Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, December 31, 2006

On The "Straightening" Of Gay Embryos

Imagine your doctor telling you during a pregnancy check-up, that it's highly likely your new baby will be born gay ... but he's got a patch the mom can wear to make the baby straight.

Would you opt for the patch, or would you allow nature to run its course? This isn't mere musing; it could very well be a decision parents have to make in the not too distant future. Here's a report from the Times of London:
SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.

The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.

But the researchers argue that the work is valid, shedding light on the “broad question” of what determines sexual orientation. They insist the work is not aimed at “curing” homosexuality.

Approximately one ram in 10 prefers to mount other rams rather than mate with ewes, reducing its value to a farmer. Initially, the publicly funded project aimed to improve the productivity of herds.

Let's dispose of Navratilova first. Rams don't have a "right" to be gay because they don't understand rights. Nor are the experiments homophobic -- one of a dozen or so lefty worlds that are designed to terminate all discussion, says Dennis Prager. Can you be homophobic about an embryo? It seems unlikely.

However, apply pro-choice arguments, Navratilova actually stumbles onto a point. If we argue that we have no right to take the life of a human God has created in the womb, do we have the right to change that human from gay to straight through the application of hormones?

We operate on children in the womb to correct birth defects, but if we use this as justification for the application of "straightening" hormones , we are saying that homosexuality is a birth defect. Of course, under the findings of this research, it is: A mere shortness of certain hormones during pregnancy. That will not make it a popular position with gays, however.

Navratilova is also right in saying gays may be deeply offended by the experiments. Should they be, though? Shouldn't they want to know what made them gay? They certainly could be offended by the application of the experiments -- but to be offended by a scientific quest for a better understanding of a complex human issue? That seems extreme and unjustifiable.

That leads us to the couple with the news from the obstretician.

Would you "straighten" your baby? We know that gay life expectancy is shorter and suicide rates are higher. We suspect that the term "gay" is a poor cover for a lifestyle that typically does not bring with it as much happiness as comes with straight lives. And we know that no matter how open-minded we may be, others in society will not be so kind.

On the other side of the argument, some may say que sera sera, and let the child be born. Some may say their gay friends are indeed gay in the old sense of the word, so why not? And some may not want to dabble in God's work.

Now, what if the couple at the obstretician is gay? How many of them would opt, knowing what they know, to "straighten" their child?

Conversely: If there is a hormone that "straightens" an embryo, could there not also be one that turns an embryo gay? Should gays be allowed to apply this hormone to their straight embryonic offspring?

My thoughts: I would use the hormone (assuming it's thoroughly tested and well understood) because all my gay friends have had pretty tough lives, and I'd like to give my child the best shot at happiness I can. I suspect my gay friends would make the same choice.

And for the same reason, I would oppose gay couples forcing gayness on straight embryos.

And all in all, the whole thing smacks of eugenics and I must say that this is an area I would just as soon see science not get involved in.

Hat-tip: memeorandum
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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two Different Times, Two Different Deaths

Thank you to the Times of London for a forthright and no holds barred obituary of Saddam Hussein. (What a joy to put those last four words together!) It begins:
Saddam Hussein was a tyrant whose actions brought down unimaginable catastrophe on Iraq and its peoples. From an early age, he had enjoyed inflicted suffering on those around him and, when he came to positions of political power, those whom he could not force or corrupt into submitting to his will, he maimed, murdered or made to flee.

He started two major international wars - one against Iran, the second as a result of aggression against Kuwait - which cost an estimated one million lives. He instituted genocidal campaigns against the Kurds in the north of Iraq and the Marsh Arabs in the south. Ruling through the Sunni minority of which he was a member, he ignored the claims of the country's majority Shia population.
To those who fret that the US has brought violence to Iraq, consider this:

Saddam's schooling began at the age of seven in Tikrit. Such was the lawless environment around him that, on his first day at school, he carried a steel bar in his hand and a loaded revolver in his pocket, the latter bought for him by his relatives.
The refresher course in the history of Iraq provided by the obituary tells us a few things: First, the difficulty of the task of democratizing Iraq should have been very clear to everyone from George Bush to George Soros on down; this is a terribly disfunctional nation with a long history of blood, deceit, back-stabbing and hatred.

And second, it was worth trying. To leave in power a man like Hussein, who was ...
A fervent admirer of Hitler on account of the latter's boldness and hatred of Jews, he told his official biographer in 1980 that he wanted Iraqis to think of Nebuchadnezzar every day. "We could march into Palestine and bring all those Jews here in Babylon with their hands tied behind their backs once more" ...
... would be to leave an impossible barrier to improvement in the affairs of the middle east.

Finally, it tells us that the Iraq of today, violent and unstable as it is, is a vast improvement over the Iraq that was, or the Iraq that would have been if Saddam were still in power.

Meanwhile at home, our Times, the one from New York, the one that is a vapid, vile vapor compared to the one of London, led with this pathetic attempt to find sourness and anti-Bushism in the news:
CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 29 — The capture of Saddam Hussein three years ago was a jubilant moment for the White House, hailed by President Bush in a televised address from the Cabinet Room. The execution of Mr. Hussein, though, seemed hardly to inspire the same sentiment.

Before the hanging was carried out in Baghdad, Mr. Bush went to sleep here at his ranch and was not roused when the news came. In a statement written in advance, the president said the execution would not end the violence in Iraq. ...

Now, what could have been a triumphal bookend to the American invasion of Iraq has instead been dampened by the grim reality of conditions on the ground there. Mr. Hussein’s hanging means that the ousted leader has been held accountable for his misdeeds, fulfilling the American war aim most cited by the White House after Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction proved nonexistent.

But that war is now edging toward its fifth year, and the sectarian violence that has surged independent of any old Sunni or Baathist allegiances to Mr. Hussein has raised questions about what change, if any, his death might bring.

One change comes to mind immediately. The majority of Iraqis were oppressed by Saddam and they've seen their government -- not the "American occupiers" but their government -- lawfully try, validly convict and honorably dispose of the despot. That is a bright example of a new nation of laws, and that should be a matter of great pride for the lawful Iraqis, and a strong motivator to dispose of the insurgents who hang on to Saddam's Iraq and move on to a new Iraq.

But I'm not a professional NYT journalist, so what do I know?

hat-tip: Hot Air. Image: Fox News
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Friday, December 29, 2006

A Day Trip To Yosemite

Two of the Incredible Daughters and I visited a very brisk and snow-dusted Yosemite today. (The other did a Fresno PD ride-along with her uncle -- quite a different world!). Here's the macro view of our day -- two El Capitans and two Half-Domes:

And here's the micro -- frost on a fence rail:

Incredible Daughter #1 is quite the geology buff. Here she is explaining glaciation, sedimentation and exfoliation (no, nothing to do with facials ... look it up!) to Incredible Daughter #3:

What a joy it was to bring my girls here, and to see how they've matured since our last visit just a few years ago. It's moments like today when I look at the people who are too intellectual, or cosmpolitan, or European to have babies and shake my head with sadness. What a joyful responsibility they are missing!

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Then What, Barack?

Barack Obama says you can't win in Iraq by sending more troops. In fact, he writes on his web site, "all the troops in the world won't be able to force Shia, Sunni, and Kurd to sit down at a table, resolve their differences, and forge a lasting peace."

Troops, he says, will only delay peace, by delaying the Iraqi resolve to solve the problems they have themselves.

"Themselves," Barack, are the very Shia, Sunni and Kurds who you see never making peace with the help of our military. Will they make peace with the help of their military? Not now, not yet.

Obama offers no solution, just the mandatory Demspeak: redeployment.

What then?

That's the easiest question about the war in Iraq to answer: Then, chaos. Then we'll see the true definition of civil war. And then, we'll prove to ourselves and the Islamist world, that the US can never, ever again intervene in a threatening Islamist nation to protect our interests. We will have forever limited our options, and forever expanded the options of our enemies.

What then? That, too, is all to easy a question to answer. Then it will be a longer, harder, bloodier fight for the peace the Dems knee-jerk so mightily for.

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics
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Ben of Mesopotania, a milblog, provides an excellent -- though rumor-riddled, the author admits -- accounting of the embarassments suffered by John Kerry during his recent trip to Iraq. It supplements Blackfive's recent posts with some new, very funny stuff.

You'll love the bit about the helicopter pilot.

hat-tip: Jim
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Simple Justification For Capital Punishment

"No-one can oppose the decision to execute the criminal Saddam. Those who reject the execution of Saddam are undermining the dignity of Iraq's martyrs."

That's Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki sounding like he's been listening to Dennis Prager, who uses the same ultimate justification for capital punishment: That it is all about respect for life, through paying respect to those whose lives were taken.

BBC reports this morning that Saddam's lawyers have been ordered to pick up his personal effects. Capt. Ed reports that he's being handed over to the Iraqis today. The time draws near, and it should come quickly. Dragging this out only gives those thugs who still support Saddam more time to plan some Saddam-like behavior in retaliation for his much-deserved hanging.

But they have come out, those who call this a rush to judgment, an inhumane act. When cases are easy to make, when evidence is overwhelming, when good judges evil under the watchful eyes of the world, justice can be swift and fair.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Brave Man Killed By Palestinians In Beirut

My stepfather, a retired diplomat, was close friends with three US ambassadors who fell at the hands of Islamist terrorists: Cleo Noel, who was murdered by the PLO, Spike Dubs, who was murdered by Shi'a militia in Afghanistan, and Frank Meloy, who was gunned down in Beirut.

Meloy's story was the hardest of the three to research ... as evidenced by the fact that even the researchers at Time Magazine get it wrong. Here's a letter by a noteworthy writer to Times' editors from 1979:

In your story about embattled diplomats [Nov. 26] you mention that "in the past eleven years, four American ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty." Actually, there have been five, since you omitted my old friend and Foreign Service colleague, Frank Meloy, Ambassador to Lebanon, who was killed in Beirut on June 16,1976.

It is little realized that our Foreign Service is our true first line of defense, or how often those front-line persons suffer casualties.

Claiborne Pell
U.S. Senator, Rhode Island
Washington, D.C.
Frank Meloy and Robert O.Waring, the U.S. economic counselor, were kidnapped and shot on Jan. 1, 1977, when the two were on their way to present Meloy's credentials to Lebanon's president-elect. The timing makes Meloy the answer to an FAQ on the State Department Web site:

Which U.S. chief of mission served for the shortest time?

Francis E. Meloy, Jr. was assassinated in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 16, 1976 while on his way to present his credentials to that country's president.

The shooters were terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who carried out the attack at a militia checkpoint separating the Christian and Muslim sections of Beirut. The pair's driver and bodyguard, Zohair Moghrabi, also died in the attack.

Their bullet-riddled bodies were found a few hours later on a garbage pile in an area of Beirut controlled by Yasser Arafat's PLO. Meloy's successor, L. Dean Brown, insisted that the PLO was not involved in the murder. It's likely the PFLP simply dumped the bodies in PLO territory in an effort to send a little heat Arafat's way -- remember, the Lebanese civil war was a very complex affair.

Meloy, like Dubs, served in the Navy during World War II, then joined the state department where he earned a reputation for a guy who could handle the tough assignments. After serving as ambassador to the Dominican Republic, he received another difficult assignment as ambassador to Guatamala. Then came Lebanon. Time Magazine confirms my assessment and details the assassination in a June 28, 1976 article:
Meloy, 59, a reserved and well-respected career diplomat who had arrived in Beirut only five weeks before, after serving in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, posts the State Department considers to be high-risk jobs, was on the way to his first call on Lebanese President-elect Elias Sarkis when disaster struck. Because Lebanon's discredited President Suleiman Franjieh still clings to office, despite the fact that Sarkis has already been chosen to succeed him, Meloy had not yet presented his credentials−a move generally interpreted as a U.S. nudge to Franjieh to step down.

Together with Waring, 56, a Lebanon veteran since 1972 and the father of four children, and driver-bodyguard Zohair Moghrabi, Meloy set out from the U.S. embassy, situated in Moslem-dominated West Beirut, for the drive to Hazmieh, a Christian-controlled suburb where Sarkis keeps a home. Initially, a chase car manned by three Lebanese security men from the embassy trailed his light green, partially armored Chevrolet Impala, but dropped away before the entry into no man's land−apparently because Christian militiamen on the other side had insisted that only one car pass.

Meloy's car moved through the last checkpoint on the Moslem side−and never reached the first Christian barricade. Somewhere between the two checkpoints, at a spot not visible to either side, the car was stopped by gunmen in what appeared to be a carefully planned operation: the three men were dragged from the vehicle and killed by a volley of shots.
President Ford honored the fallen diplomats with a decree that flags be flown at half-mast at military installations and embassies.

The official State Department position is that the identity of the assassins is unknown, but that is only a nice way of saying that Lebanon's legal system has failed to prosecute the case. Its courts have failed to hold a hearing on the prosecutor’s appeal in the case of Tawfiz Muhammad Farroukh, who, despite the evidence against him, had been found not guilty of being one of the murderers.

And, in March, 1996, a Lebanon appeals court freed two Muslim guerrillas convicted in the assassinations. A three-judge panel ruled that the defendants, Bassem Farkh, 39, and Namek Kamal, 46, were covered under a 1990 amnesty relating to political crimes committed during Lebanon's civil war. Both had been sentenced to death by a lower court in 1994.

The decision was greeted with no comment from the US embassy in Beirut. Again, diplomacy, not diplomats, comes first.

Ambassador Meloy and Robert Waring, thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

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A Brave Man Killed By Shi'ite Afghans

In my conversation with my retired diplomat stepfather this morning about Cleo Noel and George Moore, US diplomats ordered killed by Yasser Arafat, he mentioned two other close friends who were killed in the line of State Dept. duty: Adolph "Spike" Dubs and Frank Meloy.

Here is Spike Dubs' story:

Lt. Commander Spike Dubs served in the Pacific in WWII, then joined the diplomatic corps where he became an expert in US-Soviet relations. After serving as acting ambassador in Moscow, in 1979 he was posted to the front lines of the Cold War, Kabul, Afghanistan, where President Noor Mohammed Taraki was a puppet of the Soviets.

It was his 29th year of service to America through its foreign service.

On Valentine's Day that year, he was abducted by Shi'ite militants and taken to Room 117 of the Kabul Hotel. The heavily armed Shi'ites, opposed to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, issued their demand: the immediate release of three insurgent Muslim leaders captured the previous month.

Interesting, isn't it, that the Islamists were well aware that the US was backing their cause, yet they seized Dubs nonetheless? It shows to me how futile appeasement efforts will be, and how wrong those who say "we just need to understand them" are.

The Time Magazine account a week after Dubs' murder reported:
Within minutes, police cordoned off the hotel and Afghan security forces took charge. Senior U.S. embassy diplomats at the scene were excluded from a crisis command post. In it were Afghan security chiefs, military officers and, significantly, Sergei Bakhturin, the Soviet embassy's chief security officer, and a Soviet adviser to the Afghan police.

Frenzied attempts to negotiate with the terrorists through the keyhole of 117 proved inconclusive. Other U.S. officials attempting to establish contact with President Noor Mohammed Taraki or high-ranking Afghan officials were shunted off to a Deputy Foreign Minister.

Alerted at home in Washington at 1 a.m. (E.S.T.), after urgent high-speed cables clattered simultaneously into the State Department, Pentagon and White House, Secretary Cyrus Vance issued firm instructions by telephone to the embassy in Kabul: Urge the Afghan government to exercise "extreme discretion" and take no chances that could further endanger Dubs' life. The State Department also contacted Moscow with a similar plea.

These demands for restraint went unheeded. Afghan officials later argued that they had received a ten-minute ultimatum from the terrorists, and had heard an unexplained shot inside the hotel seconds before they acted. At 12:50 p.m. Afghan army commandos and police stormed the room with a 40-second assault that one eyewitness described as "a complete holocaust" of gunfire and explosions.

In the cordite smoke, Dubs was found slumped in a chair, dying of multiple wounds; it was unclear whose bullets had hit him. ...

The State Department pinned the blame for the reckless decision to attack on the two Soviets, and summoned Moscow's Ambassador Anatoli Dobrynin to protest the Soviet role "in the strongest terms." In Moscow, U.S. Ambassador Malcolm Toon delivered an equally forceful remonstration to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
Dubs' death -- his deliberate slaughter, really -- is deemed by some experts to be one of the last straws in the deterioration of US-Soviet relations. Like the Noel and Moore murders five years earlier, it was also an early sign of the willingness of radical Islamists to challenge American force wherever they could.

To understand the diplomat's mind-set, you need to consider first the anger and loss the men and women at the US embassy felt upon the murder of Dubs, who had no doubt made friends with many of his current staff over his long career. Contrast those raw feelings with this, written by Bruce K. Byers, USIS press attache at the embassy at the time of Dubs' death, and posted at the Arlington National Cemetery Web site:

It would have been easy for us to hint at links between Soviet KGB and Afghan Interior Ministry officials, but we had to remain absolutely disciplined about information released to the media and the public. The truth was that we had very few hard facts. Any public speculation by embassy officials could have precipitated more dangerous developments in a country whose Marxist-led government was already worried about its survival. The chief responsibility of our embassy was to safeguard the lives of the more than 4,000 Americans living in the country and, especially, those in Kabul.

Dubs' death was another of many at the hands of the Islamists that would slip away without reprisal. But you sense that if Dubs were making the call, that would be his call: He would put the interests of America and Americans ahead of his own.

Thank you for your service, Spike Dubs. And Mary Ann Dubs, we honor you for the loss of your husband in service to our country.

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The Brave Men Arafat Killed

Who were the brave American diplomats behind the just-declassified State Department documents revealing Yasser Arafat's involvement in the the murder of U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel and his deputy George Moore in Khartoum in 1973?

Scott at PowerLine has a comprehensive post on documents, and Capt. Ed has a lucid commentary. I've got a step father who served in the diplomatic corps and knew Noel quite well. I'll get to his story in a minute, but if you haven't read the declassified document, here it is, with my highlights:


In the early evening hours of 1 March 1973, eight Black September Organization (BSO) terrorists seized the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum as a diplomatic reception honoring the departing United States Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was ending. After slightly wounding the United States Ambassador and the Belgian Charge d'Affaires, the terrorists took these officials plus the United States DCM, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador and the Jordanian Charge d'Affaires hostage. In return for the freedom of the hostages, the captors demanded the release of various individuals, mostly Palestinian guerrillas, imprisoned in Jordan, Israel and the United States.

The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the head of Fatah. Fatah representatives based in Khartoum participated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Initially, the main objective of the attack appeared to be to secure the release of Fatah/BSO leader Muhammed Awadh (Abu Da'ud) from Jordanian captivity. Information acquired subsequently reveals that the Fatah/BSO leaders did not expect Awadh to be freed, and indicates that one of the primary goals of the operation was to strike at the United States because of its efforts to achieve a Middle East peace settlement which many Arabs believe would be inimical to Palestinian interests.

Negotiations with the BSO terrorist team were conducted primarily by the Sudanese Ministers of Interior and of Health. No effort was spared, within the capabilities of the Sudanese Government, to secure the freedom of the hostages. The terrorists extended their deadlines three times, but when they became convinced that their demands would not be met and after they reportedly had received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut, they killed the two United States officials and the Belgian Charge. Thirty-four hours later, upon receipt of orders from Yasir Arafat in Beirut to surrender, the terrorists released their other hostages unharmed and surrendered to Sudanese authorities.

The Khartoum operation again demonstrated the ability of the BSO to strike where least expected. The open participation of Fatah representatives in Khartoum in the attack provides further evidence of the Fatah/BSO relationship. The emergence of the United States as a primary fedayeen target indicates a serious threat of further incidents similar to that which occurred in Khartoum.
The commentators are quite shocked this morning that even with this knowledge of the future threats Arafat posed to U.S. interests, the realists prevailed, and within a few years decisions were made to negotiate with a man who was known, to some at least, to have killed our own diplomats.

My step father hadn't heard of the report yet when I called him this morning, but his memory of the incident was encyclopedic. He took the news of Arafat's involvement ... diplomatically.

He paused for a moment to process the new information, then said that Arafat was a different man in 1973 than he was five years later, when Carter, Begin and Saddat hammered out an agreement that ultimately would give Arafat his home base and his power. Arafat wasn't a party to the talks at Camp David, and the Accord didn't resolve the Palestinian issue, but it gave Arafat a base in Gaza and a clearer cause.

Apparently, Carter and State felt changing the groundrules in the middle east by bringing Egypt and Israel together was worth the risk of giving power to a man who had ordered the deaths of two of our diplomats.

My step father knew Cleo Noel well. He was a husband and father. Neither his wife or kids were with him in Khartoum because it was not sort of post.

"People think being a diplomat is all receptions and cocktails and pushing cookies, but it's a very hard life in all but a few posts," he said. "You often have to send your kids off to boarding school. If your family can come with you, they usually can't get work visas, so it disrupts whatever work they may have been doing."

It was Noel's first day in Khartoum and was to be Moore's last. Noel had served in Rome and others posts, so the Khartoum posting probably wasn't something he was pleased with or excited about, but he knew his job: To represent America.

And that is what he did. To the Islamist terrorists, he was America, and it was America Arafat wanted to send a signal to, so Noel and his top aide, Moore, died in the line of duty not just for their country, but being their country.

I asked if the diplomats were aware of the risk.

"Laer, more ambassadors have been killed than generals. We all knew the risks, but we accepted it as part of our service."
More to follow ...

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tidings Of Comfort, Joy And Irony

Commenter JGR told this too-sad but too-funny story in a comment on an earlier post by me regarding corporate disregard for Christmas:
One of the UK papers has a story about Brit carol singers going door to door. The group found the best welcome in the dingiest housing, where older people and the less fortunate welcomed their presence. And, guess who the most generous were for their charity?

Yep, 2 Moslem brothers, who thanked them for representing a real Christmas; not something the two brothers believed in, you see, but something they felt was right for England at this time of year. 'Too often,' the newspaper reported quoted them as saying, 'England pretends to make the traditional celebration into something else.' (my paraphrase)

Indeed. Ultimate irony.
What an amazing story. First, about the appreciative poor and the snooty well to do -- no wonder Christ spent most of his time with the poor. That's something good to remember this time of year.

And the kind-heartedness of the Muslim brothers is a joy to behold, a beacon of hope ... enough to make me realize the need to repent the anger in the post below about the Belsan terrorist, although it's not easy.

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Nur-Pashi Kulayev: The Devil Incarnate

Look how normal he appears.

Hair like a normal human. One nose, one mouth, two eyes -- brown, not glowing red. A chest, with a heart within.

How deceiving the face of evil can be.

You are looking at a deceptively normal looking Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the only known surviving terrorist from the attack on a school in Belsan, Russia, when a Chechen Muslim terrorist action resulted in the deaths of 334 entirely innocent people, many of them children.

Despite his participation in the bloody Islamist action, Kulayev will live. He was sentenced to life in prison in May, and yesterday the Russian supreme court upheld the conviction and sentence.

I hope he goes to the coldest, darkest, most dangerous prison in all of Russia and lives out his days in fear that the next moment will be his last ... and if it is, that the blade on the shiv is ragged, rough and just sharp enough to kill with a lot of pain.

If that happens, it will happen where no one sees it. Too bad. It would be nice if a grainy video of it could be aired on Al Jazeera for all the Islamists to see.

More here
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Is America Ready For Uber-Green Ed?

What are the biggest complaints against Christians? In-your-face evangelism and "being told what to do," of course.

So will Ed Begley Jr. do good or harm to environmentalism when the new reality show Living With Ed debuts on HGTV next month? More convicted -- and convicting -- than the most true-believing street preacher, Ed Begley Jr. is the evangelistic high priest of the greenie movement, and he's getting an hour a week to sermonize to us.

LAT reports:
Ed Begley Jr.'s wife, Rachelle Carson, was freezing inside the couple's 1,700-square-foot Home last week. "He's like the Marquis de Sade," she said of her energy efficiency-minded husband, who refused to turn on the natural gas despite plunging temperatures inside the Begleys' Studio City house. "What about the warmth that I'm sending you right now, honey?" Begley asked. Carson smirked, and then embraced her husband.

Welcome to life at the Begleys. Next month, HGTV's new reality show "Living With Ed" (sneak preview, Monday at 1 p.m.) will chronicle Begley's often extreme environmental rules, which sometimes impede his actress wife's desire to live more like her Hollywood peers.

In the pilot episode, for example, Begley times Carson with a stopwatch during what he considers a lengthy hot shower, reprimands her over not recycling properly and lectures her on how to save energy.
Begley brags about his $600 a year electric bill ($100 a year when he was single) -- but how will that play to Americans who can't afford the $100,000 or so it would take to make a home 90% solar like the Begley digs?

And will we respond favorably to scenes of Ed bicycling away on his stationary bike to generate the power to make his breakfast toast?

Will America think it's fine to shivver in the winter and smell like a European in the summer, all in the name of less natural gas burned and shorter showers?

I don't think so. Conservation is a good thing; people shouldn't air condition their homes in the summer to meat-locker temperatures like Barbra Streisand does. But in too heavy a dose, in too preachy a tone, it reminds us too much of Jimmy Carter in his cardigan and Ralph Nader's perennially sour expression.

No, in America "live with less" just doesn't play well. We are a country that loves exploration and innovation. Rather than turn down the juice, we are driven to create the new and improved juice, and to use it for our expansion and comfort.

Begley's fanatical environmentalism, while useful in a "how to save money" tidbit sort of way and no doubt amusing, is antithetical to what made America great -- so hopefully, America will view Living with Ed as a comedy.

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Quote Of The Day: Voice Of Cruel Experience Edition

"I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking."
-- Saddam Hussein

Saddam's farewell (soon, please!) letter to his previously brutalized subjects tells us four things:
  1. He has apparently admitted his rule was not fair, but rather, he ruled blindly and without thinking, since his was a government most certainly full of hate.
  2. He still thinks he has influence among Iraqis -- and he's probably right on that one.
  3. His followers aren't listening. A letter from the Baathists also published today said, "The Baath and the resistance are determined to retaliate, with all means and everywhere, to harm America and its interests if it commits this crime."
  4. The global gag reflex was tested this morning, and it still works.
Source: AP
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Quote Of The Day: The Real Abu Ghraib Edition

"Crimes Unit? That's pretty much what it does."
-- Capt Tane Dunlop, British Army spokesman

British and Iraqi forces raided a rogue police station in Basra and because the crimes unit housed there was "frankly, too far gone," blew up the whole building.
British forces raided the headquarters of a rogue police unit in Basra on Christmas morning to free prisoners who were about to be executed.

Many of the 127 captives were found in a cramped and squalid cell at the headquarters of the serious crimes unit and showed signs of torture, officers said.

After the raid by 1,000 British and Iraqi troops, Royal Engineers laid charges and blew up the two-storey concrete building, known locally as the "station of death."

The serious crimes unit is the same police division raided in September last year to free two SAS troopers who were about to be sold to insurgents.
Start counting ... let's see how long it takes the human rights activists and their friends in the media to congratulate the forces of good for putting an end to the torture that went on in this now destroyed building.

Breathe again, because you'll never hear that praise. What you'll hear, instead, is that our invasion of Iraq led to these rogue police departments -- despite the fact that the station is now a pile of rubble and the surviving rogue police units are hunted and on the run.

But that doesn't fool the people of Basra, who have been under the thumb of others for so long, who until the day before yesterday cowered under the threat of torture, but today are free.

What better symbol for the rightness of our effort could the people of Basra wish for than this: Freedom-loving forces from abroad coming to their town, planting explosives, and demolishing the house of death that once haunted their neighborhood and tortured their loved ones?

There have been missteps, sure, but our path is true, our motives are right, and our efforts and sacrifices are appreciated by most Iraqis.

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A Birthday Present For Me: Saddam Death Knell

Feeling every one of my now 56 years this morning because of a cold that won't give up, I trudged downstairs to check the news and found this gift in my in-box:
Court: Execute Saddam Within 30 Days

Iraq's highest appeals court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence for Saddam Hussein in his first trial and said it must be carried out within 30 days. The sentence "must be implemented within 30 days," chief judge Aref Shahin. "From tomorrow, any day could be the day of implementation."
Hussein was not toppled, captured, tried by a newly democratic Iraqi government and convicted because we pulled out our military or set firm dates for withdrawing or launched investigations into Halliburton's contracts. It was accomplished from a position of strength, militarily and willfully.

Happy as I am to see Saddam almost gone -- a Nobel Peace Prize for GW, anyone? -- the better birthday present would be a return of that position of strength, through resolve behind a plan for victory in Iraq.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

A Car Reviewer Test-Drives Santa's Sleigh

Unrepentent car junkies will enjoy spending a chuckling Christmas day moment with The Truth About Car's review of Santa's Sleigh. It's a lot of fun:
Slide into the driver’s seat and take hold of the reigns. The seating position is high and visibility unsurpassed. The naturally aspirated 16-nostril power plant producing an impressive 8cp (caribou power) comes to life with a buck, snort and lurch. To keep Santa on schedule, the acceleration is lightning fast and top speed is immeasurable. This sporty little bucket really flies. The front-hoof drive configuration delivers exceptional traction on or off-road, even over icy surfaces.
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A Merry Christmas Morning To You!

Today's beautiful Christmas morning image -- one that hints at a manger in the bent-over, snow-laden, lighted tree in the foreground; the kings, angels, shepherds, Joseph and Mary represented in the tall tree; all in a pool of hopeful, growing light against a black, dark world -- is the homepage screen of this morning.

It's complete with a "Merry Christmas" message, with Christmas underlined, both as emphasis and as a link. The link page leads with:
is a mid-winter festival observed as the birth date of Jesus Christ. Many people celebrate the season with gift-giving, tree decorating, and Santa Claus. Christmas is Monday, December 25, 2006
this year. It is Tuesday, December 25, 2007
next year.
Not exactly the poetic beauty of the bible, but there's Jesus, front and center, as He should be.

Thank you Ask, for an unanticipated and lovely Christmas gift.

Meanwhile, over at Google, we have two kangaroos standing by something that's barely recognizable as a generic, totally secular wreath. It's the culmination of a five-day sequence they're proud enough to link to.

It's cute enough, but that's it; cute. Nothing spiritual, just a material, gift-oriented message, complete with "Happy Holidays" in numerous languages. (I've never seen "Felices Fiestas" before.)

Well, Merry Christmas to you all. My favorite in-laws are visiting and they just woke up. My brother-in-law greeted me with this:
I was talking with my brother yesterday and told him, "I just don't know if I could sacrifice one of my children for mankind the way God did."
Nor could I. And that, my friends, is the miracle that began on Christmas morning 2,000 year ago.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

It Depends On What Your Defintion Of 'Respect' Is

Vlad Putin has repeatedly said he will "respect" the Russian constitution and step down as required in 2008.

Why should we believe that ... unless the Russian constitution allows the murder of novelists and ex-spies who oppose the Prez, unless it allows the capture of business assets of Pres opponents, etc., etc., yes?

Well, it turns out Vlad may be scheming toward a post-presidency strategy that can be best described as "limited constitutional respect:"
"He will not leave," Sergei Stepashin, head of Russia's accounting chamber, was quoted as saying in the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily Saturday. "I think he will find the kind of formula in which he would step down, but stay on."

Stepashin, a former prime minister, secret services chief and KGB veteran, suggested that Putin's post-Kremlin future could be modelled loosely on that of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who in the 1990s was widely considered to retain backroom power despite his retirement.

Ah, there's a fine role model for you.

Asked what sort of options Putin might consider, Stepashin answered: "Lots. Party leader, head of parliament, government, a new state council."

Stepashin is fine with all this; he told Agence Press France in the interview that he sees leadership changes problematic for Russia, where Putin's "work is going well." Translation: Stepapshin was selected to send up the trial balloon.

Unfortunately, becuase Putin's work is "going well," those who don't share Stepashin's assessent may not be too likely to share their concerns.

hat-tip: Brietbart
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Islamic Wars Update

If you want to read the best quick write-up of the escalating Ethiopia-Somalia war, go to Junk Yard Blog. No other accounts, I guarantee you, will incude a Wrath-of-God-spittin' C-130.

hat-tip: memeorandum
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A Christmas Gift: Freedom

E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post is not a man I often agree with, but today he focuses on Allen Dwight Callahan's book, "The Talking Book: African-Americans and the Bible," and I find myself nodding in agreement.

Callahan's book details the particular resonance of Christianity to slaves -- the Exodus of the slave Jews with God's hand leading them, the firm placement of slave and master on the same spiritual plane, and of course the suffering of Christ.

Dionne ends his column:

Callahan cites the words of an old Negro spiritual:

Poor little Jesus boy

Made him to be born in a manger.

World treated him so mean

Treat me mean, too.

The poor, the outcasts, the slaves: If Jesus spoke to anyone, it was to them, and they have responded to him through the centuries. The African-American religious tradition is a blessing to all because it requires us to remember that Jesus of Nazareth really did revolutionize the world.

Did he ever, right down to the hard, self-indulgent, unthinking soul that used to live in my breast.

But for whatever reason, less than 1000 years after Christ walked the Earth, Islam arose, spreading a belief system that was in many ways antithetical to Christ's teachings and the lessons we learn from the Old Testament.

Why didn't Jesus similarly revolutionize that part of the world?

What a shame He did, because in Libya and Iran and Sudan to elsewhere throughout most of the Arab world, men and women are not at all unlike the old Negro who wrote that spiritual -- treated mean by the unfair, ruthless societies fate born them into. How liberated they could be if Christ transformed them, and Christianity transformed their nations.

There's a big prayer for this Christmas season.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Burned Up By Religion


Who says you can't get consumed by secularism?
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.
In true liberal fasion, the man used the most common word in all moonbat liberaldom to explain this action, wearing a sign that said:
F*** the religious establishment and KHSD.
That would be Kern High School District. But religion and the school district weren't the only things on this guy's mind:
The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.
That should just about cover it: Christmas, Easter, religion, America ... and what? ... fighting for liberty? A disgruntled secular Tory?

I will never understand these liberals, but they sure are fun. I can say that because he only suffered first degree burns -- and as a friend of Incredible Daughter #1 (who gets a hat-tip for this story) put it, "First degree? That's it? Way not to protest, wuss!"

Update: Verum Serum has a complete write-up complete with troubling photos and a lot more compassion than I showed.

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It's Not Inexpensive Being Green

Just in case you're spending the final days before Christmas pondering whether wind energy offers a good alternative to good ol' oil, coal and gas, a British Web site has the answer in a neat little table.

In sum, four wind stations cost from 75 million to 2.7 billion pounds to build, and generate electricity at a cost of 2.57 to 8.11 pounds per watt.

Conventional power is much cheaper. A nuclear plant cost 2 million pounds to build and generates electricity for 1.67 pounds per watt. A coal/CO2 plant generates power at the same amount per watt but cost half as much to build. The cheapest power, not at all suprisingly, came from the cheapest plant, a gas plant that cost just 350 million pounds to build, and cranks out watts at 0.58 pounds.

Here's all that data and more in a table:

STATION Type Price Rated
Source of
Price per
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Wind £85M 100MW .33 33MW BWEA £2.57
Wind £375M 180MW .33 60MW BBC £5.41
Wind £75M 60MW .33 20MW BBC £3.75
Whitstable Wind £2700M 1000MW .33 333MW Business

For comparison:

Olkiluoto 3,
Nuclear £2000M 1600MW .75 1200MW BBC £1.67
Gas £350M 800MW .75 600MW BBC £0.58
Coal £1000M 1600MW .75 1200MW E.On £0.83
Coal /
CO2 storage
£1000M 800MW .75 600MW BBC £1.67

Jon at Greenie Watch points out that the costs don't accurately reflect the true cost of wind power: Every wind station has to have a conventional plant behind it so there's power when the wind isn't blowing -- doubling the capital cost of the plant.

Back in about '76 I bought a book called "Earth, Energy and Everyone" that showed how alternative energy could supply all our needs by 1990 -- without burning a lump of coal or drop of oil.

That didn't work out too well, because of what the wind farm figures above show: Environmentalism works great for rich people, but not so well for others.

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Enviros Boot Illegals -- But AP Will Never Report That

Golly. Do you think a wee bit of bias is peeping through the skillful wording of this AP lead on the enforcement of immigration laws in San Diego?
For 20 years, many of the illegal immigrants drawn by jobs in tomato fields have worshipped at an outdoor church, a concrete altar in a canyon where they slept under the shelter of plywood and plastic tarps and bathed in a stream.

Today, however, McGonigle Canyon is overshadowed by multimillion- dollar homes, and police and landowners want the eyesores gone. The squatters and their tree-covered place of worship, which the Roman Catholic Church installed in the 1980s, are being expelled in one of the latest skirmishes in the nation's battle over illegal immigration and homeless squatters' camps.

Reporter Elliot Spagat ratchets up the sympathy chorus a few graphs later:

Some [squatters] decided to chip in about $100 a month to share an apartment, but Juan Ramirez said that would mean less money to send home to his wife and three children in Mexico.

"My children are studying, and they need pencils. They don't have enough money," he said. Ramirez makes $6.75 an hour plucking tomatoes six days a week, and sends two-thirds of his wages to his family while he sleeps under a tarp tied to trees. It's a slim return on the $2,000 he paid a smuggler to sneak him across the border last summer.

Oh, boo hoo. My heart really goes out to Ramirez for his hardship, but my sympathy doesn't. Better he and others like him keep their $2,000 and petition their government to take better care of its people instead of encouraging them to go to El Norte in what has become one of Mexico's top sources of revenue.

While Spagat is quick to blame white people living in big houses, and the developers who built those houses ...

One developer, D.R. Horton Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, has peppered huts with signs that warn squatters their belongings may be hauled away at any time.

... he is forbidden by his pro-immigrant, pro-environment, anti-business biases to report on the real story: That it was the environmentalists that booted these immigrants, not the suburbanites. Spagat had the story right before him -- in the very sentence that precedes the one about D.R. Horton -- but chose to ignore that and go for White Man's Burden instead. Here's the real story:

Developers were required to preserve the canyon as open space to win permission to build, but now police-installed fences block cars from driving in.

Let me translate that for you. State and/or federal wildlife agencies wanted the canyon for critters and forced the developer to dedicate it as permanent open space or be subjected to Permit Purgatory for years. Once the canyon became open space to be preserved, human use of it -- by legals or illegals-- became illegal. The signs Horton posted were probably required under its conditions of approval.

I'm not familiar with this specific case, but if it's like a hundred others I've worked on, my explanation is exactly right. And here's further proof:

The photo from Tory R. Walker Engineering shows a creek restoration in McGonigal Canyon, with the new homes above. The developer was no doubt required to restore the creek -- why use public funds for a public benefit if you can exact it out of a developer -- and the cost of the restoration was then added to the cost of the homes. So, in other words, the suburbanites, not the environmentalists, are paying for the restoration.

Now that McGonigle Canyon is on its way to becoming natural habitat again, the enviros don't want illegal immigrants defacating in the stream, trashing their precious water quality. So well-to-do white environmentalists gave poor brown farmworkers the boot.

That is not, and never will be, the story you read in your local newspaper.

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As Sanctions Near, A Plea For Jerusalem


As I write this, diplomats on the West River have just voted to impose sanctions against Iran. Even Qatar, like Iran, a Shi'a nation, joined in the Security Council vote.

The santions are weak, at the insistence of the Russians and Chinese. If the document voted on mirrors what was circulating yesterday, it would ban countries from suppplying specified materials and technology that Iran could use to further its s nuclear and missile programs., and freeze the assets of key companies and individuals in Iran's nuclear program.

In other words, the step-by-step side prevailed, and Europe and the U.S. did not.

Still, it is a victory because it is a step -- a step which Ahmadinejad has already said Iran will break in its quest for "peaceful" (yeah, right) nuclear power, putting us on a road not at all dissimilar to the road Saddam Hussein put us on when he ignored multiple UN resolutions.

Here's the pre-vote AP story on it. But here's the real story, by Lela Gilbert in the Jerusalem Post. Read it through; it tells us the stakes of the debate going on in the UN: Will Israel find a way to continue to exist -- at the expense of Iran -- or not?

I really don't think the question is whether there is a way. It seems to me that the question is whether there is a will. Is there enough Israeli fortitude, enough determination, enough hutzpa available right here, right now, to summon all the brains and brawn of this nation and put them to good use in stopping the Iranian madman and his mullahs in their tracks?

O Jerusalem, I hope so! Because as you have proved time and time again, if you possess the will, you will most certainly find the way.

O Jerusalem, it's just too bad you don't have many allies. That much is evident by how long it took to get to today's vote on watered down sanctions against Mullahs Gone Wild.

Hat tip: Real Clear Politics
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Osama's Feeling Vulnerable Again Today

Wherever Osama bin Laden is huddling today, his liver continuing to fail, his army continuing to shrink, he's feeling the hot, persistent breath of the Allied forces a little hotter on his neck. He's feeling the loss of another close comrade in terror. He's feeling, "How much longer 'til it's me?"

Yesterday, one of the top three in the Taliban and a close ally of bin Laden was obliterated:
A top Taliban military commander described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar was killed in an airstrike this week close to the border with Pakistan, the U.S. military said Saturday. A Taliban spokesman denied the claim.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed Tuesday by a U.S. airstrike while traveling by vehicle in a deserted area in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said. Two associates also were killed, it said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Afghan officials or visual proof offered to support the claim. A U.S. spokesman said "various sources" were used to confirm Osmani's identity.

Osmani, regarded as one of three top associates of Omar, is the highest-ranking Taliban leader the coalition has claimed to have killed or captured since U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime in late 2001 for hosting bin Laden.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Tom Collins described Osmani's death as a "big loss" for the ultraconservative militia.

"There's no doubt that it will have an immediate impact on their ability to conduct attacks," Collins said. "But the Taliban is fairly adaptive. They'll put somebody else in that position and we'll go after that person, too." (AP)

Like I said in the post below, this is a real war. The Islamic terrorists have no nation, so they have no national cemetery. If they did, their gravestones would spread far further than that rows of white tablets in Arlington.

Fight on, perservere, honor our heroes, and win.

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The Somber Stillness Of The Place

If you have ever walked through Arlington National Cemetery in the winter, when the leaves are off the trees and the tourists are off to warmer places, you know how quiet it can be.

The stillness, the emptiness, the natural beauty all make it a wonderfully sad and proud place; a fitting place to honor some of the greatest Americans who ever lived.

Thomas Schaller, a professor and Dem author, honors them and their resting place today in a very moving column in WSJ that focuses on Section 60 of Arlington, where those who fought and served in the current war against Islamic terrorism rest. Here's how it ends:

I then found the grave of Neil Armstrong Prince, the fatality that has so far most affected me. A native of Baltimore, where I teach, Sgt. 1st Class Prince was killed along with a 22-year-old Iowa man when an IED blew up their vehicle in Al Taqaddum on June 11, 2005.

In a city where black men are lucky to battle their way out of poverty and avoid being seduced by the twin lures of crime and drugs, Prince was a stereotype-buster. Husband, father of a young son, here was a proud African-American soldier with a first and middle names taken from a white American hero and a surname befitting the life he led.

The newest row of graves in Section 60 have no headstones yet because, I was informed, it sometimes takes three months after burial for them to be carved and installed. These graves are assigned temporary placards with essential information, like the name of Staff Sgt. Henry W. Linck at marker No. 60-8515. The 23-year-old native of Manhattan, Kan., had been interred that very morning, the dirt covering his coffin still damp brown.

One space over, I see that a hole next to Sgt. Linck’s has already been dug for the next burial. Two parallel ladders have been placed across its opening, the wooden stake between them indicating marker No. 60-8516 — the spot reserved for one of the 26 Americans killed since Linck died, on Dec. 7, and who shall forever rest there.

Schaller may have written the piece to protest the war. If he did, he was honorably subdued about it. I chose to read it as a touching tribute, a reminder that this is a true war, and a reasonable plea that it be fought as well as it possibly can.

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Felony Prosecutorial Tackiness

A lot of people have been following the Duke rape case closer and more emotionally than I, but few of them have over 30 years of public relations experience.

And here's the long and short of it from a PR guru perspective: You'd be hard pressed to find a better day to bury a story than the Friday before a Monday Christmas.

A case like this should be above the tacky dirty tricks of the media relations, and Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong has shown once again that he most definitely is not above those dirty tricks.

What Nifong has (hopefully) learned from today's events is that no tricks, no matter how tried and true, help when your incompetence has created a case this big.

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We Don't Need No Stinkin' Global Warming Solutions!

Here's an interesting approach to solving global warming (assuming it will be long enough and bad enough to amount to a threat) without trashing the global economy:
For those hot days at the ocean, a beach umbrella can help block the sun's heat and ultraviolet radiation. Now an orbiting sunshade could do the same for the planet, in the event of a global warming emergency.

The sunshade, proposed by Roger Angel of the University of Arizona in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, would be made of trillions of transparent, platter-sized spacecraft flying together in an elliptical formation.

Like a light-blocking cirrus cloud, the flock of spacecraft would diffuse about two percent of the sun's energy away from the Earth.

"You wouldn't notice anything at all. Aesthetically it's not too bad," said Angel, who is director of the university's Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory and its Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics. ...

Angel preferred the shade solution because it changes the Earth's atmospheric chemistry, but he knew that deploying a large structure would be a challenge.

So instead of one shade, he devised a plan to launch trillions of disc-like craft, each 2 feet in diameter. Made from a lightweight film, each vehicle would weigh as little as a butterfly.

Don't you just love the elegance of trillions of reflective butterflies flitting high above us in a protective cloud?

The fix, Angel figures, would cost about $5 trillion for a 50-year fix -- a lot, but a drop in the bucket when compared to the $400 billion a year suggested in the recent laughable Stern Report on the costs of "fixing" global warming. Plus Angel's fix could be stopped at any point in the 20 years it would take to install, should it be determined that the Warmie Models were way off and we've really got an ice age to fear.

Well, don't get excited or anything. There absolutely, positively can be no good news on global warming. That's Warmie Rule #1. Get use to it. Deal with it. Here's the Warmie response to Angel's plan:

Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., sees even bigger problems.

Although the sunshade could potentially cool global temperatures, it could also change the water cycle and create widespread droughts, said Trenberth.

"It would radically change the weather systems in ways hard to predict," he said.

The solution, said Trenberth, can't come from geoenginnering.

"The only one that makes sense to me is to reduce our emissions, cut our energy use, become more efficient, reduce waste of energy, and develop much more renewable energy. This is doable but requires political will and international approaches," said Trenberth.

Yup. Forget innovative solutions. Only draconian global suppression of the free market economy will save us from becoming, in the immortal words of Bill Murray, toast.

hat-tip: Aren. Source: Discovery.Com
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Christmas Revelation: Bats Taste Like Rats

In what has got to be today's Worst Story to Read Over Breakfast, we find:

In the eastern island of Sulawesi, some Manado Christians swear by kawok, or garden rats, cooked with chilies and garlic, and paniki, or bats, cooked in coconut milk.

"Paniki's meat tastes almost the same as kawok but it has more muscles," said Manadonese Stephen Lapian. "But if you cut the arm pit in a wrong way, it will be very stinky." (Reuters)

Now, since it's from Reuters, it may not be entirely true, but I intend to be very, very careful the next time I cut the armpit of a bat.

In Japan, where I grew up, New Year Eve and New Year's Day are highly religious holidays, spent at the local shrines and performing ritualistic cleanings of bad spirits at home. So the ingenious Japanese have made Christmas a day for getting really drunk and eating lots of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

And you think we have trouble here keeping the Christ in Christmas!

Headline hat-tip: Incredible Daughter #1
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Jimmy Carter's Arab Money Train

They say that you can't know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes -- or in Jimmy Carter's case, until they've bought you a thousand dollar pair of shoes or two.

Having read a lot about Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, all the imponderables fell into place upon reading Rachel Ehrenfeld's op/ed in todays WashTimes about all the millions of dollars of Arab money that have been stuffed into Carter's pockets over the years.

It all started 30 years ago, a scant two years before Carter was sworn in as our worst president, when his peanut business received a "bailout in the form of a $4.6 million, 'poorly managed' and highly irregular loan from the National Bank of Georgia," which was in kahoots with the "bank that would bribe God," the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

BCCI's motto?
BCCI's origins were primarily ideological. [Founder Agha Hasan] Abedi wanted the bank to reflect the supra-national Muslim credo and "the best bridge to help the world of Islam, and the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists."
Ehrenfeld goes on through the decades to detail the continuous river of petrodollars that have kept the Carters in luxury and presidential libraries. I lost count at $6.7 million plus "hundreds of millions" of Gulf donations to Carter's presidential library.

Carter's response? I'm not sure, but it could be something along the lines of "Rachel Ehrenfeld? That sounds like a Jew name."

"Non-linear" historical photo:
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