“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama's Pastor's Farrakhan

Twenty years is a long time. You get to know someone in twenty years. Rev. Wright praised Farrakhan at his recent Press Club speech. We know that Reverend Wright and Barack Obama have known and heard Louis Farrakhan for at least ten years. Reverend Wright, along with Barack Obama went to the Farrakhan "Million Man March" ten years ago.

Reverend Wright, at his Press Club rant, talked about the US government complicity in creating AIDS. Where did he get that idea and how prevalent an idea is that in the black community? Should we believe that Monday was the first time Barack Obama heard the Reverend's theories?

Listen to what Farrakhan has to say and what he preaches.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prince Barack Decides to be King and Banishes Rev Falstaff

I Know thee not, old man . . .

When thou dost hear I am as I have been

Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast,

The tutor and feeder of my riots.

Till then I banish thee, on pain of death.
. . .
(Henry IV, Part 2 5.5. 45, 60-63)

(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama said he is "outraged" by comments his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, made Monday at the National Press Club and "saddened by the spectacle."

Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced comments made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

"I have been a member of Trinity Church since 1992. I have known Rev. Wright for almost 20 years," he said at a news conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "The person I saw yesterday is not the person I met 20 years ago."

Obama said he is outraged by Wright's remarks that seemed to suggest the U.S. government might be responsible for the spread of AIDS in the black community, and his equation of some American wartime efforts with terrorism.

"What particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing," said Obama, who added that Wright had shown "little regard for me" and seemed more concerned with "taking center stage."

Obama said Wright's comments were not only "divisive and destructive," but they also "end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate.
( more here)

Is Obama's Black Church that Black?

White liberal praying it ain't so.

There are a lot of blacks including Oprah Winfrey that were part of Reverend Wright's church. Just a couple of weeks ago we heard that it was the church to go to in Chicago if you wanted credibility in the black community. Me thinks that Reving'em up Wright, is probably more main street in that community than many liberals would like to believe.

Wright is telling it like it is, but picked an inconvenient time to do it. He has torn back the curtain and a lot of people are pretending shock. Wright said "blacks are different" and that unspeakable is anathema to multi-culturalism. That is not the Obama message but is also much closer to the truth.

Recall the reaction in white America when OJ Simpson was found not guilty. Whites were shocked and blacks went into a delerium of ecstasy.

Those same type of pictures are on every clip of the Rev on every youtube clip. The parishoners who were present at the Press Club yesterday are the same folks who were in Church with Barack Obama.

Obama sat and absorbed that for twenty years. Barack Obama was mesmerized by this very bright and very seductive man. What does that tell you about a President Obama?


Wright Says Criticism Is Attack on Black Church

Attacks on him are really attacks on the black church, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, in which he mounted a spirited defense of views and sermons that have become an issue in the presidential campaign because Senator Barack Obama attended his church for many years.

Mr. Wright told the press club audience that the black church in America grew out of the oppression of black people, and that his sermons reflected that struggle.

Snippets from his sermons have been used in Republican commercials seeking to depict Senator Obama as unpatriotic, and the Democratic presidential candidate has given a carefully calibrated speech seeking to distance himself from Mr. Wright’s more inflammatory statements.

Speaking Monday, Mr. Wright said that political opponents of Senator Obama were exploiting the fact that the style of prayer and preaching in black churches was different from European church traditions — “Different, but not deficient,” he said.


The Carter Center Knows Best.

"On the way home from monitoring the Nepalese election, I, my wife and my son went to Israel. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."

Most Presidents, at the end of their terms, are pleased to return to privacy. Few become addicted to celebrity. I doubt we will hear much from George Bush as we didn't from his father and for that matter Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Eisenhower and Truman. Then there is Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Neither Clinton or Carter seem capable of exiting stage left. Clinton needs the light and Carter fears the darkness. Carter cannot accept the fact that he is not needed, and not invited. He also has devolved into that weird Bob Dole state of referring to himself in the third-party. With Carter it is "the Carter Center". I guess that is the point; Carter being in the Center.

Here's Jimmy:

Pariah Diplomacy

Published: April 28, 2008

A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.

Two notable examples are in Nepal and the Middle East. About 12 years ago, Maoist guerrillas took up arms in an effort to overthrow the monarchy and change the nation’s political and social life. Although the United States declared the revolutionaries to be terrorists, the Carter Center agreed to help mediate among the three major factions: the royal family, the old-line political parties and the Maoists.

In 2006, six months after the oppressive monarch was stripped of his powers, a cease-fire was signed. Maoist combatants laid down their arms and Nepalese troops agreed to remain in their barracks. Our center continued its involvement and nations — though not the United States — and international organizations began working with all parties to reconcile the dispute and organize elections.

The Maoists are succeeding in achieving their major goals: abolishing the monarchy, establishing a democratic republic and ending discrimination against untouchables and others whose citizenship rights were historically abridged. After a surprising victory in the April 10 election, Maoists will play a major role in writing a constitution and governing for about two years. To the United States, they are still terrorists.

On the way home from monitoring the Nepalese election, I, my wife and my son went to Israel. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although I knew that official United States policy was to boycott the government of Syria and leaders of Hamas, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip, except that it might be dangerous to visit Gaza.

The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza, and Fatah is “governing” the Israeli-dominated West Bank. Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)

Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials.

We met with Hamas leaders from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace:
  • Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel provided it is approved either in a Palestinian referendum or by an elected government. Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, has reconfirmed this, although some subordinates have denied it to the press.
  • When the time comes, Hamas will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern until the next elections can be held.
  • Hamas will also disband its militia in Gaza if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed.
  • Hamas will permit an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, to send a letter to his parents. If Israel agrees to a list of prisoners to be exchanged, and the first group is released, Corporal Shalit will be sent to Egypt, pending the final releases.
  • Hamas will accept a mutual cease-fire in Gaza, with the expectation (not requirement) that this would later include the West Bank.
  • Hamas will accept international control of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided the Egyptians and not the Israelis control closing the gates.
In addition, Syria’s president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public.

Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

Monday, April 28, 2008

So Much for Conspiracy Theories

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

Barbie Erotic Fantasies Pose Threat to Iran

Barbie denounced as destructive by Iranian prosecutor

The blonde-haired, scantily-clad Barbie doll and other western toys will lead to "destructive and cultural consequences" for Iran, the country's leading prosecutor was quoted as saying today.

In a letter to the Iranian vice-president, published in the Mardom Salari daily newspaper, the prosecutor general, Dori Najafabadi, wrote: "The appearance of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and ... computer games and movies are all a danger warning to the officials in the cultural arena," Reuters reported.

Najafabadi, a high-ranking cleric, said Iran was the world's third biggest importer of toys, and suggested this posed a threat to the "personality and identity" of the new generation.

"The unrestrained entry of this sort of imported toys ... will bring destructive cultural and social consequences in their wake," he wrote.

He added that many toys were smuggled into Iran, accusing importers of concentrating on profits at the expense of cultural values.

This is not the first time Barbie has become the focus of Iranian disapproval. In May 2002, the Komiteh - the public morality police - cracked down on sellers of the doll, arresting shopkeepers and saying Barbie was improperly dressed.

At the time, one shopkeeper told the Guardian that the Komiteh had taken $11,000 (£5,534) of his goods during the raids. "Iranians love everything Barbie. I just can't understand it," he said.

An Iranian version of the doll, called Sara, was launched. She follows Islamic rules of dress and her brother, Dara - much like Barbie's boyfriend, Ken - is the male version of the doll.

Too attractive for Iranian tastes.

Rev. Wright Continues to Give. “A Change is Gonna Come”

"Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality," he said. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. "Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style," he said. "They have a different way of learning."
- Rev Wright to the NAACP

Update: Rev Wright is speaking to the National Press Club. Rev Wright is cranking it up. He has his own agenda and is using the moment to run for something himself. He has the stage and he is not getting off. This is bad news for Obama and very bad news for the country. This is not the way that we want this election to go. I cannot say that I am surprised.

Obama has some problems.


Rev. Wright Delivers Fiery Address to NAACP

April 27, 2008 11:28 PM ABC News

Speaking in Detroit, at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's 53rd annual "Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner," Rev. Jeremiah Wright took on his critics even while he spoke of a new, unified day coming.

You can watch the speech HERE.

Addressing a local Republican official who'd called Wright “divisive," Wright told the welcoming crowd in his keynote address, "I am not one of the most 'divisive.' Tell him the word is 'descriptive.' I describe the conditions in this country -- conditions divide, not my description."

Wright's appearance guaranteed more media attention for the former pastor of the Democratic president frontrunner, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, who likely had hoped the issue -- and Wright -- would go away. In more news that would no doubt trouble Obama, Wright mentioned that he was working on a book.

"I'm not here for political reasons," Wright said. "I'm not a politician." He said that might surprise in the crowd of 10,000 since "many in the corporate-owned media have made it seem that I'm running for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office; I've been running for Jesus for a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet."

Most of Wright's speech addressed the theme of the dinner, “A Change is Gonna Come,” talking about the differences between different cultures and races, saying "a change is coming because we no longer see others as being deficient…Different doesn't mean deficient."

"The black religious tradition is different," he said in comments that seemed to address the controversy about his sermons. "We do it a different way."

Wright discussed how different groups have seen other groups as "deficient." After saying English-speakers saw Arabic-speakers as "being deficient," Wright mentioned Obama almost as an aside.

"Please run and tell my stuck-on-stupid friends that Arabic is a language -- is a language, it is not a religion," he said. "Barack HUSSEIN Obama," he said, emphasizing the Illinois senator's middle name dramatically, "Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Barack HUSSEIN Obama. There are Arabic-speaking Christians, there Arabic-speaking Jews, Arabic-speaking Muslims and Arabic-speaking atheists. Arabic is a language, it is not a religion. Stop trying to scare folks by giving them this Arabic name like it's some disease."

The bulk of his remarks addressed, however, different groups seeing each other as deficient. He acted out the differences between marching bands at predominantly black and predominantly white colleges. "Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality," he said. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. "Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style," he said. "They have a different way of learning." And so on.

After jokingly mocking the Boston accents of former Presidents John F. and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Wright said, "nobody says to a Kennedy, 'You speak bad English,' only to a black child was that said."
Wright said that he believes "a change is going to come, 'cause many of us are committed to change how we see others who are different."

Earlier in the day, Wright delivered two sermons at the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, referring to his "public crucifixion," according to the Houston Chronicle. Wright will address the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Monday morning.

- jpt

Wake Up McCain. You Think Republicans are Tough?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I don't know what the future holds...

Karzai Survives Deadly Attack in Kabul.

Afghan Troops Fleeing the Scene - AFP photo

Afghan president escapes deadly parade attack

27/04/2008 08:05:03 AM GMT

KABUL (AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai escaped unharmed Sunday after militants attacked a high-profile military parade with explosions and gunfire, killing at least one and wounding 11 including legislators.

The BBC has this video. It looks eerily similiar to the setting when Sadat was assassinated in Egypt three decades ago. One day ago this was the headline:

Karzai wants US to stop arresting Taliban suspects:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged US forces Saturday to stop arresting suspected Taliban and their sympathizers, arguing that these arrests and past mistreatment were discouraging Taliban from laying down their arms.
The New York Times said the Afghan president, in an interview, also criticized the allied conduct of the war and demanded that his government be given the lead in policy decisions.
Karzai said the real terrorist threat lay in sanctuaries of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. He argued that civilian casualties needed to end completely.
"For the success of the world in Afghanistan, it would be better to recognize this inherent character in Afghanistan and work with it and support it," The Times quoted him as saying in the interview. "Eventually, if the world is to succeed in Afghanistan, it will be by building the Afghan state, not by keeping it weak."
Karzai, who has been in office six years, is facing re-election next year. With the polls approaching, some diplomats have even expressed dismay that, for lack of an alternative, the country and its donors may face another five years of poor management by Karzai, the paper said.
But the Afghan president was quick to reject such criticism, pointing out "immense difficulties" his government had faced, according to The Times.
"What is it we have not gone through?" Karzai was quoted as asking.
The president also called for greater respect for Afghanistan on the part of its foreign partners.

VOA is reporting:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other dignitaries have survived a Taliban attack on a ceremony in Kabul.

Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi says Mr. Karzai as well as scores of Cabinet members and foreign diplomats were evacuated Sunday after automatic gunfire broke out.

Government and military hospital officials said at least nine people, including two lawmakers, were wounded in the attack.

The gunfire erupted after Mr. Karzai and other dignitaries had taken the stage following an inspection of troops.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying his fighters had fired rockets and automatic weapons at the dais where the dignitaries were seated. The spokesman said three Taliban fighters were killed.

President Karzai appeared on national television soon after the incident saying authorities have arrested several suspects.

Afghan state television abruptly cut its live transmission of the high-profile ceremony, marking the 16th anniversary of the fall of the communist government in Afghanistan to the mujahedin and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Al Sharpton to Close down NYC. Obama Must Be Pleased.

The only thing worse for the Obama candidacy would be for Reverend Wright to use his pastoral skills to help Al Sharpton shut down New York. That ought to be good for another 5-7 point drop for Obama in the upcoming primaries. Sharpton has a keen sense of timing and knows just when to be diplomatic.


Sharpton vows to 'close this city' after officer acquittals

Apr 26, 4:42 PM (ET)


NEW YORK (AP) - Hundreds of angry people marched through Harlem on Saturday after the Rev. Al Sharpton promised to "close this city down" to protest the acquittals of three police detectives in the 50-shot barrage that killed a groom on his wedding day and wounded two friends.

"We strategically know how to stop the city so people stand still and realize that you do not have the right to shoot down unarmed, innocent civilians," Sharpton told an overflow crowd of several hundred people at his National Action Network office in the historically black Manhattan neighborhood. "This city is going to deal with the blood of Sean Bell."

Sharpton was joined by the family of 23-year-old Sean Bell - a black man - and a friend of Bell who was wounded in the 2006 shooting outside a Queens strip club. Two of the three officers charged were also black.

The rally at Sharpton's office was followed by a 20-block march down Malcolm X Boulevard and then across 125th Street, Harlem's main business thoroughfare, where some bystanders yelled out "Kill the police!"

Fifty of the marchers carried white placards bearing big black numbers for each of the police bullets fired at Bell and his friends.

Sharpton urged people to return for a meeting this coming week "to plan the day that we will close this city down" with the kind of "massive civil disobedience" once led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"They never accused Sean Bell of doing anything. Then why is he dead?" Sharpton asked, his voice roaring with anger. Authorities "have shown now that they will not hold police accountable. Well, guess what? If you won't, we will!"

"Shut it down! Shut it down!" the crowd chanted, standing up and applauding wildly.
Sharpton didn't say exactly how they would protest the acquittals of the officers who fired the 50 shots. He said Bell's supporters could demonstrate all over the city, from Wall Street to the home of Justice Arthur Cooperman, who on Friday acquitted the three detectives after a nonjury trial.

Sitting behind Sharpton as he spoke were Bell's parents, his sister and Nicole Paultre Bell, who took her fiance's name after his death.

"The justice system let me down," Paultre Bell told the crowd in a soft voice. "April 25, 2008: They killed Sean all over again. That's what it felt like to us."

It was her first public comment since she stormed out of a courtroom Friday after the NYPD detectives were cleared in Bell's killing as he left his bachelor party.
One of Bell's companions, Joseph Guzman, also spoke briefly on Saturday, saying: "We've got a long fight."

Kardashian at party for Girls Gone Wild Magazine, endorses Obama.

"It wasn't just him and I. I was at an event,"said Kardashian.

"I had dinner with him (Obama) once, and he just seemed very firm about the change, and that's, like, his motto,"

Kim Kardashian Reveals Details Of Dinner With Barack Obama
By Brian Andrews Published 04/24/2008 Reality TV Star News
Barack Obama Hoping To Gain Democratic Nomination

Kim Kardashian has been seen in a sex tape which has made her the focus of many men. The one she is focusing on these days is presidential hopeful Barack Obama. The Senator apparently made an impression with her while having dinner together.

Kardashian revealed at a launch party for Girls Gone Wild Magazine, that she is endorsing Senator Obama for president. The move came at the party that was held in Los Angeles.

"I had dinner with him once, and he just seemed very firm about the change, and that's, like, his motto," she said. When asked about the dinner, she quickly pointed out that the two were not alone. "It wasn't just him and I. I was at an event,"said Kardashian.

She is not the only one in her family to be backing Obama in his quest to become the next president. Her stepbrother, Brody Jenner, also has come out in support of Obama.

Obama was hoping to lock up the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania on this past Tuesday. That did not happen, however, as Hillary Clinton defeated Obama by almost ten points. The battle now heads on, in search of a winner who will eventually battle John McCain to be the next president.

Our Guy Retaliates.

Iron Mike Tyson. He Almost Made It.

Iron Mike Tyson KO'd his first 19 opponents, 12 before the end of the first round, but this is now.

Here is how it used to be:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Past Time to Rethink Transportation and Fuel

Alternative Transportation Need Not Be all That Bad

Car sales last year were up 60 percent in Russia, up 30 percent in Brazil and up 20 percent in China. Imagine India with $2500 cars. Friends, the era of getting 300 miles on a twenty gallon gas tank is rapidly coming to an end. Electricity, propane, hydrogen or perhaps a motorbike are in the future. What is clear is that the existing automobile fleet is going to be replaced sooner than you think. Ford (F) closing at $7.50 may be the buy of a lifetime.


Oil prices to double by 2012: Canadian study
Breit Bart

U.S.: biodiesel usage to increse to 1 billion gallons per year by 2012.

The price of oil is likely to hit 150 dollars (Canadian, US) a barrel by 2010 and soar to 225 dollars a barrel by 2012 as supply becomes increasingly tight, a Canadian bank said Thursday.

The CIBC report says the International Energy Agency's current oil production estimates overstate supply by about nine percent, since it wrongly counts natural gas liquids -- which are not viable for transportation fuel -- in its numbers.

Analyst Jeff Rubin in his report noted accelerating depletion rates in many of the world's largest and most mature oil fields. He estimates oil production will hardly grow at all, with average daily production between now and 2012 rising by barely a million barrels per day.

"Whether we have already seen the peak in world oil production remains to be seen, but it is increasingly clear that the outlook for oil supply signals a period of unprecedented scarcity," said Rubin.

"Despite the recent record jump in oil prices, oil prices will continue to rise steadily over the next five years, almost doubling from current levels."

The CIBC report also notes that while production increases are at a virtual standstill, global demand continues to grow.

An expected drop in demand in the United States due to higher prices and a weak economy will be more than offset by demand growth in developing nations, it says.

Rubin cites, for example, the recent launch of Tata's 2,500-dollar car that will allow millions of households in India to soon own automobiles.

He also notes that car sales last year were up 60 percent in Russia, up 30 percent in Brazil and up 20 percent in China.

Transport fuel now accounts for half of the world's oil usage.

Although US oil consumption is likely to fall by over two million barrels a day over the next five years as pump prices rise, he says, more drivers on the road in Russia, China and India will surely pick up the slack in demand.

Tweety Came From a Tough Family

Closest living relatives of the mighty predator Tyrannosaurus rex are modern birds.

I know there is some ironic Kantian lesson to be learned here, but that is best explained by someone else. (Bobal, please be a chap, step forward and explain this to us.) If there is a political lesson, it is the ability of all living thinks to adapt to almost any change.


Tests Confirm T. Rex Kinship With Birds

Published: April 25, 2008

In the first analysis of proteins extracted from dinosaur bones, scientists say they have established more firmly than ever that the closest living relatives of the mighty predator Tyrannosaurus rex are modern birds.

The research, being published Friday in the journal Science, yielded the first molecular data confirming the widely held hypothesis of a close dinosaur-bird ancestry, the American scientific team reported. The link was previously suggested by anatomical similarities.

In fact, the scientists said, T. rex shared more of its genetic makeup with ostriches and chickens than with living reptiles, like alligators. On this basis, the research team has redrawn the family tree of major vertebrate groups, assigning the dinosaur a new place in evolutionary relationships.

Similar molecular tests on tissues from the extinct mastodon confirmed its close genetic link to the elephant, as had been suspected from skeletal affinities.

“Our results at the genetic level basically agree with what has been seen in skeletal data,” John M. Asara of Harvard said in a telephone interview. “There is more than a 90 percent probability that the grouping of T. rex with living birds is real.”

Dr. Asara and Lewis C. Cantley, both of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, processed the proteins from tissue recovered deep in bones of a 68 million-year-old T. rex excavated in 2003 by John R. Horner of Montana State University. Mary H. Schweitzer of North Carolina State University discovered the preserved soft tissues in the bones.

For the molecular study, Dr. Asara and Chris L. Organ, a researcher in evolutionary biology at Harvard, compared the dinosaur protein with similar protein from several dozen species of modern birds, reptiles and other animals.

Dr. Organ was the lead author of the journal report, which concluded that the molecular tests confirmed the prediction that extinct dinosaurs “would show a higher degree of similarity with birds than with other extant vertebrates.” The researchers said they planned to extend their investigations to include comparisons of T. rex protein with more species of birds, reptiles and other dinosaurs.

Dinosaur paleontologists were not surprised by the findings. An accumulation of fossil evidence in recent years had given them increasing confidence in their contention that birds descended from certain dinosaurs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jenna Bush, Keeping Up Family Traditions (UPDATE)

They will be missed by the Democrats

George Bush did more to wreck the Republican Party than any Democrat could even dream possible. I guess it is appropriate that one of his less than gifted daughters would continue the process.

UPDATE ( hat tip gag reflex): Look at the tape. She did not say what CNN said she did. I will leave my original post so that everyone can see how wrong I was about the girl. 
Speaking on Larry King Live last night, first daughter Jenna Bush, who appeared alongside first lady Laura Bush, confessed that she's not sure if she'll vote for the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Sen. John McCain, and even left open the possibility that she'd support either Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Nuclear Power is Inevitable in the Middle East

"There was no Syria-North Korea co-operation whatsoever in Syria", said Bashar Jaafari, Syrian ambassador to UN. Here is a pdf of The Institute for Science and International Security report that says differently.

Syrian oil reserves have been declining and Syria has been switching power plants over to natural gas so that they can continue to export oil at new and rising prices. This poses a dilemma for Israel and the West. Nuclear proliferation will not be limited to Iran.

With all the oil revenue flowing into the Middle East and as we get further into the period of "peak oil", the ME has the resources to purchase and the need for nuclear power plants. It is simply not going to happen that Israel or any other power will be able to prevent every Arab country from obtaining nuclear power. China, Russia, France, Germany, the UK and the US will all be encouraging the use of nuclear power. It is a new growth industry.

The US when it had a nuclear monopoly could not prevent the Russians and the Chinese from acquiring nuclear technology in the fifties. Nuclear power in an age of $120 oil is inevitable. Nuclear is coming to the ME. How do we work with that?



N Korea 'linked to Syria reactor'
Officials say the site was the target of an Israeli attack last year
North Korea was helping Syria build a nuclear reactor, US officials are to tell lawmakers in a closed session.

Unnamed officials told a number of US newspapers that the US had video footage of the Syrian facility with North Koreans inside.

Syria has repeated denials that it has any nuclear weapons programme, or any such agreement with North Korea.

It follows an unexplained air strike by Israel last September on a target inside Syria.

According to the Washington Post, the alleged nuclear facility was the target of the bombing.

'Not operational'

The video footage - said to have been obtained by Israel - also showed striking similarities between the Syrian facility and the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, reports said.

However, the facility was not yet operational and there was no fuel for the reactor, officials said.

The White House has not commented on the reports, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates said information on the issue could be made public "soon".

Syria's ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, denied the links.
"There was no Syria-North Korea co-operation whatsoever in Syria. We deny these rumours," he said.

North Korea has previously denied transferring nuclear technology to Syria.
In a landmark deal reached in February last year, Pyongyang agreed to close its main reactor and divulge the full extent of its nuclear programme by December.
However, it missed the deadline, and while it is taking steps to close its Yongbyon reactor, it has yet to produce a declaration of nuclear activities to the international community's satisfaction.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Truth About Darwin

You Can't Handle The Truth

Slimslowslider said over at BC: "are we or aren't we the roll of the dice, that is the question.'

OK, the opening is a little melodramatic but the fact is that people on both sides of the issue of Darwin's theory of evolution can't or won't handle the truth. But I know the truth about Darwinism and I can handle it.

Darwin's theory stated as succinctly as possible is:

Random Mutation operating through Natural Selection explains the Origin of the Species.

When I was first asked about the scientific validity of Darwin's theory I had to say that I did not dispute the concept of evolution. After all, it is easy to see one's biological antecedents in other, older species. But I did question Darwin's theory of it. I thought Darwin's theory needed to be tested scientifically. And, so, the first order of business was to see if any of the terms within the theory could be tested objectively.

The terms available for testing are Random mutation, Natural selection, and Species. I rejected Natural selection and Species because the definitions are too loose to be called objective. That left Random mutation. But I was leery of the 'mutation' part of the term as also being too loosely defined.

That left the term 'Random.' Now this is a term that one can work with objectively, that is, if you think of mathematics, actually Statistics, as scientifically objective.

In Statistics, probability is the relative possibility that an event will occur, as expressed by the ratio of the number of actual occurrences to the total number of possible occurrences.

Take, for example, a roulette wheel. It has 36 numbers and a couple of zeros making for 38 possible spots for a ball to land on when the wheel is spun.

It is assumed that the chance of landing on any particular number is the same as any other number. So the chance of landing on any particular number is 1 in 38.

1 in 38 isn't much of a chance but people do win. To win twice in a row the chance increases the chance to 1 in 38 x 38 which = 1 chance in 1444.

To win 10 times in a row the chance increases to 1 in 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 which = 1 chance in (Well, you know what? My calculator can't handle the truth)

Let's back off to the biggest truth my calculator can handle: 5 wins in a row. So, the chance of winning 5 times in a row are 1 in 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 x 38 which = 1 in 80 million. Now, if a guy told you that he won 5 straight rolls on the roulette wheel you would say that the guy is full of shit.

Now a statistician might say it could be true if the guy played one spin of the wheel every minute of every day for for 152 years. Then there would have been 80 million spins of the wheel and, so, there would have been an even chance of that happening or not happening. (Please, no nit pickers here. I'm trying to get the major point across)

If you've followed me this far (wake up, Doug) then maybe you can see that I became suspicious of, say, human DNA, which has 3 Billion base pairs, assembling itself randomly. Still, an intuition is not proof. And the proponents of Darwinism say that I just don't comprehend how much time nature has had to do this. We need hard numbers.

The first and hardest number to be determined is: How many "spins of the wheel" or events has nature had to work with?"

Here's how I eventually worked it out. Truth is, I don't know and will never know how many events nature has had to work its magic. But I have found a way to calculate the maximum number of events that she has had to work with and if the maximum number does not give an even chance of assembling Human DNA then no lesser number will accomplish it either.

So, let's have a go at finding out that number. It's really not that hard when physicists have already done all of the heavy lifting, as it were.

Let's define an event. It's when something happens. Physically, something must move.

How many "somethings' are there in the universe?
Answer: no. of Particles in the universe: 10^80

How long have they been moving, in seconds?
Answer: Age of universe in secs: 3600 x 24 x 365 x 15,000,000,000 = 10^17

How fast are they moving?
Answer: Speed of light in m/sec: 10^8

How far must they move?
Answer: Smallest measurable distance in universe: a Planck length: 10^-35 m

Question: How many times could all of the particles in the universe moving at the speed of light for 15 billion years travel a distance of one Planck length?

Answer: 10^140

I can calculate what the odds are assembling Human DNA randomly but I would rather start with a simpler analogy from which we can infer the truth.

A typewriter has 26+ keys; Let's say 32 for convenience. How many keystrokes could be typed accurately using a random selection process before the chance of success exceeded 1 in 10^140?

I've worked it out for you: 93 keystrokes.

Now, consider the 3 billion base pairs that make up of human DNA. That's the equivalent of typing 3 billion 2 keystrokes sequences accurately using a random key selection process. What are the chances of that happening? 10 doubles = 1024 or 10^3 We have 300,000,000 of these. Our chance of hitting these 6 billion keystrokes accurately? 1 in (300,000,000 x 10^3) or 1 in 10^900,000,000. There is only one word to describe these numbers: preposterous.

So, does random mutation over a long time produce the life forms we see today? Ain't no way.

If the universe was a trillion times older and a trillion times bigger and if light travelled a trillion times faster it would only make the maximum no. of events possible to 10^176. Then our analogy would only rise to 105 keystrokes. It is not possible for the theory of random mutations operating through natural selection to explain anything about the evolution of life. In fairness to Darwin: he never heard of DNA.

So, if life was created non-randomly, what is the mechanism driving evolution?

I have a theory about that, too. But won't go into that now. This post is hard enough to digest as it is. You didn't think that this was going to easy, did you? Serious people will make the effort.

Obama's Running Shoes

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning", well being a REMF AF type, I never smelled it, but I do love MSM being glum in the morning. It is a rare day when I wake with a smile, and look forward to seeing Chris Mouthews and Tim Russet Potato Head. I think I will grind some coffee beans and cook up some blueberries and maple syrup to put on a waffle. Thank you Pennsylvania.

Good stuff from Maureen Dowd. No waffles for that girl.

Wilting Over Waffles

Published: April 23, 2008

He’s never going to shake her off.

The very fact that he can’t shake her off has become her best argument against him. “Why can’t he close the deal?” Hillary taunted at a polling place on Tuesday.

She’s been running ads about it, suggesting he doesn’t have “what it takes” to run the country. Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he’s outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband’s going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?

Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It’s like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke.

“You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out,” said a glowing Hillary at her Philadelphia victory party, with Bill and Chelsea by her side. “Well, the American people don’t quit. And they deserve a president who doesn’t quit, either.”

The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. With gas prices out of control, with the comically oblivious President Bush shimmying around New Orleans — the city he let drown — and Condi sneaking into Baghdad as rockets and mortars hail down on the Green Zone, beating the Republicans should be a cinch.

But the Democrats watch in horror as Hillary continues to scratch up the once silvery sheen on Obama, and as John McCain not only consolidates his own party but encroaches on theirs by boldly venturing into Selma, Ala., on Monday to woo black voters.

They also cringe as Bill continues his honey-crusted-nut-bar meltdown. With his usual exquisite timing, just as Pennsylvanians were about to vote, Hillary’s husband became the first person ever to play the Caucasian Card. First, he blurted out to a radio interviewer that the Obama camp had played the race card against him after he compared Obama’s strength in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s. And then, with a Brobdingnagian finger-wagging on the screen, he denied it to an NBC News reporter.

“You always follow me around and play these little games, and I’m not going to play your games today,” he said, accusing the reporter of looking for “another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us.”

If there’s one person who knows about crass diversions, it’s Bill. But even for him, it was an embarrassing explosion, capped with some blue language to an aide that was caught on air.

The Democrats are eager to move on to an Obama-McCain race. But they can’t because no one seems to be able to show Hillary the door. Despite all his incandescent gifts, Obama has missed several opportunities to smash the ball over the net and end the game. Again and again, he has seemed stuck at deuce. He complains about the politics of scoring points, but to win, you’ve got to score points.

He knew he tanked in the Philadelphia debate, but he was so irritated by the moderators — and by having to stand next to Hillary again — that he couldn’t summon a single merry dart.

Is he skittish around her because he knows that she detests him and he’s used to charming everyone? Or does he feel guilty that he cut in line ahead of her? As the husband of Michelle, does he know better than to defy the will of a strong woman? Or is he simply scared of Hillary because she’s scary?

He is frantic to get away from her because he can’t keep carbo-loading to relate to the common people.

In the final days in Pennsylvania, he dutifully logged time at diners and force-fed himself waffles, pancakes, sausage and a Philly cheese steak. He split the pancakes with Michelle, left some of the waffle and sausage behind, and gave away the French fries that came with the cheese steak.

But this is clearly a man who can’t wait to get back to his organic scrambled egg whites. That was made plain with his cri de coeur at the Glider Diner in Scranton when a reporter asked him about Jimmy Carter and Hamas.

“Why” he pleaded, sounding a bit, dare we say, bitter, “can’t I just eat my waffle?”

His subtext was obvious: Why can’t I just be president? Why do I have to keep eating these gooey waffles and answering these gotcha questions and debating this gonzo woman?

Before they devour themselves once more, perhaps the Democrats will take a cue from Dr. Seuss’s “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” (The writer once mischievously redid it for his friend Art Buchwald as “Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!”) They could sing:

“The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. ... I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. ... You can go in an old blue shoe.

Just go, go, GO!”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hillary by 10%

Newsmax/Zogby Poll: Hillary Takes 10-Pt. Lead in Pa.

Monday, April 21, 2008 10:35 PM

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to pull away from rival Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois as the campaigning in Pennsylvania ended and voters prepared to cast ballots Tuesday, the latest Newsmax/Zogby daily telephone tracking poll shows.

Clinton now leads Obama, 51% to 41%, having gained three points over the past 24 hours as Obama lost one point, pushing her beyond the poll’s margin of error to create a statistically significant lead for the first time in the Pennsylvania daily tracking poll.

Meanwhile, 6% remained undecided and another 3% said they preferred someone else in the two-day tracking poll. It was conducted April 20-21, 2008, using live operators working out of Zogby’s on-site call center in Upstate New York, included 675 likely Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Thank God, It's Pennsylvania Tuesday

President "Bobby": Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
[Long pause]
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President "Bobby": In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President "Bobby": Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
President "Bobby": Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time.
[Benjamin Rand applauds]
President "Bobby": I admire your good, solid sense. That's precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.

'It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession.
I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.'
Ronald Reagan
This is a day that I thought would never come. It was like waiting for Christmas. Only without the payoff. I hope that I never see another campaign season as long as this one. Day after day for a year now, the candidates have provided the daily meals for the talking heads who night after night have dined on the empty calories of politics.

If there is an upside, it is the fact that in such a long protracted campaign, the candidates will expose themselves even if a fawning media does not. Hillary has proved beyond any doubt that she will say and do anything to get elected. One good thing about a two year long interview process is that you get to see the real person and not just the packaged persona. She's real alright. She's the real all her corrupt human glory, she seems to know no shame.

Obama on the other hand is seen as just about the most brilliant man to run for the Presidency in the history of the republic. How else to explain a phenomenon not seem in the last 50 years of American politics. Not since Chance the Gardener has the country been so receptive to a blank canvas on which to paint their own hopes and aspirations. Every enthralling uttered word is believed to be Solomaic in its extraordinary wisdom and insight. People who should know better, have been charmed by the soaring rhetoric. To them, Obama is Martin Luther King, Jr. , John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt and everyman all rolled up in one. He is wise and handsome and a god-fearing family man; loyal even to his undeserving friends. He's the total package. Young, good looking, Harvard educated. Ubermensch. Those of us less enthralled with the phenom see him as a first-class grifter.

The Democrat primary has become torturous but in life, occasionally you have to take a bitter medicine in order to get better. Our suffering is nearly done.

Thank God, it's Pennsylvania Tuesday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pakistan Gives US a Sharp Stick to the Eye.

Will he be missed?

The TNSM is a militant Wahabi outfit whose primary objective is the imposition of Sharia in Pakistan.

Ideologically, it is dedicated to transform Pakistan into a Taliban style state.

In an August 1998-speech in Peshawar, Maulana Sufi Mohammed, its leader, reportedly declared that those opposing the imposition of Sharia in Pakistan were wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of death). He is reported to have organised thousands of people to fight the Northern Alliance (NA) in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, after 911.

A majority of them were either killed or arrested by the Northeren Alliance in Afghanistan. Sufi Mohammed, managed to get his sorry ass back to Pakistan, where he was arrested by the awful Musharref.

Well after a recent commitment of seven or eight billion in US aid, our good friends the Pakis gave Sufi Muhammed a get out of jail pass. How nice.


Pakistanis free Islamist who fought U.S.

By Ismail Khan and Carlotta Gall Published: April 21, 2008

The new provincial government here released the leader of a banned Islamist movement from prison Monday after he agreed to denounce violence and work to bring peace to the area.

The released prisoner, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, is the leader of a radical movement, the Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi, or TNSM, which has fought the government for nearly 20 years in a campaign to establish Koranic law in the Malakand district north of Peshawar. He was detained six years ago, along with some of his followers, on his return from Afghanistan after leading hundreds of men there to fight against United States forces in November 2001.

Muhammad's son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, took up the leadership of the movement during his detention and led an armed uprising in the tourist valley of Swat last fall. The army routed the militants over the winter, but they remain in the mountains and still oppose the government.

The agreement, which was signed on Monday at the house of the province's chief minister, appears to be an attempt to pacify the region through negotiation. That was one of the main election promises of the Awami National Party, which is leading the coalition government in the North-West Frontier Province.

Under the agreement, Muhammad and seven other radical leaders agreed that the TNSM would respect the government and state institutions, "so that peace and the writ of the state is restored in Malakand region," according to the text of the agreement.

The TNSM acknowledged that army and police personnel and government officials were their Muslim brothers and that any violence against them was contrary to Islam and Shariah, its legal code. According to the agreement, the movement pledged to use only peaceful means in pursuing its aim of establishing Shariah.

"The government has taken the right decision and it will help in restoration of durable peace in the region," Muhammad told journalists after his release. He added that disputes should be resolved through dialogue rather than force.

Four members of the provincial government signed the agreement, withdrew all pending cases against Muhammad and commuted what remains of his 10-year prison sentence. His organization, formed in 1989, was banned in 2002 when he was convicted.

The chief minister, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, said that the TNSM had pledged to forbid participation in militant activity by any of its members, and to work toward restoring peace to the troubled region. "We have full agreement that issues cannot be resolved through the use of force," Hoti said.

Ismail Khan reported from Peshawar and Carlotta Gall from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oil at $117 a Barrel. What is a Farmer to Do?

Two-Horsepower Solution

At some price, oil will become too expensive to burn as a fuel, at least for some applications. If you believe in free markets, you accept the facts as they are, oil is always at the correct market price. While the world seems to tolerate high fuel prices, rising food prices are more problematic. In many parts of the world the rising price of food is approaching the red line. People look at food as a right and oil as a commodity, but you need oil to produce food. 

Not all oil is distributed based on price. It is sold at a deep discount within Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran. The producing countries are extracting a targeted tax on the oil consuming countries. The consuming countries seem unable to respond. 

The contradictions compound. The squeeze continues.


Farmers eye options as fuel, fertilizer costs soar

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) Washington Times
Maryland farmers are facing record-high diesel fuel and fertilizer costs this plant season, the result of the escalating costs for crude oil and natural gas.

Diesel prices Friday averaged a record $4.168 a gallon nationally, more than triple the price last year for fuel widely used to power farm equipment.

U.S. prices for natural gas — a major component in the production of the nitrogen fertilizer anhydrous ammonia — have nearly doubled since late August, boosting field-preparation costs.

Brian Clark, a University of Maryland Cooperative Extension agent in Clinton, said the increasing costs of inorganic fertilizers has resulted in many farmers in Maryland's farm belt and the region turning to such alternatives as manure.

"But there is little they can do about record diesel prices," he said.

Chuck Fry, a Frederick County turkey and dairy farmer, said he pays $120 to $140 to refuel his diesel-powered, poultry-litter spreader, compared to $30 to $40 last year. The increase has made Mr. Fry use his large equipment more judiciously, he told the Frederick News-Post.

Ragina C. Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said farmers also are dealing with higher livestock feed costs.

The increased production costs, plus the higher cost of transporting farm goods to market on diesel-powered trucks, are ultimately passed on to consumers, she said.

"It is a horrible cycle that translates to higher transportation costs to the marketplace and still higher prices for the eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables and other consumables," Mrs. Averella said. "All of this while we all continue to grapple with higher pump prices, too."

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation's Marketbasket Survey, retail food prices increased about 9 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

Historically, diesel fuel was cheaper than gasoline because it was easier to refine, according to industry researchers. Since the Environmental Protection Agency issued mandates in September 2004 requiring major reductions in the sulfur content of diesel fuels to improve air quality, the price generally has been higher than that of regular gasoline, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Mrs. Averella said retail diesel fuel prices are likely to remain high as long as crude oil prices and world demand for distillate fuels remain high, according to forecasts by the EIA.

Democrat Talking Points

Zawahiri says Iraq will become 'fortress of Islam': audio

Fri Apr 18, 10:19 AM ET

Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims to make Iraq a "fortress of Islam" in an audio message marking the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion.

In a nearly 16 minute message posted on the Internet, Zawahiri accused Shiite Iran of seeking to annex southern Iraq and slammed the Egyptian government for "starving" its people as part of a "Zionist-American plan

He called on extremists to fight to create a greater Muslim state after US President George W. Bush had admitted the "failure of the Crusader invasion".

"We will only get our rights back with our own hands and not through beggary or fraudulent elections," he said, according to a summary released by the US-based SITE monitoring service.

The message posted on Islamist militant websites contained a reference to April 8 testimony to the US Congress by the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus.

"Bush declared that he will give Petraeus all the time he needs ... which allows Bush to escape the decision to withdraw forces. By passing the problem to the next president, Bush is declaring the failure of the Crusader invasion of Iraq," Zawahiri said.

He mocked the US-backed Sunni Arab local groups formed to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"So where are the Awakening Councils that Petraeus announced six months ago will achieve victory in Iraq? ... Are these Awakening Councils in need of someone to defend them and protect them?" Zawahiri asked.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd mourning two members of one of the councils, killing at least 51 people in one of the biggest insurgent attacks this year.

"Very soon Iraq will become the fortress of Islam, wherefrom will start missions and brigades for the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque" in Jerusalem, said Zawahiri, considered the leading ideologist of the Sunni organisation.

"Iran has clear goals, which is the annexation of southern Iraq and the east of the (Arabian) Peninsula, and to expand in order to be able to communicate with its followers in southern Lebanon," Zawahiri said.

He said a plot against Iraq by the United States and Iran would lead to the Middle East region exploding.

"If an understanding with it (Iran) is reached on the basis of accomplishing all or some of its goals in return for keeping a blind eye on the American hegemony in the area, this understanding will add fuel to the fire ... The situation will explode an already enflamed region," Zawahiri said.

While Zawahiri lambasted Iran, a senior hardline cleric there was trumpeting what he said should be the Shiite country's role in defending Islam.

"In a not so distant future, we should reach a point of having the most powerful military equipment in the world so that no one even think about invading our borders," Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said in a Friday prayer sermon.

"And not only that of the Islamic republic, but also the borders of Islam ... We must defend oppressed Muslims everywhere so that the enemies do not dare to attack Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq."

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant referred to clashes between protesters and police in the Egyptian industrial city of Mahallah earlier this month, implicitly accusing the Egyptian government of conniving with Israel and the United States to keep the Hamas-run Gaza Strip under siege.

"Those who steal the livelihood of the people of Egypt are those who are denying food to the people of Gaza under the pretext of suspect international commitments with the Jews and the Americans," he said.

"In so doing, Israel achieves monopoly over supplies to Gaza to force its people to surrender to their conditions," Zawahiri said in the audio attributed to him.

"Starving the people of Egypt .... is part of a Zionist-American plan."

It was Zawahiri's second audio message this month. On April 2, he launched a blistering attack on the United Nations. He also said that bin Laden, who like him has evaded capture, was still alive.

On the Move.

Exodus from UK shows little sign of slowing

By Peter Pallot
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 17/04/2008

Any idea that the exodus from Britain of those settling abroad might be waning appears wildly premature.

The latest survey predicts 1.8 million Britons retiring abroad by 2025 and 3.3 million by 2050.

The survey, on behalf of NatWest International, provides further evidence that the majority of those making the lifestyle change do not look back.

Nine in 10 expats said they enjoyed better quality of life and six in 10 said they did not intend to return to the UK.

Canada was rated the best country to emigrate to, followed by New Zealand and Portugal.

However, beneath the glitz lurked a less happy picture. Three quarters of those surveyed admitted to feeling homesick some or all the time, missing friends, the British culture and sense of humour.

What the survey might usefully have expanded on are health concerns, especially among older expatriates.

Many of those retiring to the sun are doing so at a time when body and brain begin to disintegrate at increasing speed. Local provision of healthcare may be either inadequate or inaccessible to the expatriate.

The language barrier can loom large. Hospital practices may disturb - the National Health Service in Britain has its critics but patients do not generally rely on relatives bringing in lunch, which is routine in some Mediterranean states.

Canada was the most popular destination in the survey

Most expatriates can benefit from medical insurance. For others it is a must. Unless expats are guaranteed full access to healthcare in their adopted state, and standards there are acceptable, skipping cover is flirting with disaster.

Distress and financial hardship can strike when expats are denied care expected as a right. Since NHS access rules were tightened in 2004, the individual who seeks to return to the UK for "free" treatment may also be in for a disappointment.

Just like its continental neighbours, Britain has clamped down on "health tourists". France, the Netherlands, Spain and several Swiss cantons have taken similar steps.

However, these countries offer generally excellent medical services, with hospital-acquired infections much less common than on NHS wards. The gap is recognised by insurers.

David Pryor, senior executive director at MediCare International points to "consistently better" healthcare across much of Western Europe compared to Britain. He said: "The French are rightly proud of their healthcare system and it is still true that access to specialists is quicker, waiting times for operations are lower and certainly hospitals and clinics are cleaner."

Insurers have responded by offering schemes aimed at people who spend most of their lives in continental Europe but a proportion in their home state - in many cases the UK. Limiting the scope helps limit the premium.

As the name implies, Exeter Friendly Society's Spain Residents Plan is mainly restricted to treatment within the country, but limited benefits apply in UK. A 40-year-old would pay €60.67 a month and a 45-year-old would pay €70.76 a month.

Another plan aimed at Spain's burgeoning expat community is Bupa International's Health Plan Complete. It gives comprehensive acute cover in Spain and another, designated, European country.

Obviously, policyholders tend to select their home country as their designated state. But this is not essential. Unusually, the plan differentiates between genders. A man aged 40-45 would pay €76.90 a month and a woman 40-45 would pay €103.70 a month.

Beyond Europe, in the Middle East and the "White" Commonwealth expatriates are being asked to prove they will not burden overstretched national health services.

People who emigrate to Australasia and North America are unlikely to get a visa if they are seen as likely to take more from the economy than they put into it. Mandatory health cover is one solution. In Australia, medical insurance premiums attract substantial tax breaks.

Most top spots for emigration in the Natwest survey offer quality of care that makes medical repatriation benefit unnecessary. However, once you move beyond the developed world, repatriation and/or air carriage assumes vital importance.

Assistance companies, contracted to insurers, specialise in emergency medicine. Their job is to get the patient to a suitable hospital with minimal delay.

Their responsibilities may go further than the purely medical. For instance, during the recent inter-tribal strife in Kenya, an American policyholder whose wife's ethnicity put her at risk, faced the threat of extreme violence.

The insurer's assistance company organised an armed police team to escort the couple to the local airport and then on to a safe haven in Nairobi.