Sunday, July 31, 2005

We're back!

That was one kick ass trip! The fetching Mrs. Wookie and I had a blast. Once I regain some sense of normalcy after 12 hours of flying I'll resume blogging and post some pics as well.

Until then, I need some sleep...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Greetings from Ireland!!

I think I briefly mentioned it in the last post, but in case you missed it, there's been no posting this week because the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I have been enjoying the "Emerald Isle."

So hello to all the family and friends, and I'll post a bunch of pictures when I get back.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gitmo detainees on hunger strike, though no one knows why

WASHINGTON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Some 50 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have declared they are on a hunger strike, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.

They went on strike three days ago, spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Some have already begun eating again, he said. The spokesman said he did not know why they went on strike and said the health of the striking detainees is being monitored.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-21-05 1125EDT

Usually you let people know why you go on hunger strike in order to get people to sympathize with your cause. And they break down after just three days?

I guess it really is hard to find good terrorists these days.

London attacked again...

[Dow Jones, off the wire, no link] - The London police commissioner confirmed Thursday that four explosions took place in what he described as "serious incidents." "We've had four explosions - four attempts at explosions," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Blair told reporters. "At the moment the casualty numbers appear to be very low...the bombs appear to be smaller," than those which rocked the three Underground stations and a bus two weeks ago. Sky News says London police are seeking man in UCH Hospital as some underground service is reopened.

Again, the wookie family's thoughts and prayers go out to our British allies.

But this does not deter our planned vacation. We are leaving Saturday for the British Isles, though we'll mainly be in Ireland; we're determined not to let some lame ass terrorists dictate our lives to us.

I know blogging here has been sporadic over the past few weeks (work has been keeping me way too busy) and I don't think I'll be able to blog much of anything while on vacation. But look forward to the pictures when I return!

UPDATE 7:30AM: Just across the wire: "Police lead man away from London's Downing Street." Sounds like they may have someone in custody. I'll post the actual story when it comes across.

UPDATE 7:35AM: Actual story a little scarier:

LONDON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Police escorted a man away Thursday from the Downing Street residence of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A police officer near the end of the street drew a firearm and aimed it at a target beyond the range of television cameras. Another officer then led away a man whose black shirt was undone. The man also wore black trousers and appeared to be of South Asian or Middle Eastern origin.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-21-05 1034EDT

UPDATE 7:48AM: Off the wire, "'London situation under control' - Police Chief"

UPDATE 7:52AM: Off the wire, "Police spokesman aware of no arrests at London Hospital"

UPDATE 8:21AM: Off the wire, "2 people detained after London blasts - BBC"

UPDATE 9:09AM: Another possible attempted bombing:

LONDON (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-Police were investigating a loud bang heard near London's St Paul's Cathedral Thursday as well as a suspect package in the churchyard, they told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

The area around St Paul's was cordoned off as the incident was investigated.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-21-05 1207EDT

UPDATE 9:21AM: All clear at St. Paul's.

LONDON (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-The all-clear was given after police cordoned off the area around St Paul's Cathedral in London, a policeman said Thursday.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang near the cathedral and police said they were investigating a suspect package found in the churchyard. The nearby City Thameslink station was also evacuated.

A policeman said later there had been "an unsubstantiated bang" and so the all-clear was given and the cordon around St Paul's had been removed.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-21-05 1218EDT

UPDATE 9:27AM: Police are already following up on clues.

LONDON (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-Police sources say a suspect rucksack remains on the top deck of the No. 26 bus in Hackney, east London, Sky News television reported Thursday.
Police sources told Sky that specialist officers were examining the rucksack.

The number 26 bus was the scene of one of four incidents involving explosives on London's transport system Thursday.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-21-05 1226EDT

UPDATE 9:34AM: Off the wire, Another suspect package found at Aldwych.

UPDATE 9:49AM: London police press conference starting...

UPDATE 10:05: Off the wire, cordon at Aldwych lifted.

UPDATE 10:57AM: Off the wire, it is beleived one of the bombs was a nail bomb.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

John Roberts will be Dubya's nominee

(CNN) -- Early reaction to news that President Bush would nominate Judge John Roberts Jr. to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court indicates a partisan fight is brewing.

Brian McCabe, president of conservative group Progress for America, opined that Roberts is "a man of great character who deserves genuine consideration and not automatic attacks and partisan indignation."

But a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid was less enthusiastic, saying Roberts has "suitable legal credentials." Spokesman Jim Manley said Roberts, once a law clerk for Justice William Rehnquist, "needs to demonstrate to the Senate that he has a commitment to core American values of freedom, equality and fairness."

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, described Roberts as "an exceptional judge, brilliant legal mind, and a man of outstanding character who understands his profound duty to follow the law."

Roberts, 50, sits on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. A veteran appellate attorney, he has argued more than 30 cases before the Supreme Court, in private practice and as deputy solicitor general during the administration of Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush.

If all Roberts needs to demonstrate to Reid and his fellow Democrats is "freedom, equality, and fairness" than Roberts ought to be a shoe in, but something tells me it won't be wuite that easy. Hugh has been positively giddy (as am I for that matter) for the past hour or so on the radio; that's always a good sign. He describes Roberts as smart as a whip, good natured, and gracious and is nice enough to leave us this link to Roberts' bio.

Good job, Dubya. Let's make sure Renquist's replacement is as solid a conservative as well.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Yes, I bought the book. Yes, I was there to get my copy in the store at midnight. Yes, I didn't do a damn thing this weekend but read the book.

When does the next one come out?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Gitmo detainees solidify the al Qaeda-Iraq link

You had to know that we'd get a boatload of intelligence from these "enemy combatants."

1. From 1987 to 1989, the detainee served as an infantryman in the Iraqi Army and received training on the mortar and rocket propelled grenades.
2. A Taliban recruiter in Baghdad convinced the detainee to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban in 1994.
3. The detainee admitted he was a member of the Taliban.
4. The detainee pledged allegiance to the supreme leader of the Taliban to help them take over all of Afghanistan.
5. The Taliban issued the detainee a Kalishnikov rifle in November 2000.
6. The detainee worked in a Taliban ammo and arms storage arsenal in Mazar-Es-Sharif organizing weapons and ammunition.
7. The detainee willingly associated with al Qaida members.
8. The detainee was a member of al Qaida.
9. An assistant to Usama Bin Ladin paid the detainee on three separate occasions between 1995 and 1997.
10. The detainee stayed at the al Farouq camp in Darwanta, Afghanistan, where he received 1,000 Rupees to continue his travels.
11. From 1997 to 1998, the detainee acted as a trusted agent for Usama Bin Ladin, executing three separate reconnaissance missions for the al Qaeda leader in Oman, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
12. In August 1998, the detainee traveled to Pakistan with a member of Iraqi Intelligence for the purpose of blowing up the Pakistan, United States and British embassies with chemical mortars.
13. Detainee was arrested by Pakistani authorities in Khudzar, Pakistan, in July 2002.

And this is one prisoner out of the 500 plus at Gitmo who worked as an al Qaeda operative with Iraqi soldiers, so there's more where that came from. Read the rest of Stephen Hayes article to stock up on info ammo for those anti-war types.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Iran swears weapons grade nuclear material won't be used to make weapons... really

Unless of course they they say they won't develop nuclear weapons and even sign some treaty promising not to then ten years later detonate a nuke in the middle of the desert. Wow, that's like deja vu all over again.

TEHRAN (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Iran will have new ideas on its contentious nuclear program, which the U.S. claims is geared toward making atomic bombs, as well as foreign policy issues, the country's ultraconservative president-elect said Tuesday.

An Iranian nuclear official also said his country will resume nuclear enrichment - a process that can be linked to making bombs - with or without accord from European Union negotiators trying to persuade Tehran to end such activities.

The U.K., France and Germany are trying to persuade Iran to permanently freeze its enrichment activities. Tehran voluntarily froze them in November under the threat of U.S.-backed United Nations Security Council sanctions, but says it reserves the right to restart them at any time.

[...]Iran has previously said that it would restart enrichment-related activities at its Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility whether or not there is an agreement with the Europeans. No operations are currently taking place at the Isfahan facility, which can convert uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium gas, the feedstock for enrichment.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-12-05 1710EDT

Media exaggerates the threat in Iraq

You don't say...

WASHINGTON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-The risk to National Guard soldiers of getting killed or wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan has been exaggerated, making recruiting more difficult, the general in charge of all National Guard forces said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum told a group of defense reporters that more than 250,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen have been mobilized for active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and 262 of them have been killed.

"It is dangerous, but it is - I shouldn't say it to this group but I'm going to - it is misrepresented, how dangerous it really is," he said.

The casualty rate for Guardsmen is "remarkably low," compared with any previous armed conflict, Blum said, adding that he recognizes that every individual loss is a tragedy for that person's family. "But I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time," he added.

In all, more than 1,750 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003 - the vast majority since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in May 2003.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-12-05 1023EDT

These men and women serving in the Amred Forces deserve our respect as fo their familes. And as far as wars go, this one has been no where near as bad as past wars as far as our casualties are concerned. In the last media inspired "quagmire," Vietnam we had 47,369 KIA, compared to our "quagmire" in Iraq where we've lost 1,752 to date (and that's from an anti-war site). While every life lost is tragic, it is still a necessity. But things are progressing to a point where we are considering a gradual pullout.

LONDON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-The U.K. hasn't decided to withdraw troops from Iraq, although contingency planning is under way, Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said Monday.

A leaked government memorandum shows the U.K. is considering scaling back its troop presence from 8,500 to 3,000 by the middle of 2006, saving nearly $1 billion annually.

The memo, marked "Secret -U.K. Eyes Only," and signed by U.K. Defense Secretary John Reid, also says there is a "strong U.S. military desire for significant force reductions."

"Emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006," which would see the multinational force cut from 176,000 to 66,000.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--07-11-05 1521EDT

If we want this democracy to work in Iraq, we have to do it right. And pre-set timetables and written-in-stone dates by which we'll have everything fixed are ridiculous. Things are going far better than you think. As always Chrenkoff has the latest in good news from Iraq.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London terrorist attack could have been worse

Union Jack

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-ABC News reported the two unexploded devices were recovered from the "scene of the terror attacks in London" but said it wasn't immediately known at which sites the devices were found.

U.K. investigators said parts of timing devices have been recovered from the bomb blasts on subway trains, and this could provide clues to determine who was responsible for the attacks, sources told ABC News.

Since I haven't had a chance to post anything else today, my heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the British. Hopefully this strengthens your resolve to fight the GWOT and I'm sure our country will fight with you against terror until all are brought to justice.


AUSTIN, Texas, July 7 /PRNewswire/ -[off the wire, no link]- The private intelligence organization Stratfor said today that the "sheer scale" and pattern of the London bombings suggested that they were almost certainly orchestrated by al Qaeda -- and intended to boost declining morale among its followers.

"The goal appears to have been to create maximum embarrassment for Tony Blair and George Bush in order to impress al Qaeda followers in the Middle East and elsewhere," said Stratfor's Director of Geopolitical Analysis and senior analyst Rodger Baker.

Baker noted that many recent statements from al Qaeda leaders indicate that the movement has been suffering from poor recruitment and low morale.

They have needed another major media event.

"The London bombings clearly give them renewed credibility in the Muslim and Arab world. They demonstrate that al Qaeda is still active and able to make its presence known in the major capitals of the world.

"Al Qaeda is very media savvy. Headlines and pictures around the world about the London bombings will be used as a tool by al Qaeda to flex its muscles and boost recruiting. They will probably be successful." Baker said the bombings do not mean that similar attacks are likely to follow in the United States or other western countries anytime soon. "Al Qaeda -- if it is al Qaeda -- does not rush these things. It plans meticulously. The London bombings were clearly well planned and coordinated over a period of time and successfully evaded the normally very effective UK counterintelligence." However, another attack on the United States at some point is "almost guaranteed," Baker said, noting that it may follow the pattern of attacking transportation infrastructure in order to wreak maximal damage on the nation's economy.

I know Cheney got lots of crap for his "death throes" but despite today's tragedy, perhaps it's not that farfetched. We continue to capture and kill terrorists in Iraq, fewer and fewer of whom are actually Iraqi. Intelligence gained from these captures leads to more arrests internationally. Perhaps al Gaeda is losing their luster among the young Muslim community.

More disturbing though is Stratfor's claim that al Qaeda monitors media worldwide. Conservatives have been complaining since the beginning of the war about Democrats anti-military comments bolstering the enemy. Sounds like we're being proved right... again.

Unfortunately these aren't the circumstances we wanted to be proven right under

UPDATE 2: LGF links to live blogging at Europhobia. It really is like 9/11 all over again.

UPDATE 3: Blair vows to stay the course:

Dow Jones Newswire -[off the wire, no link]-Blair later returned to the G8 summit. Before leaving the summit to go to London, Blair declared that "It's important ...that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world."

The prime minister said "Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

NBC's new show, "The World's Dumbest Terrorists"

Chrenkoff has the 6 dumbest terrorist moments. Here's my favorite:

Item 2: It's true that it's not always possible to detonate explosives remotely - while post-liberation the number of cell phones commonly used for that purpose has increased dramatically throughout Iraq, so has the intrusiveness of American jamming technologies - still, some ways to set off a roadside bomb just make it too easy for the infidel imperialist soldiers.

Task Force Baghdad soldiers caught a man red-handed trying to detonate a roadside bomb along a highway south of the city. The military said soldiers patrolling in south Baghdad at around 2 a.m. [July 3] noticed two sets of wires leading to the side of a highway. The patrol followed the wires to a bunker with an overhead cover and found a man with a spool of wire inside.

Check it out. It's definetely worth the read. Not sure if it qualifies as funny or not, but what about the one where the terrorists tried to use a dog as an IED?

Stanford Business School Research: The G8 Debt Relief Plan May Not Help

This is what happens when you look at things from a no nonsense business point of view instead of a bleeding heart point of view. Will it work? What's the return on investment?

STANFORD, Calif.--(Business Wire)--July 6, 2005-[off the wire, no link]- In June finance ministers of the Group of 8, the world's wealthiest industrialized nations, agreed to cancel at least $40 billion in debt owed by the world's poorest nations, many of them in Africa. The move certainly sounds generous, but researchers caution it is unlikely to result in large benefits for the struggling countries.

"The good news is that the G8 announcement focuses attention on the economic problems of the highly indebted poor countries, but you have to understand the tradeoffs," says Peter Henry, associate professor of economics. "Debt forgiveness isn't free." In research funded by the National Science Foundation and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Henry and economist Serkan Arslanalp of the International Monetary Fund analyze the tradeoffs and demonstrate that debt relief may not be the most efficient way to help these very poor nations. The researchers say their work shows that these poorest countries would realize greater benefit from receiving foreign aid than they will from the debt forgiveness.

[...]The first problem with the agreement, say the researchers, is that $1 billion to $2 billion per year is a tiny number relative to the resources that have been expended.

Furthermore, the debt relief agreement may divert attention from the central issue: Poor countries need an enormous amount of help that the G8 nations have been unwilling to provide. "Time and again, the G8 has pledged to provide 0.7 percent of their annual gross domestic product for aid to underdeveloped nations. For the United States alone, honoring this pledge would provide roughly $70 billion dollars per year--70 to 35 times the quantity of resources on the table in Gleneagles (Scotland)," where the G8 talks are scheduled, Henry says.

Currently, the actual U.S. contribution is closer to 0.1 percent of GDP per year.

"The second problem is that the debt relief debate is so emotionally charged that participants seem to have lost sight of the most fundamental question: Is debt relief efficient?"

[...]"For obvious reasons, debt relief will not stimulate investment and growth in the 18 countries under consideration for G8 debt relief in July 2005," says Henry. Unlike their Brady counterparts, these countries lack the institutions that provide the foundation for profitable economic activity--not only roads, schools, hospitals, and clean water, but also well-defined property rights and a well-functioning judicial system, he says. To compare the infrastructure of the typical Brady and highly indebted poor countries, Henry used a measure constructed by Stanford economist Robert Hall and University of California, Berkeley, economist Charles Jones. According to their ranking of 127 countries, the United States has the best social infrastructure. The median Brady country ranks 63rd while the median highly indebted poor country ranks a lowly 102nd.

"In the absence of basic institutions, debt relief is like forgiving debt owed by a firm that makes losses on every unit it sells--a temporary band-aid when radical surgery is required. When a country's principal problem is inadequate institutions, there is no reason to believe that debt relief will stimulate a rush of foreign capital, generating higher investment and growth.

"But this is not an argument for leaving such countries to whither on the vine," says Henry. The efficient way to help these countries is to provide direct aid (as called for by the Millennium Challenge Goals)--aid that must be used to help build the institutions that will eventually make them attractive places for both domestic and foreign investment.

Disputing the argument that debt relief is equivalent to aid, Henry argues the two are not equivalent because debt relief is fungible.

"There is simply no reason to believe that writing down a government's debt by a billion dollars will translate into a billion dollars' worth of institution building. Having said that, aid is no panacea either, and we need to make sure that it is not wasted. But the issue is not whether we should give aid, but rather how to design aid programs that work.

"Just as bankruptcy protection can help a fundamentally sound business, debt relief can work for relatively developed but highly indebted emerging economies. Aid is the more promising way of helping poor countries build the institutions they so critically need," he says.

As I've said before, I want to help these destitute people as much as anyone else (which is why charity organizations work so well on a people level) but as far as our country aiding their country, it's been us basically flushing money down the toilet. We continue to throw money at them but the situation doesn't get better. In fact you could argue that it's gotten worse.

If we're going to give more aid to these countries, there must be some system in place to ensure the money goes to the country's infrastructure (schools, hospitals, roads, santitation, etc.) not some warlord or dictator's palace.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Democracy right on track in Iraq

News from Iraq that doesn't involve anyone dying.

BAGHDAD (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Despite the ongoing violence, Iraq's embattled government appeared to be making progress in moves to woo the country's Sunni Arab minority, which forms the core of the insurgency.

Many Sunnis boycotted the Jan. 30 election, meaning the community is not strongly represented in the new National Assembly.

On Monday, Dr. Adnan Al-Dulami, spokesman of the General Conference for Sunnis in Iraq, called on fellow Sunnis "to organize themselves to take part in the coming elections and to start to register their names at the offices of the electoral commission."

Al-Dulami said Sunni clerics would soon issue a religious decree repeating the call. Clerics spearheaded the January boycott, saying any election held with U.S. and other foreign troops in the country would be invalid.

Following al-Dulaimi's call, Humam Hammoudi, head of the committee to draft a new constitution, said 15 Sunnis had been approved to join the committee and would begin work Wednesday. The inclusion of Sunnis on the committee had been delayed because majority Shiites and Kurds had accused nominees of links to Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

Democracy is by nature a slow process, but the Iraqis continue to make great strides despite ongoing terrorist threats.

Lance Armstrong is the man

For anyone out there who needs a role model it doesn't get much better than Lance Armstrong

BLOIS, France (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Lance Armstrong took the overall lead in the Tour de France on Tuesday when his Discovery Channel squad won the team time trial in the fourth stage in record time.

The 33-year-old American led his team to victory for the third straight year in the time trial, clocking 1 hour, 10 minutes, 39 seconds in the 67.5-kilometer (41.85-mile) trek from Tours to Blois.

The Discovery team set a record for a Tour team time trial with an average speed of 57.32 kph (35.54 mph) -crushing the previous record of 54.93 kph (34.06 mph).

"The Dream Team," said Armstrong, the six-time Tour champion who has said he will retire after the three-week race. "For me, in the last year, it's special to have a team like this."

He's going for 7 in a row. He is unbelievable. Does anyone doubt he'll get it?

UPDATE: Similar link here.

G8 right around the corner.

In the wake of Live 8 over the weekend, we need to take a look at what we already have commited to Africa.

COPENHAGEN (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-[...]"I bring a strong record of support for countries in Africa. I think people are going to be surprised to learn about all the efforts we've made," Bush said. "I'm confident we'll have a good G8."

Specifically, Bush pointed to his commitment to spend $15 billion over five years to fight aids in Africa and his recent announcement that he will spend another $674 million on emergency food aid there.

Last week, Bush said the U.S. will spend $1.2 billion fighting malaria over the next five years. The U.S. will also spend $400 million over four years to promote better education in African countries.

Taken together and combined with other commitments the U.S. has made, Bush said the U.S. was tripling its aid to Africa.

However, he also stuck to his position that the U.S. is only interested in helping countries that undertake economic and political reforms to promote free markets and bring greater democracy into their systems.

All that plus the $40 billion in loans we waived last month. I really want to help the African people, but at what cost. Where do we draw the line?

At some point we'll have done all we can in terms of aid, then what? Are any of these nations self-sufficient enough to take care of themselves? Will any of this aid help get them to that point or will most of it be misused, abused, stolen, or laundered?

Karma's a bitch sometimes

CAIRO (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-A former high-ranking Iraqi security officer who worked under Saddam Hussein's regime was found dead in his apartment in Cairo, his body bound to a chair and his nose and mouth taped, police said Tuesday. They blamed burglars.

Assad Abdel Hadi Haidar's body was discovered in his rented apartment Monday night, and he appeared to have died from suffocation, police officials said.

Police arrested five Egyptians in the slaying, including a real estate agent who was helping Haidar to find a house in Cairo, where he was planning to settle, said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

Haidar, 55, arrived in Cairo on June 6 and claimed to be a businessman, the official said.

Haidar was a brigadier in one of the security services under Saddam and he is believed to have fled Iraq fearing vengeance from family members of victims of the regime, Iraqi exiles in Cairo said.

Thousands of former associates of Saddam's regime have recently settled in Egypt after the government of President Hosni Mubarak started providing residency and investment facilities for Iraqis, exiles say. The Egyptian move is probably prompted by competition with other Arab countries, notably Jordan and Syria, to lure Iraqis fleeing soaring violence.

On Sunday, gunmen in Baghdad kidnapped Egypt's top envoy to Iraq, Ihab al-Sherif. The kidnapping seemed to be part of an insurgent campaign to discourage Arab countries from bolstering diplomatic ties with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

We didn't do it. I swear.

While it's not surprising, that countries are trying to "lure" exiles is not good. Condi, can we have someone get on top of that. Chop chop.


This just in... explicit sex on TV affects kids


AUSTIN, Texas, July 5 /PRNewswire/ -[off the wire, no link]- The most comprehensive review of research conducted to date into the impact sexual imagery in media has on youth, published today in the Journal of Pediatrics, reveals a dangerous lack of knowledge about how young people are being affected.

The study, conducted by S. Liliana Escobar-Chaves, DrPH, and colleagues at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston under contract to The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, systematically reviewed all biomedical and social science research conducted from 1983 to 2004 that explored effects of mass media on youth. Of the 2,522 research-related documents examined, less than 1 percent addressed the impact of mass media on adolescent sexual attitudes and behaviors.

"Every parent and healthcare provider should be very troubled by these findings," commented Gary L. Rose, MD, president and CEO of The Medical Institute. "Our children are saturated in sexual imagery. For example, the average teenager spends three to four hours per day watching television and 83 percent of the programming most frequently watched by adolescents contains some sexual content. Yet we have never stopped to ask what effect all this sexual content in television, the Internet and music has on young people." Highlights of the study, "The Impact of the Media on Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors," include: * Adolescents who are exposed to television with sexual content are more likely to overestimate the frequency of some sexual behaviors, have more permissive attitudes toward premarital sex, and, according to one research study, initiate sexual behavior. However, methodological limitations exist in all of these studies.

And liberals think we're such prudes when we freak out when Janet Jackson's boob falls out, or when there are sexually graphic sitcoms (everyone remember the Seinfeld masturbation contest? Who's the "master or their domain?"), or when parents have to start explaining Will & Grace to their 6 year old. The FCC sets the standards and when those standards aren't met the station gets fined or the public reacts by boycotting sponsors.

Parents have a tough enough time battling pop culture as it is, and our children should remain protected and innocent as long as possible. Anyone think that this might be why our teen pregnancy rates have been skyrocketing over the last few decades?

Democratic Senators help Kim Jong Il bust our balls

WASHINGTON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Two prominent Democratic senators are calling on President George W. Bush to send an envoy to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Sens. Carl Levin and Hillary Rodham Clinton also want the United States to work with other nations to set a timetable for diplomatic efforts, with the prospect of seeking U.N. sanctions if diplomacy fails.

"The North Koreans have said they regard a U.N. sanctions resolution as tantamount to war, and Security Council members such as China are not likely to support sanctions unless there is a failure of diplomacy that the international community views as entirely North Korea's fault," the senators said in a column in Monday's Washington Post.

What is it with Democrats and timetables? Everything has to be measured and precise to be a valid option. So what is it they want here? We need to act more unilaterally. Damn, talk about a 180 in philosophy. While it's not necessarily a hypocritical position, it does illustrate how their approach is still the wrong approach for any given situation. Having nukes makes them a big player they need to be approached like the rest of the big boys and diplomacy is a big part of that. We can't force them to take whatever actions we want (see Cold War). And if Kim Jong Il thinks UN sanctions are that bad maybe we should have him meet with Saddam who was able to turn a nice profit after a decade or so of UN sanctions.

[...]Bush has opposed direct negotiations with North Korea, favoring negotiations that also include China, Russia, South Korea and Japan. North Korea has boycotted those talks for a year. U.S. officials believe North Korea has produced at least two nuclear bombs.

The two senators said the Bush's administration's diplomatic efforts to stop North Korea's nuclear program "is carried on in an almost lackadaisical fashion, captive to pride and preconditions."

Not only are those other four countries key to the negotiations, this is good for our political relations with them as well. If we can form a united front against N. Korea that result in some successful concessions on their part, we can hopefully translate that into their increased involvement in the GWOT (at least from Russia, Japan, and South Korea). I fail to see how a "unilateral" meeting at this point would be preferred over continued "multilateral" diplomatic attempts.

They called on Bush to offer a serious economic assistance package to the North Koreans and to refrain from name-calling.

"Seriousness means sending a senior U.S. official to meet with Kim Jong Il," they said. "And the way to know whether we have been trying hard enough is to determine whether our Asian negotiating partners also think diplomacy has been exhausted."

Unless we get some major concessions (like the give us all their nukes and we get to detonate their production facilities) there is no way we should give them any money. And we certainly shouldn't hurt their feelings anymore, so everyone, please, stop calling North Koreans "poo-poo heads" and refrain from using an exaggerated stereotypical Asian accent to mock them ("I'm ron-ry... so ron-ry..." or "Why you busteeng my bawrs Hans Brix?"). It's bad for the megalomaniac's self-esteem.

Happy 4th of July

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July, that you kept our servicemen and women in your thoughts and prayers and that your illegal home fireworks displays did not result in emergency room visits or result in your home being stormed by SWAT in a anti-firework crackdown.

Friday, July 01, 2005

German's put 9/11 linked terrorist on trial... again

HAMBURG (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-A Sept. 11 suspect who fled his native Germany before the attacks told his wife in an e-mail he wouldn't return for fear of being handed over to U.S. authorities, according to evidence presented at a trial Friday.

Said Bahaji is wanted on an international arrest warrant by Germany on suspicion he helped Sept. 11 suicide pilots Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah as they plotted in Hamburg.

He fled the northern port city shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks and is believed to be in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

His e-mails, intercepted by German security services, were read aloud in the retrial of Mounir el Motassadeq, 31, who is also accused of providing logistical support to the Hamburg al-Qaida cell.

[...]El Motassadeq was convicted in 2003 of more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership of a terrorist organization and sentenced to the maximum 15 years. But the conviction was thrown out last year and a retrial was ordered after an appeals court ruled that he unfairly denied testimony by key al-Qaida suspects in U.S. custody.

Damn 3,000 counts against him. How is that not a life sentence? He's damn lucky he's in Germany because we'd execute him and a heart beat.

And why is the conviction thrown out? Because he didn't have enough terrorists testify on his behalf? Because we just don't know how hard it is to be a terrorist these days? "It's just not the glamorous lifestyle that it used to be, your honor. We face real hardships now. Just listen to the sob stories of these other terrorists..." Boo-hoo-hoo. Woe is me.

Just execute him.