LO’D: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever…

HH: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.

LO’D: They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.

Mark Steyn, who has been sued for Islamophobia in Canada for an extract from America Alone published in a magazine, echoes Michelle Malkin concerning Aqsa Parvez, the young lady from the suburbs of Toronto who refused to wear a hijab and was strangled to death by her father for the transgression. The WaPo's headline reads "Canadian Teen Dies; Father Charged." How antiseptic. How non-confrontational.

Mohammed Elmasry, who has filed the charges against Steyn, says of the murder, "I don't want the public to think that this is really an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue... It is a teenager issue." As if strangling a girl to death for a dress code violation happens to all teenagers, teenagers who are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Scientologist, of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, European, Cherokee, Mexican, and African descent. Though it doesn't happen to teens like that. What happened is called an honor killing, as if honor had something to do with it. It happens to teen girls who are Muslim or who come from Arabic countries.

[Thanks for Cold Fury for pointing out the Mark Steyn situation.]

Is this the new normal? Or is it abnormal, full of hatred and contempt, violently oppressive of women, murderous, and horrible?

And if it is the latter, then what can we say of a system of thought that supports honor killing, that defends it as normal? Systematic justification of horrible, oppressive, contemptuous murder of women must be characterized for what it is: Evil. It is the perfect example of the banality of evil, as if we can be fooled by a seemingly reasonable, systemic defense of the indefensible to tolerate the intolerable.
The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.
-- Cicero
By evil I do not mean sin. I am no God to pass judgment on the sins of men and women. By evil I mean the systemic perversion of the natural law that God placed in the mind of humans, to the point where those who follow the perverse system come to believe that what is clearly wrong according to God's natural law is right by the measure of their perverted system. The evil system converts the human who can come to a naive but fundamentally correct understanding of human and divine goodness into an inhuman who works for the furtherance of evil, believing it to be good and good sinful. The spread of the evil system is like a cult of vampirism that makes monsters of all whom it touches (and teaches).

Baron Bodissey writes, concerning the new normal of multicultural self-loathing.
The prisoner gets used to shackles and chains. The amputee hardly notices his artificial leg. The inhabitant of Vestvågøy becomes accustomed to the long dark winter, the call of the gulls, and the crash of the sea against the cliffs. [...]

The fear of Muslim wrath dovetails neatly with Orthodox Multiculturalism, producing that familiar attitude of cringing appeasement displayed by virtually every public figure in the face of Islamic intimidation. Allah proposes and the infidel disposes — at least if he wants to keep his head.

Roger Simon writes, concerning the coward Larry O'Donnell
when I first read those statements, my mouth dropped open.

They are particularly disturbing if you compare the estimated number of Muslims in the world (1.5 billion) to the number of Mormons (12 million) and the likelihood of either group being responsible for, say, a bombing in the New York subway. Of course, O’Donnell is clearly aware of this – all too clearly. And he has decided to opt out. [...]

O’Donnell’s cowardice would not be interesting, however, were he not typical. O’Donnell’s kind of fear is all around us. We have it among artists who censor themselves and journalists who are afraid to speak out. These people have buried their traditional liberal values under a veneer of false tolerance and trendy cultural relativism and essentially turned liberalism on its head.

O’Donnell is no longer a liberal in the sense I understood it growing up. In fact, he runs away from defending the basic canon of liberalism without which it cannot exist – free speech. A true liberal is a man like Flemming Rose who had the courage to defend that freedom against the onslaught of opposition to the publication of the Danish cartoons. Where was O’Donnell on that? Quivering in his corner, worrying whether he will be shot? Where was O’Donnell (a man of the entertainment industry, no less) when director Theo Van Gogh was stabbed to death by an Islamist on the streets of Amsterdam for making a film critical of Islam? Busy attacking George Bush, I imagine. The courage of Rose and Van Gogh (and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq and Wafa Sultan, etc.) is paying O’Donnell’s check from the McLaughlin Group in a very real sense. He owes them all a commission.
Appeasement, submission, payment of the jizya, the signs of preemptive surrender to an army that would swiftly transform our society and world into something we would never recognize.

Yield not to evils, but attack all the more boldly.
-- Virgil

One thing we need is a retrenchment and renewal of traditional values expressed in ways that make them relevant to modern times. Defensive indoctrination against the destructive indoctrination of the Gramscians and Islamists must be the first step. Thus we may be inoculated against the perverse arguments of those who would fool us into surrendering our way of life, and our life itself, to their cruel monotheistic paganism.

Only then will an attack on the bad traditions of the demographic invaders of Europe and the USA succeed.

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16 December 2007

Iraqi oil output is up

The beeb writes:
Iraqi oil production is above the levels seen before the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It's about time!

h/t: USS Neverdock

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Zenster: The Toxic Nihilism of the Academy

Over at The Belmont Club, Zenster contributes a brilliant comment on Wretchard's post about the year the Clintons spent in Berkeley. I have reprinted it in total for ease of reference.
Boomers were one of the first generations to grow up completely immeresed in liberal academia's toxic brew of uncertainty and nebulous definitions.

It is impossible to overstate how damaging to young minds modern academia’s school of nihilist “thought” truly is. Let’s examine its "tenets": (Try to recall how many times you told the following.)

1. You can never know anything for sure.

2. There's no right or wrong, just shades of grey.

3. Truth is subjective.

4. Logic is conditional.

5. There are no absolutes.

6. Life is without meaning.

All of the above—now commonly held—"tenets" engender belief in a malevolent universe. They spawn pessimism, insecurity, cynicism and the ready dismissal of established norms. All of these behaviors are prerequisites for the subordination of less capable minds by those who seek to control them. Loosing an individual from the moorings of rational philosophy makes those cut adrift extremely vulnerable to programming of any sort. Cults and brainwashers are notorious for using such methods in recruiting new members or inducing political defections.

Let’s examine these modern “tenets” one by one:

You can never know anything for sure.

I’ve had people actually try to argue with me about how I can be so sure that the sun will rise tomorrow. My simple reply is that such debate is irrelevant because if the sun does not rise, all life will end and further dispute serves no valid purpose. Ayn Rand addresses this in her law of identity: A=A. Certain laws do hold with a degree of immutability whereby they can be accepted as absolute. The lack of surety bred up by this one supposition is amongst the most damaging of all to young minds.

There's no right or wrong, just shades of grey.

Whenever confronted with this utter nonsense simply ask, “When is rape permissible?” There are certain things in this world that are wrong and to think otherwise is indicates an unwholesome degree of moral flexibility. It fosters an ability to tolerate the intolerable. This particular “tenet” serves as a cornerstone of moral relativism and represents a core driver of Multiculturalism’s refusal to condemn even the most hideous of traditions.

Truth is subjective.

There can be no better way of undermining an individual’s personal convictions than by making truth circumstantial. Welcome to the brave new world of “truthiness”. When a person’s moral compass is demagnetized its poles become interchangeable and from thereon it’s all a downhill slide. Once you leave the mountaintop of moral clarity all perspective is lost and certainty perishes swiftly thereafter.

Logic is conditional.

This is how you strip the mind’s gearbox and destroy any transmission of meaningful reality. Critical analysis is impossible without the guideposts of logic. Once this guardian of intellect is slain any barbarian can crash the gates of reason. Constructive criticism and the assassination of ideas suddenly become indistinguishable. Deform this vital toolset and there is no way to repair the damage done by the preceding “tenets”.

There are no absolutes.

Tear out the moorings of mental discrimination and personal judgment becomes impossible. Witness the recent pejorative cast given to the word “discrimination”. Although wholly different in meaning, it is now demonized with the same negative connotations attributed to the word “prejudice”. Little value is held in the ability to discern between right and wrong. Especially so when the difference between right and wrong has already been denied. When people cannot make up their own minds the time is ripe for someone else to do it for them.

Life is without meaning.

Here is the grand finale for those who seek to subvert humanity and civilization. Eliminate a sense of individual purpose in life and blind obedience becomes—not just a welcome relief from crippling disorientation—but an easy descent into conformity and total lack of free thought. Communism sought to do this by alienating workers from their labor, product and compensation. Make a person’s work irrelevant to their daily living and life rapidly becomes meaningless. Have the result of human labor bear no direct relation to personal survival and existence loses its importance. Reward individuals in ways that have little connection to their efforts and soon they lose all contact with reality.

Authoritarian religions do this as well. They attempt to channel all human spirituality into a more narrow definition that serves only their own ends. True liberation of the mind represents a least desirable outcome. Life’s meaning can only be perceived within the limited confines of hidebound doctrine and not via an individual quest for uplift.

Now, combine all of these “tenets” together and you brew up an intellectual poison so toxic that there is little chance of escaping its fatal effects. The antidotes of reason, logic and morality have all been diluted into impotence and little more remains than being led to the slaughterhouse. Welcome to Htrae, the Bizarro World of Politically Correct thinking and Multiculturalism.

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14 December 2007

Larry O'Donnell Sure Sounds Like a Leftist Coward and Bigot

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Larry O'Donnell, ending with O'Donnell's startling admission of his own cowardice and bigotry.
HH: Would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith?

LO’D: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.

HH: Well, that’s candid.

LO’D: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever…

HH: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.

LO’D: They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.

In case you don't know who Larry O'Donnell is, see Wikipedia and MSNBC.

Now the way that instead of opposing the real bad guys the left attacks American Republicans, who are on the left's side against the real bad guys, makes sense. They have the repulsive mix of bigotry against all people conservative and cowardice toward the true fascists who would as soon behead them as look at them. They are shaking like coward-flavored jello in their cha-cha heels.

h/t: Dissecting Leftism

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13 December 2007

News from the Far End of the World: Not ready to let NATO off the hook

The well-known, effete "caveats" that NATO wimps like Germany and Spain use to ensure that their troops are back on base and hunkered down by nightfall, that they never have to fire a weapon, that they are never attacked and never have to muss their hair or get dirt under their painted girly-man fingernails, have damaged the ability of the ISAF to provide security in Afghanistan.
ISAF forces operating in the south are from Britain, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Romania, the Netherlands and the United States. [link]

Notice the absence of Germany and Spain in the south of Afghanistan, where the insurgency is hottest.

This weekend NATO is meeting to discuss the allied forces' composition in Afghanistan. AFP reports:
Rising Taliban violence has accentuated US concerns that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) lacks the troops and capabilities needed to mount a successful counter-insurgency.

ISAF is short three infantry battalions, 3,000 trainers for the Afghan police and army and about 20 medium and heavy lift and attack helicopters.
And the US isn't going to keep taking up the slack. Oz isn't either; nor England. The European nations, enervated by 60 years of trusted American military protection have lost their ability to fight, or even to identify a mortal enemy. US SecDef Robert Gates is heading to Edinburgh.
Gates and defense ministers from countries whose troops are fighting in southern Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led force will meet for two days in Edinburgh to discuss the shortfalls and map a strategy to persuade other allies to do their part.

"I'm not ready to let NATO off the hook," Gates told US lawmakers Tuesday, sharply criticizing members of the alliance for failing to live up to commitments made more than a year ago at a summit in Riga. [link]

Related: Oz has spoken!

Gordon Brown has a strategery for Afghanistan that may be bearing fruit.

Afghans claim hundreds of Taliban were killed in the fighting in Musa Qala. Hip hip hooray!

Just in case there exists someone out there hasn't yet grasped exactly how odious and rotten a bunch of murderous bandits they are, the Taliban executed a 60-year-old lady from Charchino district of Uruzgan province for "spying." They also executed her 7-year-old grandson. Some freedom fighters, eh?

In response to concerns over what might happen to Pakistan's nukes in case Al Qaeda's insurgency succeeds, Musharraf issued an ordinance making him the "head of the National Command Authority which is responsible for development and control of atomic weapons."

For those who are sick of the incredibly long political campaigns in the US, at least the US doesn't have the violence of the Pakistani version. [more]

Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, president of the MMA alliance in Pakistan, and boycotter extraordinaire, has decreed that any member of his political organization who actually runs for office will be kicked out of the political alliance, proving he is either insane or stupid. Who ever heard of a political party with the purpose of ensuring its members do not win office, or even run for it? That's like removing the motor from a car after you've already left on the road trip.

Speaking of boycotts, lawyers backing Nawaz Sharif for President are now mad at him because he won't boycott the race.

Someone is missing the point. Winner-takes-all politics requires extreme candidates to moderate their positions in order to get elected. That is the whole reason it works. Boycotts are not moderate by any stretch of the word, and boycotters will always lose elections. Hip hip hooray!

Benazir Bhutto has extracted an oath sworn upon the Koran from members of her PPP party to refrain from exploiting party workers if they are elected. One would hope that this would bind them against exploiting the people who voted for them as well, but given Bhutto's past entanglements with theft and political corruption this might be one hope too far. By the way, what verse does one meditate upon when taking an oath on the Koran? Hopefully not Medinan passages such as 2:225 and 66:2.
[2:225] Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.

[66:2] Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases): and Allah is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom.
Quetta, which swarms with Al Qaeda types, was hit by suicide bombers.

Finally, in the news that Pakistanis actually care about, Pakistan exploited the rules and bad weather to escape with a draw in the Cricket Tests against India. India fans are not amused.

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Oz Says Euros are Slacking in Afghanistan

Rafael Epstein reports:
Australia's new Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon will deliver a blunt message to NATO countries meeting in Scotland on Friday, telling them that there will be no more Australian troops sent to Afghanistan until European countries increase their commitment.

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News from the Far End of the World: The End of the Beginning in Afghanistan

PM Gordon Brown of the UK proposed talking with the Taliban or perhaps not, or perhaps he proposed one before he said he wouldn't. I can't tell. But in any case, the diplomatic offensive in Afghanistan and Talibanistan is getting more serious, with both NATO and the Afghan government making inroads.
Officials claim that 5,000 Taleban members have already agreed to give up their arms. These are mainly “tier two” and “tier three” Taleban; the latter being local farmers who fought intermittently for about £5 a day. However, they also said that 70 Taleban “leaders” had been killed this year alone.

President Karzai of Afghanistan has admitted that he has been in negotiation with mid-level Taliban leaders to persuade them to part ways with Mullah Omar prior to the assault on Musa Qala (about which more later). Jerome Starkey reports:
Mullah Mohammad Ishaq Nizami claimed that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, was trying to isolate Mullah Omar by wooing his lieutenants in the Quetta Shura. The council of elders in neighbouring Pakistan controls insurgents in Kandahar and Helmand.

He said: "Karzai is trying to get the 18 people in the Quetta Shura. If he succeeds it will be a defeat for Mullah Omar. The Taleban and the government are tired of fighting and they want to negotiate."

A nameless NATO official chimes in with a Rumsfieldian quote:
"These are talks about talks. It might not be the beginning of the end, but it's the end of the beginning. It's not official. It is representatives of representatives, like the role the Church played at the start of the Northern Ireland peace process."

The End of the Beginning. It's progress.

Musa Qala has been retaken from Taliban control with more than 50 Taliban fighters dead. The locals are not sad to see them go. Noor Khan writes for the AP:
[Taliban] fighters did collect "taxes" from businesses, farmers and others, money used to help fund the insurgency that raged across the northern part of Helmand province in 2007, a year of record violence in Afghanistan.

Fariq Khan, a Musa Qala resident in his early 30s who owns a telephone shop, said the Taliban would take about $8 from each family every month during a collection at the mosque. Though small, the amount is significant; teachers in Afghanistan are paid only $50 a month.

Trucks passing through paid $50 and poppy farmers had to turn over 10 percent of their profits, Khan said, speaking to The Associated Press in Kandahar.

Musa Qala was the site of 50 to 70 heroin labs used to process the opium poppies grown across northern Helmand _ the world's largest poppy growing region. Khan said small labs employed 15 Afghans, while larger operations had some 60 workers.

Another Musa Qala resident, Mohammed Rauf, said the town has dozens of labs run by residents. "When the Taliban took control after this peace agreement failed, the heroin factories increased," he said in a telephone interview.

The Islamist MMA coalition in Pakistan is near collapse and has suspended itself.

I don't understand the tendency for Muslims in Pakistan and Iraq to boycott politics. It is a foolish surrender to the opposition.

Mushy dodged yet another al Qaeda assassination plot. Assassin and Old Man of the Mountain Osama bin Laden's response has not been reported, but can be imagined.

The Taliban are not in retreat everywhere. Attacks on video rental and music shops continue. Kim Barker reports from Peshawar.
In Peshawar, the police have solved few of the bombings, which have managed to almost shut down the struggling entertainment industry here. No one was arrested in one of the most serious attacks, a suicide bomber who killed the city's police chief and 15 others last January, let alone the smaller bombs that explode regularly. No one has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

In Peshawar, as many as 3,000 police patrol the city of 4 million. That means a rate of one officer for every 1,333 people, compared with Chicago, with one officer for about every 210 people. But the Peshawar police are expected to solve normal crimes plus tackle a growing Islamic insurgency, which often traces back to Taliban-controlled towns or the nearby tribal areas, where tribal justice reigns and there is no law enforcement, let alone police. Coordination between police departments here is unlikely or impossible.

"The militancy factor in the last one year, wasn't here before," said Muhammad Tahir, the senior superintendent of police in Peshawar. "Basically the erosion of state authority has taken place."

As Tahir explained that the militants were better equipped than police in parts of the province, his phone rang — another bombing. This time, a bomb being carried by a woman had blown up near an office of Pakistan's most powerful spy agency. Government officials initially said the woman was the country's first female suicide bomber, but Tahir later said she was probably carrying the bomb when it was unexpectedly detonated by mobile phone, killing only her.

Finally, the major motion picture The Kite Runner has caused unexpected problems for its local stars. Ed Pilkington reports:
The film includes a rape scene involving individuals from two rival tribes. Although the scene is sensitively portrayed, with the unstrapping of a belt rather than graphic action, it has prompted fears of possible ethnic unrest. Paramount Pictures delayed the release of the film by six weeks to December 14 to give time to guarantee the boys' safety.

The four boys include Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, now 13, who plays Hassan, a low-caste member of the Hazara tribe; and Zekeria Ebrahimi, 11, who is cast in the role of Hassan's best friend, a relatively rich Pashtun called Amir. In a key scene Amir fails to intervene when Hassan is raped by a Pashtun man - a betrayal that develops through the film and lies at its emotional core.

Ahmad's characterisation of Hassan has been highly praised. The New York Times has said it "ranks among the great child performances on film".

Rich Klein, a Middle East expert with a Washington-based consultancy firm employed by Paramount to organise the relocation of the boys, said it was a huge relief that they were now out of harm's way. "We were working with eight people, three different languages, and four time zones. But we have found the right place for the boys where they won't feel any sense of anxiety or dislocation in their lives."

Mr Klein said Paramount had recognised it had made an error in casting local Afghan actors. "A mistake was made. It was unintentional - the situation was not fully understood in terms of Afghan culture and history and the relationship between the Hazara and Pashtun people."

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12 December 2007

Iranians received partial instructions for making core of atomic weapon

Last week's NIE isn't the last word on Iran's nuclear ambitions. According to a new book, Iran obtained nuclear weapon plans from Pakistan starting in the late 1980s. From Reuters:
"The Nuclear Jihadist," by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, tells the story of how Pakistani engineer Adbul Qadeer Khan, the now disgraced father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, developed an intricate supply network aimed at skirting sanctions and peddling uranium enrichment technology.

Khan's network supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with nuclear machinery and designs. Tehran's dealings with the network at the time are one of the main riddles the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna is trying to solve.

The book by the U.S. journalists says it was not Khan but German businessman Gotthard Lerch who persuaded Iran in 1987 to consider enriching uranium - a process of purifying it for use in power plants or weapons.

Lerch has been accused by German prosecutors of helping Khan supply Libya with restricted nuclear technology.

He and his lawyers protest innocence. Back to the story.
Frantz and Collins say a physicist from Iran's Atomic Energy Organization visited Lerch's office in Switzerland in 1987 to buy conventional weapons for Iran's war against Iraq.

Lerch agreed to fill the order but insisted the Iranian watch a promotional film about his nuclear inventory. Lerch had known Khan from his days working at a German vacuum firm that sold Pakistan vacuum pumps for its enrichment program.

Several weeks later the Iranians said they were interested.

Lerch's contacts with Iran came after Saddam Hussein's Iraq began attacking Iranian troops with chemical weapons, which began to turn the tide of the long war against Tehran.

Lerch met the Iranians in Zurich and then arranged a follow-up meeting in Dubai where, the authors write, Iran was expected to pay $10 million as a down-payment for several Pakistani enrichment centrifuges from Khan and designs.

Among the items the Iranians received in Dubai were partial instructions for making the core of an atomic weapon. [emphasis mine]

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Cuba Privatizes Some Abandoned State-Owned Farmland

Fidel Castro, 81, has been out of the public eye for the past 16 months after his intestinal surgery. Recently he phoned Elian Gonzalez.
Elian Gonzalez, who as a boy was the focus of an international custody battle, said ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro called him Thursday and told him he is doing well.

"It was a very exciting moment," said Gonzalez, who turned 14 this month.

Ho hum.

More importantly for the prosperity of Cubans, Marc Frank reports the state is privatizing some farmland.
The weekly economic publication Opciones recently reported that sickle bush and other weeds have become "a plague", covering one third of Cuba's 3.6 million hectares (90 million acres) of arable land.

A group of Raul Castro's aides is drawing up a plan for what to do with the large tracts of vacant state land, with a deadline set for the end of this year, Communist Party sources say.

Local farmers say they are the key to any reform.

"When I was young I joined the revolution because my father and I worked like slaves for an American dairy company right here," said family farmer Alfredo Fernandez. "Our lives are much better now, but the truth is the area used to produce 1,000 liters of milk a day and now maybe 200 liters."

Finally, Tomás Estrada-Palma has a video showing a Cuban mob, organized by the state to attack peaceful protestors.

Finally plus one, here is the first of a series of videos showing allegations of torture in Cuba.

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08 December 2007

An Orbit Between Ice and Steam

Earth and its atmosphere orbit the Sun within a zone of solar radiation intensity halfway between too cold, the temperatures at which water turns to ice, and too hot, the temperatures at which water turns to steam. Most non-microscopic Earthly life cannot long survive average temperatures if they swing too far outside the comfort zone.

Earth's neighbors are not so lucky. Water on Mars is frozen and exists only beneath the polar caps. Mars' atmosphere is thin and incapable of retaining enough heat for liquid water. Water on Venus is superheated steam in solution with sulfuric acid likewise superheated and gaseous. Venus' atmosphere is thick, nearly opaque, and the volcanically hyperactive surface is estimated to run about 900 degrees fahrenheit, the same temperature as a tandoori oven and 400 degrees hotter than most home ovens will get, except in the cleaning cycle.

Both Mars and Venus serve as warnings of what can happen to Earth if the Earthly climate slides out of its comfort zone.

If Earth heats up a little, some ice deposits will melt, far northern latitudes will become more habitable and agriculturally productive, and equatorial regions become slightly warmer. Arctic and Antarctic animals will thrive, as fewer will die in the extreme cold. More people die every year around the world from cold than die from heat, so death rates would fall. Greenland and other icy lands will become inhabitable, and farming will even be possible along Greenland's coasts. When a slight warming trend happened during the medieval warm period Europe's population doubled. Populations would probably rise during a new warming trend. Sea levels might rise another foot, maybe a foot and a half.

In other words, it sounds like a vacation at the beach. What is so terrible about this possibility again?

If Earth heats up a lot, things get much more uncomfortable, desertification increases, and eventually, if it gets hot enough and enough steam gets into the atmosphere at some point temperature and water vapor would go into a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop that turns Earth into a terribly hot planet (though cooler than Venus). But to be honest this is reaching. Even if subject to a rampant greenhouse effect Earth will never reach Venus' temperature because it's too much farther out from the Sun, but the average surface temperature might reach two hundred or three hundred degrees. That's in the uninhabitable range. The atmosphere would be filled with superheated steam that would scrub the flesh right off your bones as it cooked you. Long before that comes to pass, mankind will be unable to live on Earth and our descendants will need to have made the jump to space if they do not choose to become extinct.

If things get cooler then they get bad very quickly. Winter death rates rise rapidly even with a small temperature drop. Northern latitudes become less fertile. Arctic and antarctic species die off. Crops become unproductive. The price of food would double, then double again, then again. Population growth would stop, then reverse.

If they get even colder then it gets yet worse. Ten thousand years ago North America and much of Europe were covered with enormous sheets of ice a mile thick. Mankind could not survive in those temperatures. The northern latitudes are abandoned and all people crowd into the tropics, there to make war upon each other.

At a far more moderate level of cooling than the one required for all the fresh and salt water on Earth to freeze the toll of human suffering will be enormous. Migrations from the North to the South will reverse the population migrations of the 20th century. People will pray and beg for a warmer climate, just like the old days in the 21st century. They will curse the name of Al Gore and other Global Warming celebrities.

The Independent talks about weather, and evidence that Sunspot activity affects temperature.
Sunspots can be long or short, weak or strong and sometimes they can go away altogether. Following the discovery of the cycle, astronomers looked back through previous observations and were able to see it clearly until they reached the 17th century, when it seemed to disappear. It turned out to be a real absence, not one caused by a lack of observations. Astronomers called it the "Maunder Minimum." It was an astonishing discovery: our Sun can change. Between 1645 and 1715 sunspots were rare. About 50 were observed; there should have been 50,000.

Ever since the sunspot cycle was discovered, researchers have looked for its rhythm superimposed on the Earth's climate. In some cases it's there but usually at low levels. But there was something strange about the time when the sunspots disappeared that left scientists to ponder if the sun's unusual behaviour could have something to do with the fact that the 17th century was also a time when the Earth's northern hemisphere chilled with devastating consequences.

Scientists call that event the "Little Ice Age" and it affected Europe at just the wrong time. In response to the more benign climate of the earlier Medieval Warm Period, Europe's population may have doubled. But in the mid-17th century demographic growth stopped and in some areas fell, in part due to the reduced crop yields caused by climate change. Bread prices doubled and then quintupled and hunger weakened the population. The Italian historian Majolino Bisaccioni suggested that the wave of bad weather and revolutions might be due to the influence of the stars. But the Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli speculated that fluctuations in the number of sunspots might be to blame, for he had noticed they were absent.
h/t: Tarnsman at Belmont Club

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07 December 2007

Parsing the NIE's release: Check the timing

Inspired by the Belmont Club.

The latest unclassified NIE on the Iranian nuclear weapon program was released a couple of days before the New York Times released its latest treasonous intelligence leak from the classified NIE. Coincidence?

The NIE was a bombshell that turned Intelligence agencies' opinions about Iran's intentions around 180 degrees, and it was based on information from August 2007. This may have come from Asghari's defection, or from one of several Quds force spies who were captured in Iraq, or from another source. By the way, Asghari defected but left his family behind in Iran. What kind of defector leaves his whole family behind? Only one who has no intention of revealing the truth: A double agent. Again, coincidence?

Bush is a good poker player. Some of his obscure moves have a purpose, no matter how nonsensical it seems. In this case he is making this play both for domestic political purposes and also to read his opponents' hand. The release of the unclassified NIE had two purposes, to disarm the scoop the New York Treasonous Times was about to release, and to test the intelligence in the NIE. The NYT release identified a number of Iranian officials, not by name, but by function. The NYT was going to burn these intelligence sources, and by releasing the unclassified NIE the president was able to warn them before they were exposed. The NYT release would also turn the NIE into a powerful symbol the anti-American left could use against Bush and the military.

If the NIE in combination with the NYT leak prompts a flurry of activity in Iran, or a new batch of Iranian counter-espionage killings then we know it's valid and the Iranians really have not yet resumed nuclear weapon design despite continuing to produce weapons grade Uranium. If the ants don't start boiling out of their nest then we know that Iran planted the info, the intelligence is highly probably to be dead wrong, and our troops can redouble their clandestine efforts assisting the rebels inside Iran while the Navy prepares for a bombing campaign.

Iran's response so far is "tsk tsk, ho hum."
Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

Does the Devil exist? Is Iran pursuing nuclear weapons intent on using them against America and Israel? Does it intend to protect itself from invasion while sending waves of terrorist attacks out far and wide? Or does it intend to use nuclear weapons to threaten its neighbors and gain control over shipping through the Strait of Hormuz and gain a stranglehold on the world's oil supply? Perhaps all these forms of Jihad are in the plans. Iran has demonstrated its commitment to Jihad since 1979.

What is the next move now?

Supposedly of Turkish nationality but the son of a German father, Söze allegedly began his criminal career in Turkey as a low-level drug smuggler. The entity that is Keyser Söze was truly born, however, when rival smugglers working for the Hungarian Mafia invaded his house while he was away, raping his wife, and holding his children hostage, killing one of them when Söze arrived to show him they were serious. They then threatened to kill his wife and remaining children if he did not surrender his business to them. Rather than give in to their demands, he shot and killed his family and all but one of the Hungarians, whom he spared knowing that the survivor would tell the mafia gang what he was planning to do.

He lets the last Hungarian go. He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground and then he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone. Underground. Nobody has ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. "Rat on your pop, and Keyser Soze will get you." And no-one ever really believes.

My nightmares go like this.

The Golden Children of Al Qaeda in the Necronomicon

After Iran falls in war the Jihadists from Hezbollah and Hamas, Al Qaeda and the Qods Force rise from the ashes and slip out into the night of the world, carrying suitcase nuclear weapons, intent on Jihad and Qital against the infidel. Fathers, mothers, their friends, children, wives, in-laws, pets, creditors, employers, all become targets to these terrorist Keyser Sozes of the world.

If you know an American, a Briton, or a Jew you will be their target. If you read Wolf Pangloss or Belmont Club or any of a thousand blogs that are beginning to awaken to the danger you are their target.

When the God of slavery rules the world then we will all dance from his strings, marionettes in the madness, slaves to his hate and the hate wielded by his favorite people, who have agreed with alacrity to be his special, most obedient slaves in return for better treatment than everyone else.

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Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

                Matthew 7:15-16