Monday, January 5, 2009
War is always terrible and to be avoided if humanly possible. War in Gaza, where Hamas terrorists are embedded within densely crowded areas, is particularly awful. No one wants to see civilians being killed. Every decent person will be dismayed that it has come to this.
This is a war that Israel spent more than seven years trying to avoid, while no fewer than 6,000 rockets and other missiles rained down from Gaza upon its southern towns. No other country in the world would have sat on its hands while its traumatised children were raised in bomb shelters.
The often-made comparison with IRA terrorism spectacularly misses the point. Hamas actually run Gaza. The equivalent would have been the Irish government firing 6,000 rockets at England. Does anyone seriously doubt that, in such a hypothetical situation, Britain would have been at war with Ireland long before that total had been reached?
What is profoundly troubling, however, is that as the Israeli ground offensive escalates hostilities still further, so many in Britain don’t understand that, appalling as this war is, the alternative is even worse...
[Highly Recommended > ]
In the case of recent Israeli operations in Gaza, it is not enough to justify them, by mentioning the (literally) thousands of rockets Hamas has been pumping into every Israeli town within their range, expressly to massacre the defenceless. This, and this alone, necessitated decisive Israeli action.
A government has a solemn duty to protect its people from gratuitous acts of violence. The Israeli government is unambiguously justified in taking whatever measures are necessary to make the rocketing stop. Hamas carries the entire moral responsibility for putting the people of Gaza in harm's way.
But we should not stop at justifying Israeli action. As their allies against a common enemy -- against Islamists who consider the West to be their ultimate target -- we should be offering our help and encouragement for the completion of the stated Israeli task: the complete annihilation of the Hamas organization. For by no other means can peace be obtained in Gaza.
[exaggeration? Then tell me; what course do you set to coexist with those who explicitly state they believe in no coexistence?]
Son of Hamas Leader Gives Glimpse Into Terror Organization
As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other world leaders try to broker a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, one former member of the militant Islamic organization said there will never be lasting peace between the two groups.
''There is no chance. Is there any chance for fire to co-exist with the water?''said Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the group's founding members.
[HT:Ldot; "Someone found some stones over at the UN."]
At an emergency Security Council meeting Saturday, the US blocked approval of a UN Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
The US, Israel's closest ally, has designated Hamas a terrorist organization. US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week's council call for an immediate end to the violence.
Though the Security Council took no action on Saturday night, an Arab draft resolution circulated by Libya on Wednesday night that would condemn Israel and halt its military attacks on Gaza remains on the table. It would have to be revised, however, since the United States has already called it "unacceptable" and "unbalanced" because it doesn't call for an end to the Hamas rocketing of Israel.
Jerusalem -- The images from the fighting in Gaza are harrowing but ultimately deceptive. They portray a mighty invading army, one equipped with F-16 jets that have bombed a civilian population defended by a few thousand fighters armed with primitive rockets. But widen the lens and the true nature of this conflict emerges.
Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, is a proxy for the real enemy Israel is confronting: ..Iran.
[meanwhile, in the 'professional' media...]
BBC World TV has spent much of the day whining that Israel is refusing to allow the international media entry into Gaza despite an Israeli court ruling that it should allow the media in.
This is amongst the reasons why it isn’t choosing to do so: Police were searching Saturday night for a foreign reporter working for an Iranian TV network who reported the IDF incursion into Gaza before the military authorized the release of the information to the public...
Danger lurks on every stretch of road in Iraq with the prospect of roadside bombs, which have taken a terrible toll on those serving downrange. Army Spc. Jake Altman knows very well the destruction they can cause.
"I was the lead vehicle scouting for IEDs and letting the guys behind me know what's up ahead,” he recalled. “About three hours into it, I came across one. I saw it for about a split second. I called it, and then all of a sudden, it blew up,"Although in tremendous pain and agony, Altman could not help but think what only heroes perceive during this type of emergency.
"I was actually glad it was me. If I would have missed it, it would've hit a truck full of guys. That explosion would have killed everybody in the truck,"After a year and a half of recovery and physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Altman returned to the 9th Engineer Battalion here, continuing his service and eager to take on future challenges. He has decided to deploy once again, and will readily leave Schweinfurt in January, fulfilling his desire to "stay in the fight."
Chairman of Move America Forward, Melanie Morgan, has recently returned from a Christmas visit to the controversial Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- telling Newsmax that the American people have been lied to about how the terror war detainees being held there are treated.
“I saw that there were a lot of attorneys and big mouths in this country who are trying to describe hideous conditions at Gitmo,” she says. “That is simply not the case. Those people are lying to the American people.”Morgan, who began her career reporting on the 1983 Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks bombing, where 241 Marines were killed, goes on to describe what she discovered during her three-day visit.
“The terrorists at Gitmo are given more religious consideration than our troops are ... They have six meal plans every day that they can choose from. At the beginning of the week on Monday they describe what kind of foods that they would like. If the fresh fruit is bruised, they are allowed to return it for a higher quality fruit.Late this past summer, the Guantanamo trial of Salim Hamdan, one of Osama bin Laden's drivers, ended with bad news for the prosecution. Hamdan was acquitted of conspiring with al-Qaida to attack the U.S., and his five-and-a-half year sentence for providing material support for terrorism was only a fraction of what the prosecutor wanted.
“They live in air conditioned state of the art buildings ... So, there is a communication center in the middle, and the inmates are kept in rooms that form a spoke around there. They are allowed to shower every single day for 15 minutes. They have more exercise and recreational time than American school children do..."
Morgan’s opinion on all this is straightforward:
“It’s extremely short sided, dangerous, and self delusional decision by our highest court…”
[Recommended > ]
Moscow - Russia will deliver 10 MiG-29 fighter jets to Lebanon as a gift, the head of the federal military and technical cooperation service said Wednesday. The jets are to be fully outfitted to 'export standards' before being shipped, he said
Mikhail Dmitriyev called the donation a means of 'military and technical assistance provided for in the (Russian) budget.
Russia has long sought to expand its influence in the Middle East, and as a member of the Quartet of Mideast peace negotiators proposed to host a conference in Moscow next year.
[at 30M$ each that's a 'gift' of 300M$ - and they'll host a peace conference in Moscow. How nice of Russia to do so for purely altruistic reasons.]
From June: 'No ice at the North Pole,' to January: 'Sea Ice Ends Year at Same Level as 1979'
No pairing of any two stories better illustrates the child-like alarmism of global warming religionists than these two stories. The first from June of 2008 claims that all the ice at the North Pole has melted and will be gone for the first time ever, while the second shows that by January of 2009 the polar ice measurements show that it is the same as it was in 1979, with no ice loss seen at all between then and now. [snip]
So, what we see here in the first story is "scientists" that imagine that they "know" that everything will travel in a straight line from their claims to the end of life as we know it. They make no allowance for the reality that, like it has for millions of years, this planet might just know what it’s doing after all. And we find them shocked and surprised by the time the second story rolls around that they couldn't have been more wrong...
As James Peden, an atmospheric physicist, said, many scientists "are now searching for a way to back out quietly" from global-warming fearmongering, "without having their professional careers ruined."
This is an ethical or political problem, not a problem in climate science. The crux of it is that major research grants and, in this country, prestigious Canada Research Chairs, have been awarded on the assumption something must be done to stop CO2 from destroying the world.
Those scientists who are the current beneficiaries of a moral panic they help sustain are squirming not because of their ethical transgressions but because of scientific facts. Facts are fragile because they could always be different, but stubborn because they are what they are, independent of opinions, including any "consensus." In this context the big inconvenient fact is that for almost a decade, ice-core data have shown climate cycles antedate changes in atmospheric CO2.
In 2006, experiments at the Danish National Space Center provided evidence that changes in the magnetic field of the sun can affect not CO2 but water vapour--clouds--which are responsible for up to 95 per cent of the warmth that keeps Earth habitable. Last year the implications finally sunk in.
The original experiment is being replicated by CERN, the European Organization for Nu-clear Research, so stay tuned.
Remember, there is no experimental evidence--none at all--that an increase in CO2 can increase greenhouse warming, and that ice-core evidence indicates the causal arrow does not go from changes in CO2 to changes in climate...
It has been a particularly cold winter season, and the energy issue is front and center for the Obama administration. In a surprising December 25th New York Times piece, Kate Galbraith wrote about the season's deleterious effect on alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and biodiesel.
The network news shows have yet to pick up on this story. Galbraith first tackles the issues regarding solar panels in snowy conditions(my emphasis throughout):
This time of year, wind turbine blades ice up, biodiesel congeals in tanks and solar panels produce less power because there is not as much sun. And perhaps most irritating to the people who own them, the panels become covered with snow, rendering them useless even in bright winter sunshine...Galbraith showed examples of how expensive alternative energy can fail, but she does not mention coal, oil, and nuclear have been keeping modern society consistently warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and moving comfortably in our vehicles every single day.
The greatest danger in the current economic crisis is that the United States will lose its historic appetite for risk. The mood now is that risk-taking got us into this mess. Risk, though, is the quintessential American trait that built the nation -- from the Battle of Bunker Hill to the rise of the microchip. If we let risk give way to a new ethos of commercial reserve and regulatory restriction, the upward arc of the U.S. ascendancy will flatten. Maybe it already has. [snip]
The great danger now is that a depressed and angry people will allow the risk-taking American baby to be thrown out with the toxic-securities bathwater. The line of waiting washerwomen is long. France's Nicolas Sarkozy ("Laissez-faire capitalism is over") and our European friends propose a global regulatory body to monitor financial risk, which of course means it would corral America's cowboy capitalists. Barney Frank wants a "systemic-risk regulator." [snip]
The current crisis is the result of a world gone madly long on real estate. Daniel Boone, the famed American frontiersman, went belly-up speculating on Kentucky land. He moved on in 1788 and paid his debts. So should we, without losing sight of the American frontier, where we discovered the rewards of risk.
[Recommended > ]
When a company runs out of money with which to pay its bills, involuntary bankruptcy usually follows. But the State of California, which is expected run out of money at the end of February, plans to pay at least some bills with what amount to IOU's (call them "registered warrants" if you accept the sham).
The group likely to get them are taxpayers owed refunds on their state tax payments, also know as "voters."
Last year I warned that a state bankruptcy was not unthinkable. That would be one way to get California out of its unsustainable gold plated pension obligations to state employees, not to mention the union contracts that have large numbers of prison guards making over $100,000 a year - not bad for a job that requires a GED level of education.
Absent shock therapy of some sort, California's fiscal madness will go on and on until the last taxpayer leaves.
WASHINGTON – Drug-related violence in Mexico, already at unprecedented levels, is expected to escalate further this year, with targets likely to include top Mexican politicians and law enforcement agents and possibly even U.S. officials, according to diplomats and intelligence experts on both sides of the border. As the war against cartels escalates in 2009, so will the threats, particularly against U.S. officials and other Americans...
State [NY] Health Commissioner Richard Daines has become the point man for one of the more controversial of Gov. David Paterson's revenue-generating budget proposals: The so-called ''fat tax'' - an 18 percent levy on sugary drinks like non-diet soda...
Recipe for success? Salt and fat, admits McDonald's chief
The woman given the job of promoting McDonald's has revealed the secret of the fast-food chain's success – salt and fat. (Snip) ''But fat and salt makes food taste good. There is no point taking all the fat and salt out of your food because people won't like it and they will eat with someone else.
We have to make small steps to help people improve their diet.''
[why? How about we each decide if and how we'll improve our diets? Just as if we had personal choice in the matter...]
Just looking at the hypocrisy of the media. So what else is new? But sometimes you just have to point out the obvious.
Christmas day the Washington Post slobbered (metaphorically speaking) all over it's front page about Obama's workout:
"The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games."The subtitle of the piece is "Gym Workouts Help Obama Carry the Weight of His Position." The WaPo just gushes about how wonderful it is that Obama stays in shape.
[the point? > Flashback to Pres. Bush's workouts and how the WaPo described them.
... attacked Bush three years ago in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times headlined "The (over) exercise of power."
Recounting how President Bush ran 3.5 miles a day and preached more cross-training to a federal judge, Chait fumed:
"Am I the only person who finds this disturbing? . . . What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy."
The current estimate is that the 2008-09 budget is $11.2 billion out of whack and the 2009-10 income-outgo gap is another $17 billion, but with new forecasts of a declining economy and up-to-date revenue numbers, state officials believe that both numbers could be as much as 50 percent higher, around $40 billion... [snip]
While the quartet -- dubbed "the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" by one Capitol type -- pleaded for rapid action, there was absolutely no indication afterward that the political stalemate on taxes, spending cuts and demands by Republicans for easing some labor and environmental rules would suddenly resolve itself.
While Democrats believe that the depth of the crisis will compel Republicans to abandon their no-new-taxes position, GOP leaders believe they can force Democrats into giving ground on what they call "economic stimulus" -- a list of pro-business measures, such as no longer requiring overtime pay after eight hours of work, that Democrats and their labor and environmental allies despise...
[this state is now spending in excess of 100 Billion dollars a year ---
and we're supposed to include tax increases - now? - as 'part of the solution'??
It's the spending, idiots. Always has been, yet we keep sending the same idiots back to Sacramento confident that if they just keep running up the tab eventually we'll be forced to throw good money after bad.
Are they right? Silence is interpreted as consent...
"Stop the spending now: No new taxes"
CA Governor: http://gov.ca.gov/interact mailto: email@example.com
CA State Legislature = http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html
CA Senate Email list pg. http://www.sen.ca.gov/~newsen/senators/senemail.htp
Sen. Don Perata (9th) Senator.Perata@senate.ca.gov
CNN Places Sarah Palin With 2008's Criminals, Sex Addicts, and the Corrupt
Showing they have no sense of morality, no grasp of corruption and no understanding of what defines a criminal, CNN gives us another one of those ubiquitous year in review stories, this one titled "Politicians who fell from grace in 2008." In this one, CNN has decided to reveal for us their top eight politicians that found 2008 to be a "career-buster" because of their "crimes and misdemeanors" or their outrageous controversies.
CNN features corruption mired Rod Blagojevich, the sex crazed Elliot Spitzer and John Edwards, and the criminal bribe taker Ted Stevens among four others. Each of these men in the CNN list have either been convicted of criminal actions, are indicted for corruption, lost their positions, been drummed out of their party, or are soon to face jail time. Among these eight criminals, however, is a name that doesn't belong among this class of serial abuser of the public trust.
Sadly, it won't be shocking to note that among the worst sex criminals, bribe takers, liars and thieves in politics for 2008, CNN ridiculously included the name of Governor Sarah Palin...
[they're still frightened of her - and for good reason...]
It's no Tripp: Palin still popular
WHEN Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, Bristol, gave birth last month to the Governor of Alaska's first grandchild, America's comedians had a field day.
Two months after she crashed to defeat with John McCain, Ms Palin remains a prime source of hilarity. Yet the "hockey mom" who cracked jokes about pitbulls and lipstick enters 2009 as a key figure in Republican plans for political revival.
Ms Palin ended 2008 with a striking run of personal successes in high-profile popularity polls. A poll by Gallup found she was the second-most admired woman of the year, after Hillary Clinton.
Time magazine chose her as the world's fourth-most influential person, behind Barack Obama, Henry Paulson of the US Treasury and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Last week she triumphed in an annual poll, commissioned by a property website, as the person Americans would most like to have as their neighbour.
For all the abuse she endured as a vice-presidential candidate, Ms Palin continues to excite Republican voters with what they see as a unique political style...
Big Media's Many Similarities to the Big Three
As media company after media company fall on hard times, the amount of handwringing within the journalistic community is reaching epic proportions. One point not often noticed, however is that there are many similarities between the American media business and our auto manufacturing industry as Tony Hopfinger points out in an excellent Alaska Dispatch post:
There are many reasons for the downturn - a weak economy, the Internet, etc. But one explanation that often goes unmentioned is the generally poor management within the newspapers themselves. It's surprising how many editors, publishers and executives have been allowed to keep their jobs as their papers crumble around them. In any other business, these managers would be replaced. Instead, failures are blamed on "markets" and "ad dollars" and "the Internet," instead of lack of vision and poor leadership.
[another: quality of product ]