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Monday, April 30, 2007

US and EU want closer ties, but there is a problem


...and the problem is that these "English gentlemen", Islamic psychos all, are also holders of English passports. If you scan down the article you will come to the part about the EU wanting their citizens to not require visas. That is a problem. Their immigration standards are at least as bad as ours, but they are more generous in handing out ( in this case) English passports. What do you say about that?


US and EU foresee 'single market'


The United States and the European Union are to sign up to a new transatlantic economic partnership at a summit in Washington.
The pact is designed to boost trade and investment by harmonising regulatory standards, laying the basis for a US-EU single market.

The two sides will sign an Open Skies deal, designed to reduce fares and boost traffic on transatlantic flights.

But there will be only limited agreement on climate change.

Richest regions

The two sides will agree to set up an "economic council" to push ahead with regulatory convergence in nearly 40 areas, including intellectual property, financial services, business takeovers and the motor industry.


Without the US there can't be any success in coping with a globalised world
European diplomat

Limited hopes for EU-US summit
The aim is to increase trade and lower costs.

Some reports suggest that incompatible regulations in the world's two richest regions add 10% to the cost of developing and producing new cars.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said last month that if the US and EU can set business norms today, they will "secure the markets of tomorrow".

She has made repairing damaged relations with the US a top priority, since she came to office 18 months ago.

Emission cuts

According to the Reuters news agency, a draft statement to be agreed at the summit says climate change is a central challenge that requires "urgent, sustained, global action".

The draft reportedly also says the EU and US are committed to stabilising greenhouse gases, acknowledges the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and urges the development and commercialisation of advanced technologies to "significantly cut" global emissions.

But correspondents say Ms Merkel faces a hard task persuading the US to agree to binding international commitments on fighting climate change, before a G8 summit Germany is chairing in six weeks' time.

President George Bush has refused to impose national limits on greenhouse gas emissions, saying they would harm the international economy.

Visa hope

The EU is hoping that the US will agree to withdraw its demand for travellers from a number of EU states to apply for visas.

It also wants an agreement to start work on another aviation deal, that would deepen the Open Skies pact, and enable Europeans to buy US airlines.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, will also represent the EU side.

In three working sessions with President George Bush, they are expected to discuss Iran, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.



Mercy demands an immediate Presidential pardon, stat!


EDITORIAL COMMENT: The EB is demanding mercy for Ms. Palfrey. A presidential pardon and a long secluded rest is advised for Ms. Palfrey sans blackberry.

'DC Madam' threatens to bring down Washington
April 29, 2007
The demise of a call-girl ring and pending trial of an alleged madam claiming thousands of clients has the US capital riveted by the chance powerful men may now be caught with their trousers down, with a senior state department official apparently first to fall.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 50, dubbed the DC Madam in local media, has been arraigned in federal court on charges of operating a Washington DC prostitution service for 13 years until her retirement last year.

Palfrey has denied she ran a prostitution ring. Her company, Pamela Martin and Associates, was simply a "high-end adult fantasy firm which offered legal sexual and erotic services across the spectrum of adult sexual behaviour and did so without incident during its 13-year tenure," she said.

Palfrey contends her escort service provided university educated women to engage in legal game-playing of a sexual nature at $US275 ($333) an hour for a 90-minute session, the Washington Post reported.

But Palfrey has also hinted that she has a record of the phone numbers of thousands of more than 10,000 customers that could embarrass more the a few of the US capital's high-fliers.

The US State Department announced yesterday Randall Tobias, the embattled head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was resigning for unspecified personal reasons.

However ABC News, which said Palfrey has provided it with a record of the numbers of calls to her private mobile phone, reported Tobias stepped down after they spoke to him about his allegedly contacting her number.

Since 2003 Tobias also was President George W Bush's first global AIDS coordinator, a job which drew criticism for his emphasis on faithfulness to partners and abstinence over condom use in trying to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus.

Before entering government he was chairman, president and chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and also, from 1997-2000, chairman of the board of trustees at Duke University.

His now-reported links to a firm accused of prostitution have raised more than a few eyebrows.

Palfrey's California home and other assets were seized by US tax authorities in October, and Palfrey has been trying to raise funds for her defence through an appeal on her website.

Her lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, told Fox television last month: "The statistical certainty (is) that there are a fair number of high-profile people who used this service across the government and private sector in the metropolitan DC area."

And the Post reported on Saturday local jitters appear to be multiplying. It said Sibley claimed "he has been contacted in the past few days by five lawyers asking whether their clients' phone numbers are on Palfrey's list of 10,000 to 15,000 customers from 2002 to 2006."

That may have something to do with the fact that Palfrey already has named her first name, as it were, on her website, where she has posted a court document from April 12 in which she alleges formal US naval commander Harlan Ullman was a "regular customer" whom she needs to subpoena.

Ullman, with James Wade, developed the military doctrine of "shock and awe" used by US government in its invasion of Iraq. According to one definition, it is shorthand for rapid dominance based on the use of "overwhelming decisive force", "dominant manoeuvres", and "spectacular displays of power" to subdue the other side.

Earlier this month Ullman told CNN: "The allegations do not dignify a response," and referred any other questions to his lawyer.

AFP


Is there more Chinese food in your diet than you thought?


Last night after posting about Longhorn beetles from China and entering the gun markets of the Khyber Pass, I got to thinking about the Chinese pet foods being laced with melamine. Perhaps it was something I ate or something that Doug or the Aspergers Gentleman wrote during the night, but something was not agreeing with my normally robust ability to eat anything. I wanted to see if there was anything that I consumed from China.

Damn if I did not find a jar of pre-peeled garlic of Chinese origin in my fridge. Food for thought and a post and a prompt googlization found this:

China's food bowl becomes poisoned chalice

SOMETHING was wrong with the babies. The villagers noticed their heads were growing abnormally large while the rest of their bodies were skin and bones. By the time Chinese authorities discovered the culprit — severe malnutrition from fake milk powder — 13 had died.

The scandal, which unfolded three years ago after hundreds of babies fell ill in an eastern Chinese province, became the defining symbol of a broad problem in China's economy. Quality control and product-safety regulation are so poor that people cannot trust the goods on sale.

Until now, the problem has not received much attention outside China but in recent weeks consumers everywhere have been learning about China's safety crisis. Tainted ingredients that originated here made their way into pet food that has killed animals around the world.

Chinese authorities acknowledge the safety problem and have promised repeatedly to fix it, but the disasters keep coming.

Tang Yanli, 45, grand-aunt of a baby who became sick because of the fake milk but eventually recovered, said that even though she now pays more to buy national brands, she remains suspicious. "I don't trust the food I eat," she said.

With China playing an ever-larger role in supplying food and medicine to other countries, recognition of the hazards has not kept up.

By value, China is the world's main exporter of fruit and vegetables, and a major exporter of other food, ranging from apple juice to garlic to sausage casings. But it has been especially poor at meeting international standards.

The US subjects only a small fraction of its food imports to close inspection, but each month rejects about 200 shipments from China, mostly because of concerns about pesticides, antibiotics and misleading labelling. In February, inspectors blocked peas tainted by pesticides, dried plums containing banned additives, pepper contaminated with salmonella and crayfish that were filthy.

Since 2000, some countries have temporarily banned whole categories of Chinese imports. The European Union stopped shipments of shrimp because of banned antibiotics. Japan blocked tea and spinach, citing excessive antibiotic residue. And South Korea banned fermented cabbage after finding parasites.
[...]
Chinese authorities, while conceding the country has many safety problems, say other countries' assessments of products are sometimes "not accurate" and have implied the bans may be politically motivated, aimed at protecting domestic companies.

Yet the Government has found that companies have cut corners in virtually every aspect of food production and packaging, including improper use of fertiliser, unsanitary packing and poor refrigeration of dairy products.

William O'Brien, president of Hami Food of Beijing, which transports food for the McDonald's restaurant chain and other multinational companies in China, said in some of his competitors' operations, "chilled and frozen products very often come in taxicabs or in vans … That is something that people should worry about."

Not surprisingly, food-related poisonings are common.

Last year, farmers providing duck eggs were found to have used a red dye so the yolks would look reddish instead of yellow, fetching a higher price. The dye turned out to be a cancer-causing substance. In Shanghai, 300 people were poisoned by a chemical additive in pork.

The Government has undertaken a major overhaul of its monitoring system, sending state inspectors to every province, launching spot inspections at supermarkets, and firing a number of corrupt officials.


WASHINGTON POST

Pakistan gun market. Some hornet's nests are best left alone. Many sons and many guns.

Ever wonder just what the Khyber Pass is about, or the tribal regions of Pakistan? I always enjoy listening to the culturally naive discussing subjects of which they have no knowledge. There are some interesting lessons to be learned from this little film clip. I learned something. You will as well. Enjoy it. If the link does not work, Try this.



Sunday, April 29, 2007

Free trade is not free. The dark side of free trade.




US manufacturers, farmers and food producers are often weighted down with government rules and regulation. The Chinese are not as particular. China can roll over domestic US producers and the Chinese are not held to the same standards as US manufacturers. Clever idea.

In August 1996, residents in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn described odd tree damage to a forestry inspector. Showy beetles collected from the neighborhood trees stumped the experts until Richard Hoebeke, assistant curator of Cornell University's insect collection, recognized it as Anoplophora glabripennis, a well-known menace in China, Korea, and Japan.

During the past 20 years or so, he's spotted about three dozen insect species that were invading the United States. Most of them turned out to be relatively harmless.

"This is the worst," he says. "This could easily be on the same level with the gypsy moth and the medfly."

The Asian long-horned beetle spends most of its life as a grub inside wood. It probably hitchhiked from China to the United States hidden in the cheap, untreated wood often used for pallets or packing material. APHIS' roughly 1,300 inspectors manage to check only about 2 percent of the goods sweeping into U.S. ports, and Cavey has been worried that the recent trade boom would start an international boom of alarming pests.

"We don't usually jump in as hard as we did," he says. Hoebeke had called Cavey when he recognized the Asian long-horned beetle, and within days, a federal quarantine forbade moving wood or plants out of an irregular area that eventually stretched some 16 miles across Brooklyn.

Nevertheless, in September 1996, beetles turned up in nearby Amityville, N.Y. They might have hitchhiked there compliments of a tree-pruning company that did many Brooklyn jobs for the telephone company. A year later, beetles appeared in Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Two years later, a Chicago man surfing the Web to identify beetles crawling out of his firewood tipped off authorities that the pest had reached the Midwest. Investigators found infested trees in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood and the communities of Addison and Summit.

Beetle watchers discovered yet another hot spot, in the Bayside area of Queens. The USDA has estimated that it has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and gypsy moths combined, destroying millions of acres of America’s treasured hardwoods, including national forests and backyard trees. The beetle has the potential to damage such industries as lumber, maple syrup, nursery, and tourism accumulating over $41 billion in losses.

Now we have this and there are many many more examples:

Additive that tainted U.S. pet food is commonly used in China

By David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo International Herald Tribune
Published: April 29, 2007

ZHANGQIU, China: American food safety regulators trying to figure out how an industrial chemical called melamine contaminated so much pet food in the United States might come to this heavily polluted city in Shandong Province in the northern part of the country.

Here at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group factory, huge boiler vats are turning coal into melamine, which is used to create plastics and fertilizer.

But the leftover melamine scrap, small acorn-sized chunks of white rock, is then being sold to local entrepreneurs, who say they secretly mix a powdered form of the scrap into animal feed to artificially enhance the protein level.

The melamine powder has been dubbed "fake protein" and is used to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that provides higher nutrition value.

"It just saves money," says a manager at an animal feed factory here. "Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level."

The practice is widespread in China. For years animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

But now, melamine is at the center of a massive, multinational pet food recall after it was linked earlier this month to the deaths and injuries of thousands of cats and dogs in the United States and South Africa.

No one knows exactly how melamine - which had not been believed to be particularly toxic - became so fatal in pet food, but its presence in any form of American food is illegal.

U.S. regulators are now headed to China to figure out why pet food ingredients imported from here, including wheat gluten, were contaminated with high levels of the chemical.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned imports of wheat gluten from China and ordered the recall of over 60 million packages of pet food. And last week, the agency opened a criminal investigation in the case and searched the offices of at least one pet food supplier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also stepped in Thursday, ordering more than 6,000 hogs to be quarantined or slaughtered after some of the pet food ingredients laced with melamine were accidentally sent to hog farms in eight states, including California.


Turkey is pivotal in the battle between secularism and Islamism

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [Atatürk](1881-1938) the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first President

Huge rally for Turkish secularism
Hat tip: desert rat

The rally is being described as a huge show of force
Tens of thousands of people are rallying in Istanbul in support of secularism in Turkey, amid a row over a vote for the country's next president.
The protesters are concerned that the ruling party's candidate for the post remains loyal to his Islamic roots.

The candidate, Abdullah Gul, earlier said he would not quit despite growing criticism from opponents and the army.

Mr Gul failed to win election in a first round vote in parliament as opposition MPs boycotted the vote.

They are also challenging its validity in the Constitutional Court.

An army statement on Friday accused the government of tolerating radical Islam and vowed to defend secularism.


ABDULLAH GUL

1950: Born in Kayseri
1991: Elected to parliament for pro-Islamist Welfare Party
2001: One of founders of AK
2002-03: Prime minister
2003: Foreign minister, leading EU accession talks

Profile: Abdullah Gul

Mr Gul has steered Turkey's European Union accession talks as foreign minister and is seen as less confrontational than Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development (AK) party.

"The president must be loyal to secular principles. If I am elected, I will act accordingly," he said after his nomination for the presidency.

But some analysts say he is closer to his religious roots, and his wife would be the first First Lady to wear a headscarf, a deeply divisive statement in Turkey.
BBC, full story here.

Background:
Atatürk is the founder of the concept of a modern reformed Islamic state. He undertook a series of reforms to "raise Turkey to the level of modern civilization" which can be grouped under five titles. Compare that to the damage done to modernism by our dear friends the Saudis.

1. Political Reforms

  • Abolishment of the office of the Sultan (November 1922)
  • Proclamation of the Republic (29 October 1923)
  • Abolishment of the caliph (3 March 1924)
2. Social Reforms

  • Recognition of equal rights to men and women (1926 - 1934)
  • Reform of Headgear and Dress (25 November 1925)
  • Closure of mausoleums and dervish lodges (30 November 1925)
  • Law on family names (21 June 1934)
  • Abolishment of titles and by-names (26 November 1934)
  • Adoption of international calendar, hours and measurements (1925 - 1931)
3. Legal Reforms

  • Abolishment of the Canon Law (1924 - 1937)
  • Transfer to a secular law structure by adoption of Turkish Civil Code and other laws (1924 - 1937)
4. Reforms in the fields of education and culture

  • Unification of education (3 March 1924)
  • Adoption of new Turkish alphabet (1 November 1928)
  • Establishment of Turkish Language and History Institutions (1931 - 1932)
  • Regulation of the university education (31 May 1933)
  • Innovations in fine arts
5. Economic Reforms

  • Abolution of tithe
  • Encouragement of the farmers
  • Establishment of model farms
  • Establishment of industrial facilities, and putting into effect a law for Incentives for the Industry

whit's two cents:
(I was preparing a post on the same subject so I'll piggyback on Duece's post.)

I was struck this week by two related news stories which if nothing else, document the spread of the cancer that is fundamentalist Islam. The first story, the big one getting all the attention, is the Presidential race in Turkey where there is great concern in the military as well as the general public about Abdullah Gul's loyalties and priorities; If elected, will he support and promote a secular Turkey or will his Islamic beliefs cause him to take the country in a more fundamentalist direction? Two weeks ago more than than 300,000 people gathered in support of a secular Turkey. This week, the military shook things up with their announcement that they are bound to support a secular Turkey. Gul and his party, sought to assure the public that they do not seek an Islamic government. I believe that Gul's party has been moving Turkey in a more fundamentalist direction and the Turkish public has serious misgivings about his loyalty to a secular Turkey. I do too. The question is whether Gul's party can be trusted but based on recent history the answer would appear to be no. Not because their intentions are not good but because there are too many fundamentalists who have shown no compunction in reasserting control in the name of Allah. How many suicide bombings and beheadings must we witness before we decide that these people are serious about their "mission for God." In this climate, the moderates will be overcome with violence and the despotism of the zealots. Unchecked, the Islamists will reign.

BBC is reporting on the Crackdown in Iran over Dress Codes.
Thousands of Iranian women have been cautioned over their poor Islamic dress this week and several hundred arrested in the capital Tehran in the most fierce crackdown on what's known as "bad hijab" for more than a decade.

It is the talk of the town. The latest police crackdown on Islamic dress has angered many Iranians - male, female, young and old.

But Iranian TV has reported that an opinion poll conducted in Tehran found 86% of people were in favour of the crackdown - a statistic that is surprising given the strength of feeling against this move.

Police cars are stationed outside major shopping centres in Tehran.

They are stopping pedestrians and even cars - warning female drivers not to show any hair - and impounding the vehicles and arresting the women if they argue back.

Middle-aged women, foreign tourists and journalists have all been harassed, not just the young and fashionably dressed.

Overnight the standard of what is acceptable dress has slipped back.


The story went on to quote a very plucky 15-year old girl who wanted the world to know that she and her friends were being oppressed. I hate to think about all the spirit of that girl being beaten out of her as she is eventually forced to conform to the misogyny of religious thugs.

In Turkey and Iran, real, everyday people are on the front lines struggling against militant Islam and it is paramount for the west to find ways to support the people who will resist the fundamentalists. It is up to us to figure out how to best help those who are "in the trenches."

The rule of pink


I am back in the States. Last night I took a friend to dinner at a small BYOB restaurant with good food and too many tables for a tiny place, but the food always pleases. Sometimes your unintended company at an adjacent table adds to the evening and other time annoys. Seated next to us was a lovely very tanned Asian girl with a perfectly revealing dress. I tried not to leer too obviously but may have. Her date was one of those overly handsome smug pink shirted khaki panted twerps with Italian loafers and no socks. I instantly hated him. It got worse.

As in all things, the dinner and the conversation was designed to ensure that he would get the lovely cleavage for dessert. It was an obvious first date with commensurate small talk and exploration of experiences and plans. The young fortunate man was most pleased with himself when he told her about starting law school in September. Princeton I believe. It will cost about thirteen million dollars but he will make that up and then some the first year out. The young lad wanted to do something for the environment. Very noble. The fetching tanned beauty leaned forward, Asian eyes widened. Nice little sparkly bits on her perfectly shaped vintage champagne sized breasts. He cocked his head and demonstrated his concern for global warming with the use of his hands. The table warmed and the sparkles sparkled.

I waited for the youthful answer to the ozone deficient, carbonized planet. In another era, the dream would be for an engineering or scientific breakthrough, something dramatic and certain.
"I have decided that I want to be a lawyer so that I can sue companies that are polluting the environment.", he said to her approval.

Imagine that. Imagine a society that is so dominated by law and process that ever malady, every issue requires a lawyer. I looked at him again and pictured much less fortunate young men fighting and dying in the streets of Iraq. I pictured them practicing their military arts under rules designed and argued, and implemented by privileged lesser men with no socks and pink shirts. How did our masters and rulers so thoroughly manipulate and dominate us? How did the doers and fighters and builders lose so thoroughly to these men?





Saturday, April 28, 2007

Step in and have a drink. The un-kool aid bar.


Hat Tip: Bobalharb

Another day in Paradise pretending that the Iraqis are going to be anything other than what they are. This is the headline:
U.S. Says 9 Americans Killed in Iraq
By KIM GAMEL
The Associated Press
Saturday, April 28, 2007; 5:29 PM


BAGHDAD -- A car bomb exploded Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala as the streets were packed with people heading for evening prayers, killing at least 58 and wounding scores near some of the country's most sacred shrines. Separately, the U.S. military announced the deaths of nine American troops, including three killed Saturday in a single roadside bombing outside Baghdad.


And this is what Hugh Fitzgerald has to say over at Jihad Watch;

Fitzgerald:
Never Have So Few Done So Much Damage To So Many
Would it be immoral for Americans to leave Iraq, or to allow it to dissolve? Some have said so. But as to the question of morality, I don't even understand the question. The Kurds resent the Arabs for good reason. Why should they not try to make a move for independence, and if by helping them the American government can weaken Syria and Iran, and have a semi-reliable ally in what was northern Iraq, why not? What is immoral about that?

And as to the sectarian divisions, they date back a thousand years before the founding of the United States. The depth and duration of that division, in other words, owes nothing to us. It is the Americans who have tried, at great human and economic cost, to make the Iraqis less tribal, less selfish, more imbued with a sense of a nation -- and a nation that is not merely a place to be controlled by their sect or tribe or family. The Americans have tried to encourage entrepreneurial activity instead of reliance, as in so many other Muslim states, on either oil money or foreign aid from Infidels, and to encourage the adoption of a Constitution that would actually move away from the Shari'a.

It has all failed. And that is despite the enormous efforts of American soldiers, who were never taught about Islam, and yet persevered, and were puzzled when the Muslims of Iraq did not behave, as those soldiers expected them to, as a grateful "Iraqi people," but rather as a collection -- with a handful of exceptions -- of grasping, whining, greedy, meretricious people, eager to have the Americans do everything for them, eager to have them lavish them with aid money (thrown around, by the billions, like confetti), and distinctly indifferent to American losses when not taking outright pleasure in such losses, yet always willing to blame the Americans for everything.

Does a Sunni bomb go off killing Shi'a? The Shi'a crowds gather, and tell reporters that they blame the Americans. The Sunnis are kidnapped by Shi'a militia, and the Sunnis rant against the Americans. And now 98% of the Sunni Arabs say that all attacks on Americans are justified and that they personally approve of them, and 75% of the Shi'a say the same thing. Only the Kurds express, by a large majority, lack of approval for such attacks.

What is the conceivable offense to morality in no longer sending Americans to fight and die for people who cannot overcome Islam, who will in large -- and ever-increasing -- numbers, take delight in the deaths of Americans? And does anyone, does even Bush, still think that Iraq could somehow become a Light Unto the Muslim Nations? Karen Hughes, Bush’s loyal and equally unintelligent aide, is the one who is most directly involved with "reaching out to Muslims." That is the extent of our propaganda effort, an effort that should be made not to win jihadists over, but to fill them with confusion and to demoralize them, and make at least some of them begin to see that their political, economic, and social failures are a direct result of what Islam inculcates -- not only the specific doctrines, but the habit of mental submission that it demands.



Getting your doodle diddled

Can we stipulate that when it comes to sex, everyone can get a little freaky? Here we go again.

Rice Deputy Quits After Query Over Escort Service
Randall Tobias Oversaw U.S. Foreign Aid Programs
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 28, 2007


Randall L. Tobias, the deputy secretary of state responsible for U.S. foreign aid, abruptly resigned yesterday after he was asked about an upscale escort service allegedly involved in prostitution, U.S. government sources said.

Tobias resigned after ABC News contacted him with questions about the escort service, the sources said. ABC News released a statement last night saying Tobias acknowledged Thursday that he had used the service to provide massages, not sex.

Tobias has been Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's point man in an ambitious effort to overhaul how the U.S. government manages foreign aid, a key part of her "transformational diplomacy" agenda. Just two days ago, President Bush lauded Tobias for his work in the administration leading "America's monumental effort to confront and deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the continent of Africa."

In an unusual statement issued at 5 p.m., State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tobias informed Rice "today that he must step down as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator effective immediately. He is returning to private life for personal reasons."


Nuclear armed Pakistan exposed to Islamic terror

Pakistan is the big enchilada. The warm-up events in Iraq have trained the cadres ready to go for the big one, a nuclear armed Islamic state.
Pakistani official wounded, 12 killed in attack
Suicide bombing in northwest comes after interior minister’s public speech


BREAKING NEWS


PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A suicide attacker detonated a bomb as Pakistan’s interior minister finished speaking at a meeting in the country’s northwest on Saturday, killing at least 12 people and wounding the official.

Security guards blocked the attacker as he tried to approach Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao at the public meeting in Charsadda, an intelligence official said. The attacker detonated the bomb moments later.

Mohammed Khan, a police official, said the minister suffered minor injuries and was in stable condition. He was being shifted to a hospital in the nearby city of Peshawar.


Bush leads the "Way forward"


George Bush took a bold step when he tripped into Iraq. Like a hapless tourist with Frodo’s Guide, the Bush Administration had a plan to rid Iraq of Saddam, hand the keys of democracy to a grateful nation and watch the dominoes of Syria, Iran and others fall. A quick plan, to be self-funded with Iraqi oil soon morphed into a desert mirage. American “know how” and “can do” melted down to a policy of staying the course. Mission creep crept to a crawl. Now someone else will have to clean up the mess. Bush does not have the time or an idea on how to do it. He does not even know what it is. Therein lies the problem.

911 was an attack on United States territory by a vicious psychopathic cult of Islamic fiends. It was sponsored by financiers from Saudi Arabia, tolerated by Pakistan and hatched in the shithole, Afghanistan, and the Islamic intellectual ghettos of Western Europe, by mainstream educated Muslims. Part of the incubation process was conducted by our own CIA in the arming and supporting of Islamic fanatics against the Soviet Union in Soviet occupied Afghanistan. Mistakes were made up to 911 and bigger mistakes were made thereafter.

Ramadan in the White House and the unholy horseshit of “The Religion of Peace” were top on the list. An honest appraisal, instead of wishful thinking would have clearly defined the enemy. That enemy was broad and bold. It would have been foolhardy to take it on in every place and unnecessary. It would have sufficed to go after the head and to have mercilessly destroyed Al-Qaeda wherever it was found. The Islamic world needed clarity about US resolve in the face of Islamic terror against the US. We missed the perfect opportunity to give it at Tora Bora.

No place, no time and no event called out for the use of a tactical nuclear weapon than at Tora Bora and then again in the non-cooperating tribal regions of Pakistan if needed. Cookies did not need baking in The White House. I am not calling for the use of nuclear weapons as a solution. I am saying that at that time and place, they would have been appropriate.

That opportunity has passed. The threat today is worse. The enemy is bolder and the US is weaker in political and military terms. The shocked and awed are renewed and emboldened. The Islamic Waffen-SS has suicide bombers in brigade numbers and we have a president with bad knees, political shin splints and a wheeze in his lungs.

The Islamic world is never going to change. With luck, it will cease to be Islamic. That will be there problem until they make it ours. The US has to do two things and fast. It needs to regroup and end the fool’s errand in Iraq. I honestly do not know how it is to be done, but it must be and very very soon. And it must be accompanied by a vicious demonstration of American resolve to destroy Islamic enemies when and where they appear. No boundaries, no asylum, no safe houses in cemeteries, holy places, mosques, nothing. Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran is fine with me. Other than that we leave them alone. They will soon get the message. The President however, and as always has his own changing ideas:


April 28, 2007
The White House Scales Back Talk of Iraq Progress


By DAVID E. SANGER, NYT
WASHINGTON, April 27 —
The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.

In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.

That prospect would entail a dramatically longer commitment of frontline troops, patrolling the most dangerous neighborhoods of Baghdad, than the one envisioned in legislation that passed the House and Senate this week. That vote, largely symbolic because Democrats do not have the votes to override the promised presidential veto, set deadlines that would lead to the withdrawal of combat troops by the end of March 2008.

On Friday, during an appearance with Japan’s prime minister at Camp David, President Bush said that he would invite congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday, immediately after his expected veto message, to talk about a “way forward.”

Several American officials who have spoken recently with Mr. Maliki say they believe that he would like to achieve the kind of political reconciliation that Mr. Bush outlined in January as the ultimate goal of the troop increase. But they say the Iraqi prime minister appears to have little ability to manage the required legislation, including bills requiring fair distribution of oil revenues among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and reversing the American-led de-Baathification that barred many Sunnis from participation in the new government...


Scotty getting beamed up.




EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- If all goes as planned Saturday, the cremated remains of the actor who portrayed "Scotty" aboard Star Trek's starship Enterprise will sail into suborbital space aboard a rocket launched from the southern New Mexico desert.

Actor James Doohan's remains, along with those of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper and about 200 others, are aboard the second private rocket scheduled to be launched at Spaceport America. The commercial spaceport is being developed in Upham, New Mexico.

UP Aerospace Inc. of Farmington, Connecticut, launched the first rocket from the desert site in September. But that Spaceloft XL rocket crashed into the rugged desert after spiraling out of control about nine seconds after liftoff.

Company officials blamed the failure on a faulty fin design. A Spaceloft SL-2 rocket, with a fourth fin added for stability, will carry the cremains, which were loaded into the rocket last month.

Family members paid $495 to place a few grams of their relatives' ashes on the rocket. Celestis, a Texas company, contracted with UP to send the cremated remains into space.

Charles Chafer, chief executive of Celestis, said last month that a CD with more than 11,000 condolences and fan notes was placed on the rocket with Doohan's cremains.


Doohan died in July 2005, at age 85. The remains of Gene Roddenberry, who created "Star Trek," were sent into space in 1997.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Secretary Rice - Keeping it Real for the Russians

The Yahoo headline is "Rice says missles no threat to Russia" and the question immediately brought to my mind is, "What the hell is going on?" How could things have gone so bad? It's like when, out of the blue, your girlfriend says she doesn't want to see you anymore. Stunned by the news, you say, "But I thought we had such a good thing going, what happened? "

How could things have gone so bad, so quickly? It seems like just yesterday that Vlad and the Missus were coming over for barbecues and brewskies. Now, like the "Sopranos," they put the squeeze on their former satellites, they shakedown on oil company "partners" and they whack more people than Good fellas. Last year, they were breaking into parking meters and all of a sudden, they're flush with energy money. I heard a BBC radio report that Moscow now has 60 billionaires. In the early nineties, they had none. Today they have more billionaires than any city in the world. Fox News reported that 25% of the Russian GDP is held by 36 individuals. Moscow is all about money and energy power.

Fox reported a Putin anti-American rant today. He claims that the US is destabilizing eastern Europe. Secretary Rice says that's ludicrous, we only have ten anti-missile batteries placed along the eastern European borders. Fox says that Putin is intentionally "poisoning" relations with the west.

What happened? Was George W. completely off base in his assessment of Putin? Was Putin secretly harboring resentment over US involvement in Afghanistan? And how did Russia go from 'down and out' to resurgent in such a short period of time? Of course, soaring oil prices helped but did our intelligence agencies miss it when the KGB "old boys club" decided that the "democracy thing" wasn't working out? Did the State Department think the Russians had forgotten about 30,000 dead in Afghanistan? I don't know. Is Putin positioning himself with the Arab oil world? That's all waaay above my pay grade.

I'll let the State Department sort it out. After all, everyone knows that's where the real brains of the country serve. Forget about the Intelligence agencies, those guys barely got their GED's. (If we had only listened to the diplomatic boys prior to the invasion of Iraq.) I am just thankful that that Secretary Rice is on the job. Being a "Russian studies expert" from the old cold-war days, she's the perfect hand to have at the tiller. I feel quite certain that once she turns her mind to it, she'll have the Putins back in Crawford in no time. Just look at the wonderful job she did with the Israelis and Lebanon.

So very very sorry. It's all my fault, and their fault.

Bush 'deeply sorry' for Tillman family about those responsible for misleading the family of a U.S. football star killed in Afghanistan. Hopes those responsible will be punished, the White House said Wednesday.

Alec Baldwin is sorry for calling his thoughtless little pig a thoughtless little pig.

Nicolas Sarkozy regrets France’s decision not to back the United States militarily in Iraq.

Prince Hal sends his regrets that they would not let him be all he could be.

Jack Valenti is sorry he had to die and leave the party. he sends his regrets.

He is sorry that the great Anglo-Saxon-Christian defender of the faith, Protector of the once great Judeo-Christian Anglosphere is taking a powder in the war with Islam.

I can only say: I am also truly sorry.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An officer and gentleman. The good colonel thinks a piece of ass from a detainees daughter is a good idea.

Don't these guys always pop up at the most propitious times? Why do I have the impression that he is......well let's not be hasty. I am sure there are good explanations coming.

US prison chief arrested in Iraq BBC

US handling of Iraqi detainees has been controversial from the start
The commander of a major US military prison in Iraq has been arrested for offences including aiding the enemy.
Lt Col William Steele is accused of giving detainees free use of a mobile phone at Camp Cropper and fraternising with the daughter of a detainee.

It is the latest of several scandals involving US jails in Iraq, the worst being the 2003 Abu Ghraib abuse case.

Col Steele is also accused of improper behaviour with his Iraqi interpreter and holding unauthorised information.

There are four overall charges against Col Steele and nine specific alleged offences. He was arrested last month and is being detained in Kuwait, a US military spokeswoman said.


CHARGES AGAINST COL STEELE
Providing unmonitored mobile phone to detainees
Mishandling classified information
Fraternising with detainee's daughter
Inappropriate relationship with interpreter and providing her special privileges
Failing to obey a lawful order
Possessing pornographic videos
Failing obligations as approving authority for expenditure
Others offences include dereliction in the performance of his duties, failing to obey an order and wrongfully possessing pornographic videos.

The alleged offences took place between October 2005 and February 2007, a US statement said. Col Steele was arrested in March.

"His current status is that he is in confinement and waiting for his Article 32 hearing," the spokeswoman said.

The hearing would conducted by a panel of military officers who are to decide whether the suspect should face charges.

Criticism

Camp Cropper, in the west of the Iraqi capital close to Baghdad International Airport, is believed to hold about 3,300 Iraqi prisoners.

It is the second largest US military jail in Iraq, the other being Camp Bucca, near Umm Qasr in the south of the country, which holds an estimated 15,000 detainees.

Executed former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein spent time there, including for medical treatment, although the US military says he was never under Col Steele's responsibility.

US detention facilities in Iraq have been the target of sustained criticism for holding detainees without charge and for widespread abuse of prisoners.

The worst controversy was in the first year of the US occupation of Iraq, when it was revealed that guards abused prisoners at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

The death cult of Islam with nuclear missiles. Worth the risk?


If you have not done so, please read the previous post and watch the video, and then think of AQ in charge of Pakistan and the thought of what happens to the nuclear missiles in Pakistan. Forget what they are saying about Iran. That is a smoke screen. The real threat is Pakistan. They just cannot say the words. If Musharraf is killed and the Islamists are in control... The West needs a defence system that works

The Telegraph
By Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, and Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

Rice seeks to ease Moscow fears on missile system
Sixteen years after the end of the Cold War, the transatlantic community and Russia are not adversaries. Indeed, on a number of issues, we are partners.

We both face a number of common challenges, among the most threatening is the possibility that a dangerous state will use ballistic missiles, tipped with nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, to hold our societies hostage – or worse.


Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State
Make no mistake: This is a real challenge. Despite our best efforts, including notable successes in Libya and breaking up the A.Q. Khan network, weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities continue to proliferate.

We sincerely hope that the diplomatic efforts now under way will succeed in addressing the challenges we face from states like North Korea and Iran. We have made some progress with Pyongyang, and though Teheran still defies the international community, there are signs that it is feeling the diplomatic pressure.

However, we cannot guarantee success, and governments have a responsibility to defend their people.

The logic of Cold War "Mutual Assured Destruction" does not make sense in today’s strategic environment. Today, we seek security based on more than the grim premise that we can destroy those who seek to destroy us.

We need to be clear that the missile threat from Iran is real and growing, and it is a threat not just to the United States, but to Europe and Russia as well.

Looking a few years ahead, other such missile threats will likely emerge as well. It is with these new realities in mind that we are developing and deploying modest missile defenses.

Our goal is to field systems capable of protecting not only the United States and our forces, but also friends and allies like those in the transatlantic community. We speak of the transatlantic community because we have learned that our security is not divisible; that if our allies are not secure, America is not secure. America cannot "go it alone."

To ensure our common security, we need defenses in place well before a threat fully emerges. Accordingly, we have approached some of our allies with the idea of deploying limited missile defense capabilities: 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar installation in the Czech Republic.

While the United States can defend its own territory without these additional capabilities, fielding them would enable us to extend coverage to most of Europe while providing improved protection at home.

Our strategy is to strengthen our ability to detect, defend against, and thus deter a missile attack.

Missile defenses are part of contemporary deterrence and promote stability, as we saw last summer, when we activated our system for the first time in response to North Korean missile launch preparations. In that case, our missile defense system allowed our national leadership to consider a wider, more flexible range of responses to a potential attack.

Effective defenses also reduce incentives for states to acquire missiles in the first place, by undermining their military utility and thus promoting our nonproliferation goals.

We have come a long way from early programs and tests in the 1980s and 90s. Since 2001, we have had 26 successful hit-to-kill intercepts out of 34 attempts. And 15 of the last 16 flight tests have been successful in the past couple of years.

Given this trend of success, we are confident that these systems will work, and that they will represent a practical 21st century solution to the new threat we all face. The system we have in mind is limited, and the missiles have no warhead at all. It is oriented against a potential enemy with a small arsenal, attempting to blackmail our people, sow chaos, and sap our collective will.

Development of such a limited system is realistic. Critics of this approach should also be realistic: This system is of no use against a huge nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal, such as that possessed by Russia.

Talk of a new "arms race" with Russia is anachronistic and not grounded in reality: America and Russia under the Treaty of Moscow are reducing our strategic nuclear warheads to levels not seen in decades.

Security should be—must be—discussed in a cooperative, multilateral way.

That is why the United States has consulted extensively about our plans over the last few years both with Russia and our Allies, including in Moscow, within NATO, and at the NATO-Russia Council, most recently on April 19.

NATO and Russia have had good, practical cooperation on theater missile defense for the past seven years. We look forward to continued and expanded cooperation both in NATO and with Russia.

President Bush has reaffirmed to President Putin our desire to cooperate with Russia on missile defense, and a US delegation offered new proposals for potential partnership with Russia in this area in Moscow on April 17.

We both have planned visits to Moscow to follow up and advance our consultations with the Russians – Secretary Gates recently completed a visit on April 24, and Secretary Rice will be visiting next month.

Our collective defense is too important for us to fall prey to scare tactics, slogans from the past, or attempts to drive wedges between us.

NATO has a role in missile defense. So do bilateral arrangements between America, our Allies, and hopefully also with Russia.

We all face an emerging common threat, and America has proposed a practical solution.

Europe, above all, must know – based on its own modern history - that the time to cooperate is now, not when the threat is imminent.



Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why is this mosque still standing?



By Dr. Eyad Sarraj

A few weeks ago I said that the struggle of Palestinians today is how not to become a bomb and that the amazing thing is not the occurrence of the suicide bombing, rather the rarity of them.

The BBC interviewer appeared to understand. I was shocked because it is our understanding that the world out there will never understand. And who on earth in their right mind would understand terror and the killing of innocent people? Why do Palestinians kill themselves and Israelis in such an horrific way at the bus stop or in a crowded market? Do you really care to know? Well, let me try and explain.

I believe it is an act of absolute despair and a very serious stage of the seemingly perpetual conflict. Since the uprooting of the Palestinians in 1948 triggered by Irgun Jewish terror under the leadership of Yitzak Shamir and Menachem Begin, we have tried everything. We have tried Nasser and Arab Nationalism, only to be invaded in 1956 in our second homes in the refugee camps. It was only because of the Russian threat to bomb London and Paris, and the resolve of American president Eisenhower that ended the Israeli occupation.

We have tried the United Nations and its Security Council, which by the way have made excellent resolutions on our behalf. For example Resolution 194 calling on Israel to allow us to return to our homeland, but to no avail. So we kept wandering around, between airports and refugee camps, waiting for a hero or an earthquake. All we wanted was to go home. But our story was getting worse and we grew bitter as we heard that a Jew from Poland would be declared a citizen of our country - a country now called Israel. We were told that officially we were stateless with undefined nationality. So we went to universities. We believed then that Jews were so clever because they were educated. We were told that Jews controlled the world with their education. They are doctors, lawyers and scientists, never beggars or boxers. In twenty years many of us became university graduates and we were in every university. We had some pride. Some of our educated people formed the resistance movement. They believed that the Arab countries would never fight Israel, and that we had to force them to fight. Fatah with Yasser Arafat was born. They forced the Arabs to fight by inviting Israel to attack Egypt in 1967. In the course of six days the Arabs were defeated again but worse. This time we lost Gaza and the West Bank, Egypt lost Sinai, and Syria lost the Golan. In a sudden stroke our fate was sealed and we had to live under Israeli military occupation for thirty years. Do you know what does it mean to live under Israeli military occupation? Do you really care to know? Let me tell you a few things.

You are given an identity number and a permit to reside. If you leave the country for more that three years in succession, you lose that right to residence.

When you leave the country on a trip, you are given a laissez passez, a travelling document, valid for one year and it tells you in its recording of your particulars that you are of undefined nationality.

Israeli occupation means that you are called twice a year by the intelligence for routine interrogation and persuasion to work as an informer on your brothers and sisters. No one is spared. If you are to be a member of a political organisation you will be sentenced for ten years. For a military action you will be sentenced to life.

To survive under the Israeli occupation you are given the chance to work in the jobs that Israelis do not like, sweeping the streets, building houses, collecting fruit or harvesting. You will have to leave your home in the refugee camp in Gaza at 3 am, go through the road blocks and check posts, spend your day under the sun and surveillance returning home in the evening to collapse in bed for a few hours before the following day.

We simply became the slaves of our enemy. We are building their homes on our villages, and we clean their streets. Do you know what does it do to you when you have to be the slave of your enemy in order to survive. No you will never know how painful it is unless your country is occupied by another force. Only then will you learn how to watch in silence pretending not to see the torture of your friends and the humiliation of your father.

Do you know what it means for a child to see his father spat at and beaten before his eyes by an Israeli soldier? Nobody knows what happened to our children. We don't know ourselves except we observe that they lose respect for their fathers. So they, our children, the children of the stone as they became known, tried the Intifada - the Uprising. Seven long years our children were throwing stones and being killed daily. Nearly all our young men were arrested, the majority were tortured. All had to confess. The result was every one suspected that all people were spies. So, we were exhausted, tormented and brutalised. What else could we do to return to our home? We had almost forgotten that and all what we wanted was to be left alone.

What else could we try? Oh yes, peace. When the news came that Arafat had signed a peace treaty in Washington we were jubilant. At last we thought we were to get rid of that miserable life of military occupation, at last. So we had hope.

We could not believe our eyes when there were no more curfews and we could actually spend our evening on the beach or wander in streets which were now ours after eight o'clock at night. We were ecstatic. We even had elections and we had a parliament, so we were told.

Then came Binyamin Netanyahu.

He refused to meet Arafat and was clearly forced to shake hands in obvious disgust. He refused to free our prisoners, to have a safe passage for us to move between the West Bank and Gaza. He even surrounded our towns and villages with his tanks and arrested our policemen. Then he went after our holy places and opened a tunnel under our holiest Mosque. Tens of our children and also Israeli soldiers were killed because of that tunnel, but he went on insulting us and driving out our sanity.

Arafat called for patience and we were patient, then Netanyahu started to build settlements in Jerusalem and drive the remaining Palestinians out. Settlers in Hebron spat on our Prophet and called him a pig. All in the name of peace we were humiliated, even arrested and tortured by Palestinian forces to protect the peace. Our Authority was turning against us to please Netanyahu. Our officials were driving in big cars and building big villas. They have VIP cards and cross the check posts like human beings while we are left to rot.

I've told you a few things. Now do you understand why we have turned into suicide killers?

Dr. Eyad Sarraj is a Palestinian Psychiatrist, Commissioner of Citizens Rights, and an Awardee of Physicians for Human Rights. He was detained three times by Arafat's forces during 1996.

The above article is published with the kind permission of Mid-East Realities (MER), www.middleeast.org.

China in Africa



9 Chinese among 74 killed in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, April 24: Scores of gunmen attacked a Chinese-run oil field in a remote area of Ethiopia on Tuesday killing 74 people, including nine Chinese, a government spokesman said.

Seven Chinese workers were also kidnapped in the attack which the government blamed on a separatist group, said Ethiopian prime minister's spokesman, Berekat Simon.

“It is a massacre. It is a terrorist act, ordered by a terrorist alliance that includes ONLF,” said Simon, referring to the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Around 200 unidentified gunmen attacked the oil field in Somali state where China's Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau is searching for oil, according to a company manager quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency.

More than 100 soldiers protecting the field engaged the attackers in a fierce 50-minute gun battle, said the manager, Xu Shuang.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Addis Ababa confirmed the attack but would give no further details. China has invested massively in oil exploration across Africa to feed its growing economy.

The Ethiopian government spokesman said some Ethiopians may also have been kidnapped during the assault on the oil field at Abole, a small town about 120 km (75 miles) from the Somali state capital of Jijiga.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is a rebel group fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's Ogaden region.

In April last year the group warned international oil firms that exploring for oil and natural gas in the region “for the benefit of the Ethiopian regime or any foreign firm will not be tolerated”.

The ONLF was formed in 1984. It states that the Ogaden people have been marginalised and brutalised by the Ethiopian government.—AFP


There is no continent on the face of this earth more intractably screwed-up than Africa. One feels sorry for those unfortunate to have been born on that God forsaken land. Some of my earliest recollections of childhood are of following the news that French troops were moving upriver to restore order in the Belgian Congo. Looking at a childhood atlas is a reminder of the instability of countries in the dark continent and one wonders how an international corporation makes the decision that an investment in Africa is worth the risk. (Googling "Africa killings" returns 1.3 million hits.)

I recently asked a computer geek gen-xer if he knew where Rhodesia was. He had no idea and no idea who Cecil Rhodes was, (but that's a different topic.)

The point is, yesterday in the oil fields of Ethiopia, one group of men, 200 or so strong, went on a killing rampage and another 74 people died. This time 9 Chinese were included in the victims. To my knowledge, China does not have a great deal of experience with workers abroad. I do know that to many Chinese people, pride, especially nationalistic pride is important. It is very important to them that they not be seen as "soft." At least that's the impression the Chinese have been cultivating especially since we accidentally bombed their embassy in another place that's disappeared from maps, Yugoslavia. Let's see if the "Chinese street"gets upset about this incident.

The Chinese have condemned the atrocity and the Ethiopian Prime Minister has has vowed "those responsible for this act will pay in full for what they did." I don't expect much, after all, what's are 63 Somalis and 9 Chinese worth?

China is a young man abroad and will learn to balance the demands of its people with the needs of its economy. A life here and there is the price you pay when you are out in the cruel world, especially in backwards, tribal Africa.

Why are we so stupid in dealing with Islam?

While the the sword of Islam is launching psychopathic killers against the West, the response from some is puzzling at best. Anyone have a coherent idea that will impress the Islamic world that enough is enough?


MUSLIMS STANDING TRIAL TO HIDE THEIR FACES


Should wearing the veil be banned in court?

Wednesday April 25,2007
By Tom Whitehead The Express

MUSLIM women were yesterday given the full backing of the law to wear veils in court – even if they are standing trial for crimes.
Defendants who are told they must remove their face-covering garment could even be allowed to give evidence in secret so as not to offend them.

Senior judges ruled that religious dress – including the full niqab which leaves only the eyes exposed – should be allowed for anyone involved in a court case unless justice is threatened.

Last year, an immigration tribunal had to be adjourned after a lawyer twice refused to remove her veil despite the judge having difficulty in hearing her.

In the aftermath of that row, the official guidance issued yesterday said any Muslim involved in a court case should be permitted to wear a veil providing it does not interfere with the administration of justice.

It would be left to individual judges to decide on a case by case basis but even where they rule a veil should be removed from a defendant or witness, the court may have to be cleared while they give evidence.

Last night critics said the guidance undermines the most basic of principles – that justice must be seen to be done.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “People are entitled to see what is going on. All this pussy-footing around, judges have no comprehension of the damage there doing for community cohesion by coming out with this barmy stuff.


Had Lee won, where would the US be today?

To my mind the South had every right to secede and I would have worn the gray. History calls it a civil war, which it was not. A civil war would imply that time had solidified the USA to be one country and it was not. It was evolving and still acquiring western territories. It was very much a work in process and subject to debate and change. Honorable men would have had differing opinions as to what the country was and where it was going. Had it been a corporation it would have been a "spin-off".

The keeper of the gates of current American group think would not agree, and you?

Symposium to honor Lee, villain or 'the noblest ever' ?
By Robert Stacy McCain
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
April 25, 2007

Winston Churchill called him "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived," and Theodore Roosevelt called him "the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth."

But has political correctness turned Robert E. Lee into a villain? That will be the question explored by six historians this weekend at a symposium commemorating the bicentennial of the Confederate commander's birth.

"We were afraid that Lee would not receive the honors he should get because of the prevailing political correctness," says Brag Bowling, a Richmond resident who helped organize Saturday's event at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington.

The symposium will be the largest event of its kind this year honoring Lee, who was born Jan. 19, 1807.

The event site was chosen in part to be near the former Lee family home in Arlington (which now overlooks Arlington National Cemetery). He and his wife, Mary Custis Lee, were married there in 1831, and Mrs. Lee inherited her grandfather's mansion on his death in 1857.

The symposium site was chosen because of its proximity to Washington.
"We wanted to take this to the nation's capital," says Mr. Bowling, a national board member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is hosting the symposium. More than 200 have registered to attend.

"They're coming in from all over the country," he says. "I had one phone call ... from some guy in Norway. We've got people coming from California, Texas, Massachusetts -- all over the country, and from Canada."

Lee, the son of Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse Harry" Lee, was born in Westmoreland County, Va., and graduated from West Point. He served more than 30 years in the U.S. Army, distinguishing himself in the Mexican War as an aide to Gen. Winfield Scott.

Lee, who freed the slaves his wife inherited from the Custis family, called slavery "a moral and political evil" and opposed secession. After Virginia seceded in 1861, he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army rather than bear arms against "my native state."

Hostility to Confederate heritage "has really gotten bad in the last decade," says Mr. Bowling, who says that political correctness in academia and in the press often leads to "dishonoring Confederate soldiers and ignoring the true reasons why the South wished to secede."

Such hostility is based on a misunderstanding of the political background of the war, says Thomas DiLorenzo, who will speak at Saturday's symposium.

"It's hard for people to understand Lee's legacy unless they understand the political philosophy that he held and that informed him as to why he was fighting," says Mr. DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at Baltimore's Loyola College. "Lee was a military man, so he very seldom said anything about politics. But after the war, he did."

Lee saw the war as "a continuation of the battle between the Hamiltonian consolidationists and the Jeffersonian decentralists," says Mr. DiLorenzo, referring to the "remarkable correspondence" between Lee and British statesman Lord John Acton in 1866.

In a letter to Acton, Lee referred to the writings of Jefferson and Washington and warned that "the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded."

Lee's letter was "a very eloquent expression of the Jeffersonian philosophy of the Constitution ... and I think it tells us a lot about why he believed he was fighting this war," Mr. DiLorenzo says.

Joining Mr. DiLorenzo at the symposium will be author Kent Masterson Brown, historian John J. Dwyer, Donald Livingston of Emory University, novelist Thomas Moore and Clyde Wilson of the University of South Carolina. Robert Krick, former chief historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, will speak at a banquet Saturday evening.

"We have people who are going to make you think," Mr. Bowling says. "When you leave this seminar, you're going to say, 'That's a really unique way of looking at things. I haven't thought of it like that before.' "

The official sponsor of Saturday's symposium is the S.D. Lee Institute, which was begun in 2005 as the "academic wing" of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Mr. Bowling says. The institute is named for Confederate Lt. Gen. Stephen Dill Lee (no relation to Robert E. Lee), who at a 1906 SCV gathering declared: "To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought."

Mr. Bowling hopes the Arlington symposium "will be the blueprint for other S.D. Lee seminars around the country."

Nationally, the Sons of Confederate Veterans enrolls 30,000 members who are descendants of those who served in the Confederate military services.

"There are tons and tons of people who are proud to be Southerners and proud of their Confederate heritage," says Mr. Bowling. "We've taken polls and we have overwhelming support in Virginia, but you'd never know it, to read the newspapers."



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Softspoken, Kind, Tolerant, Bi-partisan

Referring to the expected veto of Democrat legislation setting a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq to begin October 1 and be completed six months later, Harry Reid yesterday said:

"If the president disagrees, let him come to us with an alternative. Instead of sending us back to square one with a veto, some tough talk and nothing more, let him come to the table in the spirit of bipartisanship that Americans demand and deserve."

I guess that "spirit" was not what Reid was thinking about when he also said:

"No more will Congress turn a blind eye to the Bush administration's incompetence and dishonesty.

It is a sad commentary on our society and culture when the Majority leader in the Senate resorts to such vile disrespect simply for the purpose of pandering to the base of his party. Evidently he has done the political calculus and determined that there is no political price to be paid for calling the President of the United States an incompetent liar living in a state of denial. He may wish to recalculate when he sees that Senator Chuck Hagel, R, Nebraska is 9 points behind in his Senate race. Evidently, Nebraskans do not approve of the anti-war Republican and only 37% think he would make a good President. But back to the Senate Majority Leader - Perhaps the "distinguished" Senator from Nevada feels that he is speaking in measured, moderate, bipartisan terms. After all, by the standards of his Democrat constituents they probably are moderate and measured. Call me old fashioned, but when the Senate leader also refers to the Vice-President as the president's "chief attack dog," I shudder for the future of our society. But why shouldn't we expect to hear this kind of language from the Democrat leadership? In March, Charles Krauthammer addressed this new low in society when he wrote about a 2,000 word New Republic article making the case that Vice-President Dick Cheney was demented as result of his heart condition.

According to Krauthammer, the NR article offered the following evidence of the Vice-President's dementia:

(a) Using a four-letter word in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy. Good God, by that standard, I should have been committed long ago and the entire borough of Brooklyn quarantined.
(b)"Shoot a man in the face and not bother to call your boss 'til the next day?" Another way of putting that is this: After a hunting accident, Cheney tried to get things in order before going public. Not the best decision, as I wrote at the time, but perfectly understandable. And if that is deranged, what do you say about a young Teddy Kennedy being far less forthcoming about something far more serious -- how he came to leave a dead woman at the bottom of a pond? I am passing no judgment. I am simply pointing out how surpassingly stupid it is to attribute such behavior to mental illness.
(c) Longtime associate Brent Scowcroft quoted as saying, "Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." Well. After 9/11, Cheney adopted a view about fighting jihadism, America's new existential enemy, that differed radically from the "realist" foreign policy approach that he had shared a decade earlier with Scowcroft. That's a psychiatric symptom? By that standard, Saul of Tarsus, Arthur Vandenberg, Irving Kristol, Ronald Reagan -- to pick at random from a thousand such cases of men undergoing profound change of worldview -- are psychiatric cases. Indeed, by that standard, Andrew Sullivan is stark raving mad. (OK, perhaps not the best of counterexamples.)
At one time, the New Republic was the left's version of National Review. Now, it is simply a far-left rag. Maybe it still represents the mainstream thinking of liberal America. If so, God help us because we are seeing the beginning of a not so kind, not so tolerant, not so bipartisan America. Liberals will present their counter arguments and examples but those don't change the fact that our society has coarsened a little more with each successive, post WWII generation. Harry Reid is just "keeping it real" for his posse.


Why is the flag at half mast for the V-Tech victims?

The flag should be used to honor those that served their country with honor and not for the unfortunate who meet a tragic death. If the flag is to lowered for tragedy, we need shorter flag poles.

Soldier: Honor troops like Va. Tech dead
By ALISA TANG, Associated Press Writer Mon Apr 23, 11:16 AM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - An Army sergeant complained in a rare opinion article that the U.S. flag flew at half-staff last week at the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan for those killed at Virginia Tech but the same honor is not given to fallen U.S. troops here and in Iraq.


In the article issued Monday by the public affairs office at Bagram military base north of Kabul, Sgt. Jim Wilt lamented that his comrades' deaths have become a mere blip on the TV screen, lacking the "shock factor" to be honored by the Stars and Stripes as the deaths at Virginia Tech were.

"I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at VT, yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. service member," Wilt wrote.

He noted that Bagram obeyed President Bush's order last week that all U.S. flags at federal locations be flown at half-staff through April 22 to honor 32 people killed at Virginia Tech by a 23-year-old student gunman who then killed himself.

"I think it is sad that we do not raise the bases' flag to half-staff when a member of our own task force dies," Wilt said.

According to the Defense Department, 315 U.S. service members have died in and around Afghanistan since the U.S.-led offensive that toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001, 198 of them in combat.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said that the flags of all its troop-contributing nations are flown at half-staff for about 72 hours after the service member's death "as a mark of respect when there is an ISAF fatality."

Sgt. 1st Class Dean Welch, who works with Wilt at the U.S.-led coalition public affairs office, said the essay is a "soldier's commentary, not the view of the coalition and not the view of the U.S. forces."

Welch added that such outspoken opinion pieces are rare.

Wilt suggested that flags should fly at half-staff on the base where the fallen service member was working and in the states where they hail from. He said some states do this, but not all of them.

He wrote that the death of a U.S. service member is just as violent as those at the university last week, but it lacks the "shock factor of the Virginia massacre."

"It is a daily occurrence these days to see X number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan scrolling across the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen. People have come to expect casualty counts in the nightly news; they don't expect to see 32 students killed," he wrote.

"If the flags on our (operating bases) were lowered for just one day after the death of a service member, it would show the people who knew the person that society cared, the American people care."